Capturing London on a Cloudy Day

It’s been a bit of a struggle to fit as much photography in as I would like in the last couple of months. It was a busy time at work as the year drew to a close and having a family at Christmas means lots of festive related activities and unfortunately photographing landscapes and cityscapes needs to take a back seat every now and again when work and family commitments come calling. It’s important to get the balance right in these congested situations.

Having said that, I did manage to get out over the Christmas period and spend a day in The City of London’s Square Mile on what turned out to be a cloudy, quite miserable day in December. I already knew I wouldn’t be getting much in the way of sunlight as I checked the weather the night before but I decided to head out regardless to see what I could capture.

I find myself drawn more and more to getting out and about when the weather is bad as I am continually trying to challenge myself and capturing a good photo while the light is poor is certainly a challenge for me. It forces me to focus on stronger compositions and subjects to ensure the photo is still visually pleasing even without the good light. On top of this, it also helps me develop my post processing to better represent the mood of the photo.

 

The Tower of London

I started the day around a place I know well. I arrived at the Tower of London around sunrise, although you would never have known as the thick, dark rain clouds prevented any chance of some nice light. I wandered about looking for texture and a composition so I got my camera low to the ground to make the wet, reflective, cobbled street a little more of a feature and that coupled with the lines created by the street lamps and benches, I snapped my first image of the day.

Here is a post featuring more images taken around this area of London.

A photo of Street Lamps at the Tower of London by Trevor Sherwin Photography

1/80th sec
f/2

ISO800
35mm
Fujifilm XT2
XF35mm F2

 

In The City of London

Heading into the city, I passed one of my favourite spots in London. A pretty little street, surrounded by modern skyscrapers, Leadenhall Market has an ornate look and feel to it with lots of history and is a great subject to photograph. I chose to once again get low to the ground to emphasise the wet cobbled street and as I was crouched in the middle of the street, slightly wary of being in in the way of other people I spotted this lady with her umbrella which along with the wet street, continued to tell a great story about the conditions I was photographing that day.

A photo of Leadenhall Market in the rain by Trevor Sherwin Photography

1/125th sec
f/2

ISO1250
35mm
Fujifilm XT2
XF35mm F2

Heading further into the city, I captured the photo below of the 30 St Mary Axe building, aka “The Gherkin”. I was drawn to the strong compositional shapes and layers created by the various structures in this photo giving the image a nice sense of depth.

A photo of the Gherkin in the city of London by Trevor Sherwin Photography

1/125th sec
f/4

ISO400
55mm
Fujifilm XT2
XF18-55mm

 

I chose a central composition of this Christmas Tree at the end of St Helens Place which is another small but charming road tucked away amongst the city’s towers. I kind of regret not having my wider lens with me for this outing but even though it was taken at a slightly longer focal length than what I would have preferred, the central composition works well enough.

 

Now heading back towards the river, I passed The Gherkin and had to capture the photo below showing the building’s entrance. The strong lines and shapes create an impactful composition but when you are presented with a subject like this, it is important to ensure the camera is both central and completely level otherwise the image will look unbalanced and compositionally weak.

A photo of a Christmas Tree in St helens Place in London by Trevor Sherwin Photography

1/125th sec
f/3.6

ISO400
30mm
Fujifilm XT2
XF18-55mm

A photo of the main entrance to the Gherkin in London by Trevor Sherwin Photography

1/125th sec
f/2.8

ISO500
18mm
Fujifilm XT2
XF18-55mm

 

Up The Monument

On my journey back to towards the river, I walked down Lovat Lane. I seem to have taken a few photographs of cobbled streets already and here is another. So down I went again to get a low angle of the road and the towering Shard from across the Thames.

 

I have been meaning to visit the Monument for a while now. In fact, the last time I went up to the top, I was shooting with Nikon DSLR which had lenses far too wide to shoot through the fencing at the top of the tower so with the smaller lenses on my Fujifilm mirrorless camera, I could just about shoot through the holes without the images being obstructed.

A photo of Lovat Lane and the Shard in London by Trevor Sherwin Photography

1/600th sec
f/3.6

ISO200
32mm
Fujifilm XT2
XF18-55mm

A photo of the Monument in London by Trevor Sherwin Photography

1/125th sec
f/2

ISO320
35mm
Fujifilm XT2
XF35mm F2

 

Up on top of the Monument, I looked around and really, there was only one good photo I could take. As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t have a wide-angle lens with my and there is a photo of the tall buildings in the city but I just couldn’t find a composition with the lenses I had with me.

A photo of the city high-rises taken from the top of the Monument in London by Trevor Sherwin Photography

I will have to pop back with my wide angle and when they finish the building.

I did manage to take the classic photo of the Thames and Tower Bridge. There was just a small amount of light just appearing in the breaks of the clouds but still not enough to change the scene dramatically. I do like this composition as the streets in the foreground provide some interest and lines leading the eye up the image towards the bridge.

A photo of Tower bridge and the River Thames taken from the top of the Monument in London by Trevor Sherwin Photography

1/150th sec
f/6.4

ISO200
29mm
Fujifilm XT2
XF18-55mm

 

Along The Thames

I spotted the shot to the right as I walked along the north bank of the River Thames and across Waterloo Bridge.

The dominant London Eye is almost silhouetted against the subtle bursts of light piercing the clouds creating an image which almost monochrome.

 

The two photos below were taken along the Thames South Bank.

The first is probably my favourite shot of the day. From the end of Waterloo Bridge, I captured the National Theatre in all of its brutalist glory but there was something missing. The architectural lines looked great but I knew I needed someone to walk into the area in the bottom right-hand corner of the image. I had to wait around 10 minutes before this lady in red walked across the frame and I knew that was the shot in the bag.

A photo of The London Eye in London by Trevor Sherwin Photography

1/1000th sec
f/4.2

ISO200
110mm
Fujifilm XT2
XF55-200mm

I love the way the lady’s vibrant red coat contrasted against the desaturated building and being so small in the frame, she adds a sense of scale to the Theatre. At the exact moment I took the shot, a bird decided to fly into my photo and although I would usually think nothing about cloning it out, I decided to keep it in the shot. I don’t know, I just like it there.

The second image along the South Bank is of the Oxo Building. It’s another shot where there is a bold, dominant colour and strong architectural lines create a pleasing composition. I particularly like the way the Oxo Building and wooden pier frame the buildings in the city which continues to be the theme of this post. To think that only a few hours earlier, I was walking amongst those very structures.

A photo of The National Gallery in London by Trevor Sherwin Photography

1/350th sec
f/3.6

ISO200
18mm
Fujifilm XT2
XF18-55mm

A photo of The Oxo Building in London by Trevor Sherwin Photography

1/600th sec
f/3.6

ISO200
34mm
Fujifilm XT2
XF18-55mm

Around Tate Modern

To finish up my day I visited the Tate Modern’s viewing level at the top of the Blavatnik Building behind the main turbine room. The viewing level is 10 floors up and provides some pretty cool views of St Paul’s Cathedral and the high-rise buildings in the city. If you try to take a photo of the scene across the river while up on the viewing level, it will be hard to avoid the iconic chimney so as I have done in the photo below, it’s best to purposely make it a part of the composition.

A photo of Tata Modern’s chimney and St Pauls Cathedral in London by Trevor Sherwin Photography

1/105th sec
f/14

ISO1600
18mm
Fujifilm XT2
XF18-55mm

Although there was a brief break in the clouds, there was no epic sunset but, in the image below, I used all 55mm of my lens mounted on the camera and captured the last light of the day hitting the buildings over in the city. I particularly like the gold/grey/blue colour palette in this image.

A photo of the sun hitting the city buildings in London by Trevor Sherwin Photography

1/125th sec
f/14

ISO1000
46mm
Fujifilm XT2
XF18-55mm

I don’t really like to use the word “resolution” but I have made a small agreement with myself that I will try to get out and about more often in 2019 and those times I look at the weather, see a cloudy, miserable day ahead and decide to stay in bed, those are the missed opportunities I need to take in 2019 to ensure I do spend time with the family, I am able to put a shift in at work and I do spend enough time out and about with my camera doing what I so enjoy doing. Let’s see how that goes.

Until next time.