Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2008

The Tower Bridge

You have to get up early to witness this soft, backlit view of London's illustrious icon. Documentary photographer Richard Baker was on the South Bank of the Thames by 6 a.m., when streetlamps are still lit and locals are out jogging and cycling. This frame was made using a tripod and a shutter speed of 1/30 of a second to capture the blurred motion of the biker, and a small aperture (9.5) to allow both the sidewalk and the bridge to remain in focus.


Normally seen "guarding" the Tower of London, the Yeoman Warders of her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London — better known as Beefeaters — have become an international symbol of Britishness. In this photo, Baker shoots a cardboard cutout Beefeater (and a sanitation worker on a break), which adorns the entrance to one of the service buildings that have been constructed around the perimeter of the Tower itself.

The London Eye

The gigantic Ferris wheel, which was built to mark the turn of the 21st century, is the most visited attraction in London. It's pricey (tickets cost over $27), but guests are treated to 30 minutes of spectacular views of the city. Be prepared to wait for the ride — on a summer weekday morning, Baker stood in line for half an hour before boarding.

Houses of Parliament and Big Ben

At the height of your London Eye "flight," you'll be 443 feet off the ground, which gets you this unobstructed view of the Thames River, the Westminster Bridge and the seat of British government.

Horse Guards Parade

To get this shot looking toward the Horse Guards Parade building, Baker used a 300 mm telephoto lens and positioned himself on a footpath in St. James's Park, with Buckingham Palace not far behind him. Each June, a regiment of the British Army parades before the Queen in full traditional dress on the Horse Guards Parade grounds, a ceremony known as "Trooping the Color." The spires in the background belong to government buildings, including Scotland Yard.

The Mall

Used for ceremonial processions like royal weddings and funerals, this wide boulevard, a little over a half-mile long, stretches from Trafalgar Square to Buckingham Palace. Baker made this shot using a 300-millimeter telephoto lens, standing on the traffic island at Marlborough Road and looking southwest toward the Victoria Memorial and, behind it, Buckingham Palace.

Victoria Memorial

Built in 1911 by Sir Aston Webb to honor Queen Victoria, this edifice located in front of Buckingham Palace is sometimes called "The Wedding Cake" because of its tiered shape. The sculptures around the plinth showing Queen Victoria, Charity, the Angel of Justice and the Angel of Truth were created by the sculptor Sir Thomas Brock. The monument is a popular resting spot for tourists touring the Mall and the Palace.

Salisbury Pub

In the heart of London's West End theater district, this turn-of-century alehouse is a pre-theater destination for tourists and a popular watering hole for locals. The Salisbury Pub prides itself on maintaining a traditional atmosphere, with no loud music, no sports TV and no games. Baker observed the professional courtesy of asking the owner's permission before he started shooting.

Trafalgar Square

This serene shot of Trafalgar Square was taken in the early evening. Baker mounted his camera on a pocket tripod and set it on the ground, looking up toward the monument to King Charles I and Nelson's Column behind it. The picture was made with a long two-second shutter speed.