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Long Exposure Photo of Blackfriars Bridge

Blackfriars Bridge is an arch bridge spanning the Thames River. In my opinion, the aesthetics of the bridge are some of the finest in Central London. Maybe the appearance of the bridge is dramatically masculine in my mind and that’s why I appreciate it so much. There are actually two bridges. One bridge is the rail bridge most recently renovated and is now the only solar-powered bridge in London. The second bridge called Blackfriars is for vehicular traffic and pedestrians. The initial construction of the bridges began in 1760, which is interesting because the ironwork takes me only to the Victorian era, which is a mistake to place it in that era.

The Blackfriars Bridge Area has changed drastically since the redevelopment of the rail bridge. While quite a nice update, the rail bridge now masks anything and everything that is eastward along the River Thames. Views from this bridge are blocked. The bridge does have some great colours to play with, especially at night. Looking westward, however, Oxo Tower / Wharf are in perfect view as well as is some of the Southbank. The river curves just enough, and Blackfriars is too far down the river for anything else to be in suitable photographic view.

Blackfriars Bridge and Traffic

The Blackfriars area is still worth exploring, and a nice opportunity to find what is interesting for your London Night Photography. It does take time, so plan to spend some time opening your eyes in creative ways. Walk along the bridge, but on the north sidewalk down the steps for some interesting shots. Below are three photographs I captured around Blackfriars. As you can see, the lighting and play with light streams are what make the images interesting.

Typically, Blackfriars will be on your way as you check off your list of other things to do in London. Stop briefly to admire the workmanship of the bridge if you’re here. Don’t make a special effort to go here otherwise.

Long Exposure Photo of London UK

For better views of London, you will enjoy Westminster Bridge or Millennium Bridge.

Map Showing the Location of Blackfriars Bridge

 

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Camden Town is popular with the young crowd and tourists who believe the guidebooks. Camden hasn’t been a favourite place of mine though it is interesting for photography; thus, I include Camden Town on my list of the best places to photograph London.

Camden Town has been a residential area since the 1790s. But it was only the development of the Grand Union Canal and the improved railway transport that turned it into a bustling part of London. Today, visitors and locals gather here to hunt for treasures in Camden’s markets, stroll by Regent’s Canal, sample cuisine from around the world and listen to live music. Many famous people, including Dylan Thomas, Walter Sickert and Amy Winehouse, have made Camden their home.

I do especially love Regents Canal. If you plan to walk the canal with your camera at night, please careful and mindful of those around you.

Where is Camden Town? How Do I Get To Camden Town?
Camden Town GPS Coordinates :: 51.5390° N, 0.1426° W

A discussion on the variety of peppercorns and their uses. Pepper/peppercorns are one of the essential spices, and add flavour to almost every dish. Along with salt, it is the one spice that you use on almost everything.

One interesting fact is that peppercorns are actually considered fruit. They grow on vines that reach up to 13 feet long. The peppercorn itself is the fruit of the vine. Vietnam is the worlds largest producer of peppercorns, followed by India, Brazil, and Indonesia.

There are four basic types of peppercorns (shown below): black, white, green and red ( or pink), black being the most common. The Black peppercorn is actually a green one, that has been picked and allowed to dry. The white peppercorn is actually the black peppercorn with the rough outer skin removed after having been soaked. The natural state peppercorn is the green one, which is most often packaged with water in a jar or can.

The red peppercorn is the mature un-hulled version of the black peppercorn. They are a bit difficult to find. The pink peppercorn, on the other hand, is from a completely different plant. Grown primarily in Madagascar, they can be quite expensive. Flavour-wise they not as strong as the black pepper, and have a slightly sweeter taste.

As well as using pepper as a direct spice on meat, chicken, pork, salads, and veggies; you will discover that peppercorns are a fabulous addition to sauces.

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Purnama, or full moon, is a very special day in Bali when the gods descend upon the island to spread goodwill. During the full moon, colourful ceremonies are held in Temples in almost every corner of Bali. Prayers, music and celebration take place. For a westerner, the activities are overwhelming to the senses, but an experience not to miss.

In recent years attending a full moon ceremony became common amongst tour companies in Bali. Busloads of tourists are dropped off at main Temples only to be left to wonder what is taking place. For a ceremony so serious, being left to wonder hardly accomplishes much for those wanting to know more about Balinese culture.

It is possible to attend ceremonies in small villages, and they are aplenty throughout Bali. Small villages offer an authentic experience and the likelihood of being the only foreigner at the Temple is high. My first experience at a full moon ceremony was in Penempahan, which until recently wasn’t identified on a map.

Upon arrival, I was met by Gede, a young Balinese, who was curious why I was there. After I told him, he welcomed me in the Temple and took me through every part of the ceremony. Gede also explained to me what was happening right in front of me. I not only witnessed the procession into the temple but also learned the importance of offerings for the gods. Quite especially,  I was blessed by the priest during the ceremony and prayed with the villagers. The Balinese Hindu pray for good health, good fortune, or plentiful rice crops. The Balinese are descended from Indian Hindus, though over time, Balinese Hinduism developed into its own unique religion.

It turned out Gede is the son of the Village Leader. Since that day, Gede and I have become great friends; I’ve been a guest at his family compound and today we are working on a project together. Throughout the blog, you will read about Gede. You never do know who you will meet during travel. You also don’t know when your family will expand as Gede and I are now brothers.

Destination: Bali

The grandest view of St. Paul’s Cathedral is achieved while walking atop the Millennium Bridge from Tate Modern.  I often call the bridge the “Path to St Paul’s”;  it is simply stunning at all times during the day.  

The Millennium is the newest edition of bridges in Central London and well worth the journey across in either direction.  It links St. Paul’s Cathedral to Bankside and the Tate Modern Museum.  I highly recommend exploring St Paul’s, the Millennium Bridge and Tate Modern Museum from all possible perspectives.  This area is one of the most interesting for visitors and photographers alike.

The Millennium Bridge is a 330m steel bridge and the first pedestrian crossing over the Thames in central London for more than a century.  The bridge opened in time for the first year of the new Millennium though closed when the deck swayed like a drunken sailor.  The bridge was instantly renamed as “The Wobbly Bridge,” and after two days of random swaying, swinging and oscillating wildly, the bridge was closed down.

After nearly two years of testing, alterations corrected the issues and the bridge reopened to the public in February 2002 – the swaying stopped.  After all the excitement of its rocky birth, the bridge is now a valuable asset to London, appreciated by Londoners and tourists alike.  The Millennium Bridge is a worthy addition to London’s riverside and well worth a visit.

Try walking across the bridge at night when there are few people around.  Take normal steps and you’ll hear yourself echo as you glide along the modern structure.  Often bicyclists cross the bridge at rapid speed, though they are not supposed to do this.  When the bikes do whiz by, you’ll also hear a steady rumble as the tires rotate across the ridges of the Millennium Bridge floor.  These are London sounds I fondly remember.

I’ve taken numerous photos of St Paul’s Cathedral from this spot on the Millennium Bridge.  This is one of the most spectacular London views in my opinion ::

LONDON MILLENNIUM BRIDGE AND ST. PAUL’S CATHEDRAL ACROSS THE RIVER THAMES

 

Destination: London

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It’s no secret White Sands is one of my favourite desert landscape areas – anywhere in the world.  Visit once, twice or more and be in awe each and every time.  As the winds blow, the sands shift in perpetual motion so the dune formations are never the same.  I love this about the sand dunes – ever changing.  My life is at ease with constant change.

Do you have a special place to go when all seems discombobulated in your world?  No doubt I visited White Sands as a kid, though it wasn’t until about ten years ago I visited when I seriously decided to be a photographer. Obsessively, I’d return over and over to photograph this amazing landscape.  It was also during this time everything wasn’t so hunky dory in my world.  Things just weren’t right.

I’d pack up the SUV, drive to the dunes and spend hours in the quiet.  Me, my camera and only a breeze whispering in my ear.  I’d beat the dunes as I climbed to the top, taking out my frustration or disappointment along the way, then sit taking it all in.  There might be a few great photographs from this time as well.

Each time I’d leave the white sand dunes my mind would be clear, I felt calm and a heckuva lot better than when I went in.  I didn’t consciously travel to White Sands to rejuvenate, though this is exactly what happened (and happens) while I’m there.  This area is a special place to me, and undoubtedly unique to this world.  After all, it is the largest gypsum sand dune area in the world.  White Sands is also an area that touches my soul without even trying. 

White Sands National Monument is off the beaten path.  A state highway from Las Cruces, New Mexico or Alamogordo will take you directly to the park.  No major interstate provides direct access.  Is the trip worth your time?  I’ll just say everyone who visits White Sands is in awe.  No one believes it exists even when they stand atop the white gypsum sand.

Perhaps I’ll meet you there one day.

Destination:  White Sands, New Mexico, USA

Horizontal versus Vertical

When I was learning photography my mentor adamantly told me to only take photos in the landscape – or the horizontal position.  He never told me why he simply said just do it and don’t hold your camera vertically.  So, for years afterwards I did just what he told me and it was easy to get stuck and take every photo with the camera held horizontally.

Needless to say, I missed some interesting photos and compositions by never turning my camera vertically.  Additionally, I lost out on many sales to magazines because all magazines are laid out vertically.

Our brains are becoming more and more used to landscape (horizontal) format as a way of viewing photographs.  This may be due to us looking at televisions, computer screens or even movie screens for so long.  Because of the way we are trained to look, it is easy to forget that anything but landscape format exists.  By simply turning your camera 90 degrees, you might dramatically improve your image.

So, I am going to tell you to decide which is best.

Our cameras are designed to be most comfortable held in a horizontal orientation, providing a nice grip to wrap your hand around so your other hand can operate the controls.  So it stands to reason that many photographers will make far more horizontal images than vertical.

Try turning your camera to get a vertical shot instead of horizontal.  In fact, if you are not sure whether horizontal or vertical is best, try both.  Be prepared to turn your camera in whichever direction you need to turn it – even tilted, to make a great shot rather than a snapshot.

This is a very simple lesson that can make a huge impact on your photo composition.

Take a look at the following examples.  You’ll see the same image twice, once with the horizontal orientation and then again with the vertical orientation.  As you view the images, think about which orientation creates a stronger photo composition.  Horizontal?  or Vertical?

Horizontal?

Vertical?

Horizontal?

Vertical?

Horizontal?

Vertical?

Horizontal?

Vertical?

Horizontal?

Vertical?

For some images, both Horizontal and Vertical work beautifully for a strong composition.

In other images, one aspect will make your composition stronger than another.  There is nothing wrong with taking a photo both horizontally and vertically. Sometimes seeing will help you decide which is best for the strongest composition.

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Waterloo Bridge always appears low to me. Maybe this is because looking from Golden Jubilee Bridge I am higher. Perhaps this is simply an illusion, or the heavy looking stone used to construct the bridge. All that nonsense said, simply being on Waterloo Bridge is a feast for the senses and one of the best things in London to do.

If you want the best views in London, make your way to Waterloo Bridge.

On Waterloo, you will get the sounds of London’s iconic double-decker buses roaring by. The buses will pass one after another in both directions. You’ll also see and hear the riverboats rumbling up and down the River Thames. During the day, and especially during rush hour, hordes of people walk in both directions on the bridge. There are wide walkways on either side of the bridge.

Waterloo Bridge connects the Westend with the Southbank, and it is widely used by both walkers and vehicles.

What is there not to see from this bridge? Waterloo Bridge isn’t the prettiest in London, though this is one of the best places to photograph London, and either side of the bridge offers remarkable views. It is safe to say you could spend a few hours walking north to south, south to north, stopping every few yards for a photo opportunity. Even if you are not interested in photography, you will want to walk across the bridge and take in the sights. Put your creative mind to work and put yourself on Waterloo Bridge when Claude Monet painted it from his room at the Savoy Hotel.

So what are the marvellous views from Waterloo Bridge? Looking east along the Thames River you will see – Royal National Theatre, OXO Tower & Wharf, St Paul’s Cathedral with Blackfriars Bridge in view, and The City of London. Looking westward along the Thames River you’ll see – Royal Festival Hall, London Eye, Golden Jubilee Bridge, Northbank, Southbank, Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben), and Westminster Palace (the Houses of Parliament). Hands down, Waterloo Bridge IS the perfect place to photograph London.

Most definitely, you can soak up so much of London in one place.

If you are familiar with London, you already know this. If you are visiting London and wondering where a one-stop photo op may be, Waterloo Bridge is it. Also, if you are not travelling with a tripod, Waterloo Bridge has nice edges to steadily prop your camera. I’ve used the sides of the bridge as my tripod more times than I can count when I photograph London at night. Below, you can view some of the images I’ve captured from Waterloo Bridge.

Waterloo Bridge is a fantastic stop for photographers, but so are the Golden Jubilee Bridges.

Map Showing The Location of Waterloo Bridge ::

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Finsbury Avenue Square is delightful at night. The square itself is surrounded by a number of tall corporate office buildings, which aren’t so interesting. In the middle of the buildings is a square with a lighted floor. This is the fun. The lighted squares transition from colour to colour in a way that would make Saturday Night Fever, The Bee Gees and John Travolta proud.

Yes, there is a disco feel but no disco ball and the display is more than tasteful.

Finsbury Avenue Square is tucked away behind the more well known Broadgate Circle and a short walk from Liverpool Street
Station.

Before you plan to make a night of it at Finsbury Avenue Square, do be discrete with your camera. Also, don’t plan to spend an hour or more here. Security guards will approach you if you stay too long. Yours truly was asked to leave one night when I got careless and obvious with my camera. Because Finsbury Avenue Square is unexpected and quirky, I include it on my list of the best places to photograph London. And, not many people know about the area making it all the more special.

Where is Finsbury Avenue Square? How Do I Get To Finsbury Avenue Square?
Finsbury Avenue Square GPS Coordinates :: N 51.5194° W 0.08412°

 

A discussion on getting the most out of your travels. In particular, I strongly advise you sample the local/regional cuisines to really enjoy your travels to the fullest. Throughout this blog, you’ll hear my stories of the great finds and wonderful food that I’ve experienced during my travelling and the great pleasure and insight into each different culture that these experiences have given me.

Part of the purpose of my travels is to sample the various cuisines around this country and the rest of the world. You learn so much about the culture and the people by doing so. And, you pick up some super cooking tips along the way.

One example occurred at a stop in the Texas Hill Country in Blanco, Texas while having lunch at Riley’s B-B-Que. You were immediately drawn in by just smelling the meats smoking outside. The smell did not disappoint, as the brisket was as succulent and flavorful as I had ever had. This old-fashioned real deal, bare-bones restaurant ( interior pictured below ) concentrated on one thing, and one thing only; mouth watering bar-b-que.

After lunch, the chef showed me his setup and discussed his approach to cooking the brisket. First, the meat was marinated overnight in water with some vinegar and spices. Then the next morning a spice rub was added and it was smoked over low heat all day. The woods he used were a combination of mesquite, hickory, and pecan. The thicken marinade was brushed over the meat every time it was turned. By the end of business that day, after 12-14 hours of smoking, the meats were removed and stored, ready for use the following day. My taste buds greatly appreciated the care and attention that he paid to make his brisket special.

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