London and a mixed bag of Photography

Last week I ventured off on a day trip to London.  It had been a while since my last visit and I was long overdue a day of ‘me’ photography.  I had no real agenda and no expectations of what i would find or photograph, but, as London is place where you can find and photograph anything and everything, i was more than confident of getting something ‘in the bag’.

With that in mind it did make me take a little more kit that I really should have, but, with the light weight of the Fuji XT1 and its complement of amazing lens’ it wasn’t a real issue.  I did however make a return trip to the car shortly after parking at the rain station to dump my tripod as a last minute decision to leave this behind.

Monday morning in London was manic, it’s manic every morning to be honest, but this particular Monday was the day after the London Marathon.  The cleanup process was still in full swing and there were stacks upon stacks of those meal barriers everywhere, but, the cleanup team must have been very hard at work all night restoring the city to its normal self ready for there Monday morning onslaught.

I love the huge diversity London offers and it’s great to see all the tourists taking in the sights but i’d wish they would leave those blooming selfie sticks at home.  Having nearly had my eye taken out on a couple of occasions was beginning to wear a little thin as they waved them around with little or no regard to those around them.

All-in-all though it was a great day where i photographed ‘that’ anything & everything, from some of the iconic buildings, life on the street, life under the street and even those blooming tourists with their selfie sticks, lol.  The weather was very changeable with some heavy rain showers but it certainly did not stop play, moreover, it helped create a winning image, more about that a little further on.

Again, the Xt1 was a dream to work with, occasionally shooting from the hip and zone focusing for the street shots – but i must admit that i still need a little more practice at this technique.  As for that tripod i left behind, i didn’t even miss it.  I photographed a few long exposure images, some in excess of 75 seconds, all helped with the Lee Seven5 filter system, and just used what was available such as walls and even the pavement.  It helped me compose some great images with a low perspective and the freedom of working without a tripod was very liberating.

The week ended on a high by me submitting an image into the Fujifilm_UK #fujifridaychallenge, with the weeks theme being reflections, and having my entry chosen by renowned Fuji X Photographer Paul Sanders as the winning image.  As mentioned above, the image was taken just after a heavy rain shower and i was in an area of high-rise office blocks, with a view of the Shard in-between, and the wet pavement in combination with the glass sided buildings created an amazing reflective scene.

Anyway, I hope you like the images i’ve added below.  Please do feel free to share the blog and leave me a comment and if you missed my last blog post on why i moved to the Fujifilm X system you can read that here.  Thanks, Rob.

London Photography by Rob Ferrol

There’s more to London you know.

News reader on the streets of London by Rob Ferrol

News reader ready for action

Tourists in London posing with selfie stick

Grrr, the curse of the selfie sticks.

Padlocks left by lovers

Lovers locks

A newly married couple on Westminster bridge, london

Just married

big ben London with blurred London bus and jogger

Lunchtime rush hour at Westminster bridge

stormy clouds over westminster by rob ferrol photography

Stormy clouds over Westminster

London bus blurred with motion as it passes red london phone box by rob ferrol

elderly females taking a cigarette break

Fag break

two males outside bookshop in london by rob ferrol

Another fag break

lonely female in cafe by rob ferrol

Deep in thought


london city skyline in black and white by rob ferrol

London city skyline

long exposure of tower bridge by rob ferrol

Tower Bridge long exposure

st pals cathedral by rob ferrol

St Paul’s from Millennium bridge

statue of fire fighters and st pals cathedral by rob ferrol

Firefighter statue near St Pauls

shard reflections on a rainy day in london by rob ferrol

The winning shot

Blurred vision

As photographers we are constantly striving for tack sharp images and go to many lengths and great expense to achieve this. Using time tested techniques such as mirror lock-up, cable releases and a good sturdy tripod can all go along way to achieve this but I’m now seeing an increase in the use of purposefully blurred images.

Don’t get me wrong, this is nothing new, and it’s certainly not to everyones taste, but, if you trawl throughout the pages on Flickr there is definitely an increase in this style. I’ve gone to great lengths myself to get those super sharp images but now im also finding these blurred images more intriguing. I’m not sure why, maybe it’s the sense of leaving something for the imagination – allowing the minds eye to sharpen the image. These images can certainly be perceived differently from person to person but I also ask myself ‘what has the photographer seen in this image?’ because the composition and content is not always immediately clear.

There are many diffent methods to achieve this blurred effect – long exposure handheld, camera panning, tilt and shift lens’ or by using the powerful tools within software such as Photoshop and each give their own unique results. I have so far tried panning and the Photoshop method and examples of each of these can be seen here.

I mistakenly thought that this technique would be easy to emulate hand held – how wrong could I be? You need to think just has hard about composition and the elements within you scene. I had far more images go in the recycle bin using the panning technique than I would have taking traditional landscape images. You also have to think hard about the amount of movement your going to use – too much and it’s just a streaky mess and too little looks as if you’ve just poorly focused the image. I found my best results came from focusing on a key point in the image, such as a tree trunk etc, as this gave the image an anchor, then used various shutter speeds from about 2 to 4 seconds while experimenting with different ways of panning the camera. Very hit and miss but very rewarding when you get a worthwhile result.

I think it will be a while before I could invest and try the tilt and shift lenses but in the meantime, for some blurry inspiration, please take a look at Chris Friel’s website. I was introduced to his stunning work by another equally accomplished photographer and friend, Doug Chinnery. Chris is a master that the artistic blurred images and used many different techniques to achieve the effect but also confesses to having an appalling shot ratio.

Great British Landscapes, the new online photography magazine produced by Tim Parkin and Joe Cornish, have just featured an interview with Chris so why not check that out too along with some other very useful and interesting articles.

If you’d like to see more of my work please check out any of the links below.