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  • Jamie Dean

City Skyline and Tower Bridge

Updated: Jan 17, 2020

The City of London skyline, including (left to right) The Walkie-talkie, The Pinnacle, The Cheese Grater, The Scalpel and The Gherkin.

Once again the alarm sounded at 04:30am, I was already awake, of course, but it was more of a prompt that I needed to get out of bed. I checked I had all the photographic equipment I was planing to use this morning. It was all tightly packed into my black Billingham Hadley camera bag. Inside was the D800, 24-70mm and 16-35mm. I also had my pouch of Lee filters as I was planing to use one or two of these today. Where was I going? Well, to continue with my Mornings in London I was heading off to shoot the iconic Tower Bridge. The forecast was mixed, with a good possibility of a sunrise. I may have to reconsider my shooting location if that is the case. I caught an early train into London Bridge, early enough to miss the crowds of commuters and the pushing and shoving. After a short walk from the station along the South Bank I arrived at my planned viewpoint to make my image of the bridge, but on arrival there was already two photographers in the location. They looked more like tourist than serious photographers so I guessed they would grab their shots and move on. So I hung around for a short time and I was right they didn't stay too long. The stairs down to the ledge where I'd be setting up my Gitzo were wet and the River Thames wetly kissed the bottoms stairs. My idea for the composition was to include these bottom stairs and the hand rails in the foreground and then the illuminated bridge looming in the background. I had to switch to the 16-30mm as 24mm just wasn't quite wide enough. As I was shooting and the blue hour was passing I noticed the sky was beginning to take on the familiar orange hues of a sunrise. I collapsed the Gitzo and quickly relocated to the west side of the bridge to be able to have this colourful sky as backdrop.

The shot that I wanted, the hand rail and steps in the foreground and the illuminated Tower Bridge in the background. shot during the blue hour.

The More London Riverside security team was beginning to take an interest, a big DSLR (I have the vertical grip attached to my D800) and a tripod. I could almost hear their brains trying to work out if I was a professional photographer or not, if they came to that conclusion they will probably approach me to inform me that I wasn't allow to use a tripod. Having photographed at More London in the past, when I had applied and received a permit to use a tripod, I was careful to only use my Gitzo on the Thames Path acces, which I would be able to do as it was a public footpath. One of my favourite images from the morning was actually shot on my iPhone (last image below), the reason being it was on my iPhone was that I was actual on the More London estate when I captured it. In hindsight I guess I could have set the tripod up, if I was quick enough before being hassled. Or even hand held the D800. Anyways, at least I have the shot, whatever the quality. There is always something magical about being out in the streets of London as the city begins to wake up and come to life. It was great to see the commuters taking time out of familiar routine walk to work to also appreciate and capture the sunrise on their mobile phones, before moving on to their daily grind.

The sun rising behind the iconic Tower Bridge.
Shot on my iPhone. {For more of more iPhone photography, check out @jdiphonography on Instagram]

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