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Two of London’s top attractions:  The London Eye and Big Ben (Elizabeth Clock Tower)  As the landscape around the Eye has changed, so too have the vantage points for photographers.

To be honest, as I’ve trundled around this big wheel, from one side of the Thames to the other, and I think – “it’s only a Ferris wheel, what’s the fascination?”  So true.  Such is my cynical mind at work.

London touches my soul and she inspires me to push my limits.  I’m no fan of gentrification though I do appreciate London jumping into the twenty-first century with zeal.   But, when I visualise London with my eyes closed I see cobblestones, the grandeur of Regent Street, the Gentlemanly Jermyn Street, Leadenhall Market and a jovial night at my club.  That said, I do love a walk along the Southbank.

I do have to ask, however, how many ways can you photograph the London Eye?  While you think about my question, you might find the following London Eye facts interesting:

The London Eye had had several names including the British Airways London Eye, Merlin Entertainment’s London Eye, the EDF Energy London Eye, the Coca-Cola London Eye, and it has also been known as the Millennium Wheel.

The London Eye was designed by several architects including Frank Anatole, Nic Bailey, Julia Barfield, Steve Chilton, Malcolm Cook, David Marks, and Mark Sparrowhawk.

On New Year’s Eve, the London Eye was tested without passengers. On February 1st, 2000 it was tested with its first passengers. On March 9th, 2000 the London Eye opened to the public.

The London Eye cost approximately 70 million pounds to build.

The London Eye is 443 feet tall and its diameter is 394 feet.

The London Eye resembles the wheel of a bicycle with tensioned steel cables supporting the wheel’s rim similar to spokes.

The London Eye has 32 air-conditioned and sealed passenger capsules that can hold as many as 25 people. Inside the capsule, passengers can move around or sit in the chairs provided.

Each capsule of the London Eye weighs 10 tonnes.

It takes 30 minutes to ride the London Eye, and does not stop to allow passengers on and off.

The 32 capsules of the London Eye are symbolic with one for each of London’s boroughs. There is no number 13 due to superstitious beliefs so there is a number 33 capsule.

The London Eye in London is symbolic to its people in the same way that the Eiffel Tower is to the people of Paris.

The London Eye is the fourth tallest Ferris wheel in the world today, but it does not even rank in the top 20 tallest structures in London.

Approximately 3.5 million people visit the London Eye each year and it is the U.K.s most popular (paid) tourist attraction.

The London Eye is a popular place for proposals. More than 5000 engagements have begun while riding the London Eye.

From the top of the London Eye on a clear day, it is possible to see Windsor Castle 25 miles away.

The London Eye was not the first giant Ferris wheel constructed in London. In 1895 the Empire of India Exhibition took place in London, for which the Great Wheel was built. It existed until 1907 when it was torn down. More than 2 million people rode the Great Wheel.

Although not the tallest Ferris wheel in the world, the London Eye is the tallest cantilevered observation wheel in the world.

Destination:  London

Many bridges in London offer stunning views for photographers and visitors alike.  Chelsea Bridge has been one of my favourites for several reasons.  It is a cool looking bridge, especially illuminated at night.  The lights swoop from one end of the bridge to the other in beautiful fashion.  Additionally, the lighted bridge reflects beautifully in the Thames River.

Chelsea Bridge offers a nice view of Albert Bridge, which is further west along the river.  Albert Bridge also illuminates beautifully in the night.  My number one recommended view from Chelsea Bridge is Battersea Power Station.  This iconic power station takes me back to another time in London and for this reason, I’ve become fascinated with it.  In fact, one might say I’ve stalked Battersea for years as I’ve been to this area over and over again.  I’ve also explored every angle of the building with my camera.

With the redevelopment of the Battersea Power Station, the verdict is out whether or not this remains a favourite area of mine.  From what I have seen thus far, the view of the iconic building will be blocked a bit while standing on Chelsea Bridge.  In the end, it may very well be brilliant all the way around.  Will the building remain one of my top night photography spots?  Let’s wait and see.

If you are not into photography should Chelsea Bridge be high atop your things to do in London list?  My honest answer is no.

Getting to Chelsea Bridge does take some effort.  If you are unfamiliar with London, take a taxi or simply walk West along Victoria Embankment.  Do know from Houses of Parliament it will take some effort to reach Chelsea Bridge (it’s not close).  No matter where your walk begins, you’ll see the great scenery along the way.  You could stop in Tate Britain during the day, for instance.  Too, this walk is a good thing to do in London.  It’s especially nice when you want to escape the hordes of people you’ll find in other parts of the city.

Below are a few photos of I’ve taken over the years of and from Chelsea Bridge.

Map Showing The Location of Chelsea Bridge ::  51.4834° N, 0.1494° W

You might also like the views from the Golden Jubilee Bridge or London Bridge.

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Photographing light trails (or light streams) was one of the first tricks I learned.  I thought this one was of the coolest things ever and would get very excited when one turned out just right.  I have to confess I have not outgrown the light stream technique.  I might add not much effort has been put into curbing this.

London is great to Photograph Light Trails not because the city is overrun with traffic, but because the iconic double-decker bus lends itself beautifully to this little trick.  Think of it as an adventure when you are wondering the things to do in London.  Where can you find the best places to do this?

6 Best Places to Photograph Light Trails in London

Oxford Street
Stand in the middle of the street, and don’t be surprised if a bus driver fusses at you.  Also be aware the buses will pass you closely. It is not dangerous, just be prepared (and at ease) with traffic flowing on both sides of you.  And, as the buses pass by there will be a rush of wind so be certain your camera equipment is secure.  You don’t want it crashing into the pavement.

Oxford Circus
This has been made a bit more tricky since the pedestrian walkways changed, though still entirely doable.  The best part about night photography in Oxford Circus is the cross traffic.  Buses flow along Oxford Street and Regent Street.  If you use a long enough exposure, you’ll capture crossing light streams, which you can see in the photo below.  Also keep in mind buses turn which adds another interesting element to your image.  Nighttime is an ideal time as there are few pedestrians in the area so you’ll not be in the way of anyone.  By all means, avoid rush hour as it’s a madhouse during this time.  

Cambridge Circus
Any corner of the Cambridge Circus area is interesting.  I like the Palace Theatre as a backdrop, especially if the theatre sign is interesting.  Obviously, my photo is from years ago.  Today Harry Potter plays at the Palace Theatre.  Traffic flows heavily through this Central London thoroughfare.  Seldom do I carry a tripod in London.  I rely on lamp posts, traffic light posts or guard railings

Piccadilly Circus
Almost anywhere here is good.  I particularly like the northeast part either facing toward Shaftesbury Avenue or Regent Street.  The road configuration of Piccadilly Circus seems to constantly change.  Despite the confusion, there are always spots where you can stop with your camera and not be in anyone’s way.  That said, the Piccadilly area is in constant motion.  When I say constant motion, I don’t simply mean traffic on the road.  A lot of people congregate in this area.  I don’t recommend using a tripod.  Be creative in the way you steady your camera.

Parliament Square
In particular, I like the middle of Whitehall and Westminster Bridge Road with Elizabeth Tower and Westminster Palace as a backdrop.  In the middle, there is a huge metal “box.”  I’m sure this box is the control of the traffic lights.  No matter what it is, it serves you kindly when you need a sturdy surface to steady your camera.  Move around the square!  Parliament Square is sort of interesting though it does not provide the best angles for light streams.  Also, try the back corner of Westminster Abbey (closest to Westminster Palace).  I’ve captured some great images of passing double-decker buses with Big Ben in the background.   (The image below is part of my London Art Photography Collection and is available for purchase.)

Westminster Bridge
Do you want Elizabeth Clock Tower in the background?  This is the place.  Actually, walk on the bridge where the Thames River is.  If you face West, Big Ben will be across the road on your left.  There are so many buses passing by, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to capture your photo.  There are usually a lot of people on the bridge, most with selfie sticks.  Be careful in this area especially if you plan to use a tripod.  

This list will continue.  In the meantime, what are your favourite places to photograph light streams in London?  Feel free to share your own London light stream photos.  I’d love to see them.

You might also like the Gentleman’s Guide to the Best Places To Photograph London.

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The Queen’s Walk takes you over Westminster Bridge, along the south bank of the River Thames towards Tate Modern then back over the river on the Millennium footbridge to St Paul’s Cathedral. This pedestrian walkway is several miles long and passes some of London’s most popular tourist and visitor attractions all of which can be visited throughout the year.

So, if you are looking for the best places to take perfect pictures of London, you’ll be delighted with every step you take along the Queen’s Walk.  There are brilliant photos waiting to be taken and you’ll be pleased with your results.

START:  Westminster Underground: District and Circle or Jubilee Line

Westminster Bridge → South Bank Lion → County Hall (London Sea Life Aquarium) → London Eye → South Bank Centre (Royal Festival Hall, Hayward Gallery, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Rooms, Poetry Library) → National Theatre → National Film Institute → Tate Modern → Gabriel’s Wharf → OXO Tower and Centre → Shakespeare’s Globe → Millennium Bridge → St Paul’s Cathedral

FINISH:   St Paul’s Underground: Central Line

START at Westminster Underground Station. Come out of the station at EXIT 4. You will be opposite the Palace of Westminster looking at the largest four-faced clock tower in the world. Big Ben, is not the Clock Tower but is the largest bell inside the tower that strikes the hour.

Turn left out of the station on to BRIDGE STREET SW1 and walk up to VICTORIA EMBANKMENT SW1. Cross straight over the road and walk on the left-hand side of Westminster Bridge to the South Bank Lion.

Walk DOWN the steps from Westminster Bridge onto The Queen’s Walk (Thames Path, South Bank). Walk straight ahead past the Old County Hall (London Aquarium and National File Museum) and the London Eye wheel. Continue along the path, under the bridges (Hungerford Millennium foot and railway bridges) to the Royal Festival Hall.
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Continue on the path past the Royal Festival, Queen Elizabeth Halls and Purcell Rooms. Walk under Waterloo Bridge to the Royal National Theatre. Continue on the path past the business offices to Gabriel’s Wharf and the OXO Tower.

Continue on the path past Tate Modern, the Millennium Footbridge (does not wobble now) and Shakespeare’s Globe, go under Southwark Bridge. Walk across the Millennium footbridge to St Paul’s Cathedral.

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Crossing the River Thames between Chelsea and Battersea, Albert Bridge is a stunning example of Victorian bridge architecture. It is not on most visitors’ itineraries but well worth a visit for architecture enthusiasts.

Named in memory of Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Prince Consort to Queen Victoria, the attractive Albert Bridge was built between 1870 and 1872. Designed by Rowland Mason Ordish, it was an excellent example of a rigid suspension bridge. It measures 216 meters long, 12.5 meters wide (700 ft by 41 ft) and has a centre span of 122 meters (400 feet).

The bridge is elegantly lit after sundown and is a photographic must for avid picture-takers.  I think all bridges are the best places to photograph London.  Each bridge is unique in style and the River Thames is the true heart of the city.

Where is Albert Bridge?  How Do You Get To Albert Bridge?
Albert Bridge GPS Coordinates :: 51° 28′ 33.59″ N, 0° 09′ 60.00″ E

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London is a big bewildering place and often feels like one big winding road.  For newcomers, the prospect of knowing the capital can be discouraging.  There is so much to see and do in London, there is no possible way to include it all during a single visit. London has been in my life for over thirty years and I still find something new nearly every day.  It’s true.
 
I always say, experience the city and you’ll fall in love.  But, if you rush from tourist site to tourist site (then wait in long queue’s to get in), you’ll only frustrate yourself.
 
Here’s some advice on how to step right in and feel at home in the capital.
 
Take A Walk

To orientate yourself in London, use your feet.  Yes, take a long walk.  Take a lot of long walks. The tube map is very misleading, as the space between stations isn’t at all geographically accurate; use Transport for London‘s Walking Tube Map to discover how near or far the sights really are to each other.  Walking is the best way to learn London and almost every walk in any direction will lead you to something London special.

Walk The North Bank, Then The South Bank

Where to begin walking?  A stroll along the South Bank can be fun, it’s also overrun with tourists. Also try a walk along the North Bank, to orient yourself with many Central London landmarks. The route isn’t quite as pretty, nor bejewelled with so many cultural institutions as its southern counterpart, but there’s still plenty to see. Start at Westminster and take in the great plane trees of Embankment Gardens. The sights come thick and fast, with good views of the London Eye, Oxo Tower, Millennium Bridge and Tate Modern.  Take a wander around Somerset House. Thread in and out of the historic passageways on the edge of the City, and finish up by the Tower of London.

Learn Some Capital History

London’s vast history is a lot to remember!   The Museum of London is the best place to get an introduction to everything from Boudica to the Blitz.  Key exhibits include the Lord Mayor’s coach, a recreated Victorian street, a model of the Great Fire, London’s oldest map and the cauldron from the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.  It might also help you to learn a little British slang so you can impress us while you’re here.  You might even want to learn how to make a proper cup of tea, too!

Find A Big View

Maps, models and museums are one thing, but there’s no better way to get on top of the city than, well, getting on top of the city. London has many hills.  You can’t go wrong with the ‘big three’ tourist hills of Primrose Hill, Parliament Hill and Greenwich Park, but there are many others dotted around.  Combine a survey of the city with a restoring drink in one of London’s numerous rooftop bars. Try the Shard or The Walkie Talkie Building.

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I am purely passionate about London and equally passionate about night photography. Marry the two, add me in, and we have a Tinder match.  That said, I am not sure what Tinder is.

This blog is not at all about me, but about London Night Photography, and the journey to capture photos for an upcoming book.  More than this, you will get insight into Things To Do In London, night photography, and in particular – the best ways I have found to photograph a city that has been captured by camera millions of times over.  If this is your first time to Travel London, you’ll find useful information posted each week.  If London is your travel destination for photography, I am here to help.

I will give you some tips on some of the best places I have found to photograph London, and even some interesting angles.  Whether you are an amateur, seasoned pro, or someone in between, you will find some nice content that might prove useful to you.  Let me also add this- I don’t mind at all assisting others to achieve their own goals.  There are years of experience under my proverbial belt, and there have been remarkable people who helped me along the way.  So, let’s go full circle.

Today, I share with you a gallery of a few of my favourite London Night Photos just to get us started.  In the near future, an audio podcast will accompany each blog post as this just might be a bit more fun, and personal.  Additionally, I just might share some of my favourite things in London, and how I entertain myself in the city when there is not a camera in my hand.  On we go…

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The Admiralty Arch was commissioned by King Edward VII who dedicated the structure to his mother Queen Victoria. The five arches of the majestic Admiralty Arch lead from Trafalgar Square to the Mall and further towards Buckingham Palace.
 

The design of Admiralty Arch consists of a wide six-sided building in Portland stone of which the facades on two opposite sides have a concave shape. As a result, the structure is very narrow in the middle. This middle section is designed as if it were a triumphal gate with five arches.

The centre arch can accommodate auto or horse traffic but is only used for ceremonial occasions. The large arches on either side of the central arch are used for automobiles and the two smaller arches next to those are for pedestrian traffic.

A Latin inscription on the attic of the arch pays tribute to the famous queen; it says “ANNO DECIMO EDWARDI SEPTIMI REGIS VICTORIÆ REGINÆ CIVES GRATISSIMI MDCCCCX”, which can be translated as “In the tenth year of the reign of King Edward VII, to Queen Victoria from a grateful nation, 1910”.

Is Admiralty Arch one of the best places to photograph London?  Yes, especially because you’ll be steps away from Trafalgar Square.
Where is Admiralty Arch? How Do You Get To Admiralty Arch?
Admiralty Arch GPS Coordinates :: 51.5068° N, 0.1287° W

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