About Me

Wells, BC, Canada
Richard is a working photographer and writer in B.C. His camera focuses on natural history. archeology, travel, and documentary photography. His photography blog may be found at: http://richardtwright.blogspot.com/

Monday, February 24, 2014

Photographing Big Ben, iconic London landmark and camera security

If the line up and crowding at the riverside wall of London's embankment is any indication there are two iconic London landmarks that everyone has to have a selfie or a twosie of - Tower Bridge and Big Ben with the parliament buildings.
First of all it is a challenge to find the right angle, then to find a space at the rail and then to hold that space. This is clearly a time to have an assistant.
I have developed a security protocol over the years but it is still nice to have someone to watch your back when you have an open pack with $10 grand worth of equipment opened up.
First, I keep my camera strap clipped to my pack shoulder-strap with a carabiner. If anyone wants to grab and run they have to drag me along. Plus, this means I can let the camera go if need be and have two free hands.
If and when I take my pack off I clip it to a railing with a 'biner or with the assistance of two foot length of light cable I carry. The thin cable with a loop at each end goes around a post or a bench rail and clips to my pack or tripod, again with one of 3 large carabiners. If I lay the pack down for even a moment I put my foot through the strap.
I try not to turn my back on gear but it could happen - such as when a tourist family asked me to move, "oh and please sir, be moving your camera as well," while they take endless shots of each other.
For what it is worth I also try to take a little more aggressive stance and look (which is hard for an old guy to do) with a wool cap, gear jacket, monopod (read baton) in hand and a determined look.  And, I keep aware of what is going on around me.
Those selfies? I often get asked to take others photos but before I do I size them up to make sure I am not being scammed by snatch and run thieves. So far in 50 years of photos is has worked - knock on wood.
Using the London turnstile toilets, by the way, can be a challenge to get through with a pack and gear - and you have to keep 20p and 50p coins in your pocket as the attendants can be a little aggressive. I saw one arguing with a 12-year old boy about whether he had paid - getting really nasty with him. She finally let him through when I looked over and started to pay his pee fee.

But when all is done the London Thames embankment is great place for photography - particularly at night.
The parliament buildings and Big Ben on the north bank of the Thames in London. Copyright 2014 Richard Wright.

Nikon D800, 70-200mm f2.8 AF V1 Nikkor, 86mm, f3.2, 6 sec (using self-timer for release), manual focus, Manfotto carbon fibre tripod. Shot in TIFF so only minor post processing with Aperture 3.

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