I have been told that it is always good to revisit older blogs and especially when you set yourself photographic challenges it is good to go back to your older pictures and compare with newer ones to see the progress.

I wrote a blog last year ‘Summer at Southbank‘ with pictures from the ‘London eye’ area.

We go often to the Southbank and because it is such an attraction there are so many things one can photograph. A couple of weeks ago, the Festival of the Neighbourhood was on (it continues until 8 September for those Londoners who haven’t been yet), giving me plenty of subjects to photograph.  

One year on, what has changed in the way I take pictures and are this year’s pictures better? Le’t see.

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London Eye, Big Ben and Houses of Parliament from Waterloo bridge

This was taken with a small-ish aperture value of f7.1 so that I could have most of the scene in focus and very high shutter speed 1/1600 (I could have used an even smaller aperture f11, f16 to have more detail in but as I was shooting the photo I didn’t think of such level of detail).

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Whaca, a mexican restaurant in disused shipping containers, is a culinary destination for Londoners, in Southbank.

Strong colours are attractive, especially the  vibrant yellow of this mexican restaurant complimented by the banners of the Festival of Nehighbourhood. Here I have used the same aperture (f7.1) but a slower shutter speed (1/125).

I wanted to be able to capture the whole image with the sweepers and where they stand (on Queen Elizabeth Hall’s Roof); that is why I shot this vertically.

The sweepers, inspired by Londoners who swept up the mess created during the London riots in 2011

The sweepers, inspired by Londoners who swept up the mess, created during the London riots in 2011

Another image of the Sweepers from Southbank’s own website.

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Planted colourful wheel barrows, an installation that conveys the need for green growing spaces in cities

I took many photos of this installation but chose to show a close-up of one of the barrows, with the growing plants falling out. I haven’t changed the aperture, so I am still at f7.1 (!!) which again shows that I wasn’t being very careful; technically I should have used a larger aperture (f3.5 for example) for a close-up photo, so that I could get a stronger ‘shallow depth of field’ effect but I wasn’t mindful of that at the time!

I can see this being a key difference between the professional photographer who is shooting for a specific project or for work and the non-professional (like me) who is wandering about and practicing.

I have kept the same value for aperture all along these pictures, so again the difference between the theory and practice is a real one when it comes to taking pictures on the go. Something to be aware of!

An amusing image below from Southbank’s website.

ROLL OUT THE BARROWS, from Southbank website

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Cook or plongeur having a cigarette break

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Have you caught the sun?

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Young singers at Southbank

These sisters were singing in what sounded a slavic type of language and were very sweet. I like the effect of the sun light reflecting from the left on to their hair.

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Beach at Southbank for children and parents!

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Upside-down flower pots

Queens's walk window gardens, made out of reclaimed materials with volunteers

Queens’s walk window gardens, made out of reclaimed materials with volunteers

So what is the verdict? I don’t think pictures from this year look much different to those from last year. Perhaps what is different, is the way I feel about photographing and what I focus on. I have learnt to pay attention to the detail and make my choice of the subject clear, so that it stands out. Although I would like to think that I have learnt to be quick at adapting my settings to a particular situation (last year I would get overwhelmed when I needed to take a picture quickly and so would turn to automatic mode), this series of photos shows that I have stuck with one value for aperture for all the images. I could have played more with different values for landscape or close-ups, but sticking with one value for aperture, and playing with shutter speed and ISO, is still a step forward from using the automatic mode (I like to be positive)!

In photography there is no right or wrong way, so the best is to keep practicing while being aware of the different choices of settings and the effects they can help you create.

I have one favourite image from last year, the grass in slow motion and from this year, the Queen’s walk window gardens.