When I set out to a location, I normally have one of two approaches in mind. More often than not I will have a particular place I want to shoot and will focus all planning to give that shot the best chances of success, ensuring I am ready in the right place at the right time equipment at the ready. On the odd occasion, I set out on a photo walk with a start and/or finish in mind but the rest is a bit more of a "go with the flow" approach.
On this particular day, I had the endgame in mind which we will cover off a little later in the post. I started out on the train into London checking the weather and conditions on my favourite apps MeteoEarth and Suncalc. The first gives me information such as wind direction/strength and cloud cover and the second allows me to see where and when the sun will set based on my location. I plan to write about how I research a location and prepare for a shoot in more detail in a later post.
On this day, while the light was particularly harsh (not the best conditions) and I was just leaving the station, I decided to start my day with a shot of St George Wharf which I have been meaning to try for some time. Located in Vauxhall, this modern structure housing both residential and commercial properties is a popular subject for London cityscape photographers. Knowing the light wouldn't flatter a colour image, I set up with a black and white image in mind looking for the contrast as the sun (coming in from the right) hit the building. As with a lot of my shots taken by the Thames, I went straight for the natural density filter to give me a longer exposure and smooth out the water allowing the detailed architecture to contrast nicely against the reflective, uncluttered water in the foreground. I had to crop quite tightly to avoid some cranes and other buildings. I would have liked more wind to also smooth out the clouds a bit more but you rarely get all the boxes ticked in photography. After some processing in Adobe Lightroom this was the result and my favourite shot for the day.
Knowing I still had plenty of time to get to the final location I crossed the Vauxhall Bridge and decided to walk the south bank to Westminster and scout for future shots. I finished at Westminster Bridge and grabbed a quick shot just as the sun was getting lower in the sky and casting a slightly warmer light across the scene.
I jumped on the underground and headed to Canary Wharf which is where I intended to capture a few shots with the newly acquired Fuji XF10-24mm wide angle lens and also capture a time-lapse of the skyscrapers at sunset with the second camera (My trusty Fuji X70). I had visited this location once before but without the wide angle, I had to use photo stitching to capture the entire scene.
You can read more about my time-lapse on my blog post here: Behind the Lens: My First Time-lapse. Here I wrote about how I took the shot, what I learned and the finished video.
Ok, back to the shot. For a long time as the sun was lowering behind the buildings there was very little wind and the sky was clear and lacked drama which for the landscape photographer is rarely what we want. As the time-lapse was underway on the second camera, the sun dipped behind the horizon lighting up some small clouds that had slowly crept into the scene. Not all was lost thankfully so off I went snapping away with the 10-24mm lens attached at it's widest. The water in the foreground is called the Blackwall Basin and being so still provides some nice foreground reflections in the water.
Once the sun had disappeared, the light faded fast so before I wrapped it up for the day I captured the buildings as the lights were being turned on which gave the scene a totally different look as you can see below.
It is quite a leap of faith to head out without the shoot totally planned out so I am pleased to come away with a couple of keepers although it could have been very different. A time-lapse in the bag, my new lens tested and some new locations scouted for another time. Overall, a successful day.