Viewing St Paul’s

IMG_8394The view of St Paul’s Cathedral from Tate Modern, and particularly from the Millennium Bridge which crosses the River Thames directly at that point, is one of the classic views in London.

Every time I walk along South Bank or visit Tate Modern I feel compelled to take another image of St Paul’s, and every time I try to come up with a slightly different view.

The last image I posted, before the one you see above, can be seen here. It’s worth looking at if you don’t know this area well, because it explains the exact context of today’s image. The previous image was taken from the bridge with my back against the waist-high glass panelling that the man in today’s image is leaning against. That explains the very strong horizontal bar and a thin vertical stripe that are unavoidable features of today’s image. The bridge ends in mid-air and to exit off it pedestrians double back down ramps to reach ground level, and to take today’s image I was behind the bridge shooting up from the ground.

It was a very grey day when I was here exactly a week ago. I stood for a few minutes waiting patiently for a suitable group of people to come into the frame, with an idea in mind, and then this big fellow arrived and stood there immovably. My first reaction was to shout: ‘get out of the way, I’m trying to take a picture down here’! But the longer he stood there, the more I thought the composition might work.

The image does not look good in colour – the waist-high glass panelling introduces a marked colour cast and the glass is streaked with rain water staining, and that also shows up against the man’s dark clothing. Even in B&W there was a considerable amount of work to clean up the areas of sky seen through the glass to remove the most offensive streaking.

This is an image that has grown on me the more I look at it and I would love to hear your opinions.

About LensScaper

Hi - I'm a UK-based photographer who started out 45+ years ago as a lover of landscapes, inspired by my love of outdoor pursuits: skiing, walking and climbing. Now retired, I seldom leave home without a camera and I find images in unexpected places and from different genres. I work on the premise that Photography is Art and that creativity is dependent on the cultivation of 'A Seeing Eye'. I'm not averse to manipulating images to produce derivatives that may sometimes be far removed from the original.
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13 Responses to Viewing St Paul’s

  1. Lignum Draco says:

    I find the 2 extra heads a bit of a distraction, but that’s street photography. Even the gap between the glass panes adds to the rule of 3s composition.

    • LensScaper says:

      I was in two minds about those two heads – they wouldn’t be hard to remove and it would clean up the area around the man’s feet – I think I will experiment with that. Many thanks for your comment.

  2. Caz says:

    It’s a view I know well – I spent a lot of time in this area last spring and it could easily have been me stood there, annoying other photographers by refusing to move! It’s good to see a different angle on a familiar scene.

    • LensScaper says:

      Hi Caz – thanks so much for the comment. I see you have stood on that bridge in very nearly the same spot as when I took the image referred to in this Post (I have just read your About page on your blog). I had to queue up to get a space and then hogged that space until I got the shot I wanted!

  3. oneowner says:

    The flat lighting is beautiful on a scene like this. Nice shot, Andy.

  4. shoreacres says:

    I like this very much more than the previous photo, and don’t find the “extra heads” a distraction at all. It feels to me as though the man and the dome of St. Paul’s are linked — in conversation, or perhaps an interrogation. In fact, that sense of connection between them might actually be lessened, were the extraneous features to be removed. Then, there wouldn’t be anything — other people, railings, etc. — to set off their respective strengths.

    It’s funny — the stance of the man gives it a bit of a “gunfight at the OK corral” sort of feel. Maybe it’s his just-slightly-bowed legs.

    • LensScaper says:

      I think of him as a Colossus – a human King Kong, and the presence of others around his ankles adds to that surreal effect. And yet despite him dominating the frame size-wise, to my eye he still cannot detract from the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral.

  5. Chillbrook says:

    A very interesting perspective Andy! It works really rather well I think.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Adrian – I’m pleased to hear you like it. Thousands of images – perhaps tens of thousands in summer – are taking daily from this bridge. It’s difficult to find a slightly different approach to a very hackneyed view.

  6. ShimonZ says:

    I agree with shoreacres that it would be a shame to remove the two heads. This is a fine picture.

  7. Len says:

    I like this a lot Andy. The B&W choice helps create a great mood. It makes me wonder what he is thinking about. The only thing I might consider is to take out the two heads by his feet. They seem to draw my eye there.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks very much Len. Others have also commented on the presence of those two heads and suggested trying the image without them. I will do that. The only thought I have is whether their position in the frame adds another subtle surreal effect to the overall design – not sure about that, the jury is out!

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