davidbjorgen
davidbjorgen

Big Ben at Night



The iconic Clock Tower (informally known as "Big Ben") in London, England. A double decker bus travels past, leaving light streaks....
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The iconic Clock Tower (informally known as "Big Ben") in London, England. A double decker bus travels past, leaving light streaks.
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Contest Finalist in Fast Moving Photo Contest
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1 Comment | Report
maudrietjens
 
maudrietjens January 02, 2017
great picture! maybe you would like to join my challenge: Londons greatest buildings

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Behind The Lens

Location
This photo was shot in London on the Westminster Bridge, an iconic bridge that crosses the Thames River.
Time
This shot was shortly after sunset. The moon was high in the sky and the last lingering remains of light created a nice "blue hour" effect in the sky. According to my camera settings, this shot was taken a little after 9:00 PM (21:00) in early April.
Lighting
The sky was a rich blue color which contrasted well with the orange glow of the city lighting. The long shutter speeds created nice light trails from the passing cars. I was taking multiple shots and at one point I caught the tail end of a passing double-decker bus, which created a nice lighting effect which created leading lines towards the Clock Tower. After that, it was a matter of waiting for the right moment and timing out my shots to include passing busses.
Equipment
I shot this with a Canon 40D mounted on a tripod and a Canon 10-22mm wide angle lens. An f-stop of 9.0 maximized sharpness from foreground to background. The shutter speed was 4 seconds – long enough to capture vehicle light trails. Camera ISO was set to 200 to minimize noise, especially since the Canon 40D is pretty terrible in low light. I used a shutter release to minimize camera shake.
Inspiration
I had started earlier in the evening across the Thames River from the Houses of Parliament, attempting to get some sunset shots. The shots turned out OK, but nothing spectacular. As it became darker, I packed up my gear and decided to move on. While crossing the Westminster Bridge on foot, I decided to break out my tripod and camera and capture the Clock Tower and Big Ben against the city skyline. When I set out to photograph the Houses of Parliament at sunset, I had no idea that this later shot would end up being my favorite shot of the day.
Editing
This shot is a combination of several exposures. I had a shot with the perfect light trails from the bus but the pedestrian part of the bridge was cluttered and not lit well. I used Photoshop to paint in the bridge from another shot – one that contained a less crowded scene. In addition, the 4-second shutter speed left the details on the clock face blown out, so I Photoshopped in the clock face from another shot that had a better exposure. The overall shot only required minor adjustments: slight exposure tweaks, some color balance and some sharpening.
In my camera bag
These days I carry my trusty Sony A7r with me when I travel. I shot with Canon for over a decade, but I switched from Canon to Sony over a year ago because I was impressed with what Sony was doing with mirrorless technology. I try to travel light, so mirrorless full frame works well for me. I carry only a handful of lenses: Sony 24-70 f/4, Sony 16-35 f/4, and a Minolta 50mm f/1.2 mounted on an adapter. I use a Sirui T-025X lightweight carbon fiber travel tripod. I also carry a small table top tripod, a set of filters and a filter holder, extra batteries and memory cards, lens clothes, and rain sleeves for my camera. All of this fits in a lightweight Think Tank Photo CityWalker 10 camera bag.
Feedback
Always be willing to explore new angles, new lighting, and new perspectives. In this case I had packed up my gear for the day, but a new perspective prompted me to set everything back up and I walked away with a shot that I was pleased with. Also be willing to shoot the same location at different times of the day. This scene would not be as dynamic during the day without the night lights and the light trails from the passing vehicles.

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