Build­ing bridges

Brian Birken­head has been busy shoot­ing a unique photo project on the River Thames

NPhoto - - Over To You… -

I’ve al­ways had a cam­era, but be­gan to get se­ri­ous about it when dig­i­tal came along and I be­gan to in­vest in good qual­ity Nikon lenses. My am­bi­tion is to con­struct a port­fo­lio of im­ages of the bridges over the River Thames, il­lus­trat­ing their great va­ri­ety of age, and demon­strat­ing dif­fer­ences in styles, ma­te­ri­als, lo­ca­tion and us­age. I want to shoot the older, smaller bridges up­stream us­ing af­ter­noon light, and the mod­ern, larger bridges us­ing early evening or sun­set light. I have lived on the banks of the river for a long time and want to recog­nise the unique char­ac­ter­is­tics of its bridges that have helped shape the history of the coun­try.

Tower Bridge, be­ing the most iconic and fa­mous bridge over the river, has to be in my port­fo­lio. I wanted a night shot of the bridge com­ple­mented by the dol­phin fountain, and had ■ Brian be­gan tak­ing pho­tos with a Ko­dak Brownie when he was 10! He still loves pho­tog­ra­phy and has re­cently em­barked on a spe­cial project… to ob­tain spe­cial per­mis­sion from the man­age­ment of St Katharine’s Docks in or­der to use a tri­pod. It was quite a dif­fi­cult shot to do us­ing my tilt/ shift lens, which only has man­ual con­trols, and I wasn’t used to it. It did, how­ever, achieve its pur­pose by straight­en­ing the ver­ti­cals. It took me three vis­its to find a time when the fountain was not sur­rounded by tourists. Trial and er­ror fi­nally gave me the right ex­po­sure of 13 sec­onds at f/19. It took over two hours to get this shot right.

I haven’t yet fig­ured out how to use my tilt-shift lens prop­erly. My knowl­edge of Pho­to­shop and/or Light­room is fairly ba­sic and I’ve never worked out how to use lay­ers. How do I en­sure that my land­scapes are con­sis­tently pin-sharp front to back? And I’d like to know how I can use my tilt-shift lens to get in­fi­nite depth of field.

N-Photo Says…

Brian, your project sounds like an in­ter­est­ing one, and will really cap­ture the her­itage and history of the Thames. You’re right, a bridge photo project about the Thames would not be com­plete with­out the in­clu­sion of Tower Bridge. This is prob­a­bly one of my favourite pho­tos from your port­fo­lio, and it’s quite

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