St Paul’s Cathedral : night time experiments

Something those of us who enjoy our photography should do every now and then is experiment. We should take ourselves out of the comfort of what we know and try something different.

A couple of days after I’d been forced to walk from London Bridge to Euston by the Tube Strike I repeated the journey. This time, without the crowds of confused commuters to battle with, I took my trusty Canon with me and decided to experiment with some night photography. Small problem: I’d forgotten to pack a tripod.

Instead of being able to rely on a long exposure and a steady tripod I was forced to improvise. I experimented with settings, shifting the ISO and aperture and relying a little on street furniture to steady my hand. I chose different focus points and metering settings, often shooting the same scene a dozen times to try different ideas out.

There were some hits and a lot of misses. I discovered my hand isn’t as stead as I thought and the Millennium Bridge moves a lot. I realised my “shoot on the move” approach I use on Street Photography walks in daylight doesn’t work so well at night.

The beauty of digital though is you can shoot a dozen shots of the same scene and see what works. You get a first feel from the back of the camera, but later, when you’ve got a better monitor to hand, you can start to analyse what did – and didn’t – work. Of the 80 or so images I shot I’ve found 4 I like. That’s 4 I like – you might not agree with me.

Regardless of the outcome get out there. Take your camera, change the setting to “manual” and experiment. Find what works for you and then keep experimenting. Something exciting might just happen.

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Who is Ross A Hall?

I'm a freelance researcher, designer and writer. My clients have included Fintech startups, publishers and digital agencies. You can read more about my work here.

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