St Paul's Cathedral | Weekly Photo #10

This photo was taken from the 10th floor viewing platform at the Tate Modern, London. Every Friday and Saturday night the museum is open late, meaning you can capture this great view of St Paul’s Cathedral at sunset or under the city lights pretty much all year round.

London has had a surge of high-rise buildings being erected over in the city in recent years and although it probably is necessary progress for the capital and are themselves great to photograph, they now dominate the skyline meaning some of the classic London structures such as St Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London have never looked so small up against them. It’s for this reason I like this photo so much as without the modern, taller buildings in the shot, the cathedral is able to dominate the skyline like it has done for the last 300 or so years.

St Paul’s Cathedral | Fujifilm XT2 | XF18-55mm | 33mm | 0.8-12 seconds (bracketed) | f/6.4 | ISO200

St Paul’s Cathedral | Fujifilm XT2 | XF18-55mm | 33mm | 0.8-12 seconds (bracketed) | f/6.4 | ISO200

It’s not easy to capture a longer exposure up at the viewing level as like most other locations like this in London, there is a strict “no tripod” rule which in all fairness makes sense here as space is limited and everyone wants to get to the best spots and take in the view.

I was however able to use my perfectly compact Manfrotto PIXI tripod which is a fantastic little tripod, strong enough to support my XT2. To get this image pin sharp with up to 12 seconds of exposure time I had to balance my mini tripod carefully on the railings at a point where it turned 90 degrees so all three legs had somewhere to rest. In fact, that was the easy bit, the harder job was keeping hold of the camera so it didn’t fall and at the same time as holding it, not introduce any camera shake while the image was taken.

All in all, this final image is made up of 5 separate exposures from -2 (0.8 seconds) to +2 (12 seconds) as it was the only way I could ensure the details in both the shadows around the darker parts of the buildings and highlights caused by the city lights were retained. I merged the exposures in LightRoom and set about the post processing of the image.

I love to look at old paintings of how London used to look with St Paul’s Cathedral dominating the skyline and this photo reminds me somewhat of those images and a time before the rest of London grew taller.

I hope you enjoyed the photo. As ever, leave a comment with any feedback or questions.

Talk to you next week.


This post is featured in my Weekly Photo series where I post a new photo every Sunday.