Don's Pages

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Chelsea Bridge Sunrise: London

A Sunrise To Remember.

Chelsea Bridge from Battersea Bridge on the River Thames in London. 

Planning an early morning rise to greet the Sunrise is one thing, but actually getting your head off the pillow and out the door is another. For me there really is nothing quite like that sacrifice, but there's also the anticipation and dread that goes along with it. That's because, here in London, we never really know what the weather is going to be like. Oh we can look at the outlook on the BBC forecasts to see what they've said it's going to be like, but I can't tell you the number of times that I've gotten up and out only to be disappointed by the complete opposite of what had been promised.

Today when I crawled out of bed I felt those same feelings of excitement and trepidation. I'd prepared well; the forecast was for clear skies and light wind. I'd planned to be at Battersea bridge in time to welcome the sun and I knew the exact spot that I'd be standing, all thanks to Google maps and the Photographer's Ephemeris program. The rest, as they say, was in God's hands and my skill as a photographer. Praise God! Because today the weather didn't disappoint, the sky was clear and apart from a slight breeze not too bad.

My kit for today was simple: Nikon D700 Camera, Gitzo Tripod, 28-300mm and 16-35mm Nikon Lenses. 16Gb Compact Flash Card and a few filtres if I needed them.

I knew it would be quite cold, so I put on a big wooly jumper, jacket and warm clothing. However, I made the mistake of forgetting a hat and gloves which I'd later regret, because the wind was stronger and colder on Battersea Bridge than I'd imagined. However, braving the early morning cold is just one of the things that makes these early morning sorties into the heart of London memorable, hopefully  I'll remember them next time.

In London Be Careful Parking: Parking my car was a problem though, I knew that if I'd parked carelessly, even at that time of the day, I could be clamped or towed away. After driving around for a while I found a spot next to Battersea Park just down from Chelsea Bridge. It was good because I made a mental note to take some close-up shots of Chelsea Bridge on the way back to the car after the sunrise shots. The distance from Chelsea Bridge to Battersea Bridge is only a couple of hundred yards, so was glad that I didn't have to lug camera gear too far.

Finding my spot was easy and it was a delight to walk along the Thames path, I was the only soul out at that time of the day, but that didn't last long as morning joggers began to emerge from their luxury flats close by. I got into position on Battersea bridge at about 5.10am ready for the sunrise at 5.30am. They sky was already quite bright and I could see the beginnings of the orange glow in the sky, I knew it was going to be a good clear shot. I think I would have prefered a bit more cloud in the sky, but never mind.

Camera Settings: Far too often I've forgotten that I'd been shooting in some weird ISO setting only to get home and find a great landscape shot has been ruined by my stupidity. So now I always double check every setting on the camera; ISO, f stop, focusing mode switch, area focusing mode switch, metering mode switch. Also when using the camera on a tripod you won't need lens stabilization so turn it off. Also just check that I'm shooting in RAW, that's so I can recover as much detail from every shot. JPG compresses the files and data is lost.

Here are some of the shots

Click images to see them much larger.

What surprised me today was just how much the colours have changed as the sun got higher in the sky.

Sunrises or Sunsets???

I find both are equally inspiring, but for me a Sunrise is best: Because there is a sense of excitement building, birds begin singing, the city slowly begins to wake and there is the anticipation of a brand new day dawning.

Sunset on the other hand is lovely with warmer colours and a feeling of everything is going to be OK as we curl up in our beds and relax with fond memories and visually calming dreams.


I am passionate, my wife would say "obsessed", with all kinds of photography. When I am behind the camera looking through the eye-piece, I feel like I am in the right place, no matter where I am. Photography allows me to be still and just focus on what's in front of me. Everything else around me just fades away and what unfolds before me is all that I am aware of. I am in the moment, and when that happens, sometimes something magical occurs. My Breathing slows down, troubles fade away, calmness washes over me, all is at peace. When finally I press the shutter: Boom:- Peace, Happiness, Elation, Excitement and Joy. It all builds up to that moment. No wonder this photography is what I love to do. For me PHOTOGRAPHY is not just taking a picture, it is the elation of the emotional experience that I seek. It doesn't happen every time, but occasionally people who view my artwork also experience it too. It's important to me that others know what has happened to produce the artwork they are submersed in and can share something of the boom of the moment.

Find some on my Fine Art portfolio to purchase here.

Art Prints

Find more on my Redbubble portfolio here.

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