Tag Archives: view
So, after many months of waiting since buying tickets, The View from the Shard has finally opened to the public. I had pre-booked tickets for the opening day, which will come as no surprise to those who follow my work as you will likely know that I just love a good view over London.
I must say that I was pretty underwhelmed by my visit, however, so will go over a few items here.
Well, I obviously have to start with this. It’s the tallest building in Europe so you’re guaranteed to be towering over everything else and be able to see for a long way while up here. You can certainly see all of London sprawled out in front of you, and with 360 degree views you can pick out pretty much any landmark you want (not that there’s much to the south). There are a couple of levels you can go to, though at the height you’re at there is no real difference between the two, and even though I was there on the first day (which was sold out), there didn’t seem to be very many people up there and I was easily able to get to any of the window spots that I wanted to. I was also very lucky with the weather as the rain that had dominated the morning seemed to go away as I was leaving work and I had lots of clouds and a bit of blue sky for my visit. Phew.
The Photographer’s View
Well, I do sure love a view but, for me, the main point of visiting places is to take a few photos. I’ve been fortunate to take in many different views of London from the top of many buildings, some public and some as part of Urbex trips. As such, I’ve been behind glass for many, but with a clear and unrestricted view for others. I have problems with places like the Gherkin, Centre Point and the BT Tower – some are simply the fact you’re behind extremely reflective glass, some because the building design prohibits a clear photograph, others are simply too high and away from the things that you want to shoot for them to be a great spot.
Unfortunately the Shard falls into all three of these categories. It’s certainly too high to view the things you want to in detail, the double paned glass is way too reflective of the bright interior, and when you do get a clean bit of glass without reflections you’re often then faced with a bit of the awkwardly shaped building popping into the view.
Perhaps I’ve been spoilt by the fact I’ve stood on some amazing rooftops without any glass in the way, but I feel somewhere like St Paul’s is of the right height and has a nice view that surpasses the Shard, especially when it comes to taking photos. Of course one of the main problems with being up the Shard and looking out is that you can’t actually take a picture of the Shard itself, which is one of the things I seek out in the London skyline now.
Speaking of the windows, they were shockingly dirty on the opening day. There were plenty of guys who were doing the window cleaning on the building as well…but they certainly didn’t seem to be cleaning up the windows the public would be viewing out of. The whole area seemed to be dirty, and sure the top floors are open to the elements but the layer of dirt that was visible there was also visible on the stairs and other levels in a way that I doubt is quite what it should be – especially on the opening day. Note also that the top level, when I say is open to the elements, still restricts your view behind glass. A glass design closer to Rockefeller Centre in New York where there are gaps to shoot through would have made much more sense to me.
Prior to going up the cost of £25 for my adult advance ticket didn’t seem like an issue. When it comes to cost it’s all relative to the individual and what some find reasonable, others find expensive. I do feel getting just £5 off for a child as young as 4 is poor, however, as is the ludicrous queue jump fee of £100.
I will certainly not be handing over £25 in the near future for a return trip, but then I’m not too sure I would be rushing back at £5 either to be honest.
No tripods or monopods are allowed up to the view. That’s not just ‘not allowed to be used’ but simply ‘not allowed up’. I wanted my tripod for the evening so took it anyway, and as it fits into my rucksack (which was within the size limits) I thought there would be no harm in trying. This was taken by security upon entry, and so the only way I could proceed was to leave the tripod with them at their security desk and rely on my ability to identify it, assuming it was still there, on the way down.
That’s cool though, as it does state in the terms and conditions that they aren’t allowed and, as the woman at the security desk stated, ‘they’re the rules’.
Imagine my surprise and frustration when I then got up there and found three people using tripods and nobody caring about it. It’s possible they could have been press and got a pass to do so, but they certainly didn’t appear to be press. I would imagine the non-tripod rule is also due to ‘health and safety’ – it normally is – and no press pass would prevent an open tripod being a safety hazard (it’s not a safety hazard, I hear you say, oh yes – I very much agree there).
The saving grace for me in this place were the staff. Every one I came into contact with were very nice. Everyone was professional, happy, and full of enthusiasm. I’m pretty sure they must have been trained in the US. It was a delight to interact with them and I hope their levels of good will for the Shard and those who pass through it every day continues for the life of this attraction.
Highlights of the trip
Watching the trains navigate their way around London on the winding tracks below.
Watching the window cleaners climb around and wishing I was doing the same.
Lowlights of the trip
Lack of ‘one rule for all’ when it came to tripods.
The dirt that was clearly visible throughout, even though it was day one.
The design of the building not really fitting together in the way I feel a viewing platform should.
Will I return there?
Not in the near future.
On my first night in New York I headed to the place which was my #1 go to location for this trip, the Top of the Rock. I headed up about an hour before sunset and took in my first look of the city from up high, an awesome view for sure.
I was lucky with the weather, as I managed to stay up there for hours without a jacket, watching as the sun set over the city and the the transition for day to night arrived with the blinking on of office lights and neon signs.
The Empire State building is one of the most iconic in this city, and the fact you can see it so well from the Rock, along with the fact the space up top is better planned for people and photographers, makes this location better than the Empire State for views to be honest. Sure, the Empire allows access up to the 102nd floor, but sometimes that’s just a little too high. You only really need 30 or 40 floors to get a great and detailed view of what’s below you.
I don’t yet know New York well enough to figure out what all of the buildings in the shot may be, but you can see the Empire State Building, obviously, the under construction World Trade Center Towers, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis island in the distance and…well…you can go ahead and name any others. I would be interested to know what the prominent building on the right is.
Pan drops are a mint sweet, however the title fits here due to the angle from which I’m taking a photo from the Pan Peninsular in London and combined with the fact this is the location where I managed to drop the 5d Mark 2. As said before, I luckily dropped it to my feet and not over the edge where it would have had this nice long drop to the ground below.
I hope everyone had a nice weekend
Stood high up on the corner of a building, watching as the city moves quietly below is a great sensation, and a huge contrast to the regular daytime where you are pushing your way through the hoards of people fighting for space on the streets or public transport.
It’s peaceful up there, alone with your thoughts and the heightened senses that comes with standing in a location where you know in your mind you should be safe, it is just standing still after all – something you do every day, but with the knowledge that if something were to happen it would not end well.
I fainted on the tube once, many years ago. I wasn’t sick, hand’t been drinking the night before, and was just on my way to work. It wasn’t blistering heat or anything like that…for some reason I just fainted. One minute standing up, the next feeling I was in bed and trapped in my duvet, and the next realising I was on the tube. I was sick for three days after that but the doctors didn’t find anything wrong with me.
It’s that thought I come back to often when stood on the edge. I’m confident in my ability to stand, to hold, to climb. I’m not confident that the sudden blackness that I encountered many years ago won’t return for some unknown reason.
On this particular trip, as I stood on a similar outcropping section of an incomplete building, concentrating on standing, willing myself to breathe and with my thoughts on that day that I fainted I was suddenly brought back to reality by a shout of ‘Oi…Police’ and the shining of a torch in my eyes. Not the best place to be stood when someone startles you. Unable to see anything but the torchlight on one side and a 20 storey drop to the other I walked sheepishly towards the light, happy that there wasn’t a bounding police dog to go with that shout, but sad that this particular trip should end so soon after it started.
First up, a very happy birthday to Steve who has just hit the mid-30s range of the life scale.
Second, we have a rooftop, a multiplicity of the hooded character and a London skyline – what more do you want on a Friday? If the hooded guy has 9 lives it looks like he’s already lost 2 of them somewhere along with way – hopefully this weekend won’t see any more disappearing
Have a great one everybody.
Sometimes on a hot day you want nothing more than to sit beside the ocean, listening to the waves crashing, and watching as the clouds go by. I gather this young lady wanted nothing more, as she sat on the edge of this cliff with her handbag as a pillow.
The lighthouse you see below may be familiar to regular visitors to the blog as I have taken a few shots of it previously, both from up on the cliff and down at the base. It’s in Beachy Head down on the South Coast of England.
Those with especially good memories will also recall that it’s the #3 suicide hotspot in the world. However on this beautiful, and very hot, summer day I think those getting close to the edge were simply there for the view, be it of the lighthouse, the cliff, or a pretty girl trying to take a nap.
I’m a photographer, your honour, not a pervert.
Craigievar castle was the penultimate stop for me on my whirlwind road trip around Scotland earlier this year, and as the final planned stop was a bit of a no-go it’s also one of the last images I took during that holiday.
Steve had picked it out as a destination so I don’t know the history of it…and anything I learnt at the time has long since been removed from my memory. Right now the prospect of going to Wikipedia and finding information is just too daunting for me and my current workload.
So…your task for today is to find an interesting fact about this place…including confirming that it’s called Craigievar, and leaving any interesting tidbits in the comments section.
Thanks also for the warm receipt and friendly shares you all gave to yesterday’s image – and apologies that I haven’t had the time to check out any other blogs this week. Roll on the weekend!
Another shot from my helicopter ride a few months ago.
This scene needs no real introduction as I’m sure everyone will recognise the Houses of Parliament with ‘Big Ben’ and the London Eye with the river Thames snaking between them.
Here’s a few facts about the former:
– The tower which has the clock and chimes is not called Big Ben, it’s called the Clock Tower.
– Big Ben II is the name of the bell that chimes; the original Big Ben was cracked beyond repair shortly after it was put in place.
– The current bell is also visibly cracked, but still usable.
– Clock Tower is leaning slightly…not as much as the tower at Pisa, but a little bit.
– I’ve stood beside Big Ben as it’s being struck, watching the hammer hit it – it’s pretty loud.
This is one of the views on offer from the Golden Gallery, a viewing platform at the top of the dome on St Paul’s Cathedral. The two towers you see are part of the cathedral itself with Ludgate Hill running away from it and into Fleet Street in the distance.
The Thames runs down the left hand side, with the Millennium Wheel and BT Tower two of the visible iconic buildings in the frame.
I’ve made a couple of trips up here over the past month or two and look forward to returning again as winter sets in. It’s pretty busy up on the small Golden Gallery, so I’m hoping the coldness of winter will keep people away and allow me to take some shots as day turns to night, not possible just now with the early closing hours. I’m also thinking this may be a nice place to try and get a timelapse video done.
This is where the Queen lives.
I live in a studio flat.
I bet every single room in that building, including the 72 pantries, are all bigger than my flat.
This little square is just beside St Paul’s Cathedral and is pretty easy to miss as you walk past. Most of the time you will follow the path of St Paul’s as you navigate around it, and all eyes and cameras are usually aimed at the cathedral itself.
It’s a nice little area though, featuring the main column seen in this image, a 23m tall monument often referred to simply as The Pineapple due to the golden pineapple at the top. There is also a sculpture called Shepherd and Sheep by Dame Elisabeth Frink which you can just see at the vert bottom right of the frame.
Pineapples are a common feature around this area of London and you will often see them worked into the architecture, adopted by architectures as this rare delicacy was a sign of wealth and hospitality and were only grown by the richest of landowners who could afford the expensive glass used for greenhouses. Due to this
I thought I would end the week with a fun post.
On Monday I took a trip up to the 34th floor of the iconic BT Tower. Though this location is normally very much closed to the public, there are various events which are held up on this floor for those willing to splash out and book such a lovely location. Several weeks ago I had been emailed by a lady at freedomfromtorture.org who had been scouting my work online and saw that I loved to take photos of London from high places, and so invited me to the event for a nominal fee to support their charity.
I of course didn’t want to pass up this chance to attend such a venue.
I haven’t taken the time to look through and process the images from this location yet, with the exception of this one shot.
I was in a fun mood when processing, and so opted to add King Kong to the top of one of the building. I must stress that this was added during post process, and there isn’t really a giant ape swinging from building to building in London (that I know of).
I hope everyone has a great weekend.
A shot of The Shard in the early morning, with Tower Bridge to the immediate left, and a mist covered Canary Wharf in the background.
When complete in 2012, The Shard will be the tallest building in Europe – and it’s certainly viewable from most locations in London as it’s being built. I’m quite fascinated by it.
It’s rare that I’m up for the magic hour first thing in the morning, but I had been out all night taking photos from a few different rooftops and it was really nice to be able to get some daylight shots from such a location when 90% of the time I take night shots only. It wasn’t the best sunrise ever, but the light was still very good, the wind was extremely minimal and it was pleasantly warm.
I was on my best behaviour when in San Francisco. I had made a promise not to climb up anywhere, and I stuck to that throughout the duration of my trip.
Of course…I’m always one who looks for an opportunity, and when one falls into my lap I would be a fool not to take it…right?
So, it’s the last day of my trip. If you’re a regular reader you will know that this is the day I was lugging my camera gear around with me (and it was the day it rained pretty much non-stop), and there were a few more receptions for me to go to before dinner and so I venture to one which is held in a hotel. It’s a popular one…there is a queue in the lobby to try and get into the lift, not helped by the fact one or two of the lifts were also out of order. I feel sorry for any guests attempting to get to their room as this queue consists of trademark and patent people who just want to get to the reception for the free drink, food and networking opportunities.
I eventually get into the lift and am pleased to see it’s one with the glass wall facing the outside of the building so you can watch the ground fall away from you as you ascend upwards to the clouds. We headed up to the 32nd floor and found ourselves in the middle of party, one very large room with windows all around it offering great 200 degree panoramic views of San Francisco from up high.
There were two problems I could see as I stood there:
1. The windows would annoy me if taking photos.
2. The queue for the wine was longer than the queue for the elevator was.
I took a few shots through the windows as I worked my way around to the drinks, and then did the usual stuff you do at these things where you stand around and chat to people.
After a while, some of the people in the group I was with suggested that the views from this floor are 360 degrees and they felt we can just walk right around to see them all – this was quickly overruled as we attempted to first walk through the kitchen and was quickly ushered back by the head waitress. Darn it.
“Any chance I can get on the roof?” I asked her
She laughed at me, a little in disbelief…”Even I’m not allowed on the roof!” she responded.
“Aw, that sucks. See, I have this thing where I love going up to rooftops and taking photos…” I pulled out my camera and showed her the images I had taken from the London rooftop a few days ago and which were still on my camera.
“Sorry…you can’t get on the roof” she repeated, but I could see she liked the images.
We stood in silence for a few seconds.
I followed her through the kitchen and she opened a door labelled ‘Fire Exit’ at which point I felt a gust of wind hit me. It wasn’t the roof, but I was out on a small balcony that was occupied by window cleaning apparatus.
“Please don’t do anything stupid…” she said, obviously thinking of my images with me stood on the edge of a building.
Okay, I have to admit this wasn’t the best view I could have had from this building. It was on the wrong side for a start, so the whole bay area, Golden Gate bridge, Alcatraz etc were on the other side of me. But I was grateful for what I could get and the important thing is that no glass was in the way.
I was faced with the new problem that I had no tripod and the wind up here was pretty strong, so balanced the camera as best as I could on the flimsy railing and took a few shots before heading back indoors. Photomatix once again did a great job of aligning the images so that the ghosting effect of the slight movement disappeared.
Earlier this year I managed to get onto the roof of a hotel in London just by walking in the front door and asking; staff were too confused to turn me away…which just goes to show, if you don’t ask you don’t get.
Have a nice weekend everyone.
I was up a few high buildings over the bank holiday weekend, but didn’t seem to take too many shots up there. I seem to be spending more and more time enjoying the locations I visit and less time snapping anything and everything in sight.
For this shot I had an idea of what I wanted to achieve and, apart from donning a cape a mask, managed to get pretty close to it.
I’m not too deluded though. I know I’m not Batman, nor a super hero of any other kind. He is one of my favourites though simply because he’s a ‘superhero’ without having all of the actual superpowers that others possess. Spider-man has his web thing and is quite jumpy, Superman can fly, has super strength and x-ray vision etc.
Batman is just a man with a cape and some really cool tech and a bit of ninja skills. We could all have that if we had the funds and time to invest in it.
For my final monotone image of the week I’m returning to a partially built building in East London which offers a good (but not spectacular) view of London.
As with all of these kinds of shots, I love playing ‘spot the landmark’, and you’ll be able to see several iconic ones rising from the London skyline in this particular shot. I actually quite like this shot in comparison to my other night time, high up ones. When I first started to take them, a whole six months ago now, there was always an orange tint as I a) didn’t set the white balance in camera and b) didn’t have a clue you could use the ‘tungsten’ feature (or other WB features) in post. To go from that to this is pretty different.
I finally took the time to check out the new HDR tutorial from Matty over at ShutterRunner.com. I’ve read a few HDR Tutorials before, when first starting out, and have seen a couple of videos on the matter since so wasn’t too sure if Matty could offer anything unique in his one. It’s split into two parts:
Part One – Capturing the Brackets
This part quickly goes through the camera settings used when taking the initial shots of a scene and is pretty standard. I don’t feel I learnt anything here, but would like to emphasize the use of Aperture Priority mode when shooting for HDR. I’ve been on a few trips with friends who are learning and note that they are trying to set up the shutter speed themselves rather than leaving it to the camera and have certainly found better, more consistent results, in AV mode. Certainly check out this section if you are new to shooting HDR.
Part Two – Processing the Photo
Here Matty takes a look at correcting white balance, doing the initial tone mapping in Photomatix and then doing further post in Photoshop. I enjoy watching these types of videos, though rarely actually do bother to watch them. It’s interesting to see the way other people work though, and good to compare with the way I currently do things.
Straight off the bat here I started to learn things. Having only used the preset white balance options in Lightroom previously I was pleased to see another way to set the white balance which is likely to bring out better results.
I don’t think the Photomatix stage had much to add for me, I’ve become pretty familiar with this software over the months.
The final stage in Photoshop just made me realize that I really do need to learn how to start masking things properly, something that’s pretty new to me. I felt that this stage ended a little abruptly and would have liked to see a little more on the techniques used in post, though perhaps that would have only been possible with another image as the focus point of the tutorial.
All in all it was a good tutorial, and I would suggest that you check it out…particularly if new to HDR. If you’ve been doing this for some time you may not learn too much that’s new, but may find it interesting to see the way someone else works and, like I did, certainly learn a few things that will be useful for the future.
Check out the ShutterRunner.com HDR tutorial now, and thanks to Matty for taking the time to produce and share it.
This is the image used for my ‘Portfolio’ link in the header bar of this site. I previously looked at the ‘Home’ image, so if you’re guessing that I am going to work my way through all of them at some point – you would be right.
To date, this is my favourite image. I see flaws in it, and often think about redoing it, but as it stands I feel it’s the best image I have created, even if it’s not technically as good as some of my others. I think my favourite detail within the image is the two men standing outside the lit doorway of the building on the right hand side.
A week before taking this image I had seen this shot from Mark Bundell over on HDRSpotting. I thought I knew London pretty well, but this was such a unique angle I just had to find out where Mark had shot it from – and it was from here that I stumbled upon the wonderful world of Urban Exploration.
So, this shot was taken from the roof of Temple Court on my first eve UrbEx outing that weekend. It was bonfire weekend, and I had just spent the night in freezing conditions trying to set a load of shop bought fireworks off in a couple of locations in North London when we drove to this location at around 11pm.
I was nervous, and had butterflies in my stomach as we left the car and made the short walk to the property. This lasted up until we had arrived at the property and made our way quickly over the hoarding. From there the excitement and adrenaline kicked in, and we easily found our way up to the top floor and then, after missing the narrow metal ladder on our first torch-lit sweep of the top floor, up to the roof. It was wonderful, and I was hooked.
The image was three brackets and was taken before I had my wide angle, and was also processed before I realised I could change the White Balance at the time of processing to get rid of the orange glow (such a newbie!). I think I could process it much better if redoing it today, and much more realistic – but I kinda dig the computer game/Gotham City look. ‘Watling Street’ is the one that runs down the middle of the image splitting it in half.
If I was ever to print any of my work onto canvas I think this would be the first to get done.
The link in the header goes to my ‘portfolio’ though I haven’t quite figured out what that is yet. I have it with Smugmug and have various folders, of which one is called ‘portfolio’ but I haven’t really got a guide in my mind as to which images should/should not go in there. I quite like smugmug though, and will keep up my subscription, and like how it handles client folders so the stuff I do for friends or, one day, actual clients can go up there and I can easily determine the privacy settings. I guess it’s just a little more professional and ‘grown up’ than Flickr.