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Photo of the Month: November 2014

Our latest Image of the Month comes from club chair Richard Bryant who talks about the occasional allure of city architecture. Here, he explains the challenge of finding a different perspective on the more obvious views served up by our thriving capital.

Although a lot of my photography is of the beautiful countryside around my North Yorkshire home, I find the urban environment equally inspiring.

I occasionally travel to London and always seize every opportunity to make images while I’m there. The problem with somewhere like London is that, like most major cities, it has been photographed to death. While there are many iconic images that are enjoyable to capture, the challenge is to look for something new in a recognisable location.

When I made this image, I was exploring the views of St Paul’s Cathedral from the Millennium Bridge outside Tate Modern.

I had been studying the bridge suspension cables with a view to employing a shallow depth of field so that St Paul’s, while identifiable was indistinct. I had already made a couple of images on the right hand side of the bridge and had moved to the left hand side when I noticed this sticker on the end of one of the hand rails.

Now I have no way of knowing whether the individual who put the sticker there was aware of the Sao Paulo/St Paul’s translation but it seems to be too much of a coincidence, particularly as the World Cup had not long finished. To this end I credit the individual with their “intelligent graffiti.”

From a photographic perspective I needed to find a composition that worked for me. The sticker is positioned on a third and I have used the shape of the hand rails to frame the cathedral in the distance. I have boosted the saturation and contrast of the hand rails and glass panels while desaturating the people on the bridge to avoid their bright clothing from distracting the eye. I have also dodged and burned the image to darken the out of focus areas and lighten the cathedral to lift it a little from the background. Some selective sharpening of the handrail has helped it jump out from the image.

There’s one other element of enjoyment from making this image. All around me are tourists enjoying the sights of our capital. Meanwhile there’s one photographer staring intently at the end of a bridge railing, apparently oblivious to Wren’s glorious cathedral.

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