Westminster Abbey Photographed at Night
– For this weeks Featured Image of the week I went back to my visit to the amazing city of London to find this shot of Westminster Abbey. Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of the funeral service for Diana, Princess of Wales. After watching a great documentary (on Netflix) about the national crisis that occurred after her 1997 death in Paris this felt like a good image to feature this week.
London was my first European capital city and I instantly feel in love with the amazing architecture, delicious food and the sense of history that seemed to be everywhere I looked. I loved seeing the capital of England in the daytime, but at night it was especially beautiful.
the Trafalgar Hotel
I was super lucky to be able to travel to London and Paris, but if there was one thing I wish I had more of it was time. I only had a few days in London and a few in Paris so sightseeing (and taking pictures) had to happen on an extremely short schedule. I made sure I saw as many of the major sights in London and this was made easier by our choice of hotel, The Trafalgar Hotel. Here’s a look at the hotel from the sidewalk on Cocksure Street:
In addition to being located just steps from Trafalgar Square and the Admiralty Arch, I could walk to Kensington Palace, The Parliament Building (where Elizabeth Tower stands) and Westminster Abbey. I loved seeing the city from the rooftop bar and when the sun set everything really came to life. Here’s a shot from the roof of the Hotel Trafalgar:
I spent my first day in London walking around the city and enjoying the sights, but the rooftop bar on my first night gave me a taste of just how amazing London was going to be every night.
On my first day walking around London I had my very first look at a grand European cathedral known as Westminster Abbey. I took in the exterior of the beautiful building but, with such limited time, I didn’t get a chance to see the interior. I took a few pictures outside on that first walk, but I was hoping it would be lit up at night so I could come back and take pictures with less tourists in the shots. The good news is I had my daytime shots just in case my night time adventure didn’t work out.
When I did return I discovered Westminster Abbey lit up better than I could have imagined. The lighting was spectacular and I took a number of pictures before I had to move on to different night time subjects. Here’s a “landscape” shot of the Abbey that is one of my favorites from my night time walk:
I liked the shot so much, in fact, it’s one of the images I had printed and framed to hang on my living room wall.
In addition to the wider shot I took a taller version (the shot I’m featuring today). The taller (portrait) version of the shot has a bit more detail to the abbey with less of the surroundings, but I often take shots both horizontally and vertically of just about everything to make sure I can fit the pictures into any project. For example – a horizontal image will work best in a presentation, but a vertical shot works better as a phone background.
Getting the Shot
To get the shot I found a safe place on the sidewalk in front of the cathedral where I knew I’d be out of everyone’s way.I used my Sony a6000 with my 16mm f2.8 lens. To keep my camera steady I used a “L” bracket and locked the camera to my travel tripod and I triggered my camera with a Sony remote (to make sure I didn’t move the camera when I triggered the camera). For this shot I set my camera to ISO 200 in Aperture Priority mode and chose f7.1 aperture to get a shutter speed of 1.6 seconds.
If there’s one brand I absolutely love it’s Think Tank Photo. I brought a backpack of gear on my trip to London and Paris, but for my photowalks I only carried a bit of photography gear. To make sure what I was carrying was comfortable I used my Think Tank Photo Pro Speed Belt V2.0. I carried some lenses on my Think Tank Lens Changer 25 and additional accessories in my Think Tank Stuff It belt pouch. The Think Tank belt system let’s me only bring what I really need and it’s so much easier on my back than a big backpack (which stays at the hotel). I’ve also tried lots of shoulder bags and, while they’re good for general transporting, for long photo walks they’re always been too much weight on a single shoulder once they’re full of gear. The Think Tank system gives me the comfort I want when I’m on a photo walk and it gives me a little extra protection for my gear when it’s in my backpack. I’ll be talking a lot more about my Think Tank gear in a future article.
To carry my camera I use a Black Rapid Curve strap with an accessory pouch for extra batteries and memory cards. Like the Think Tank belts system I love the comfort of the “over the shoulder” straps made by Black Rapid. If you’re carrying a camera around for long photo walks I’d highly recommend ditching the strap that came with your camera and checking out Black Rapid straps.
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