Category Archives: London Panorama

Panorama Images of London

With two shoots, I had a busy day yesterday but found myself with a two hour gap, sitting in my car, without a trendy coffee shop in sight, in the rain, in one of London’s less pictorially celebrated areas and not far from that wonder of sixties civil engineering(?), the A4 Brentford flyover.

A4 Great West Road, West London

Sorry, it look rather pathetic this size, it really does need to be be big to be effective!!!

Been out and about shooting a number of car dealerships today but noticed this when I was unloading my gear at the last showroom in Battersea.  The building is Falcon Wharf, by Burland TM Architects and was built by George Wimpey.  The building won a BHA award in 2007 and although the building itself left me rather lukewarm, I did like the way the afternoon sun revealed the contents of all those balconies and rooms.

Falcon Wharf, Battersea, London, SW11, George Wimpewty, Burland TM Architects

From barns and hop garden poles to the hi tech world of the City of London – from the top of the Fosters Gherkin

Yesterday, I had occasion to visit the bar at the top of the Gherkin building in the City of London.  We arrived after dark and it was raining but the space up there and the view were both stunning, as one might expect and it was a welcome contrast to the world of Cathedrals and old barns in which I have been immersed of late.  (Thanks due to Mark, Richard and Tony!)

View from the top of London's Gherkin

View from the top of London’s Gherkin

Street View vs 360/180 Panoramas (vs single Images)

City of London

City of London

I started writing this thinking I that I would have something critical to say about Google’s Streetview.  However, once I got started and my thoughts fell into some sort of order it became clear that even though the world through Streetview is entirely pervasive and inescapable and has transformed our perceptions of what is familiar and unknown, it is not the creative bogey man I thought it might be.

First off I should acknowledge that I use Streetview extensively for work and find it an invaluable tool  but nevertheless I felt that my own efforts to shoot stitched panoramas were rendered somehow rather pointless given that Streetview has revealed every corner of the world in 360 degree glory (with very few exceptions) at the click of a mouse. My thoughts were inspired by a panorama project that I started a couple of years ago and that is ongoing.

I started (along with millions of others) to shoot 360/180 panoramas in the early naughties. My first efforts were predominately interior views of public buildings and considering the ropey software that was available at the time, they looked pretty good.  This is a view of the Cloisters of Canterbury Cathedral done in 2004.

Cloisters of Canterbury Cathedral

More recently, I embarked on a long-term project of landscapes of London using stitched techniques. (The recently posted images of the QEII Bridge are part of this endeavour). There is no part of London (or anywhere else for that matter) that is not covered in 360deg by Streetview.  As a result 360/180 views are commonplace and do not have the intrigue that they once may have had… so how can one work with stitched panoramas in a way that retains a degree of intrigue and uniqueness?

Looking back over the views produced since the London project began, (around 25 or so) I now realise that by shooting at dusk and/or night and by positioning myself in slightly more unusual places I have achieved images that are to a degree different and unique.

At it’s core all photography is about selection and timing.  (Perhaps I should qualify that by saying “straight photography using a camera”!)  In a sense 360/180 images negate the first of these in that there is no selection other that where you position the camera but that in itself is a form of selection.  And timing is simply a matter of when you take the image so on both counts a 360/180 image scores.  By using a combination of unusual vantage points and working in non-daylight or semi daylight hours one can, at least to a degree produce images that are at once similar but different to Streetview and that have their own integrity.  In addition I rarely produce full 360/180 images and nearly always crop in to the image.

That said, even though they are quite fun things to make, nothing beats a great single image!

This one was shot in 1989 with my battered Nikon FM2 (and as an aside, clearly demonstrates the difference between film and digitally originated images but maybe that is a subject for a separate post).

Holy Island, Northumberland

Holy Island, Northumberland

I know it should be obvious but when I got up close to the QEII bridge I was amazed by just how substantial the main support towers of this bridge are.  From a distance it looks like a thin delicate web like structure but it really is anything but.

Stitched Panorama

This is another image from the session I did on the first day of the year – this time a bit closer up!

And looking up…

QEBridgeBlog

The Christmas & New Year break also provided a perfect opportunity to do more work on the London Panoramas series. The last time I worked in this was about 8 months ago so I visited a very busy Trafalgar Square on Boxing Day and a very quiet River Thames on New Years day.Image

The QE2 Bridge was completed in 1991 to a design by the German Engineer Helmutt Homberg.  It was to be his last project and he died a year before the bridge opened.  The structure was built by the Cleveland Bridge & Engineering Company (Part of the Trafalgar House Group) and with it’s main deck span of 450m it was, at the time of it’s completion Europe’s largest cable supported bridge, now superceded by the Second Severn Crossing amongst others.