On Location Capturing Tower Bridge at Sunrise

A week or two back, I took an early morning stroll to London Bridge to capture the sun as it rose from behind HMS Belfast and Tower Bridge. It's a classic view of London and one I have tried to capture before (see pic below taken in 2016) and although it's a nice enough image, I wanted to revisit and try to capture an epic sunrise.

Long Exposure of Tower Bridge at sunrise taken by Trevor Sherwin

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Fujifilm X-T10

I checked the weather the night before and the Suncalc app and all looked good with a moderate amount of cloud for the sun to light up as it made its appearance that morning. As you can see from the image below, that much-needed cloud didn't materialise, so no epic sunrise again. One of the things you just have to accept as a landscape photographer is that with all the planning in the world, there are just no guarantees when it comes to the weather.

While the sun was still 15 or so minutes away from making its scheduled arrival I decided to take a panoramic using my 55-200mm lens. If you read my previous article (link below) you will see I have been taking a few panoramic images lately and the purchase of the 55-200mm lens has reinvigorated my interest in them. I explained in my previous post some of the advantages of using a longer lens for these panoramic images.

Previous article: A View of Everything in the Surrey Hills

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Fujifilm X-T10

Click on the image to enlarge

Behind the camera capturing Tower Bridge by Trevor Sherwin

With the sun now close to making its appearance, I wanted to catch a long exposure with a slightly tighter composition so I adorned my lens with a Formatt-Hitech 10 stop natural density filter and a soft graduated filter to take the edge off the sky a little and balance the expose and in went the cable release to avoid camera shake as I took the shot. Still being aware that there was no cloud cover, I still thought I could capture a cleaner, more simple composition taking advantage of the way the longer exposure blends the changing light and softens the image, hopefully resulting in a more tranquil mood in the image telling the story of what London really feels like at this time of the morning when you are on your own on a bridge normally swarming with people. I wrote a bit about the long exposure and why I specifically use this technique in the article titled "Slowing Down Time: Why the Long Exposure" found here.

So, although the sky lacks drama, I still like the way the image turned out with the sun's orange glow providing a nice backdrop to this classic cityscape.


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Fujifilm X-T10

Finally, I snapped a shot just as the sun appeared over the horizon. I closed the aperture down to f22 just to try and emphasise the sunburst.

Photo of a sunburst at Tower Bridge taken by Trevor Sherwin

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Fujifilm X-T10

So, this is my second visit to this spot for capturing this view of London. The first had too much cloud and the second not enough. It looks like I will need to go back again to try and capture that perfect shot but as mentioned above the weather is hard to predict even with the tools we have available. Being a landscape or cityscape photographer means that good light is everything and if you are expecting to get the "portfolio shot" every time then you will be disappointed. In my opinion, chasing the image is part of the process and makes it all the better when I capture an epic shot. I will return for a third visit at some point so maybe on that occasion, it will be third time lucky, maybe not.