Part two: How I Created This Shot – Dissecting The Image
I hope you are all doing well on this fine day. I am feeling very energised after spending a long day at the beach on Thursday. We had some family staying for a few days, and even though I don’t hold normal 9-5 hours, it felt funny to spend a weekday lying in the sunshine and snorkeling with the kids.
But you know what – I should do it more often because I’ve woken up feeling insanely energised. It’s amazing what a lazy, fine day can do for your energy.
I received some really nice emails, and a comment, about my article about dissecting the technical and creative aspects of an image.
I want to show you another image today that I will explain both technically and narratively. I hope you like this one!
Both the shots I’ve used, this and in the last post, are from my book East London at Dawn. If you are ever in London I really recommend you explore the area – Here’s why I love to shoot east London.
10 sec @f/11 ISO 50 32mm(17-40mm) Canon 5d Mkiii
Let’s start with a look at the technical, shall we?
I love this shot – for the surprise and the success of execution.
Surprise because I had never been to East India station in London before and I wasn’t aware of this view. And I was thrilled with the images I was getting.
The execution because my setup and exposure were well timed and exposed. Slow shutter for effect. Sweet aperture (for that lens) and an ISO that gave me all the contrast and colour my camera is capable of.
I was concerned that the train movement was going to mess with my sharpness, but the platform was really solid and had no vibrations.
This is something to consider when shooting long exposures – you can be stable with your tripod, but what about the place you are shooting?
The f/11 gave me good depth of field from 3 feet to infinity. I focused about a third up from the bottom of the frame to make sure the close distance would be sharp.
I had a window of about 12 minutes where there was a perfect balance of both ambient and artificial light. I made about 10 shots and adjusted the shutter speed from 15 seconds to 8 seconds as the light increased. It was still too dark for a daylight white balance (5400K) so I settled for around 3200-4000K, which I why the sky is so blue.
In Lightroom I boosted the contrast quite a bit to enhance the lines and separate the colours, which I then further controlled with HSL. I put the vibrance and clarity up high to give it added punch,.
It is a high energy image; the lines taking the eye around the image and back again, bouncing off the buildings and looping around. The streaks created by the long exposure just enhance this feeling of speed and energy.
What do you think?
Now let’s look at the story that I think about this for this image
I live an odd life, I know that. One day I might be out at 4am wandering the streets of a city, then home by 11am and napping. I can also be found working past midnight processing images, writing, sending emails. I might be teaching at midday, having a meeting with a gallery or meeting my printers.
I’m not in London at the moment, but even when I was my life has never had much of a schedule or fixed routine.
And therefore my personal story of London is not really of someone who takes part in the daily rhythm of going to work in the morning and returning home in the evening.
I feel like I am mostly an observer to this life that so many people lead. I see it, but I’m not in it.
When I am out shooting in the morning, I am out way before most people are even awake. I watch the sky changing, the light appearing, feel the beautiful calm. Then a trickle of people starts to appear. One or two at first, and then speeding up.
Before long the trickle turns to a mad rush of people walking, cars, buses, trains, boats even. Everything and anything that can be used to get people to work and school – and quickly.
The energy rushing through the city is intense and feels sometimes like it wells up from nowhere. A tap has been turned on full, a button has been pushed and released.
I like this image because it shows how intense metropolitan life is. It feels both hectic and crazy busy – but ordered and organised too.
You have the rush of people, but they are lines, following the path, using the city efficiently to get to their destinations on time.
Because this shot taken when it was still early you can see those who rise first, and I feel their energy to start the day and get moving are represented in the streaks of light. These people are active and in the chase.
There is also the glow of lights from the office buildings – people who are at work already? Or who never left? Perhaps they are the people who come to clean and care for the building, coming and leaving unnoticed, like whispers in the night.
So many stories could be told from the people you know are in this image, but you can’t see.
To me, this image talks about the energy you need in the pursuit of survival. The city is big and unwieldy and hard. But with desire and focus, you can command the city to your will.
What do you think? I would love to know what you think of the photo and my analysis. Let me know below.
Anthony and Diana
Dissecting the Shot: A Long-Exposure Photo of London’s East India Station – Photography News World
14/01/2019 @ 8:37 PM
[…] About the author: Anthony Epes is a photographer whose work has been featured internationally; including on BBC, French Photo Magazine, Atlas Obscura and CNN. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Epes is also a teacher – writing in-depth free articles on his website. Receive his free ebook on the two essential skills that will instantly improve your photos, and sign up to his weekly newsletter providing inspiration, ideas and pro-photo techniques. This article was also published on Cities at Dawn. […]
10 Powerful Ideas For Your Photography In 2019 - Cities at Dawn
04/01/2019 @ 5:39 PM
[…] favourites were his Dissecting the shot series. See more here, here and here. Plus the start of his project of the beach at dawn in […]
05/06/2018 @ 1:16 AM
As a former night shift nurse, I am deeply familiar with the elusiveness and beauty of early morning light. This time of day has such special energy. One thinks it should be quiet and calm but it is anything but – night workers trying hard to finish the shift, early workers dashing off to begin their day, stores opening, children needing care etc. etc. It’s one of the most energy intense times of our day. Your photo catches both the rush and the calm.
05/06/2018 @ 7:50 AM
I love this comment. It takes me back to those times in London I spent doing my work there. You are correct – it is a very bustling time, but I you go out a little before then it the most peaceful time of day. It is always darkest before the dawn kind of thing 🙂
03/06/2018 @ 7:31 PM
Thank you for this and the previous post. You have shared this east London image before but it is really I insightful to hear more of the story about how you captured this moment, both technically and creatively.
I’d be interested to learn more about exposure/ aperture. You mention your setting would capture everything in focus past 3ft. I’ve only thought of aperture as an ability to get more light and so would be interested to learn more about what apertures capture what level of detail at what distance.
Cheers and more soon!
04/06/2018 @ 5:01 PM
I glad you like this format. They are fun to write. And quick! I also get to reexamine images that I love.
02/06/2018 @ 6:32 AM
This shot makes me feel like the train is coming straight through where I’m standing. You can feel the intensity of the speed and the noise. I really appreciate when you share the technical aspects as it gives me ideas about how to do that better in the future. Thanks!
04/06/2018 @ 5:00 PM
I could have reached out and touched it. I was right at the end of the platform. Sturdy platform I must say!