Photographing London's Rooftops

London’s skyline is seeing an unprecedented rate of change, particularly in the Square Mile which is experiencing some kind of race to the clouds. New, taller buildings are being erected right now and even taller buildings than that are undergoing planning permission. One of the many strict conditions developers are having to comply with when obtaining permission to build is that in the taller buildings, publicly accessible observation levels need to be incorporated.

Policy 7.7 of the London Plan states that tall and large buildings should 'incorporate publicly accessible areas on the upper floors, where appropriate.

This may not be good news for potential developers but it is great news for us photographers looking to capture new angles and compositions of London’s cityscape.

One of my 2019 photography related objectives is to capture at least 3 high-rise keepers. That’s 3 images taken from London’s canopy during 2019 which I would consider including in my personal portfolio.

The Sky Garden - 20 Fenchurch Street, AKA “The Walkie-Talkie’.

So, my first attempt in 2019 started at the Sky Garden (see map). This location is perfect to start honing those high-rise photography skills for one great reason, its free!. That’s quite a rarity when getting up high in London as most of the viewing levels up this high cost money to enter and although the Sky Garden isn’t as high as The Shard, it is absolutely high enough to get fantastic views of London.

Another good reason to start photographing up high at the Sky Garden is that you can book your visit in advance at a time that suites you (assuming there is availability). That means you can book golden hour, sunrise and sunset time slots so you can be primed and ready to capture the city with the best light available if that’s what you prefer. Follow the link here to book: https://skygarden.london/booking.

On this particular occasion I booked to arrive at 7:15am and on this January morning, that meant I would be there around 30 mins before sunrise so timing was just about perfect.

Here are the photos I took during my visit.

The view across East London at sunrise taken from the Sky Garden by Trevor Sherwin

1/60th sec
f/4.5

ISO800
17mm
Fujifilm X-T2
XF10-24mm

A photo of the top of the Gherkin and Scalpel buildings taken from the Sky Garden by Trevor Sherwin

1/5th sec
f/6.4

ISO800
55mm
Fujifilm X-T2
XF55-200mm

The view across East London at sunrise taken from the Sky Garden by Trevor Sherwin

1/105th sec
f/4

ISO200
48mm
Fujifilm X-T2
XF18-55mm

The view across East London at sunrise taken from the Sky Garden by Trevor Sherwin

1/70th sec
f/3.2

ISO200
18mm
Fujifilm X-T2
XF18-55mm

The view across West London taken from the Sky Garden by Trevor Sherwin

1/2 sec
f/7.1

ISO200
58mm
Fujifilm X-T2
XF55-200mm

The view across West London taken from the Sky Garden by Trevor Sherwin

1/25th sec
f/4.5

ISO200
17mm
Fujifilm X-T2
XF10-24mm

A photo of the Sky Garden’s interior architecture taken by Trevor Sherwin

1/125th sec
f/4

ISO400
10mm
Fujifilm X-T2
XF10-24mm

A photo of the Sky Garden’s interior architecture taken by Trevor Sherwin

1/200th sec
f/4

ISO400
10mm
Fujifilm X-T2
XF10-24mm

I’m pretty happy with this set. The sun made a brief appearance as it rose above the horizon meaning I could capture East London with a fantastic warm glow cast across it. Once the sun went behind the clouds, the light was a lot flatter and less interesting but once processed using my city chrome LightRoom presets, I’m still happy with the results.

What’s next? I plan to revisit the Sky Garden soon and then look for the next building to photograph from after that. If all goes to plan and I take some share-worthy images, I will post them here on my site sometime soon.

Until next time.