I’ve had the pleasure of spending time in London on five separate occasions for business trips. I got to explore the South Bank, a touristy area that also happens to be rich with history as Shakespeare plied his trade there for much of his life (Southwark area – pronounced suthuk with the hard TH sound as in “the”.)
London, both North and South of the Thames River, features many landmarks that people who have never been would recognize in an instant from news coverage and the many movies that have been made there.
The Thames itself is pretty high on the list. I find it endlessly fascinating, as it still just a river … I shot the following images from the South Bank walking area with the D70s and the 18-200VR lens. A nice small travel kit. I miss it.
You can see St. Paul’s Cathedral at the right of the image. The Parliament and Big Ben probably top the list. This image of Parliament was shot from a moving tour bus on the Westminster Bridge, also on my first trip.
This image of Parliament and Big ben was shot from the London Eye on my 5th trip there. I was with the boys (I extended the trip for Jon’s 18th birthday gift and Nick joined us from Leeds, where he studied English Literature and advanced pub crawl in 2008) and we had a great time. See the lady shooting her own image in the car ahead of us? This was shot with the D300 and 18-200VR by the way.
Another from my 5th trip … Jonathan and I were walking back to our hotel late in the evening.
The London Eye is a spectacular sight and a spectacular ride, as you can see from the image above. You can see many of the great landmarks from up there. The Eye is featured prominently in the fireworks video, as it is in fact the center of the action.
Here is a shot I took while waiting in a very long line for a ride. From my first trip with the D70s.
And as we “take off” … the whole ride is modeled after a flight …
If you are not a fan of heights, you might find this thing a bit disconcerting :-)
The Tower Bridge comes next in familiarity. Actually, it comes before the Eye simply because it has been around for a very long time. It is the bridge that is under construction in the final action scene in the 2009 Sherlock Holmes movie with Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law.
Here’s a fairly lucky shot from my first trip of the bridge opening for river traffic. It opens an average of under 3 times per day, so you have to be pretty lucky as a tourist to be standing there when it happens.
It was still open 45 minutes later as were were walking on the bridge, coming back from photographing the Tower of London.
The Tower of London is not all that recognizable, as it is not really much of a tower at all. These shots in this area are all from my first trip with the D70s. People who assume that the older dSLRs don’t cut it an night should really try it … you can pick this camera up for a couple hundred bucks at KEH.com and it makes for a far better camera paired with an older Sigma super zoom than any bridge camera ever made. It is unfortunate that some people think so much of toys when the real deal is not that costly.
I suppose that Piccadilly Circus is probably tied with Big Ben and the Tower Bridge as one of the most recognized sights. This because it is featured in so many films at night … from my 1st trip …
The dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral would rank right up there. This shot is from my 5th trip and was shot with the D300 and the 105 2.5 AIS, a wonderful lens and a bit famous for having shot the Afghan Girl image featured in national Geographic.
Well, that is enough touring of London for now. You get the drift … lots of well-known sites and sights there, even for people who have never been. So here is the BBC’s rendition of the fireworks in London this past 31 December 2010. It blew by mind … I have never seen fireworks like this … intense and constant and long … they go on forever …
A great view through Big Ben to the eye, which is across the Thames at the other end of the Westminster Bridge. This is taken from somewhere near Westminster Abbey.
Note that Big Ben is leaning inward because the camera is pointing slightly up. Projectors for theaters have built in key stoning correction to you can project from a high vantage (roof of the room for example) … so I am quite sure that broadcast-grade cameras must have something like it. I wonder if this is merely an error by the cameraman …
Now much do you think these seats cost?
The Eye really lights up throughout the display …
The relentless onslaught of light and fire is simply breathtaking!
An areal view of the Thames with the Eye swamped by fire in the sky. This is so fricken cool …
Shooting fireworks form the inside of the Eye is a pretty cool trick!
The crowds must have been unbearable :-)
The finale was as spectacular as you could have hoped …
So watch the video below to see the whole 10 minute extravaganza … this links to the HD version, so click full screen to get the best effect …