31 Jul 2013

Breaking the Photography Rules Part 3 - Turn it Upside-Down!

I used to work in Canary Wharf and for about 15 months I'd walk the four miles from Parsons Green to Westminster, before getting on a tube to complete my journey. The walk was mainly along the river (Thames), which I got to know and love, seeing it throughout the seasons, before sunrise and in bright sunshine as the year progressed. It was an unusually dry year, which meant that I often had my camera out (sadly only usually a point-and-shoot - if only I'd had my DSLR with me on a few more occasions...). I saw beautiful pink skies, dense fog, fantastic clouds and a few of the same people at the same spot each day. When I left the job I was sad to leave my daily river walks behind.

Anyway, one of my favourite things along the walk was seeing Battersea Power Station, standing proud (if a little shakily) on the opposite bank of the river, between the Victoria Rail Bridge and Vauxhall Bridge. I've always loved the building, since first seeing it on Pink Floyd's Animals album (accompanied by a pink flying pig). Walking along the river you get lots of different views of it - just the towers emerging behind Albert Bridge, then the whole body comes into view, and then once past the Victoria Rail Bridge it is there in its full glory. At one point it is directly opposite, squared on, with the four towers stacked symmetrically in front of you. And then it's back to the side view, with the morning sun lighting up the towers and the rather ugly new-build behind.

Occasionally the water is completely still and mirror-like. During my 15 months it only happened on a handful of occasions, but when it did - and when the river taxi or police patrol boat hadn't just gone past - the structure was almost perfectly reflected. The magnificent building was visible twice - once upright, and once upside-down in the water! First of all I used to capture the whole scene - Battersea Power Station plus reflection, but then it struck me - if I photographed just the reflection and turned the camera (or photo) upside-down I could get a very cool, kind of impressionistic version of the building. It happened so rarely that I only managed to photograph it a couple of times during that time, but I'm very glad I had my camera with me. If there was a little wave it added to the impressionist look. One occasion I remember vividly was taking the walk on my first day back after a holiday (often a depressing time), but the day was stunning and the reflections were beautifully clear.

Since those days a few years back I've looked for similar opportunities with other buildings or landscapes reflected in mirror-like water; I've seen a few, but none matches the Battersea Power Station reflection for me.

There probably isn't a photography rule saying "don't turn your camera (or photo) upside-down" but I don't think I've ever seen it suggested in a photography magazine or book. So, my advice is have a go - zoom in on the reflection and move yourself or your camera to look at it from a different perspective and the results might be quite interesting! And also look over some old photos with reflections - if they're portrait orientation and the reflection fills the bottom half, try rotating the photo 180° and cropping the reflection to see how it looks.

See also: Part 1 - Go Out in the Midday Sun
                Part 2 - Ignore the Thirds Rule of Composition
                Part 4 - Shooting Landscapes in Portrait Orientation 
                Part 5 - Playing with the Zoom  
                Part 6 - Shooting Out of Focus

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like your walk was fun. you can see from your photos it was worth it.