Gi Lewis explores London’s River Thames after dark to show another side to the city’s landmarks
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 . 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 .
My London Eye shot  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.
You’ve got some clean night time photos here, Gi. Your shot of the O2 arena  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 , 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  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