Working in London, as I was getting into photography it seemed too good an opportunity to pass up to take a camera in with me for a few shots at lunchtimes or while travelling between meetings.
Where better to start than an iconic building such as St. Paul's Cathedral.
The challenge with something like this though, is that it has been photographed in so many ways, by so many people, that attempting an image that hasn't been done before is close to impossible for an amateur. I embraced that knowledge and went actively looking for images on my Instagram feed that inspired me. Most helpfully, with the limited time that I had available it meant that I could power to a pre-determined location and largely frame up what I had in mind as quickly as possible.
These images were taken early on in my pursuit of this hobby, and I am sure that I could do them better now, but at the time they were nice to have "in the bag" and a bit of a confidence boost while working on understanding the camera.
These first two images were taken looking towards the cathedral through the One New Change shopping centre. I'd been drawn to this composition by the leading lines and framing that the glass walls provided.
At the time of editing them, I was playing (probably too much) with post-processing and understanding the ways in which the same image can be represented differently by changes to the tones.
While the first image is my favourite because of the colours, looking back now it looks too over-edited and unnatural. The second has been edited less - but while nicer to be more natural, I think lacks the punch of the former!
Similarly with these two images. I was drawn to the composition as it isolated the cathedral, letting it stand out more - while also being led in by the Millennium Bridge as a leading line.
More amateur editing on display, but still dear to my heart. I prefer the former, with people no more than silhouettes, and the blue of the dome standing out.
However, the reality is that the dome is a more subtle blue-grey, so this has been enhanced here. The latter image is closer to reality, and what the eye would have seen - but as above, despite being more natural I enjoy it less.
Lastly, a single attempt at something slightly different that I hadn't seen before (but has probably been done before ...) - using a reflection in the outside glass of the One New Change shopping centre to play with the symmetry of the cathedral's dome.
The thing that jumps out to me, writing this - is that while I prefer the punchier, higher contrast, dramatic shots over the more naturally edited equivalents - the over processing detracts from the finished product. The solution would be to work harder to repeat the shots at a better time of day or year when the natural lighting conditions create the contrast / dynamism / punch that I'm after without having to resort to something artificial. This is precisely what I see those who take the best shots striving to do and where the hard work pays off. When I can next be back in London, I'll have to return to these spots many many more times!
- 1/125 sec at f/5.6, ISO 100 @ 24mm - EF 24 - 105mm lens
- 1/160 sec at f/5.6, ISO 100 @ 24mm - EF 24 - 105mm lens
- 1/640 sec at f/9.0, ISO 100 @ 105mm - Sigma 105mm lens
- 1/500 sec at f/9.0, ISO 100 @ 105mm - Sigma 105mm lens
- 1/60 sec at f/11.0, ISO 100 @ 75mm - EF 24 - 105mm lens
Well, I'd clearly been reading about using ISO 100 for the highest quality shots, but feel in this instance that I've over-used it. These images were all taken hand-held, and I wasn't going for fine-art - so I should have been happier to sacrifice ISO quality for better shutter speed and depth-of-field.
Not that there is anything particularly noticeably wrong with the quality of the shots when looked at on a small screen anyway - but for longer term improvement, my take-away here would have been to pushed ISO to 400, and kept f-stop around f/8 to f/11 to give more flexibility to keep shutter speed high and reduce the risk of missing a shot.