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The Best Views In London

Photography Tips

Everyone has a camera, whether it's built into your phone, a pocket sized marvel or a semi-pro, digital SLR. If you look at some of the photographs across this site (particularly for the changing of the guard) you’ll see uniform rows of spectators holding cameras above their heads and firing off round upon round. The starting point for a stunning photo, is stunning subject matter. Listed below are a number of locations around town with beautiful views. You may just like to be there and drink it in. However, if you do take your camera along, here are a number of tips for shooting better photos:

For plain landscape views, you need a narrow aperture, (that’s the landscape/mountain symbol on your camera – F9-F32 on an SLR). Bear in mind that you’re making the hole for light to travel through, very small. The upside is everything will be in focus (near and far objects), the downside is that you have to hold it very still. Prop yourself against a wall and don’t hold your breath; gently breathe out as you squeeze the shutter, it stops your hand jerking.

The 'Clock Tower' Containing Big Ben, seen from Whitehall.Consider taking several shots of the view and stitching them together later. If there’s a flat horizontal wall or ledge, hold the camera on it and move it around. All the pictures will be from the same height and will look much more professional when stitched together.

Try adding some foreground interest (especially a person) rather than just a straight view. The end result is always a better photo.

Have the sun to one side. Shooting into the sun will make everything appear as a shadow or outline, and having the sun behind you will make the view appear flat. Side light adds shadow, which gives the picture a 3-dimensional quality.

Lastly, try to fill the frame with what you’re taking a picture of; this is called getting ‘tight’ on the subject, to professional photographers. If it’s a Grenadier Guard. Get close enough so they fill the whole photograph. A small figure in the distance will always look disappointing.

With that advice in mind, let’s consider some show-stopping views.

The London Eye

Along with Buckingham Palace and the Palace of Westminster – the ‘Eye’ is London’s most popular tourist attraction. The London Eye can carry 800 passengers per revolution. Each of the 32 capsules weighs 10 tonnes. Each rotation takes about 30 minutes, meaning a capsule travels at a stately 26cm per second, or 0.9km (0.6 miles) per hour - twice as fast as a tortoise sprinting; allowing passengers to step on and off without the wheel having to stop. The height of the London Eye is 135m, making it the fourth tallest structure in London after the BT Tower, Tower 42 and One Canada Square in Canary Wharf.
Eye from Westminster Bridge, with the Coade Lion foreground.As well as being a fun ride, it’s also the best view in town (the 3 taller structures are closed to the public – except for some very exclusive and tricky to book, restaurant space). Do pack a camera and perhaps Google some London Eye images. There are lots of original and interesting perspectives to take of the Eye, so get some ideas before you go.

 

Piccadilly Circus – Especially at Night

Piccadilly Circus is interesting enough during the day, but is a much better prospect at night. Bear in mind that at night you will have to hold the camera very still, so prop yourself against a lamppost. Also, turn the flash off as it will add nothing to the finished pictures.

Piccadilly Circus is on the Piccadilly and Bakerloo lines and is a hive of activity at night. It is however, somewhere that’s avoided by Londoners, so don’t expect to run into many natives.

Parliament Hill

If you’re visiting Hampstead Heath (Northern Line), then Parliament Hill is a must see. It’s the highest point above the city and gives a spectacular view of the whole metropolis from the north, looking south. It’s not especially high, so you won’t have to hike up it, but London is in a flat, chalk basin, with gently sloping sides. Meaning that scaling the edges gives unbroken views of 20 miles or more.
 
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