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Ah, London Bridge. Is it just me, or is this the one place where the wind whips through with vengeance? The “Friends of the River Thames” group is not too pleased with me because I have lost hats, umbrellas, a scarf, and almost a camera due to the wind here. Is there a “Friends of the River Thames” organisation? It would not surprise me if there is. Hmm… When the temperatures are cold in London, it is colder here for sure. Bundle up and hold your belongings tight if you plan to spend time on the bridge.

But, don’t let Mother Nature’s punch of a breeze deter you from choosing London Bridge as a place to stop to enjoy the views or take some great photographs. The bridge is a great spot, especially with Tower Bridge, London City Hall, the More London Estate, the Shard, and Southwark Cathedral in perfect view. This bridge, too, has a fantastic ledge to steady your camera. Do, however, put the camera strap around your neck for safe keeping. One bump from a passerby, a wrong whip of the wind, or one slight act of carelessness will send your camera diving into the River Thames. The edge of London Bridge is slick.

I make this sound like a daunting location, though it really is superb. Walking across London Bridge should be on your list of things to do in London. I will often venture across the bridge, then walk to The Monument to the Great Fire of London, then continue up into the City of London for night photography. Don’t forget to step down in front of Old Billingsgate as this offers brilliant views of the Shard and Tower Bridge and you’ll be directly on the River Thames as well.

The current London Bridge opened in 1973. The original bridge in this location dates back to 1176 tho’ a few bridges replaced this throughout hundreds of years. The last bridge, completed in 1831, began sinking at the rate of an inch every eight years. By 1924, the east side of the bridge was three to four inches lower than the west side. The bridge had not been designed to withstand 20th-century automotive traffic.

In 1967, the Common Council of the City of London began to look for potential buyers for the London Bridge. Enter, Robert P McCulloch of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, who placed the winning bid of $2,460,000. And, the rest is history.

Today, there are two London Bridges. One in London connecting Southwark to the City of London and the second London Bridge in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.

Map Showing The Location of London Bridge

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Regent’s Canal is one of London’s best-kept secrets – a peaceful haven often hidden by the surrounding buildings. Today it is well-loved by boaters, walkers and cyclists all looking to escape the capital’s busy streets, but this gem of a canal was all too nearly converted into a railway. Thank goodness it wasn’t and Regent’s Canal remains.

The canal links a diverse cross-section of London’s attractions. From the colourful collection of narrowboats at Little Venice basin in Maida Vale, it runs on through Regent’s Park. Here it is overlooked by a vast aviary – part of London Zoo. In Camden, it passes the craft stalls and quirky clothing shops of the famous market, a centre for London’s alternative culture.

Walking along the Regent’s Canal is always a pleasant experience with your camera and you’ll find plenty of opportunities to click your shutter. The canal is indeed an area that should be regarded as one of the best places to photograph London.

Map Showing the Location of Regent’s Canal

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 for this little trick.  Two of the images below were taken with the Hasselblad 500cm, a medium format film camera.  Digital is easy as the results are shown immediately.  Using film is a guessing game, and a fun one at that.  When I use the film camera, I literally count the seconds and the minutes because I don’t wear a watch.  One-one hundred, two-one hundred, three one-hundred and so on…

In an earlier blog post, I listed:  Oxford Street, Oxford Circus, Cambridge Circus, Piccadilly Circus (that’s a lot of circuses’!), Parliament Square, and Westminster Bridge.  Today I will add to this list, and perhaps later add on even more.

Where are your favourite places to photograph light streams in London?

Old Brompton Road and Harrods.  There is plenty of traffic on Old Brompton Road to be able to capture great light streams. The lighted Harrod’s building is a fantastic backdrop and makes your images all the more interesting.  There is an area in the middle of the road with a railing around it so you can be safe from traffic.

Trafalgar Square and Admiralty Arch.  Stand in the middle of the roundabout, which is a rather large area.  It is also in this roundabout where you’ll be in the very centre of London in motion, so says the plaque behind the statue of King Charles I.  The beauty of the roundabout is you can freely move about and change your perspective.  There’s Admiralty Arch in the Southwest corner, The Strand to your east, Trafalgar Square and Lord Admiral Nelson’s column to the north and Whitehall.  You can literally spend hours here taking photos or letting your mind go wild by creatively taking yourself back a few hundred years.

View of Battersea Power Station and Rail lines from Victoria Station.  Where?  Ebury Bridge Road.  This road is for those who know it and not many people do.  When you leave Victoria Station to walk west along Buckingham Palace Road.  At the third traffic light, you’ll arrive at Ebury Bridge Road.  Turn left and you’ll easily find this spot.  When you arrive, you’ll be perched high above the rail lines and see numerous trains passing by, which I adore.  Battersea Power Station is in clear view in the background.  What a glorious view it is.

 Waterloo Road.  Across the street from Waterloo Station is a small park area with a curved black marble bench.  You’ll also see a church facing the station.  I simply placed my camera on the black marble and let the magic happen.  Double-decker buses regularly turn from Waterloo Bridge onto Waterloo Road.  The BFI Imax Theatre is in the background (behind the tree).  The buses, tree and theatre all reflect beautifully on the bench resulting in a brilliant image.

 Tower Bridge.  Need I say more.  London’s double-decker buses regularly pass along the bridge in both directions.  Merely walk one side of the bridge, then the other side for some remarkable light stream photos.  Your only limit is your imagination.

The Strand offers plenty of opportunities to take great photos.  You’ll find a few red phone boxes somewhat near Charing Cross Station.  These phone boxes are great to incorporate into your photograph.  If you walk along The Strand toward Waterloo Bridge and even to St Mary Le Strand Church, you’ll find ideal spots to take great images.

London can be a photographer’s playground.  Everywhere you turn there’s motion.  I’ve put together the Gentleman’s Guide to the Twenty Best Places to Photograph London to help you on your journey through the city.

I hope you’ll share your own images with me.  I’d love to see them.

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

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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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°

 

During the summer much activity happens along the shores of The Thames when the tide is low.  You never know what you will come across while walking along the Southbank like the flamethrowers shown in the video.  Other times you’ll see the creative sand sculptor working his magic on the south bank of the Thames.

There is always something happening in London and often the entertainment is free.  

Festivals take place all along the Southbank, a sand castle builder holds court near Butler’s Wharf and you might even find fire on the Thames.  London is great at entertaining Londoners and visitors alike.   “Street Entertainment” is part of the reason so many fall in love with the city during a visit.  

Buskers play music, dancers do their dance, mimes delight the young ones and some entertainers seem to do the physically impossible.  There is never a dull moment and there is always a feast for the eyes.

One of the best activities for anyone visiting London is to walk the Queen’s Walk, Southbank and Riverside from Westminster Bridge all the way to Tower Bridge.  I’ve done this walk countless times in both directions and right back into Belgravia.  The scenes are remarkable and quintessentially  London.  You’ll see almost every essential sight one is supposed to see when visiting London including:  Big Ben, Palace of Westminster, the London Eye, Royal Festival Hall, the Royal National Theatre, Oxo Tower, the Savoy Hotel, St Paul’s Cathedral, the City of London, the Shard, Hays Galleria, London City Hall, HMS Belfast, a slight glance of the Monument to the Great Fire of London, the Tower of London and Tower Bridge.

If you have the time, cross each bridge to the north then cross back over to continue your walk.  The bridges you’ll encounter include Westminster Bridge, Golden Jubilee Bridges, Waterloo Bridge, Blackfriars Bridge, London Bridge, the Millennium Bridge, and of course, Tower Bridge.  Each of the bridges spanning the Thames River is unique and each offers a different view of London.

Always pack a camera, a cool drink and maybe some snacks.  The walk is not a race but a leisurely stroll that will allow you to experience London in one of the best ways possible.

Destination:  London

The Golden Jubilee Bridges rank high on my list of favourite London bridges. The contemporary style is completely appealing amongst so many iconic London structures in the near vicinity. Either under the bridges or walking across, the views of London are brilliant.

On one side there is the London Eye, Big Ben, and County Hall. You’ll even have a glimpse of Westminster Palace from the bridge. On the east side of the bridge, the views include Royal Festival Hall, the National Theatre, Southbank, St Paul’s Cathedral, The City of London and of course – The River Thames. I’m easily entertained and so I very much like watching London’s iconic red double-decker buses cross Waterloo Bridge with St Paul’s Cathedral and The City of London in the background.

While preparing for my London book I have spent countless hours in this area. Each time I am there – even today, I find new London scenes to photograph at night. You can’t go wrong discovering the sights from the Golden Jubilee Bridges.

Often, some of the lights are not working on the bridge leaving a dim blue hue. This sort of reminds me of the lighting in a nightclub, but without the loud banging music. You will, however, be met with buskers along the way playing a variety of music, and sometimes a man selling roasted nuts.

Typically, the Golden Jubilee Bridges are my link from Embankment to the Southbank. I often find walking in London is just as quick as public transportation, and the sights are far better, too. If you are pressed for time during your London travel but want one of the best things to do in London, take a walk across both of the bridges.

Below are a few images I’ve captured of the Golden Jubilee Bridges as well as scenes as I’ve walked across.

If you are a first time visitor to London or a photographer, you might also like the views from Blackfriars Bridge or London Bridge.

Map Showing the Location of Golden Jubilee Bridge

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