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.

Happy photographing!

Anthony and Diana