This weekend I grabbed a camera, hired a Brompton and tried to explore a different side of London as the pandemic restrictions lift. In this week’s blog I explore a little bit of our Capital. Over the coming weeks I will be aiming to look at different cities, towns, and speaking to our customers about their commuting journey.
Seeing your city through a lens gives you a different view, a different experience and will challenge your thoughts. You start to notice things you've never seen before and photo opportunities that you normally wouldn’t. You also don’t have to be professional photographer to enjoy the experience, just getting out and really seeing your city is the key. I have included my images throughout the blog, and I would be very interested to hear what you think of them so please comment below or on our Instagram images.
It was an early alarm at 0500 on Saturday 18th July but I wanted to capture first light against the epic buildings of London. I wasn’t going unprepared. I had done some research on the ‘best areas to photograph in London’ and thought that I could get some good shots around Waterloo and then on to Canary Wharf stopping somewhere in between for lunch and having a full day riding around on the Brompton which I had hired from Twickenham Station.
The whole experience of hiring the bike was a simple and enjoyable experience. Using the Brompton app, checking availability, booking a bike the day before and taking it out the locker was conducted with British efficiency. Is there such a thing? There seems to be with Brompton. Everything just worked.
This was my first experience on a Brompton Bike, and I was extremely impressed. The robust yet elegant construction was a joy to use on and off the train, in and out of cafes and on the road. At all times I felt safe. Even though it was a sunny day, I was also thankful for the Torch helmet as a few tunnels left me feeling a little vulnerable with visibility and being seen by passing traffic.
What is behind Waterloo Station?
As I said previously, I googled ‘best areas to photograph in London’ and a street came top that I had never heard of. I have lived in London for a few years now and have travelled into Waterloo Station for at least 10 years and never heard of a street that is a stone’s throw from the grand station entrance – Leake Street.
Leake Street (also known as the Banksy Tunnel) is a road tunnel in Lambeth, London where graffiti is tolerated regardless of the fact that it is against the law. The street is about 300 metres long, runs off York Road and under the platforms and tracks of Waterloo station.
The walls are decorated with graffiti, initially created during the Cans Festival organised by Banksy on 3–5 May 2008. The festival ran again on the August Bank Holiday weekend 2008.
I managed to grab a few images in the early hours, but my skills let me down a little here I think with lens choice and settings. I am not experienced enough just yet to really take advantage of low light environments.
The Millennium Bridge
Heading over to St Pauls I wanted to catch an image over the Millennium Bridge. I had seen this at night previously and this is definitely an area that speaks to the Torch Brand – innovative, futuristic, a commuter staple, exercise track etc. At night the bridge is lit with neon blue lights depicting some kind of futuristic scene from Tron mixed with the historical architecture of St Pauls Cathedral in the background. I am sure we will be here again to film a video later on in the year. Perhaps for a new product? Time will reveal all!
The best thing about London is that you could spend the whole day in 100m by 100m square and find so many things to see and do. Racing past streets (now up to 3rd gear!), I could see a number of great photo opportunities, so I kept turning back on myself to take advantage of the moving light and shadows. I am learning that photography is all about light or the absence of light. The contrast can be powerful. I tried to get the shot below with contrasting light and no light along with the helmet to show how it can be used in night or day to equal effect.
By early afternoon I was getting a little weary after my early start so decided to grab some lunch before heading over to get a shot that I had seen in The Square Mile once; in between both Canary Wharf signs on the lower platform with the lights of the ceiling and escalators in the background. The platform station was empty, and I thought that with no-one around I would never have a better chance. I thought that I would be ultra-professional if I managed to get it in one take. I tool 57 shots. I think I need a lot more practice.
Returning home after what seems to be an extremely long day on the bike, I realised that I had covered around 13km on the bike in the city. No wonder I was tired. Lock-down has not been kind for general fitness and I was truly exhausted by the time I got back to Twickenham to return the Brompton. This was just as easy to return with total cost of approx. £5 for the day. Bargain. At that point, I had also realised that I had spent no more than £20 for the entire day. A whole day of photography, exercise and exploration for £20!? When can I go again?
Over the coming weeks, as you return to a more normal way of life, tag us in with your images of your own city and/or commute @Torch_Apparel on Instagram.