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The prospect of our first road trip photo shoot was very exciting to me. I had the route from the Kensington & Chelsea College to the Tate Modern gallery, by way of the 211 bus to Westminster and then by riverboat to the gallery.
My plan was to take pictures of buildings and other signs that would indicate where I had been in my travels. As it was an overcast day I set my ISO at 400 and I set my aperture at f-8 as I wanted a medium depth-of-field. I was then ready to use the shutter speed to achieve the correct exposure. One thing I did not do was to set the White Balance to “Cloudy” to take into account the weather conditions. The lens I used was an 18-55mm zoom lens.
In all my preparations I never considered the problems of shooting in a moving object, let alone two. In the case of the bus, there was the added difficulty of shooting through the reflective glass of the windows.
When I looked at my pictures on the computer I was profoundly disappointed by the images, as they looked like the pictures any tourist would take and not the work of a budding photographer. Most of the pictures taken while on the bus were affected by reflection in the glass of the windows, even though I had tried to take that into account in my composition. Both the bus and the boat pictures suffered from me not being able to take time to frame them properly. You see something and before you can set your camera properly, it is gone.
So initially I felt I had some nice, but uninteresting, pictures. In my first edit, I selected images that would show the chronology of the journey from the Kensington & Chelsea College to the Tate Modern. I attempted to bring some humour to the collection by giving them somewhat cheeky titles based on the main subject of the image.
During a crit session with our whole class I realized that the selected images were not working as a travel log. Some of the images were found to work well together and I was adviced to look at creating diptychs as a way of presenting my photos. I also saw that I might have to consider dropping some of my favourite photos in order to develop a coherent theme for my collection. One of my colleagues, also an expatriate in London, had mentioned that she had purposely worked to avoid tourist picture and she was suggested that she have also embraced the fact that she was a tourist of sorts in London.
That suggestion inspired me to make a new edit of all my images, this time embracing their tourist-ness. So I looked for photos that a tourist would show his friends of interesting observations made on a cloudy afternoon in London. I did have to drop a few of my “babies” in order to make a visually interesting collection and found that pairing some of the images together, albeit not in diptychs, made for a more enthralling commentary on my observations.
And so, I present to you without further ado what this tourist saw on a cloudy afternoon in London.