I remember visiting London once as a child with my parents, but it wasn’t until I was about twenty years old that I first got the chance to explore it properly. I spent a few university holidays there around the time I was really getting into shooting and printing my own photographs.
I’ve been re-scanning some old negatives from back then (back in the year 2000, jeez I feel old) when I was shooting a Canon A-1 with high speed film and my trademark dark red filter that turned sunny skies black. I have a load of images from around London, including a roll of ISO 3200 film I shot around various London underground stations. But for this post I’ve picked out a series I shot on and around the London Eye.
It’s basically a giant Ferris wheel, built as both a viewing platform over the city and a tourist destination in it’s own right on London’s cultured south bank.
I remember it being a sunny day and I was probably shooting with a 50mm f1.4 Canon lens, the negatives tell me it was Ilford HP5+ film (ISO 400) but the red filter I was using at the time knocks about three stops of light off that in order to achieve this look. These are pretty much straight scans of the film with only minor adjustment in Lightroom. Shooting monochrome film straight into the sun with heavy red filtration gives the dark skies and bright highlights all by itself.
I’ve never been one for scenic snapshots, I prefer to create a set of images that show different aspects of a subject rather than general overall shots. These were always shot to be a series of images rather than multiple different attempts to get a single shot right. Each shows something different but with a link to the others.
Even up on the wheel itself I tried to find some interesting composition, capturing recognisable elements of the London skyline, but only as a backdrop to the structure of the wheel.
This on in particular captures a wide view but was shot to show the shadow of the wheel across the building in the foreground. The set of images is six points in time, but together they convey the feeling of seeing and interacting with the subject.
The final image in the set is perhaps my favourite, with a very abstract but dynamic composition that i find very satisfying. With a student’s budget and limited film these six images show the only six images I shot of the Eye with the framing as it was in camera. I find the constraint of shooting with a single camera/lens/film combination (no zoom!) makes me think more about what I am doing so I spend that little bit longer composing the image before tripping the shutter.
I’ve since returned to London many time with work, etc. but I don’t see it anymore like I did when I first explored it with my camera.