Now available as a printed book!

London by Night

By TED SMITH in London By Night

18 pages, published 4/20/2020

A series of cityscape photographs captured of London at night or at dusk by UK Hasselblad photographer, Ted Smith. Mostly black and white, with several colour images including some of The Shard, Tower Bridge, Houses of Parliament, London Eye, Mayors Office, and others.

I am a frequent traveler to London and in more recent times I find that I do not have the time that I used to for landscape photography. Family life and work life make that a difficult endeavor at the moment. So I have been trying to find an alternative subject for my photography that I can fit in around my busy lifestyle.

Meet, “The London Series”. An ever evolving sequence of nighttime London cityscapes captured using my Hasselblad 501CM, and, usually, the 80mm standard lens.

BATCH 1 : Taken using the Hasselblad 501CM with standard 80mm f2.8 Carl Zeiss lens using Kodak Tri-X 400 pushed to EI1600 and developed in Ilford Ilfotec DD-X for 14 minutes at ~22 degrees. I did not have a tripod with me for this first set, so some were captured handheld which is quite remarkable to be fair! Others were captured by resting the camera on a wall, activating the mirror lock-up and then releasing the shutter.

BATCH 2 : Taken using the Hasselblad 501CM with standard 80mm f2.8 Carl Zeiss lens but using Kodak TMAX 100 pushed to EI400 and developed in Ilford Ilfotec DD-X for 12 minutes at ~22 degrees. This time I had my new mini Manfrotto tripod with me. For all shots, I activated the mirror lock-up first and then released the shutter.

BATCH 3 : Taken using the Hasselblad 501CM with standard 80mm f2.8 Carl Zeiss lens but using Fujichrome Provia 100 to be exact. These were in the winter of 2019 in -4 degrees Celsius. So a chilly nights work.

You used slide film for nighttime photography? Are you mad?” I hear you ask. Well, Fuji Provia is not as fussy as people will have you believe. In a city scape, there is still quite a lot of light in the form of street and building illumination, and it creates some nice contrast between the lit (coloured) areas and the dark areas. So the result, actually, is all the wonderful colour of Fuji Provia with the nice contrast.

I used the general rule of “ISO 100 film at f8 needs about 5 seconds” which is what I go with, with general nighttime city work. I give a second or two more, depending on the scene. So most of these were between 5 – 10 seconds. Mounted on my Manfrotto Mini tripod.

BATCH 4 : Taken using the Hasselblad 501CM with standard 80mm f2.8 Carl Zeiss lens but using. So for some time I kept looking at St Pancras train station, in London, as I was rushing through it to join the thousands of other commuters and thinking “some day I will stop and photograph this too”, and eventually I did.

I was not in as much of a rush as usual, and I had my Hasselblad loaded with Kodak Tri-X 400 this time. It was mid-morning, around 10:00, so it was quite well lit and the architecture of St Pancras is quite amazing, and it can make for a nice photograph. So I took 15 minutes to capture a few shots. They are not outstanding I don’t suppose, but they are quite nice.

BATCH 5 : In Feb 2020, I tried my hand for the first time with Ilford Delta 400. I wanted to see how it would look for the same kind of “London by night” photography that I have come to enjoy. Would it be as contrasting as I like, and how detailed would it be?

In recent times, I have come to learn that box speed seldom generates the kind of look that I like, so I always tend to push at least one stop, often two. So Delta 400 is a ISO400 speed film, but is reported to respond perfectly well to several stops up or down. With my first attempt, I plumbed for a one stop push of EI800 and metered my scenes mostly by eye as the Hasselblad of course has no meter. Experience has taught me that between 2-4 seconds usually works well at EI800 for the fairly well lit skylines of London central.

The shots below were captured mostly around the area where The Shard is located. I wanted to get a few closer shots of The Shard this time. Believe it or not, most of these shots were actually hand held! When I say hand held, I mean “elbows tucked in, holding my breath, and leaning against other buildings or objects”. It was as near to tripod mounted as I could get. I did have my mini Manfrotto with me, but there were few places to position it.

When I got home, I developed the film with Ilford Ilfotec DD-X as usual. Ilford developer to go with Ilford film. It’s nice and exact, which is how I like my photography to be.

Anyway, here they are. One roll, and several keepers :