Battersea Power Station
In Spring 2014 I met Joas who is an architectural photographer. We were at London Fashion Week in Somerset House and got chatting about photography stuff as you do. Although we have never shot together we've kept in touch. Joas makes stunning images of architecture around the world but it was one of his London images that really caught my eye. It's of Battersea Power Station shown in a way I had never seen before.
If you do an image search for Battersea Power Station on line you will be presented with pages and pages of pretty much the same views of the iconic four white chimneys towering 350ft above the largest brick building in Europe. Mostly flat uninteresting middle of the day photos best suited as illustrations of what Battersea Power Station looks like but not the sort of photographs to print and hang up on the wall.
The image Joas had made was taken from a unique viewpoint and at a much later time in the day. Great colours. foreground interest, leading lines, great composition and movement. Ever since I saw it I've had the urge to find the location and make my own attempt to take a photograph.
So early in June my friend John and I planned a shoot. We packed our tripods and headed out to where we thought Joas had taken his photograph. We'd walked all along the North Thames Path from Waterloo and as we were approaching the location all I could see was a huge brick wall. I had sudden worries that we had come unprepared having left our step ladders at home (only half joking). But as we reached the end of the wall a gap revealed the amazing view before us.
The view wasn't at all like the image in my mind. It was late afternoon light. Pleasant but not amazing. However, the elements were there for interesting compositions. A huge sweeping S curve of railway lines leading the eye to Battersea Power Station in the distance. All it needed now was great light with some long shutter speeds to capture the movement of trains on the tracks. It was only just after 6pm so there was still time to kill before the magic possibly started to happen. Hot drinks and a snack at a nearby cafe used up an hour before we headed back to the gap in the wall.
So without getting all technical (yawn) we got set up with cameras on tripods and experimented with different combinations of settings to try and get what we wanted. Shutters were triggered in little bursts as trains arrived and left Victoria Station up the tracks behind us. As the light faded the trains turned from blurred streaks to glowing trails of lights. The sky turned from pale blue with grey clouds to pinky colours as the sun set to a deep rich blue of twilight. As everything fell into place we couldn't help but grin and let out little whoops of satisfaction as memory cards were filled with images. It was gone 10pm when we packed up and headed home. As much as anything we were very chilly from standing in a gap for 3 hours wearing clothes appropriate for a normal June evening. This wasn't normal, it was flipping cold.
Aside from the pleasure of getting some great photos and having a memorable evening the one thing I learned was the value of pre-visualisation. I'm not certain that without Joas's photograph I would have seen the possibility of the location. What I am certain of is that I will be looking and thinking and planning more evening London photography. Watch this space.................
9:53pm 6th June 2015
Keywords: Battersea, FinchleyThompson.Com, Light, London, Movement, Power, Railway, Station, Track, Trails, Trains
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