The Shard at Sunset | Weekly Photo #3

I have taken lots of photos of this view over the years. With the Shard towering above the surrounding buildings since 2013, I would consider this a modern, but now, iconic view of the city. That being sad, up until now, I have struggled to capture this view in an image I really, truly like. I have taken many good photos, but yet to capture what I consider a great photo. There is always something lacking, be it the light, the weather or something else. On top of this, I struggle with the balance of the photo. The city skyline tends to make the composition heavier on the left-hand side, dropping off on the right and due to the shape of the building, unless the Shard sits in the centre of the photo, I struggle to get the vertical lines of the Shard to look, well, vertical.

Not to be deterred, and as I like to photograph this area so much, I once again set out to try and capture this scene. Having checked the usual apps for cloud cover, direction and sunset time, it was looking promising. My only concern was the wind speed. The clouds were moving slowly which meant I may not see those lead-in-lines the clouds can create in a long exposure image.

As the sun headed down, towards the horizon, I found the composition I wanted while standing on Tower Bridge. I was as far back as I could be, tucked in the corner next to the brick arches shielded from the wind and out of the way of the many tourists.

The Shard was nicely centred, the lines nice and straight and the cloud cover, being heavier near the horizon on the right added weight and balance to the overall image. With it all coming together, Was I I going to get the shot?

Up goes the tripod, on goes the Fujifilm XT2 camera with my ever reliable XF18-55mm lens. A quick note on the lens. It may considered a kit lens by some but any Fujifilm shooter with this lens will tell you it’s probably the best “kit lens” on the market. it’s certainly my favourite of all my Fujifilm glass. Where was I? That’s right, I set my focal length, locked in the manual focus, filter on and cable release connected.

Dodging the river traffic, the sky lit up and I began shooting long exposure photos. As the light dropped, my exposures stretched to about 90 seconds which was about perfect to get that super smooth water I wanted. As expected, there wasn’t a lot of movement in the lower clouds but as I mentioned above, for this shot, that’s probably ok as it balanced the composition somewhat.

The Shard at Sunset | Fujifilm XT2 | XF18-55mm | 20mm | 131 seconds | f/10 | ISO200

The Shard at Sunset | Fujifilm XT2 | XF18-55mm | 20mm | 131 seconds | f/10 | ISO200

Thoughts on the Photo?

So, what do I like? Well, I do like the way the light reflects in the Shard and City Hall buildings adding depth and atmosphere to the image. I also like the way the reflection/shadow of the Shard in the silky smooth water anchors the buildings somewhat.

As I have written many times, I do like the simpler, less cluttered compositions of London created by long exposure photos and I do wonder if the cloud direction and movement could have turned this shot into something even better. I guess we will never know.

Do I think this is a great shot? I do really like it and its probably my favourite taken of this view of the Shard to date but will I come back and try to take a better one? You bet! That’s the bitter/sweet thing about photography, on both accounts, you can never really say you are finished.


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

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Slowing Time. Why the Long Exposure?