Port­fo­lio re­view

Gi Lewis ex­plores Lon­don’s River Thames after dark to show an­other side to the city’s land­marks

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Be in­spired by some stun­ning shots of Lon­don by moon­light, as reader Gi Lewis takes us on pho­to­graphic tour of the River Thames

When I was younger I was in a band, gig­ging around Lon­don. I wanted to get signed and be­come suc­cess­ful, and it al­most hap­pened when I had a track played on Lon­don’s Kiss FM, but sadly it wasn’t meant to be. My late fa­ther had al­ways wanted me to get into pho­tog­ra­phy as he was a film pho­tog­ra­pher, so after my mu­si­cal jour­ney ended, the pho­tog­ra­phy quickly took over.

When I de­cided to up­grade to a D-SLR from my com­pact Nikon Coolpix 995, I held both a Nikon D70 and a Canon EOS 300D to com­pare them, and the Nikon just felt bet­ter in my hand. Most re­views slightly pointed to­wards the Nikon, too, so that’s what I chose, and I have stuck with Nikon ever since. I ab­so­lutely think that kit choice is im­por­tant.

As a Lon­doner, I love how the city looks at night. I took these images over sev­eral nights to cap­ture its beau­ti­ful trans­for­ma­tion from day to night.

I was pho­tograph­ing at around mid­night in Ca­nary Wharf’s South Dock one night when I spot­ted that the moon seemed to be al­most di­rectly over the O2 arena, so Iquickly packed up and rushed to the river­side. Once I’d found a spot where I could see the O2,

I no­ticed that there was no wind, so the river looked like a mir­ror. The O2’s lights were still on so I pho­tographed it for an hour un­til they turned the roof lights off at 1am [1]. Strangely, I now wish that the moon wasn’t there, as I feel it ru­ins the photo, but it’s still my per­sonal favourite shot to date.

An­other night, in Au­gust, Red Bull was hold­ing the X-Fight­ers freestyle motocross event in Bat­tersea Power Sta­tion so I thought I’d try my luck and ven­tured down to the river­side op­po­site the power sta­tion to see what I could cap­ture. At first it just seemed like any other night I had been there – that was un­til a sin­gle search light started mov­ing back and forth from be­hind the build­ing. This one beam of light gave the im­pres­sion of a huge amount of light com­ing from the in­te­rior [2].

My Lon­don Eye shot [3] was taken by chance. I’d just spent the evening up West­min­ster’s Mill­bank Tower for a pho­tog­ra­phers’ open night, and on my way home I walked back along the Thames and spot­ted the Lon­don Eye look­ing bright, with colour­ful build­ings as a back­drop. There was a lit­tle cloud in the sky and the moon looked great. Although my gear was packed up, I couldn’t re­sist un­pack­ing ev­ery­thing to cap­ture the great view.

N-Photo says

You’ve got some clean night time pho­tos here, Gi. Your shot of the O2 arena [1] is so slick. The wa­ter looks like glass due to the long ex­po­sure you’ve used, the sky is noise-free and your nar­row aper­ture has turned the lights into star bursts. Fram­ing the shot with the O2 on the left was risky, as the build­ing is sym­met­ri­cal, and dom­i­nates in this part of the Thames, but it was a good call be­cause the moon wasn’t hang­ing di­rectly over the cen­tre of the build­ing, and the gas­works tower to the right helps to keep the im­age vis­ually bal­anced. The colours are nice, too – you have cool blues con­trast­ing with warmer or­anges and yel­lows, with a deep pur­ple blend­ing the two.

There was a lit­tle cloud and the moon looked great. Although my gear was packed up, I couldn’t re­sist un­pack­ing ev­ery­thing to cap­ture the great view

You’ve gone for a sim­i­lar com­po­si­tion in your Bat­tersea Power Sta­tion shot [2], but in this case the build­ing isn’t as brightly lit, so the eye is drawn away slightly to the tower on the right. That said, the light shin­ing up out of the power sta­tion is won­der­fully dra­matic and ethe­real. We love how the chim­ney on the left casts ashadow in the sky from the light be­low. If there was one thing we’d do dif­fer­ently in this shot, it would be to go for a longer ex­po­sure, to blur the river even more. Set­ting the ISO to 100 would have given you an ex­po­sure time of 50 sec­onds, or you could have gone even longer by us­ing a neu­tral den­sity fil­ter.

Your fi­nal shot of the Lon­don Eye and the moon [3] also has strong weight­ing to the left of the frame. The Eye clearly dom­i­nates the photo, and rightly so as it is won­der­fully lit, but the build­ings along the side help fill the im­age with colour. The tim­ing of the photo is just right. If the sky was any lighter, the colours in the lights wouldn’t stand out as well and the im­age wouldn’t be as strik­ing.

Over­all this a strong col­lec­tion of images, Gi. We’d be in­ter­ested to see if you can in­clude stars in your shots as well as the moon (you may need to com­bine ex­po­sures), to get some pho­tos that re­ally chal­lenge you tech­ni­cally as well as cre­atively.


2 Bat­tersea X-Fight­ers Nikon D300, 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5, 25 secs, f/14, ISO200 2

3 Lon­don Eye Nikon D300, 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5, 10 secs, f/6.3, ISO200 3

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