The Eye at night

by Colin Woolf

Photography is not always about having the best equipment and knowing how to use it – although that helps enormously!  It’s as much about seeing an image and being able to capture it as you see it.  In both these cases, there was very little time to get prepared, as the shots were fleeting.

These two photos of the London Eye were taken three years apart – the first in 2003, and the second in 2006. They were also taken with different cameras.

For the night-time panorama I used an Olympus XA, which was a superb little camera and took some amazingly sharp images.  (While we’re on the subject, why don’t camera manufacturers make digital cameras in the form of the classic cameras of the day, like the Nikon F2 and the Olympus XA?)

The XA had a leaf shutter composed of many blades like the aperture blades in a lens, instead of a focal plane shutter which uses two fast-moving curtains. This meant that it was quiet and able to capture images with little vibration.  I rested the camera on a girder inside the ‘capsule’ and used the self-timer to trigger the camera.  Guessing at the aperture, it was almost perfect;  the camera was automatic, so it was ideal for this kind of shot.  The Eye is moving all the time, but because the picture was of a distant landscape it wasn’t blurred.  The moon in the evening sky is an essential part of the image.

The Olympus XA was a film camera, so this image has been scanned.

The second photo shows the blue lights in the avenue of trees that you walk through to reach the bottom of the Eye.  It was taken with a modern Lumix TZ5 digital compact, and, again, automatic exposure but hand-held.  I’d turned around to take a look as the light faded, and was struck by the image of the Eye illuminated, with the blue lights of the trees in front.  Luckily the tree lights and the Eye came out at the same exposure – this was due to the Eye being further from the camera, as this lighting was actually much brighter.

Images © copyright Colin Woolf

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