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Have you seen movies where a person looks through a keyhole? On the viewer’s side, the side where the person looking through the keyhole, the scene is dark and perhaps ominous? Through the keyhole might be a mysterious scene or even something magical?

As viewers of the movie, we are taken into a scene and we feel as if we’re part of the action. Not only is the actor in the movie looking through the keyhole, but we are as well. We see what the actor sees at the very same time. We feel the suspense, angst, shock, horror, joy, enchantment – whatever emotion the moviemaker wants us to feel, we feel it, too.

This is an effective method in moviemaking and cinematography as we become part of the action. This is also an effective method in photography.

As photographers it is important to draw the viewers of your photographs into your image. Your photograph is the keyhole, so to speak, that allows viewers to experience or view what you have seen and captured with your camera. If your viewers can be drawn into your photo, then they will feel the emotion or feeling that you’re trying to convey. And, if you can draw viewers in and make them feel a certain way, then you my friend, are not a picture taker but instead a photographer.

How do you draw people into your photographs? You begin by mastering photo composition. You master photo composition by practicing all key elements until they become second nature to you. Becoming a great photographer really is that simple tho’ it is a lot of work.

One suggestion regarding photo composition is to challenge yourself. One way to challenge yourself is to change the camera you use. For example, if you typically shoot with a digital camera of any sort or a mobile phone, let’s say, then switch to a film camera for a day or even a week.

You can pick up inexpensive film cameras at ebay. And yes, you can still purchase film and have it professionally developed.

I have a variety of film cameras but for this blog post I chose the Fisheye camera from Lomography. I also chose black and white film. Better still, I chose London as my backdrop.

The cool thing about Lomo’s Fisheye camera is the captured image is actually a circle with a pronounced black border. Basically, the result is like looking through a keyhole – at least that’s how I see it.

I’ve included a variety of images I captured over a week’s time. The shots are entirely random tho’ you’ll recognise some of the scenes. Have a look at the photos. Are they the best images of London you’ve ever seen? No. They are not the best images I’ve seen either. The better question is – have you seen London portrayed this way before? Unless you’ve practiced this same photo exercise, your answer is undoubtedly a no.

Photographing a familiar scene in a new way with a new perspective and with a camera you’re not entirely familiar with will allow you the freedom to explore and test your creativity.

It is easy to be comfortable. It’s easy to always surround yourself with the familiar. The easy way is not the best way to improve your photography skills.

You will grow by challenging yourself. You’ll reach new levels of achievement by stepping away from your comfort zone.

It’s safe to say you’ll surprise even yourself by creating a masterful composition that draws your viewer into your vision. And in the end, involving the viewers of your photographs is exactly what you want.

The following is an exerpt from “Alice Through the Looking Glass”.
Notice how Alice first envisions what life might be if she and kitty could go through the looking-glass house. In an instant, Alice does go through the looking glass and she takes us with her when she does. This is exactly what you want to do with the viewers of your photographs.

“But this is taking us away from Alice’s speech to the kitten. ‘Let’s pretend that you’re the Red Queen, Kitty! Do you know, I think if you sat up and folded your arms, you’d look exactly like her. Now do try, there’s a dear!’ And Alice got the Red Queen off the table, and set it up before the kitten as a model for it to imitate: however, the thing didn’t succeed, principally, Alice said, because the kitten wouldn’t fold its arms properly. So, to punish it, she held it up to the Looking-glass, that it might see how sulky it was—‘and if you’re not good directly,’ she added, ‘I’ll put you through into Looking-glass House. How would you like that?’

‘Now, if you’ll only attend, Kitty, and not talk so much, I’ll tell you all my ideas about Looking-glass House. First, there’s the room you can see through the glass—that’s just the same as our drawing room, only the things go the other way. I can see all of it when I get upon a chair—all but the bit behind the fireplace. Oh! I do so wish I could see that bit! I want so much to know whether they’ve a fire in the winter: you never can tell, you know, unless our fire smokes, and then smoke comes up in that room too—but that may be only pretence, just to make it look as if they had a fire. Well then, the books are something like our books, only the words go the wrong way; I know that, because I’ve held up one of our books to the glass, and then they hold up one in the other room.

‘How would you like to live in Looking-glass House, Kitty? I wonder if they’d give you milk in there? Perhaps Looking-glass milk isn’t good to drink—But oh, Kitty! now we come to the passage. You can just see a little peep of the passage in Looking-glass House, if you leave the door of our drawing-room wide open: and it’s very like our passage as far as you can see, only you know it may be quite different on beyond. Oh, Kitty! how nice it would be if we could only get through into Looking-glass House! I’m sure it’s got, oh! such beautiful things in it! Let’s pretend there’s a way of getting through into it, somehow, Kitty. Let’s pretend the glass has got all soft like gauze, so that we can get through. Why, it’s turning into a sort of mist now, I declare! It’ll be easy enough to get through—’ She was up on the chimney-piece while she said this, though she hardly knew how she had got there. And certainly the glass was beginning to melt away, just like a bright silvery mist.

In another moment Alice was through the glass, and had jumped lightly down into the Looking-glass room. The very first thing she did was to look whether there was a fire in the fireplace, and she was quite pleased to find that there was a real one, blazing away as brightly as the one she had left behind. ‘So I shall be as warm here as I was in the old room,’ thought Alice: ‘warmer, in fact, because there’ll be no one here to scold me away from the fire. Oh, what fun it’ll be, when they see me through the glass in here, and can’t get at me!’

Then she began looking about, and noticed that what could be seen from the old room was quite common and uninteresting, but that all the rest was as different as possible. For instance, the pictures on the wall next the fire seemed to be all alive, and the very clock on the chimney-piece (you know you can only see the back of it in the Looking-glass) had got the face of a little old man, and grinned at her.”

Discovering London should be done in layers and in stages.  In order to truly experience one of the greatest cities in the world, you have to look at London at every angle.  You must experience one layer before you move onto the next.  It is impossible to visit once and see everything there is to see in London.   There is absolutely no way to experience everything London has to offer in one go and perhaps even ten.

There is a great quote that sums up London.  “I’ve been walking about London for the last thirty years, and I find something fresh in it every day.”  I could have written the quote as I myself have been exploring London for the last thirty years and yet there is still so much I haven’t seen or experienced.  Every time I set out on foot I find something new and interesting about London that I hadn’t known before.

London is layered.

The first time you visit London you will want to see all of the must-see sights.  Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, St Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, Covent Garden, Piccadilly Circus.  All of these sights will be on your list.  You’ll probably also want to ride on the iconic double decker bus, ride on the London Underground and have your photo taken in a red phone box.  This is the surface of London.  The superficial, if you will.

Museums aren’t superficial at all.  The National Gallery, Tate Modern and British Museum will also be on your list of things to do in London.  London’s museums are world class and they are free.  You’ll feel as if you’ve been cultured at the highest level having been mere steps away from the masters of art.  You’ll feel as if London has fed your curiosity with a silver spoon.  You’re right to feel this as the city has so much to feed you.

The next time you visit London you’ll stay at the same level.  You’ll feel as if you know London inside and out.  You’ll return to familiar sights, you’ll hop on the London Underground feeling like a Londoner, and you’ll pop into the café or restaurant you remember so fondly from your last visit.  You might even find your way from Point A to Point B without getting lost.  But, you’ll still get lost when a street curves in a direction differently than what you expect.

If you decide to go for a walk instead of taking the Underground, you’ll find a new route and the next layer of London. You’ll find a new place you hadn’t noticed before.  You’ll find a charming street or mews that puts a huge smile on your face.  You’ll pop into art galleries instead of only exploring the large museums.  And, you might even attend more than one theatre production.

As you discover more about London, your curiosity will get the best of you.  You’ll want to know more but there isn’t time.  You make a mental list of what you want to see and do during your next visit to London.

It’s during your third visit to London that you might want to cross each and every bridge in Central London.  Instead of only riding the London Underground, you’ll walk more and you’ll get lost more.  The streets still curve in unexpected directions but when you get lost, you won’t panic.  You will keep walking further and explore streets just to see where they go.  You’ll find new neighbourhoods and sit in parks you never knew were there.  

Instead of only visiting Westminster Abbey or St Paul’s Cathedral, you’ll find incredible churches like St Bartholomew The Great near Smithfields.  You’ll stumble upon St. Dunstan-In-The-East and be amazed how London’s noise is silenced when you walk into the public gardens.   Curiosity might get the best of you as you try to discover other secret places in London – and there are plenty to discover.  Pickering Place off St James’s Street with it’s brilliant sun dial, or Holborn Viaduct are just two secrets waiting for you.

You’ll be charmed even more by London.  You’ll be so charmed that by your next visit you’ll relax a bit.  You will understand that visiting London is not a race but instead a layered treasure waiting to be discovered.  You’ll sit on a park bench to eat your lunch.  When the sun comes out, you’ll lay on the grass in Hyde Park, Green Park or St. James’s Park just like Londoner do.  You’ll want a cuppa instead of a cup of coffee.  And, you’ll think to venture beyond the ground floor at Fortnum & Mason.  When you’re finished there, you’ll pop into Hatchard’s book shop next door and know you’re walking into history when you do.

Each layer of London will reveal a different part of the heart and soul of the city.  With each layer you peel back, you will want to discover more.  Many elements make London tick and move.  The vibe and energy of the city are immeasurable and you’ll feel both with every step you take.  It’s the addictive vibe and energy that will keep you wanting to return for more.

If you’re a keen photographer, you’ll want to capture the best possible photos of London.  I dedicate a section of the blog to the Best Places to Photograph London.  Have a look.  I make finding the best London photo spots easy to find.  Consider the following photo composition tips for your next photographic journey in London.

Rule One 

Simplify the scene.

When you look at a scene with your naked eye, your brain quickly picks out subjects of interest. But the camera doesn’t discriminate – it captures everything in front of it, which can lead to a cluttered, messy picture with no clear focal point.

Remember, don’t let your camera rule you.  You rule the camera!

What you need to do is choose your subject, then select a focal length or camera viewpoint that makes it the centre of attention in the frame. You can’t always keep other objects out of the picture, so try to keep them in the background or make them part of the story.

Silhouettestextures and patterns are all devices that work quite well in simple compositions.

The simpler the shot the bigger the impact

Move in close to cut out other parts of the scene
Silhouettes and shapes make strong subjects
The balloons radial lines draw you into the frame

Rule Two

Fill The Frame

When you’re shooting a large-scale scene it can be hard to know how big your subject should be in the frame, and how much you should zoom in. 

In fact, leaving too much empty space in a scene is the most widespread compositional mistake. It makes your subject smaller than it needs to be and can also leave viewers confused about what they’re supposed to be looking at.

To avoid these problems you should zoom in to fill the frame, or get closer to the subject in question. The first approach flattens the perspective of the shot and makes it easier to control or exclude what’s shown in the background, but physically moving closer can give you a more interesting take on things.

Rule Three

Horizontal vs Vertical

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut and take every picture with the camera held horizontally.  In fact, I was taught to shoot this way and only this way.  It took time for me think of turning my camera vertically.

Try turning it to get a vertical shot instead, adjusting your position or the zoom setting as you experiment with the new style.

Rule Four

Avoid The Middle

When you are a newbie, or just starting out, it’s tempting to put whatever you’re shooting right in the centre of the frame. However, this produces rather static, boring pictures. One of the ways to counteract this is to use the Rule of Thirds, where you split the image up into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, and try to place your subject on one of these imaginary lines or intersections. 

Let me say, however, this is an overrated approach.

Instead, move your subject away from the centre and get a feel for how it can be balanced with everything else in the scene, including any areas of contrasting colour or light. 

There are no hard and fast rules about achieving this kind of visual balance, but you’ll quickly learn to rely on your instincts – trust that you’ll know when something just looks right.

Rule Five

Leading Lines

A poorly composed photograph will leave your viewers unsure about where to look, and their attention might drift aimlessly around the scene without finding a clear focal point. 

However, you can use lines to control the way people’s eyes move around the picture.

Converging lines give a strong sense of perspective and three-dimensional depth, drawing you into an image. Curved lines can lead you on a journey around the frame, leading you towards the main subject.

Lines exist everywhere, in the form of walls, fences, roads, buildings and telephone wires. They can also be implied, perhaps by the direction in which an off-centre subject is looking.

Rule Six

Dutch Tilt

Horizontal lines lend a static, calm feel to a picture, while vertical ones often suggest permanence and stability. To introduce a feeling of drama, movement or uncertainty, try the dutch tilt technique.

You can need nothing more than a shift in position or focal length to get them –wider angles of view tend to introduce diagonal lines because of the increased perspective; with wide-angle lenses, you’re more likely to tilt the camera up or down to get more of a scene in.

You can also introduce diagonal lines artificially, using the ‘Dutch Tilt’ technique. You simply tilt the camera as you take the shot. This can be very effective, though it doesn’t suit every shot and is best used sparingly

The Dutch Tilt can be used for dramatic effect and helps portray unease, disorientation, frantic or desperate action, intoxication, madness, etc….  

Rule Seven

Space to Move

Even though photographs themselves are static, they can still convey a strong sense of movement. When we look at pictures, we see what’s happening and tend to look ahead – this creates a feeling of imbalance or unease if your subject has nowhere to move except out of the frame.

You don’t just get this effect with moving subjects, either. For example, when you look at a portrait you tend to follow someone’s gaze, and they need an area to look into

For both types of shot, then, there should always be a little more space ahead of the subject than behind it.

Rule Eight

Backgrounds

Don’t just concentrate on your subject – look at what’s happening in the background, too. This ties in with simplifying the scene and filling the frame. You can’t usually exclude the background completely, of course, but you can control it.

You’ll often find that changing your position is enough to replace a cluttered background with one that complements your subject nicely. Or you can use a wide lens aperture and a longer focal length to throw the background out of focus.

It all depends on whether the background is part of the story you’re trying to tell with the photo. In the shot above, the background is something that needs to be suppressed.

Rule Nine

Be Creative With Colours

Bright primary colours really attract the eye, especially when they’re 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, though.

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

The key is to be really selective about how you isolate and frame your subjects to exclude unwanted colours.

Rule Ten

Breaking The Rules

Photo composition is basically a visual language – you can use it to make your pictures pass on a particular message.

Just as we sometimes use the written word to create a deliberately jarring effect, we can do the same with photos by breaking with standard composition rules.

When you understand the rules of composition and then break them on purpose things start to get interesting.

It’s often best to break one rule at a time, as John Powell does in the image above.

Just remember: for every rule we suggest, somewhere out there is a great picture that proves you can disregard it and still produce a fantastic image.

The year that was in travel is the year that is.  And, it’s the year ahead in 2020.

Every 31 December we ask ourselves – “Where did the year go?  It feels like January was just yesterday”.  Why does time feel like it slips by so fast?  

Is it because technology steals so much time from us?  Our work days find us in front of computer screens and in our spare time we are always tip-tapping on our mobile phones or tablets?  Our meals are delivered to us quickly in restaurants.  And, we better hurry because “this deal” won’t last.  It seems as if we are continuously in a race against time. 

Is time the friend of anyone amongst us?  Time is certainly no friend of mine.  There is never enough time in my days, weeks or months to check off my to-do list.  I’m fairly certain my to-do list grows faster than the things I get done.  Is there anyway to slow time?  Is there any way to make 2020 move slower so we can savour the days?

2019 was a remarkable year in more ways than one.  I use the term remarkable as it can refer to both good and bad.  Everyone’s year is filled with both good and bad so I can’t very well say my circumstances are special.  They are unique to me, however.

People come and go from our lives.  Life becomes fresh as new and interesting people come into our lives.  There is a lesson to learn from every person who crosses our paths.  It is up to us to decide what to do not only with the lessons but the people we meet.  

Richard Bach said it best in his book, “Illusions” – one of my favourites.  Bach said, “Every person, every event in our lives is there because we have drawn them there.  What we choose to do with them is up to us.”  

I read the book and the quote more than twenty years ago.  The words made such an impact on me, I remember and use them today.  The quote refers to the good people in our lives, tho’ unfortunately, the bad people as well.  I won’t go into details but I can say I’ve been betrayed, told I was loved when I wasn’t, used, taken advantage of and  lied to as well.  At one point it got so bad I had to question what is happening in our world.  Where did all the good people go?

I still wonder and sadly I’ve had to become weary and cautious.  I’m a genuine sort of guy who prefers to see the good in people.  I’m kind and I’ll do almost anything to help you, if I can.  I won’t change they way I live and see life.  I’ll simply be smarter in 2020 and beyond.

When you travel like I do, my travel experiences are also my life experiences.  I talk a lot about opening your mind and heart while travelling.  Throughout the blog I talk about the good people I’ve met.  I stay away from talking about the not so good people I meet along the way.  Today I’ve chosen to only refer to the bad seeds.

Instead of harbouring feelings of anger and hurt, I turn to myself.  I’m always comfortable with who and what I am.  I’m also aware I can always be better.  What can I do to improve?  I take stock of myself and take steps to become a better person.  I want to be better not only for myself but for the people in my life as well.

All that said, how can I put a year of travel into one video?  Over 4,000 travel photos – all with an iPhone – in one fast paced video.  Four minutes and thirty seconds.  That’s a lot of time in our fast-paced world.  Thanks for taking the journey with me.  I hope you enjoy.

Best of Luck to Everyone in 2020.

What is the best way to explore and discover London?  Randomly.  There are unexpected finds around every curved road in London.  There is no doubt about that.  This is London.  Take her each day.  Take her at night.  Take her your way and don’t let a guidebook guide you.  

If you love travel photography, London is the perfect place for you.  There are no shortages of photo opportunities.  In fact, I write a series on this blog called “The Best Places to Photograph London” where I list all the top London photo spots.  But in this post, let’s talk about capturing the best London photos with your iPhone.

The iPhone camera is convenient for spontaneous moments.  It is also a power little tool that fits in your pocket.  The cool thing is you only have to follow one rule.  Don’t Think.  Just Shoot.

Forget the postcard travel photos.  Try one full day where you candidly snap shots without thinking.  The idea isn’t to capture the perfect photo.  Don’t review the photo just after you’ve taken it.  Keep shooting.  Look up.  Look down.  Turn sideways.  Get down on the ground.  Go up some steps.  Try any and every angle you can imagine.

The theme is London.  What will you see that is the epitome of London?  What will you photograph?  When you review your photos at the end of the day, the ones you see that scream LONDON are the right ones.  

Soho is brilliant for this sort of candid photography.  There are ample opportunities all throughout the once sordid area of the WestEnd.  Try a walk along the Thames River.  The Southbank is one of my all time favourite London walks.  It is also full of photo opportunities.

The idea for this exercise is to strengthen how you see and your photo composition.  Exploring aimlessly with your camera phone is also a fantastic way to learn more about the city.  If you don’t find yourself in London, try the same photo challenge wherever you are.

I’ve listed a few tips about taking nice travel photos with your iPhone ::

10 Handy Tips for taking better travel photos with your iPhone

1. Clean your lens
This may be the silliest thing you’ve ever read as a tip for better photography, but there are so many times phones are picked up, the lens gets accidentally swiped by a finger and one forget to wipe the smudges off before snapping a photo. These photos tend to come out cloudy or blurry and the shooter doesn’t realize it until looking back at the images later when she wants to post. Carry a lens safe wipe and before any photo taking commences, wipe that lens clean.

2. Get to know your camera settings
There are a number of options in the iPhone camera settings that will allow you to have a better understanding and guide when taking any kind of photos. It takes just a few minutes to explore what the settings include and having the better understanding will help you feel just that much more comfortable with what you are looking at when you shoot. The following are some adjustments to make in your setting:

3. Keep HDR in auto mode (turn it on)
HDR stands for High Dynamic Range and it blends the best aspects of three different exposures into a single photo. You are also able to keep the normal photo you take if you’re making adjustments to the screen when you snap the pic, but if you want to edit the photo after it’s been taken, the HDR photo is going to be your best version to modify.

4. Turn on the Grid
Do you ever wonder why the grid shows 2 vertical lines and 2 horizontal lines in the camera view? This is because it’s helping you set up for the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds is a photography technique that has the photographer align the subject to intersect with the lines or specifically fall in one of the three divided planes of the photo. All photos don’t need to be taken with this rule in mind, as you may want to simply center a subject for a different effect. But placing the subject at the intersection of the lines can add more interesting tones to an image.

5. Avoid using the flash
Turning the flash on and off isn’t in settings, but actually in the camera app. Your best bet is to take the photo with the best natural light or add more lighting to the subject. There are a number of variables that could turn for the worse when using a flash, so best to avoid altogether.

6. Don’t shoot with a filter
There might be some default filters in the iPhone (or camera) that you love and gravitate toward, but your style or preference may change down the road and you can’t take it back. It’s best to take your photo filter free and add it later. You can always duplicate the image and add the filter to it after.

7. Turn Live Photos on or off
Live photos are essentially mini videos and now the iPhone models allow you to edit the Live Photo in a variety of ways. If you want to have the opportunity to turn it into a gif more easily, turn on Live Photos, consider the subject and it’s movement when you take the photo.

8. Never zoom 
This may seem counter-intuitive, but because the iPhone camera isn’t optimized for a zoom it destroys the quality of the image the closer the zoom gets to the subject. Instead, consider two choices. 1 – get much closer to the subject. It has the potential to create a more interesting image. or 2 – take the photo as is and then zoom in later and crop. Photographing this way retains the integrity of the image and makes for both a cooler and more impressive shot.

9. Avoid using the selfie camera
Unless you’re obsessed with taking selfies, shooting any further than a short arm’s length away doesn’t make for quality images with the front lens. You may want to turn the selfie camera on to shoot yourself and see yourself in the photo while it snaps, but it won’t come out the way you hope. You’re better off setting the camera on a tripod and photographing yourself with the timer. The lens on the front of the camera isn’t as good as the one on the back.

10. Take action shots in burst mode
Burst mode is often overlooked! There’s no need for you to guess when it’s the right timing to take the shot and there’s often a delay. Hold down the shutter button and shoot away. You can go back and pick the photo with the best quality and edit from there.

 

Have you felt the London Vibe?

A few years ago I was on my way to a member’s club to meet friends when I stopped in a small corner store for a couple things.  I guess I had an odd look on my face as the store clerk asked “Are you ok mate”?  “Yeah,” I replied, “I’m just tired”.  He looked at me with a smile and said “Everyone in London is tired”.  I think the store clerk may be right.

London is a city full of energy.  Everything moves fast and furious.  You wake up, get ready for the day, step outside onto the pavement and before you know it, it is time for bed again.  Seriously, this is how it feels for me most days.  The days race by in what seems to be an instant.  March through September fly by and the next thing you know is the Christmas lights are switched on in Oxford Street.  It’s incredible.

Being in London is living.  I always say – I go to London to live life and I go to Texas to sit down and take a breath.  There is a rush of energy in London that can only be matched by New York City.  You can feel this lightning speed energy simply by walking down any London street.  You can’t look anywhere and not see something moving.  Everything is in motion it seems.

People are always in a hurry, waiters in restaurants move fast, cars zip by, and tall double decker buses zoom past one after another after another.  Lights constantly flash in your eyes. Motion doesn’t stop underground as “The Tube” stops at a platform every few minutes.  Nothing stops.  Commuters rush through underground tunnels like ants bringing home food to their queen.   It’s crazy.

Have you ever had a quiet moment on the streets in Central London?  I haven’t found one and I’ve been walking London’s streets for more years than I can count.  I remember being on Oxford Street on a Saturday once and literally having a panic attack.  I never have panic attacks.  That’s not me.  On that particular day, however, all I wanted to do was get away from the crowd and the noise.  Now I avoid Oxford Street at all costs and I’ve even found an alternative route when I head that direction.  Since that day I learned quiet is inside me and that’s a bit of comfort when I find myself in a tense London situation.

The fast paced energy of London is actually a good thing.  The vitality of the city makes you feel alive.  You might even find there to be an extra step in your skip so to speak.  It’s a good feeling, if not a bit exhausting.  I always think better and my creativity is sparked simply by being aware of my surroundings as I walk.

London is a city where you can be anonymous and even alone amongst a million people.  As long as you like yourself and can keep yourself company, being anonymous and alone is great.  I love it myself.  If you need constant attention and validation, you might find London a wee bit hard, cold and callous.  Can you imagine walking through a city so crowded as London and never speak to someone and no one speaks to you?  It’s interesting.

I like the anonymous bit to be honest.  It’s especially nice when I’m out with my camera.   I can get lost in London without being literally lost.  I zone everything and everyone out.  It’s me, my camera and London.  Sometimes I feel as if I have the entire fabulous city all to myself.   If anyone speaks to me, it’s tourists and not Londoners.  Tourists want to know what I’m doing or how to capture a great photo.  Londoners might glance over to see what I’m doing but mostly they could care less.  It’s great.  It’s brilliant and part of the London vibe.

London is not for the faint of heart.  If it’s rainbows and butterflies you’re looking for, go to the Rainforest Café.  When you want the vim and vigor of a city full of liveliness, step out onto to the streets of London.  

London will challenge you.  Challenge her back.  Walk with your head held high, look people in the eye, offer the odd smile and don’t let anyone tell you London is not for you.  London is for everyone of all walks of life.  She is especially great when you contribute to her energy.

At the end of the day when you go home and prop your tired feet up, or you return to your hotel exhausted on your bed, remember the day you had.  Rewind everything that happened during the day.  Remember all the sights, sounds and motion that engulfed your senses.  And when you’ve done all that, remember what a brilliant city London is.

No matter how, when, why or where you travel around the world you are sure to receive one of the best educations of your life.  The lessons you learn may be small and unnoticeable or they may be huge and life changing.

A foreign culture may make you realise something you didn’t know about yourself and sometimes even move you to tears.  My visit to Bhutan took me to a state of peacefulness I’ve not found anywhere in the Western world.  I can’t begin to describe the effect the tiny kingdom had on me except to say when I viewed photos and video from the journey, tears rolled down my cheeks.  It’s a mystery to me why the tears came even today.  All I know is Bhutan touched me beyond measure.

The taste of new food, aromas, colors and even travel sounds can leave an impression on you well after you leave a destination.  The sensory elements of travel may inspire you to add them to your own creative adventures in cooking or music or handicrafts.

You may be in awe of Big Ben or Mont Saint Michel glowing against the night sky.  Istanbul’s Blue Mosque or the Old Medina in Marrakech send your senses into sensory overload.  A sunset on a beach in the Caribbean or Bali may change the way you look at the world.

But most of all, it is the people you meet along the way who will touch you in ways you never though imaginable.  Maybe you’ll understand that we are all just trying to make it in this world.  We just happen to speak differently or pray a little different.  Inherently, we’re all good people.

And so when I wanted to show the many places I’ve travelled throughout the world, I decided to do it in one go in one epic video presentation which I’ve titled “Travel Around The World With The Gentleman Wayfarer.”  There are approximately 3000 photos in the fast-paced presentation that span all the way around the world.  The places and people I’ve included have impacted my life in one way or another.  This is my tribute to every one and every place that has made a difference in my life.

Travel with an iPhone or any mobile phone is very common today.  If you are keen to improve your travel photography skills, a mobile device is a great way to do it.  Phones are easily accessible, they fit in your pocket and you really don’t have to think too much.

Consider these iPhone Travel Photography Tips during your next journey.

1) Strengthen your travel photos with different focal lengths.

The iPhone is equipped with two lenses, a wide-angle 28mm and a portrait lens, 56mm. Different focal lengths tell different stories. A wider angle generally gives a better sense of place, while a telephoto brings the viewer into the details of the subject.  Consider this while you’re shooting and experiment with both.  And remember – one key element to great photo composition is filling your frame.

2) Keep Using Your iPhone in Low Light

Some of my favorite images have been shot well after the sun has gone down.  I love the challenge of low light photography.  In the past, I would have put my iPhone away thinking the images wouldn’t be usable, but now with a new sensor and faster aperture (f/1.8), the iPhone autofocuses and captures substantially better in low light.

3) Be In The Moment But Also Think Ahead

Travel photography is about capturing the unknowns and unexpected.  Always be looking forward, and consider using the iPhone’s burst mode so you don’t miss a moment as it happens.   To use burst mode, press and hold the shutter button until rapid fire begins.

4) Buy An Unlocked iPhone So You Can Switch to Local SIM Cards.

Communication is super important while traveling.  If you’re roaming internationally, the cost can be astronomical.  Buy a local SIM card as it allows you to make new plans, call someone, google something, and more, while you’re on the go. In photography, this means your GPS data will be recorded with your photo.  The iPhone’s memories feature can organize your images together by location and create simple and fun video vignettes.

Later, you can also look on a map in Photos and see exactly where you captured different photographs.  I use this feature as I don’t always remember the names of the places where I’ve taken photos.

5) Bring a Small Tripod

A small, compact tripod can be helpful and is a great way to capture time-lapses, low-light images, and more. While the iPhones now all have a stabilizer built in, the extra support from a tripod can be especially helpful with the iPhone optical zoom.

Keep in mind that shooting with a longer focal length, like the iPhone optical zoom, amplifies camera shake.  You’ll find it will naturally be more difficult to get a sharp clear shot while shooting with 2x, especially in low-light environments or unstable foundations, like a moving vehicle.  To compensate, use a mini-tripod or experiment with burst mode. Sometimes I’ll shoot a 20-shot burst just to ensure that I have the sharpest shot possible.

6) Upload Your Photos to the Cloud Daily

Thanks to a the iPhone’s water-resistant feature, you won’t be losing our pictures during accidental swims, but it could be left at a hotel, or worse, picked from your pocket, which happened to me in Ecuador. At the end of the day, the iPhone can be replaced, but your pictures can’t. Don’t get two weeks into a trip only to lose them all in a moment.

If you don’t have your laptop because you’re traveling light, consider a SanDisk iXpand.  It’s essentially a USB flash drive with a Lightning connector, so you can quickly and easily off-load your images each day.  I love mind and take it everywhere I travel.

Be sure to keep your backup and your iPhone in separate bags for extra safety.

7) Play it safe.

Don’t put your iPhone—or any valuable—in the tray when going through security. Instead, put it in a pocket of your bag before sending it through the x-ray.  This way it’s protected from being accidentally—or intentionally—carried off before you get through the metal detector.

8) Play To The Strengths of the iPhone

One of the greatest strengths of the iPhone as a camera is its agility.  You can focus on getting to the best shoot spots instead of worrying about lugging gear. Don’t weigh it down with a bunch of unnecessary DSLR lens adapters.

Try leaving your DSLR at home and travel super light.  The iPhone  doesn’t replace your DSLR, but it’s plenty powerful and a really fun way to experience and capture the environment around you.  You’ll love leaving the extra chargers, batteries, lenses, and big tripod at home for a change.

London inspires many to write compelling thoughts and anecdotes just as the grand city on the Thames inspires me to photograph her night after night.  Some words are one-off’s while others are part of timeless pieces of literature.  I’ve combined famous London quotes with my own night images of London for the ultimate list of London quotes.  Feel free to add your suggestions in the comment section below.

 London is the epitome of our times, and the Rome of today.  
– Ralph Waldo Emerson, Conduct of Life

When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.  
-Samuel Johnson

Go where we may rest where we will, Eternal London haunts us still.  
– Thomas Moore, “Rhymes on the Road”, The Poetical Works of Thomas Moore

Take a perfect day, add six hours of rain and fog, and you have instant London.    
– Anonymous

London’s like a black-browed brute that gets an unholy influence over you.
– Robert Smythe Hichens, The Woman with the Fan

London is the clearing-house of the world.
– Joseph Chamberlain, speech at Guildhall, London, Jan. 19, 1904

Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner that I love London so.

There’s nowhere else like London, nothing at all.  Anywhere.

I think London is sexy because it’s so full of eccentrics.

It is the folly of too many to mistake the echo of a London coffee house for the voice of a kingdom.

 A broken heart is a very pleasant complaint for a man in London if he has a comfortable income.

If London is a watercolour, New York is an oil painting.

London is a splendid place to live for those who can get out of it.

Nothing is certain in London but expense.

A person who is tired of London isn’t necessarily tired of life.  It might be that he just can’t find a parking place.

I’ve been walking about London for the last thirty years, and I find something fresh in it every day.

There are two places in the world where men can most effectively disappear – the City of London and the South Seas.

Oh, I love London society.  It is composed now of beautiful idiots and brilliant lunatics, just what a society should be.

And there is London!–England’s heart and soul.
By the proud flowing of her famous Thames,
She circulates through countless lands and isles
Her greatness; gloriously she rules,
At once the awe and sceptre of the world.
– Robert Montgomery

I love thee, London! for thy many men,
And for thy mighty deeds and scenes of glory.
– Philip James Bailey

 London is a city that has reinvented itself upon the remains of the past.
– Leo Hollis, London Rising: The Men Who Made Modern London

London isn’t a stodgy place. Trend-setting London is to the United Kingdom what New York City is to the United States: the spot where everything happens first (or ultimately ends up).
– Donald Olson, England For Dummies

London goes beyond any boundary or convention. It contains every wish or word ever spoken, every action or gesture ever made, every harsh or noble statement ever expressed. It is illimitable. It is Infinite London.
– Peter Ackroyd, London: The Biography

London is a cluster of communities, great and small, famous and unsung; a city of contrasts, a congregation of diversity.
– Roy Porter, London: A Social History

The English mist is always at work like a subtle painter, and London is a vast canvas prepared for the mist to work on.
– Arthur Symons, Cities and Sea-Coasts and Islands

London is a huge shop, with a hotel on the upper storeys.
– George Gissing, New Grub Street

London is a bad habit one hates to lose.  
– Anonymous

Spare London, for London, is like the city that thou lovedst.
– Thomas Nash, Christ’s Tears Over Jerusalem

London is a roost for every bird.  
– Benjamin Disraeli, Lothair

And London shops on Christmas Eve
Are strung with silver bells and flowers
As hurrying clerks the City leave
To pigeon-haunted classic towers,
And marbled clouds go scudding by
The many-steepled London sky
– John Betjeman, “Christmas”

 London is like a smoky pearl set in a circle of emeralds.
– William Henry Rideing, In the Land of Lorna Doone

London’s like a forest … we shall be lost in it.  
– Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Taken at the Flood

London is a splendid place to live in for those who can get out of it.
– George John Gordon Bruce, The Observer, Oct. 1, 1944

London is like a woman with too many years to encourage confession.
– Louise Closser Hale, We Discover New England

The streets of London have their map, but our passions are uncharted. What are you going to meet if you turn this corner?   – Virginia Woolf, Jacob’s Room

I had neither kith nor kin in England, and was therefore as free as air – or as free as an income of eleven shillings and sixpence a day will permit a man to be. Under such circumstances, I naturally gravitated to London, that great cesspool into which all the loungers and idlers of the Empire are irresistibly drained.
– Arthur Conan Doyle

Paris is a woman but London is an independent man puffing his pipe in a pub.    
– Jack Kerouac, Lonesome Traveler

If the parks are “the lungs of London” we wonder what Greenwich Fair is — a periodical breaking out, we suppose — a sort of spring rash.
–  Charles Dickens, Greenwich Fair

You are now
In London, that great sea, whose ebb and flow
At once is deaf and loud and on the shore
Vomits its wrecks, and still howls on for more.
Yet in its depth what treasures!
– Percy Bysshe Shelley,  letter to Maria Gisborne, 1820

I journeyed to London, to the time kept City,
Where the River flows, with foreign flotations.
There I was told: we have too many churches,
And too few chop-houses.
– T. S. Eliot, The Rock

 London, that great cesspool into which all the loungers and idlers of the Empire are irresistibly drained.  
– Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet

There’s a hole in the world
Like a great black pit
And the vermin of the world
Inhabit it …
And it goes by the name of London.
– Stephen Sondheim, Sweeney Todd

London is a city of clubs and private houses. You have to be a member.
– Alec Waugh, The Sugar Islands

The truth is, that in London it is always a sickly season. Nobody is healthy in London, nobody can be.    
– Jane Austen, Emma

London is an endless skirmish between angles and emptiness.
– China Mieville, Kraken

London opens to you like a novel itself… It is divided into chapters, the chapters into scenes, the scenes into sentences; it opens to you like a series of rooms, door, passage, door. Mayfair to Piccadilly to Soho to the Strand.  
– Anna Quindlen, Imagined London

London, thou art the flower of cities all! Gemme of all joy, Jasper of jocundity.
– William Dunbar

I don’t know what London’s coming to — the higher the buildings the lower the morals.
– Noël Coward

When it’s three o’clock in New York, it’s still 1938 in London.
– Bette Midler, attributed, The Unofficial Guide to London

London is like a cold dark dream sometimes.
 – Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea

 My Dad says that being a Londoner has nothing to do with where you’re born. He says that there are people who get off a jumbo jet at Heathrow, go through immigration waving any kind of passport, hop on the tube and by the time the train’s pulled into Piccadilly Circus they’ve become a Londoner.  
– Ben Aaronovitch, Moon Over Soho

One of the things she most liked about the city -apart from all its obvious attractions, the theatre, the galleries, the exhilarating walks by the river- was that so few people ever asked you personal questions.
– Julia Gregson

A mighty mass of brick, and smoke, and shipping, / Dirty and dusty, but as wide as eye / Could reach, with here and there a sail just skipping / In sight, then lost amidst the forestry / Of masts; a wilderness of steeples peeping / On tiptoe through their sea-coal canopy; / A huge, dun cupola, like a foolscap crown / On a fool’s head – and there is London Town.
– Lord Byron

The man who can dominate a London dinner-table can dominate the world.
– Oscar Wilde

It is my belief, Watson, founded upon my experience, that the lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside.
– Arthur Conan Doyle

The truth is, that in London it is always a sickly season. Nobody is healthy in London, nobody can be.
– Jane Austen

In London, love and scandal are considered the best sweeteners of tea.
– John Osborne

This melancholy London – I sometimes imagine that the souls of the lost are compelled to walk through its streets perpetually. One feels them passing like a whiff of air.
– William Butler Yeats

The English language is like London: proudly barbaric yet deeply civilised, too, common yet royal, vulgar yet processional, sacred yet profane.
– Stephen Fry

Do you realise that people die of boredom in London suburbs? It’s the second biggest cause of death amongst the English in general. Sheer boredom.
– Alexander McCall Smith

 If London is a watercolour, New York is an oil painting.
– Peter Shaffer

Nothing is certain in London but expense.
– William Shenstone

You will recognize, my boy, the first sign of old age: it is when you go out into the streets of London and realize for the first time how young the policemen look. –
Sir Seymour Hicks

I like the spirit of this great London which I feel around me. Who but a coward would pass his whole life in hamlets, and forever abandon his faculties to the eating rust of obscurity?
– Charlotte Brontë

There’s a hole in the world / Like a great black pit / And the vermin of the world / Inhabit it / And it goes by the name of London.
– Stephen Sondheim in Sweeney Todd

I’m leaving because the weather is too good. I hate London when it’s not raining.
– Groucho Marx

London, London, London town / You can toughen up or get thrown around.
– Kano

I believe we shall come to care about people less and less. The more people one knows the easier it becomes to replace them. It’s one of the curses of London.
– Ambrose Bierce

It is not the walls that make the city, but the people who live within them. The walls of London may be battered, but the spirit of the Londoner stands resolute and undismayed.
– George VI

Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner,
That I love London so;
Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner,
That I think of her wherever I go.
I get a funny feeling inside of me,
Just walking up and down;
Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner,
That I love London town.
– Hubert Gregg, “Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner”

 A broken heart is a very pleasant complaint for a man in London if he has a comfortable income.
– George Bernard Shaw

In London everyone is different and that means anyone can fit in.

The English language is like London: proudly barbaric yet deeply civilised.

By seeing London, I have seen as much of life as the world can show.

I came to London.  It had become the centre of my world and I was lost.

One thing about London is that when you step out into the night, it swallows you.    
– Sebastian Saulks, Engleby

There are two places in the world where men can most effectively disappear — the city of London and the South Seas.
– Herman Melville

The best bribe which London offers to-day to the imagination, is, that, in such a vast variety of people and conditions, one can believe there is room for persons of romantic character to exist, and that the poet, the mystic, and the hero may hope to confront their counterparts.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

You are now / In London, that great sea, whose ebb and flow / At once is deaf and loud, and on the shore / Vomits its wrecks, and still howls on for more / Yet in its depth what treasures!
– Percy Bysshe Shelley

London is a modern Babylon.
– Benjamin Disraeli

The London Underground network and UK train system are busy during ‘rush hour’ with commuters moving around the city.  People furiously zig zag through the stations with one aim in mind – getting to their destination as quickly as possible and with minimal frustration.  Anyone in their way is an annoyance whether you’re a tourist or not.

You can expect the trains and stations to be overcrowded in the morning and after work in the evening.  Note to self: Avoid Underground and train stations during rush hour.  Take a walk and enjoy London.  And by doing so, you’ll start your own day void of frustration and make life easier for London commuters at the same time.

Video of Victoria Station During Morning Rush Hour

The London Underground is an engineering marvel.  It is one of the best and most comprehensive transport networks in the world with around 24 million journeys made each day.  Can you imagine?   So, it’s important that everything runs smoothly to avoid delays.

You can help by following these top London travel tips to learn what to expect when you arrive and how to use the Tube like a Londoner.

1. When On An Escalator, Stand to the Right
Londoners love their rules, even if they are not written.  London Underground asks that you stand on the right when using the escalators and leave the left free for others to walk down. If you’re travelling in a big group, or with lots of shopping bags, stand and stay right and let others pass you – it will speed up the process and be a more pleasant journey for everyone.

2. Unless You Want To People Watch, Avoid Travelling During Rush Hour
If you can, avoid using the London Underground during morning and evening rush hours.  The tube network is very busy during ‘rush hour’ with commuters moving around the city. You can expect the trains and stations to be overcrowded between 07:30 and 09:30 in the morning and between 17:00 and 19:00 in the evening.  You’ll enjoy London more by taking a walk instead.

3. Have Your Oyster Card or Ticket Ready at the Ticket Barrier
There is nothing more frustrating for rush hour commuters to be behind a ticket fumbler.  Sometimes there can be a bit of a bottleneck at ticket barriers, especially before 9.30am and around 6 pm during the rush hours. Make sure you have your ticket ready at the barrier so you can move in and out of the station smoothly.   Better yet, buy an Oyster Card so you can tap in and tap out at the ticket barrier.  You can also buy an Oyster Card online.

4. No Fuss Needed. If You Get On The Wrong Train or Miss Your Stop, Enjoy the Ride and Simply Go Back
If you’ve caught the wrong tube or missed your stop – don’t get nervous.  Either return where you started or look at your map to re-route your journey.  I’m an experienced Underground traveller and I often make the most of my goof.  Most of the time I go up the escalator, out the door and walk the rest of my journey.

5. Please Move Down The Platform
As you enter the station platform you will often find more room if you walk down to the ends of the platform.  So true.  If a platform is busy, I always make it rule to walk to the end of the platform.  The train carriages are usually the emptiest as well, perfect if you’re looking for a place to sit.  Plus, it passes the time you need to wait before the next train arrives.

6. Please Don’t Rush A Train.  Let Passengers Off the Train First
I’ll be on a train and when the doors open for me to leave, people rush on before letting passengers off.  I experience this over and over again.  It helps to let people off the tube before you board it; allowing more room for you to get on and passengers to alight the train.  Everyone is in a rush.  Please be patient.  The train won’t leave without you.

7. Check Line Closures and Listen to the Announcements Inside a Station
If possible, check ahead and plan your journey to make sure there are no delays or closures on the lines you need to travel – especially at the weekends when maintenance work is common.  It’s no fun to show up at an Underground station only to learn the line you want to take is closed.  It happens.  Also pay attention to potential Tube Strikes.  It’s the weekend, Enjoy glorious London and take a walk.  While you’re in a station, announcements are made on a constant basis.  Sometimes the voices are garbled.  Ask a member of staff if you’re unsure if the line you want to use is running as scheduled.

8. Carry a Bottle of Water and Pack a Snack
The London Underground is over 150 years old.  I could say enough said, but keep in mind air-conditioning is not the norm underground.  During summertime, the temperature can be unbearable in the stations and on the Tube.  Be prepared and carry water with you wherever you go in London.

9. Mind Your Belongings, Your Step and the Gap
Watch your bag and your belongings.  There are nefarious types in every large city and London is no exception.  A good rule is to keep your purse, bag or backpack to the front of you when you’re in a crowded space.  With that said, watch your step.  London Underground stations are one step up/down after another.  Whatever you do, don’t stop at the bottom of an escalator.  There are people behind you.  And, as you’ll hear over and over again – Mind The Gap.  No matter how famous the announcement is, there really are gaps between the trains and the platforms.

10. If You’re Unsure, Ask a Member of Staff for Help
London Underground stations are always busy but there are staff available if you’re a bit confused.  Even the well healed commuter gets discombobulated when there are thousands of others waiting to go through the ticket barriers.  TFL staff can guide you to your next destination, the nearest exit, tell you whether to turn left or right once you reach the bottom of the escalators and they may even tell you a joke.  Staff are located in several places before the ticket barrier as well as on the station platform.  Every station provides free Tube maps and information leaflets.

Plan your journey on the London Underground in advance with a free tube map.  Download your Free Tube Map.

Friday night’s in London are usually sacred.  The end of the week means relaxing at home after hectic days at work, or any number of after-hours activities.  You’re never short of things to do in London, especially if you are visiting for a short time.

That said, allow me to suggest ‘Friday Lates’ at the British Museum.  And, when I say lates, it’s only 8:30 pm late.  You’ll still have time for dinner afterwards and a night on the town.  Add a bit of culture Friday evenings when the museum hosts a nice range of lectures, discussions, film screenings, and special music and dance performances.  Most of the activities revolve around current exhibitions at the British Museum, so check what’s on before you go.

 Do keep in mind not all galleries are open during late hours at the British Museum, but rest assured you won’t be disappointed. Included below is the list of the galleries opened late on Fridays.  Feel free to download the list to take along with you during your visit.  

Why visit the British Museum on Friday night?  First of all, you’ll avoid the crowds.  With over eight million exhibits in the museum, it’ll be difficult to see it all and even more so with thousands of other visitors.  During the late opening, you can take your time whilst drinking in the vast amount of artefacts.  

The Egyptian collection is one of the finest (and largest) in the world.  When you have the museum to yourself, you’ll have the time to absorb the specially curated treasures.  You’ll discover stone tablets from the ancient Library of Alexandria, reliefs of lions from Assyria dating back to the seventh century, sculptures from the Parthenon, the first depiction of Jesus as well as artefacts recovered from the Sutton Hoo Viking ship burial.

The beauty of visiting the British Museum on a Friday night is you’ll avoid the throngs of people who nonsensically whip out their mobile phones for a selfie with the Rosetta Stone.  And if you are a consummate selfie-taker, you’ll have no fear of photo bombers.  Just don’t climb the Parthenon for your next viral selfie.  All joking aside, you can walk through one of the finest collections of humanity and enjoy your time in peace.  

I think your visit to the British Museum deserves the enriching experience you’ll have with few others around.  Walk through all the world’s continents and ancient eras of human development and civilisations.

I’ve visited the museum on several occasions after normal hours.  Each time I’ve captured interesting images of the Great Court, which is fascinating all by itself.  On this night, I basically had the British Museum to myself.

British Museum
Directions :
Located on Great Russell Street, Bloomsbury, London. The entrance is a short walk from the Holborn and Tottenham Court Road Underground stations. 
OPENING TIMES
10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily  Fridays Open Till 8:30 pm

British Museum GPS Coordinates :  51.5194° N, 0.1270° W
Map Showing Location of the British Museum ::

 
List of British Museum Galleries Open Late on Fridays :: 

Africa
Africa 
The Sainsbury Galleries
Room 25

Americas
North America 
Room 26

Mexico 
Room 27

Ancient Egypt
Egyptian sculpture 
Room 4

Egyptian life and death: the tomb-chapel of Nebamun 
The Michael Cohen Gallery
Room 61

Egyptian death and afterlife: mummies 
The Roxie Walker Galleries
Room 62-63

Early Egypt 
The Raymond and Beverly Sackler Gallery
Room 64

Sudan, Egypt and Nubia 
The Raymond and Beverly Sackler Gallery
Room 65

Ethiopia and Coptic Egypt 
Room 66

Ancient Greece and Rome
Greece: Minoans 
The Arthur I Fleischman Gallery
Room 12a

Greece: Mycenaeans 
The Arthur I Fleischman Gallery
Room 12b

Greece 1050–520 BC 
Room 13

Greek Vases 
Room 14

Athens and Lycia 
Room 15

Nereid Monument 
Room 17

Greece: Parthenon 
Room 18

Halikarnassos 
Room 21

Alexander the Great 
Room 22

Greek and Roman sculpture 
Room 23

Greek and Roman life 
Room 69

Roman Empire 
The Wolfson Gallery
Room 70

Etruscan world 
Room 71

Ancient Cyprus 
The AG Leventis Gallery
Room 72

Greeks in Italy 
Room 73

Asia
China, South Asia and Southeast Asia 
The Joseph E Hotung Gallery
Room 33

India: Amaravati 
Room 33

Chinese Jade 
The Selwyn and Ellie Alleyne Gallery
Room 33b

Europe
Clocks and watches 
The Sir Harry and Lady Djanogly Gallery
Room 38-39

Medieval Europe 1050–1500 
The Sir Paul and Lady Ruddock Gallery
Room 40

Sutton Hoo and Europe, AD 300–1100 
The Sir Paul and Lady Ruddock Gallery
Room 41

Europe 1800–1900 
Room 47

Europe 1900 to the present 
Room 48

Roman Britain 
The Weston Gallery
Room 49

Britain and Europe 800 BC-AD 43 
Room 50

Europe and Middle East 10,000–800 BC 
Room 51

Middle East
Assyrian sculpture and Balawat Gates 
Room 6

Assyria: Nimrud 
Room 7-8

Assyria: Nineveh 
Room 9

Assyria: Lion hunts 
Room 10a

Assyria: Siege of Lachish 
Room 10b

Assyria Khorsabad 
Room 10c

Ancient Iran 
The Rahim Irvani Gallery
Room 52

Ancient South Arabia 
The Raymond and Beverly Sackler Gallery
Room 53

Ancient Turkey 
The Raymond and Beverly Sackler Gallery
Room 54

Mesopotamia 1500–539 BC 
The Raymond and Beverly Sackler Gallery
Room 55

Mesopotamia 6000–1500 BC 
The Raymond and Beverly Sackler Gallery
Room 56

Ancient Levant 
Room 57-59

Themes
Enlightenment 
Room 1

Collecting the World 
Room 2

Living and Dying 
The Wellcome Trust Gallery
Room 24

Money 
The Citi Money Gallery
Room 68

Founded in 1123, St Bartholomew The Great is one of the oldest places of worship in London.  Parts of the original church still remain though in the year 1539 King Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries meant almost all of the nave of St Bartholomew The Great was destroyed by 1543.  The remaining traces of the monastic building is what you see today.  The nave of a church is the long centre narrow part of a church between the main columns.

The church also survived the Great Fire of London in 1666 and was one of the few London churches spared from damage in the German Blitz during World War II.   St Bartholomew the Great wasn’t so great during the 18th century as it fell into severe disrepair. Determination and faith led to repair and restoration efforts in the late 1800’s which saved it from destruction.

Today the priory church is an Anglican church and an important architectural monument.  It was established by Rahere, a clergyman for King Henry I.  Folklore tells us Raher erected the church as thanks to God after recovering from a severe fever.  The clergyman’s miraculous recovery led many to believe the church had curative powers, so sick people filled the aisles every 24 August, which is St Bartholomew’s Day.

St Bartholomew The Great is a living, active church but it also welcomes those of no particular religious affiliation because of its history and architecture.

One step inside and you know you’ve entered a special place unlike the more famous St Paul’s Cathedral or Westminster Abbey. Inside is the most intact Norman interior in London, with a suitably ancient atmosphere.  There is simple architectural beauty which draws you in and it almost seems as if you’re part of history.  The remains of the original Norman church consist of a transept crossing, chancel, and ambulatory with large round pillars.  The low, wide side aisles have groin vaults.  

If you are a movie buff, you may recognize St Bartholomew The Great.  The church has been a popular film location for Four Weddings and A Funeral, Sherlock, The Other Boleyn Girl, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Amazing Grace, and The End of the Affair. One day I was there The Hollow Crown : Richard II with Patrick Stewart was filming.

The entrance of the church from Smithfield now goes into the churchyard through a tiny surviving fragment of the west front, which is now surmounted by a half-timbered Tudor building.  From there to the church door, a path leads along roughly where the south aisle of the nave used to be.

Prepare yourself to be in awe and add St Bartholomew The Great to your things to do in London list, especially if you enjoy stepping into history.

 
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Where is St Bartholomew The Great?
GPS Coordinates for St Bartholomew The Great ::  51.518905° N, 0.099574° W

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