Cromwell Tower

Cromwell Tower is one of the three residential tower blocks based in the Barbican Estate, London.

It was named after Oliver Cromwell, and is joined by Shakespeare Tower (named after William), and Lauderdale Tower which was named after the Earl of Lauderdale.

I always get lost when walking around this place, trying to get from the station to the library within the Estate involves several flights of stairs, the following of yellow lines drawn on the floor and the cautious trying of doors that I have no idea are locked or unlocked.

I’m much more at peace when I’m looking up to the sky and, though these tower blocks are brutalist, I find them quite striking.

I have never bothered to take photos around this area before, and figured the security/concierge staff who are there would be quite brutalist themselves. As I was walking past with my camera gear, however, I looked up and decided I really wanted to capture this shot.

I crossed over the road to get away from the camera above me and set up the tripod and camera. Once done, I crossed back over and set up the shot swiftly, not knowing how much time I may have. I shot a set of brackets which were nice and quick, and the light was lovely. I then decided I wanted a few more brackets from different angles, so set up in various places always keeping the concrete columns of the building in between myself and the security person sitting behind the desk indoors.

Once I was ready to go I moved my camera two feet lift to take a final shot, fully exposing myself to the person inside and, as expected, was approached 5 seconds later and was being asked the purpose as to why I’m taking these images. The usual back and forth routine started before I headed off site.

In the end I of course used the first set of brackets that I shot – that’s the one I wanted, and that’s the one that turned out the best.

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Snapseed for iPad

Nik Software have released a lovely bit of software or the iPad called Snapseed. I thought I would do a quick summary of it, and have decided to use the image from above to do so.

First up, I imported the image I wanted to use from my dSLR to the iPad; then I went ahead and opened up the Snapseed software:

This was the image as it was originally:

After opening the image I had imported, I was faced with the following options:

Obviously it made sense at this point to rotate the view so I could look at the shot without injuring my neck, so I went ahead and selected the ‘Straighten and rotate’ option which gave me a very nice simple interface with which to rotate the image by click on the directional arrow. Options were available here to simply twist the image slightly with my thumbs, allowing a nice straightening of horizons should I need to.

From here I played with the adjustment and tuning options to edit the contrast, brightness and ambiance of the image. Doing this was straightforward, a simple up and down motion of my finger to scroll through the options to select one to use, and then a left/right sliding gesture to decrease or increase the strength of that option:


If you’re familiar with other Nik Software you’ll be pleased to see that there are focal points on offer so you can pinpoint a section of the image to apply an effect to, and do a pinching movement to change the size of the area you are working with.

I wasn’t too enthused with the software at this point…these steps were very simple and in many ways useful – but they didn’t offer anything to make my image stand out.

That’s when I noticed there was a second page of tools to look at. Now I was faced with more stylistic and artistic options to play with:

First up I applied one of the vintage films, and this added a little more life to the shot straight away, drastically changing the way it looked. You can change the texture and brightness of the filter again by simple motions with your finger:

After this I checked out the ‘Drama’ filters, but I didn’t feel that these really fit the image so only applied one at a very low strength:

Then I moved onto the really fun filter that was ‘Grunge’.

With this filter you could again use simple gestures to work your way to an image you liked, or you could have fun with hitting the shuffle button to produce a random effect such as one of the following:


Once I got something I was pretty happy with I applied one final adjustment by using the Center Focus option. You can specify the focal area and change the size of it as you require, as well as increasing/reducing the amount of blur.

Once all of this was done I saved the final image and emailed it to myself, though you do have the option to go ahead and send it to Flickr/Facebook to share with friends.

Here’s the final image I ended up with once the whole process was complete:

Snapseed for iPad

All in all, I don’t know how much I would really use this as I don’t do much by way of photography on the iPad and it’s really no competitor to the PC/Mac software you can use for your processing; however it is very simple to use and has some great features so if you’re the type of person who enjoys playing around with things such as Instagram then this could be a great addition to your iPad apps. Check it out.

It’s available for £2.99/$4.99 in the App store. I also just wish to mention that I am in no way affiliated with Nik Software, and I will not profit from you following any of the links in this post.

15 thoughts on “Cromwell Tower”

  1. I use my iPad for photo editing when I am traveling, or just too lazy to carry a laptop. I’ll have to check this app out at some point. I’m digging the perspective and all the texture of the building.

  2. Cool shot of the estate – nice perspective on it! The software looks interesting too. I don’t edit photos on my iPad, but if I do, I will consider it!

  3. Wow – I really need to get myself an iPad.

    Didn’t know Nik Software had released this to thanks for providing the walkthough of sorts. Final image is pretty cool and like “Flickr: koonsphotography” it does look like the matrix

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