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Colour is everywhere and if you are drawn to colourful scenes, then you are well ahead of me in this lesson. You can be very creative and add a huge splash of interest to your photos by utilising a variety of hues.

Deep, saturated colours have an impact. The key to using strong colours successfully is in keeping the composition simple. Including lots of different colours in a photo lessens their impact. For maximum effect, stick to a few blocks of bold colour.  

Colour photography isn’t just about strong colour. Colour photography can be very subtle, almost monochrome. You’re more likely to get pastel colours on a dull cloudy day. This type of light, which is so soft that there are almost no shadows, is ideal for subjects like portraiture, flowers, still life and waterfalls – anything where too much contrast could ruin the photo.

Bright primary colours tend to attract the eye especially when they are contrasted with a complementary hue as you will see in the examples below.

Use One Colour Against a Neutral Background.  Placing a strong colour against a neutral background emphasises the colour because there are no competing hues to detract attention from it.

How do you find a neutral background? Anything that’s grey or black will do, and it can also work if the background is in deep shadow.

Let one colour dominate, then the colour becomes the main subject of the photo. The effect is even stronger when the dominant colour is a primary colour (red, yellow or blue).

View each of the following colourful images and notice how your eye is drawn to the scenes. Visualise your next images and think how will you use colour in your next photo? 

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London is like Disneyland for photographers, especially night photographers.  

Almost 60% of the population leaves London after working hours making the city all the more easy to navigate, and photograph. Additionally, if you use a tripod, (which I don’t) you can set it up without being in the way of other Londoners.  Londoners are not so patient when their passageways are blocked.

It is safe to say London night photography has made me an eternal night owl!  I was not always this way.  I used to be a 9 o’clock sleepy time kind of guy.  

I have spent years, months, and numerous hours capturing London with my camera for an upcoming book. I know the city well.   To help you in your own quest to find the best places to photograph London at night, I have compiled the list below.  In later posts, I will expand on what you’ll find at each stop.

20 Best Places to Photograph London
(In No Particular Order)
Piccadilly Circus 
Streets of Soho
Covent Garden
Trafalgar Square
Parliament Square
Westminster Bridge
Victoria Embankment
Albert Embankment
Golden Jubilee Bridges
Southbank / The Queen’s Walk
Waterloo Bridge
The Shard
London Bridge
Old Billingsgate
City Hall / More London Area
Tower Bridge
Greenwich
Primrose Hill
Square Mile – The City of London
Hyde Park Corner

London is not short of photo opportunities so the list could go on.  The one issue I notice with visitors to London is they try to do and see everything in one short trip.  This is not possible because London offers so much in one small area.  It’s true.  My best suggestion is to make a list of the things you want to see and do, then take each day as it comes.

Also, make a list of what you want to photograph.  As I’ve photographed the city, I categorised London into areas – east, west, Soho, Westminster, etc…  In each category, there are numerous sights I wanted to capture.  By making such a list, the task of photographing London becomes manageable and you’ll end up with images you’ll love.  You don’t need to rush.  You can take your time and explore interesting perspectives.  The list works.  In fact, I still use the method because I’m not finished photographing London, nor do I think I will ever be finished.

Where are your favourite places to photograph London?

Below is a gallery of my favourite London night photos.

By no means am I a casino gambler, nor do I pretend to be.  For some odd reason, Macao had always been on my list of places to visit. Curiosity got the best of me and I spent the better part of April there.  

I am familiar with Las Vegas like so many other Westerners.  Las Vegas is the go-to place for excitement, entertainment and for some, letting yourself go.  Macao is very much the Las Vegas of Asia except the casinos are massive in Macao and gamblers queue up to play the games.  It is also safe to say the people in Macao are far more civilised than those in Las Vegas. 

I was entirely blown away by the size of Macao’s casinos and I watched the gamblers with intense fascination.  The sounds of the casinos were the same, though the games and slot machines made no sense to me.   Many of the casino/resort names are the same:  Hard Rock, Caesar’s Palace, The Venetian and The Wynn.  The Macao counterparts make Las Vegas look miniature.

The Macao Fountain is a good example of the familiar and mimics the grand fountains at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.   Songs we know are beamed through a sound system and timed to spouting water from the lake.  The watching crowds are fewer in Macao probably because they are all inside waiting to gamble their money away.  The entertainment value of the fountains lived up to all expectations.

Away from the casinos, Macao is a real living city.  By simply walking a street or two over, a more genuine way of life takes place.  Local shops catering to residents, homes and a life seemingly untouched by the glitz and neon.   I find this bit far more interesting.  

Interestingly enough, Macao remains in my mind and nears the top of places to re-visit.

Consider these interesting facts about Macao::

::  Macau is the only place in China where you can gamble legally.

::  Fifty percent of Macau’s revenue comes from gambling, and 20% of its population is employed by the casinos.

::  Macau is the last Asian country to remain a European colony. The last Portuguese governor left it in 1999.

::  It was also the first Asian country ever to be colonized when the Portuguese came in the 16th century.

::  Macau once served as the trafficking point for Chinese slaves being brought to Portugal to be sold.

::  Cycle rickshaws, locally called trishaw, were once the primary transport method in Macau. Now, tourists and foreigners use them for exploring.

::  Macau’s thriving tourism industry called for the construction of new hotel rooms at a rate of 16.4 a day until the year 2009.

::  If you would piece together the land masses Macau has added to its territory since 1998, it would approximately be equal to the size of 700 football arenas.

::  Although Macau is now in China, it still maintains its own currency and border controls.

::  Flights from mainland China to Macau are still treated as international flights.

Map Showing the Location of Wynn Macao and the Fountains

A video with the familiar sights and sounds of a journey on the London Underground.  This ride takes you from St James’s Park to Victoria on a District Line train.

There are many sounds you could remember from using the Underground.  Who can forget the infamous “Mind the Gap?”  There is also the announcement declaring the next stop, which in this case is Victoria Station.  There is also a whizzing sound when the train gains speed after leaving a platform or the screeching metal on metal sound when trains negotiate a curve.  On the sounds of travel page, you can listen and download the sound of the London Underground.

Years ago I rode the London Underground exclusively for anywhere I’d go in the city, yet when I hit the pavement above ground, I couldn’t navigate without a map.  I’d be on the streets clueless about direction.  The Underground might be convenient, except it doesn’t teach you London’s Point A to Point B to Point C.

When I began my London photography book project in earnest, there was no choice but to walk above ground.  Only then did I put London’s boroughs into directional perspective.  Moving around by foot made perfect sense and I learned how one area connected to another.  I may not know the street names because I navigate by landmarks.

Today, I can walk around the city with ease and – AND – take the shortcuts when necessary.  The map is now etched in my mind.  I know London better than most Londoners.  It really is liberating to know London.  As much fun as riding a tube train might be, try to limit your use of it and see if you, too, can learn to explore London by foot.

Funny how a ride on the London Underground led me to this post.  I appreciate the engineering marvel deep below London, but it doesn’t help when you really want to know how to get around.

Included below are images are taken from inside a London Underground train (old and new)  ::

 

 

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Colour is everywhere and if you are drawn to colourful scenes you then are well ahead of me in this lesson.  You can be very creative and add a huge splash of interest to your photos by utilising colour.  

Bright primary colours tend to attract the eye especially when they are contrasted with a complementary hue as you can see in the following two examples.  

The flamingo dipping its head into the water is seriously beautiful.  What elements of composition do you see?   Yes, for one the colour is wow!  The effective use of controlling the background – the green colour reflecting in the water is great AND do you see the curved line starting at the bottom of the image – the flamingo reflecting in the water to the actual flamingo.  I can’t say enough good things about this photo.  The composition is outstanding.

And this bright yellow window box stands out nicely against the blue wall.  But do you notice it is almost directly in the middle of the frame?  The composition would be stronger if the window box was situated to the right of the centre, don’t you think?

The soft shades of the autumn leaves are simple but effective, especially with the background.  The slight touch of sunlight hitting the leaf in the foreground is also nice.  The photographer wins with this composition.

We have a purple colour explosion with this photograph and a sensational one at that.  Wouldn’t you love to stumble upon a scene like this?  I half expect Peter Rabbit to hop through at any minute.  The colour is effective and the bridge begins off-centre and moves the eye into the shrubs.  What awaits us there?  We don’t know, but we do know this image is an example of good composition.

Lastly, this image of the frames is sort of interesting.  It is completely static meaning it’s just frames leaned up against one another.  There is no action waiting to happen.  What we do have are patterns and our brains seem to like that.  What really makes this photo work are the various colours.   With each frame being a different colour, the eye moves around the image.  In this regard, the photographer succeeds because we as viewers are taking in everything in the photograph.  The result is a strong composition.

Take advantage of colour when you can.  And remember, when composing a photo try to incorporate more than one element of the composition.  The possibilities are endless.  Your creativity and imagination should run wild.  Good photo composition is not difficult.  It is simply using your own eye to make stunning photographs.

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More London Riverside is great fun to explore with your camera.  You’ll find plenty of photo opportunities if you love modern glass architecture and pavement.  Situated on the River Thames with Tower Bridge in full unobstructed view, More London will keep you busy with your camera for hours.  The Tower of London, The City of London and H.M.S. Belfast are in full view offering you even more ways to capture this great city.  Is More London Riverside one of the best places to photograph London?  Oh, absolutely.

More London also named London Bridge City, is a privately owned development on the south bank of the River Thames, immediately south-west of Tower Bridge in London.  The southern exit is on Tooley Street.

It includes the City Hall, a sunken amphitheatre called The Scoop, office blocks, shops, restaurants, cafes, and a pedestrianized area containing open-air sculptures and water features, including fountains lit by coloured lights. The Hilton London Tower Bridge hotel opened in September 2006.

More London is 13 acres (53,000 m2) in size and has planning consent for 3,000,000 square feet (280,000 m2) of mixed-use space, of which up to two million square feet will be offices, accommodating up to 20,000 people. The buildings were designed by Foster and Partners architects and some are still under construction.

Where is More London Riverside?  How do I get to More London Riverside?
More London Riverside GPS Coordinates ::  51.5056821, -0.0832896

Five minutes after arriving on the main island of Venice I thought I was lost.  In fact, I wondered if I’d find my way anywhere much less back to the hotel.  The myriad of bridges over canals, the narrow alleys twisted, turned and led me around far too many corners then confused my sense of direction.  I kept walking and picking out landmarks though there was no guarantee I’d return the same way.  

Eventually, I arrived at St Mark’s Square and this is when my heart melted.  I fell in love.    My love affair with Venice continues today and I’ve visited countless times.  I still get turned around every so often though my heart doesn’t race like that first time.  Moving forward always lands me at or near the place I want to be.

My Best Suggestions To Discover The Magic of Venice ::

::  Take a water taxi from the airport to your hotel in Venice.

::  Take a vaporetto to San Giorgio then look back at the main island of Venice in awe.

::  Let out a deep sigh when you see the Bridge of Sighs

::  You’ll think you’re lost, but you’re never lost in Venice.  Toss your map and explore.

::  Be a tourist and go to the top of the Campanile in St Mark’s Square.  The view will astound you.  If you’re lucky you’ll hear the bells of the Campanile up close and personal.  They are gloriously loud.

::  Visit St Mark’s Square both day and night.  I love night best because few others are there.  You can have your own Venice moment.

::  Take in the view from the Rialto Bridge.  The bridge is overcrowded during the day, so stay up late and go at night.

::  There are plenty of squares throughout Venice.  Find each and every one and drink them in.

::  Buy a Chorus Pass to visit all of Venice’s incredible churches, then marvel at the masterpieces inside.

::  The truth is Venice is magic everywhere you turn and every corner you take.  Be respectful of the locals.  It is a living breathing functioning city.

::  The floating market at Campo Barnaba is fabulous.  Don’t miss it.

::  See where the birthplace of gondolas and where they are made by hand.  It’s fascinating to watch even across the small canal.

::  Your love affair begins in Venice and never really ends.

There are many reasons to love Venice.  If the city is on your travel list, this video presentation will help you discover Venice so you can make the most out of your time.  My best advice – open your mind, your eyes and your heart then allow Venice to do the rest.  You might also want to throw your map away.  A map will not help you much.

Destination:  Venice Italy

On a cold winter day, the clouds and the London Eye roll during sunset.  

I know.  I know.  You’re thinking I have a lifetime pass for the London Eye in my wallet.  I really don’t.  In fact, since it’s opening, I’ve only taken the London Eye ride just once. This is true!  Is it possible to exhaust my thoughts about the London Eye?

According to FourSquare and those who use the mobile app, the London Eye is the third best place in London to see the sunset.  To be honest, I wasn’t trying to capture the sunset but had visualised the rotating London Eye with Big Ben in the background for a video clip, which you can see in this post.

I have to dig deep for more London Eye facts since I’ve given so many in previous posts, but here goes ::

:: The London Eye is not a Ferris wheel. It’s the world’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel

:: Supermodel Kate Moss has been on the London Eye 25 times – the record for a UK celebrity

:: On average the London Eye receives more visitors per year than the Taj Mahal and the Great Pyramids of Giza

:: You can see up to 40 kilometres in all directions (that’s as far as Windsor Castle on a clear day)

:: In December 2005 the London Eye was lit pink in celebration of the first Civil Partnership performed on the wheel

:: The 32 capsules on the London Eye are representative of the 32 London boroughs, and each one weighs as much as 1,052,631 pound coins

:: Despite there only being 32 capsules, for superstitious reasons they are numbered 1 – 33. For good luck number 13 is left out

:: The London Eye can carry 800 people each rotation, which is comparable to 11 London red double-decker buses

:: The London Eye had a predecessor – The Great Wheel – which was in working order from 1895 – 1906

:: Capsules travel at a leisurely pace of 26cm per second, which is twice as fast as a tortoise sprinting

Included below is an image taken the very same day as the video.

Colour

I am a huge fan of colour.  You can add a lot of creativity with colours and it is one of the most powerful composition tools you can have in your arsenal as a photographer.  Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most badly used.

Having a good colour in a photo does not always equal increasing the saturation and the contrast.  In fact, rarely will that be the case.

How you choose to use colour is all related to your own personal aesthetic.  Some people prefer bright, popping colours, some prefer muted colour schemes and some prefer true to life while others prefer black and white.  As you take photos, pay attention to the things that seem most often to attract you.

Why do you photograph the way you do?  What colours do you find are most prevalent in your work?  What is their effect on you psychologically?  Does a particular colour make you feel good?  Is that the effect you would like them to have on the viewers of your photographs?  If so, you’re on the right track.

Bright primary colours really attract the eye, especially when they are contrasted with a complementary hue.  But there are other ways of creating colour contrasts.  By including a bright splash of colour against a monochromatic background, for example.

You don’t need strong colour contrasts to create striking pictures.

Scenes consisting almost entirely of a single hue can be very effective.  And those with a limited palette of harmonious shades, such as soft lit landscapes, often make great pictures.

The key is to be selective about how you isolate and frame your subjects to exclude unwanted bit from your photo.

Download the free PDF I’ve prepared for you which shows good examples of the use of colour in photo composition.

City Hall is part of the More London development located between London Bridge and Tower Bridge, on the south bank of the Thames. It was designed by Foster + Partners, one of Britain’s leading architects.

Controlling the heat build up that comes from exposure to sunlight is very important in a glass building. City Hall is designed to do this in a number of ways:

  • in conventional terms, the building has no front or back – it’s a geometrically modified sphere. This minimises the surface area of the roof exposed to direct sunlight, which reduces the amount of heat build up inside the building
  • the building’s spherical shape means it has around 25 percent less surface area than a cube of the same volume. This means that less heat escapes during the winter, and the building doesn’t get too hot in the summer
  • the building leans back away from the river, to present as little surface area to the sun as possible. This also means that the building does not leave the river walking in shadow.
  • the floor plates at the back of the building are staggered inwards, providing natural shading for the floor beneath.

London City Hall and the More London development are interesting areas to explore with your camera.  The estate is situated adjacent to Tower Bridge and right at the River Thames.  Indeed, the City Hall area is a perfect place to photograph London.  There are so many angles and perspectives so do plan to spend a bit of time here.  Each time I venture to City Hall with my camera I find a new way to photograph it.

Where is London City Hall?  How do I get to London City Hall?
London City Hall GPS Coordinates ::  51.5048° N, 0.0786° W