Night shoot along the South Bank

We met up at the Festival Hall, then spent what felt like ages waiting for the endarkenment over the House of Parliament by County Hall. And yes, we got told off for tripods, but it turns out you can use a collapsed tripod on a wall just as easily. Dusk fell, Parliament got lit and we spent too much time there. It was too cloudy for a decent sunset but someone up in the London eye must have got one because there was a hint peeking through the buildings and the buildings facing West got a good bath in red light.

We wandered back to the Festival Hall via the obligatory long exposure of a roundabout and up on to the fifth floor of the festival hall for what was quite an impressive “blue hour”. From there, it was an onwards amble to the Tate for the obligatory shots of the wobbly bridge. By this point we were getting cold and a  bit night-blind so it was a fairly brisk walk to London Bridge where we found our target pub closed. So home and sorting pictures and a beer there it turned out to be.

Not convinced by my lenses. I know my 12-24mm Tokina is a bit beaten up, but I wasn’t convinced by the 20mm f/2.8 even though it’s taken great shots in other situations. If anything my £100 55-200mm Tamron was the sharpest up close. Solange’s D700 with the f/2.8 zoom seemed much sharper with better colours.

Overall, it was a good experience even if my sensor was dirty despite cleaning it at the outset. I’d give the photos a 3/5, I think I’ve got a way to go with this. They could do with turning down the lights on St Paul’s: it’s just too damn bright compared to everything else. We also missed our target of getting to the other side of London Bridge to get a view of Tower bridge. I’d certainly spend less time in certain places and move on. It’ll be worse in the summer when there’s even less dark time.

Top tips for shooting at night:

  • Use your best ISO, and best aperture for your lens (usually f/8 ish)
  • Take as long an exposure as you need
  • Beware over-bright things. Like St Paul’s
  • Shoot RAW so you can fix colour temperature and shadows/highlights,
  • Use a tripod. You can always put it on a wall, collapsed if you get grief from “security”
  • Usually use a wide angle lens,
  • Use the self-timer to get rid of camera shake.
  • Make sure your sensor is clean!

Anyhow, the pictures. I reckon the ones in the middle round the blue hour from the Festival Hall balcony are my favorites. Thanks to Craig, Solange and Paul for coming out with me!


South Bank Night Photowalk – Images by David Hodgkinson

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