Millenium Saint Paul's

April 08, 2021  •  1 Comment

Blog 21 04 09 Millenium Saint PaulsBlog 21 04 09 Millenium Saint Pauls

Both St. Paul’s and the adjacent Millenium Bridge are architectural gems, complementing each other across 3 centuries of stylistic change. Given the important, historical lines of sight to the cathedral and the need for aesthetic sensitivity, a satisfying solution was found by building a bridge with “flat supports”, allowing a clear view of St. Pauls from the South Bank of the Thames. It was achieved by the inspired, triple combination of a design team consisting of architects, a sculptor and engineers.

After a famously “wobbly” start, perhaps due to the daring initial design, the structure was stabilised and Londoners and tourists alike have gained an exciting new pedestrian route from the Globe and the Tate Modern over to the City of London. Given the layout on each bank, the view in either direction is architecturally marvellous.

Iconic in Black & White

The choice of Black & White came from two criteria. I have always been moved by the wartime image of St. Pauls, standing defiantly amid clouds of smoke from the fires of bombing near misses. I only learned in researching this blog that the cathedral was, in fact, successfully hit by bombs three times between 1940 and 1941. The second was large enough to have caused massive structural damage, but it was defused, removed and blown up at a remote site. The artificers both received the George Cross for their courage. When I lived and worked in the vicinity of St. Pauls during the 1970’s, bombsites and ruined buildings still scarred the whole area.

My second consideration was the need to emphasise the visual contrast between the two structures. Draining out colour rendered the tones of the steel bridge more in line with the  stonework of the cathedral, allowing the eye to concentrate more on the shapes.  

Composition

The bridge was crowded with pedestrians, so rather than using a wide angle and capturing the direct line of sight across the bridge towards St. Paul’s, I opted for the narrower field of view of a long lens and no distracting people. This had the added optical advantage of “crowding” the distant church into a seemingly near relationship with the stanchions of the bridge.­­­ Using a narrow aperture gained enough sharpness from front to back to achieve a unified view.

This technical preference was enabled by strong light, such that the ISO could also be low, providing high quality, while using a relatively fast shutter speed. Given that the image was captured during the Winter, this was a happy piece of photographic luck.

Finally, I composed the image to connect the downward sweep of the bridge to the strong verticals of the cathedral. The eye is drawn both ways: down the Dome and up the bridge, or down the rails of the bridge and up to the cross. I hope that this combination pleases you as much as it did me. 

 

Settings

Camera: Nikon D300

Lens: Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8

Focal Length: 125mm

Drive Mode: Single Shot

Auto Focus-Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/10

Shutter Speed: 1/800s

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority A/E

Exposure Compensation: -1.0 EV

Metering: Pattern

ISO Sensitivity: 250

Format: Raw

Place : Central London

Year: 2008

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2021 All Rights Reserved

 


Comments

Eric Bontemps(non-registered)
Belle idée de confronter l'architecture ancienne et moderne. Le noir et blanc s'imposait pour accentuer le contraste. J'aurais décalé le pont vers la droite pour simplement effleurer la coupole.
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