I used to live a 15 minute walk from this view of the London cityscape, in a sleepy little part of London called “Wapping”. Which was pretty nice, because it was one of the few places in the city back then where you wouldn’t get a nose full of soot from the diesel buses, and I had easy access to everything the city had to offer. I was a young engineer at Ford Motor Company doing a rotational assignment. Life was ridiculous. I thought it was a blast to be driving a stick shift on the wrong side of the street powering through roundabouts. One of my friends at Ford, who was on rotation with me and owned a small race team back in The States, took it to an entirely new level. He once yanked the handbrake to get his car to slip sideways while driving down a corkscrew ramp in the movie theater parking lot. Straight-up “Tokyo Drift” in real life. I still have no idea how he returned that rental without a scratch on it, though I’m not surprised the hand brake no longer worked.
Ford somehow also put me up in a flat with a balcony overlooking the River Thames. After the sky got dark, party boats filled with hundreds of people would slowly cruise by with music blaring. I was quite the setup, except for lack of an air conditioner. So after a hard workout at the gym, it could be a little hot for sleeping. And I did what I had to: I adopted new clothing habits (or lack thereof) for bedtime. One night I got up fumbling in the kitchen for a glass of water and decided to turn on the lights. And that’s when I heard dozens of women on a passing ship immediately start to scream and whistle. That sort of thing sticks with you, forever. Glad I could make their night a little more entertaining.
So, with my head filled with memories of sixteen years ago, I made my first return trip to London last year. I somehow expected such an old city would stand still in time, but it’s changed dramatically. I love all the new architecture, especially this view of City Hall, The Shard, and the Ernst & Young building on the Thames. The glass facade warms up like a blast furnace with the fiery colors of sunset. I felt like I’d explored every inch of the city when I lived here, and now there’s so much more. I took this shot with a new photographer friend and then headed for a pint at one of the pubs faintly visible in this shot. I love that aspect of cityscape photography. You can capture distant memories and be inspired to new adventures, both at the same time.
- Exposure blending and dodging/burning in Lumenzia
- Added a Black and White adjustment layer set to luminosity blend mode to bring out the yellow lights of the building
- Color grading with Selective Color tool
- Cloning to remove some distractions (a few construction cranes and a lone cloud)
- Straightened verticals with Lumenzia Basics‘ “verticals” tool (applied this to a smart object containing all layers)
Below are the four exposures I blended to create the image. I don’t typically shoot 1ev brackets these days. I could have just as easily captured this scene with 2 RAW images (or even 1, depending on how much you want to push your shadows). Shooting fewer exposures is ideal with a fast setting sun and moving clouds to deal with.