I haven’t done much city street photography, but as I said at the start of the year, I want to try to work on my landscape portfolio this year. So I took the opportunity of a short trip to York to get some wide-angle photos of three key subjects.
I planned my time, and arranged two hours coinciding with sunset, when I could visit all three locations one after another.
I started with Clifford’s Tower…
It’s the remains of an old castle, which is surprisingly accessible right from the city centre. It’s not especially exciting looking, but the position on the top of an unnatural looking mound, does give you some scope for a nice clear skyline.
These photos were taken shortly after sunset, so the sky is just starting to turn blue. I was taking exposures between 2 and 13 seconds, using the darkening sky to emphasis motion blur in the clouds.
The portrait below was a relatively fast exposure, to freeze the interesting cloud formation…
And lastly, one more to show the mound in the foreground, which would originally have encompassed a moat too…
After Clifford’s Tower, I walked up to the Shambles. The shambles is an old and characterful street in York city centre. The cobbled streets and over-hanging buildings are so picturesque, and perfect for early evening photography. When were there during the day, the whole street was so packed full of people, I didn’t think I was going to be able to get any photos of the street itself. But once the shops closed, and the temperature dropped, the whole area quickly quietened down.
This is my favourite from a set of 4 or 5 I took at the Shambles…
After the Shambles, I continued on to York’s most iconic building. York Minster…
I love the different forms of light I was able to capture in this shot. We can see the natural light painting the twilight sky blue. We have the artificial lighting projected onto the Minster itself, further bringing out the detail and highlighting the textures in the stone. And lastly we can see the bright lights in the street lamps, the lamps by the door, and the spot-lights themselves which are pointing at the minster. I think it’s the mixture of light sources, and the imposing view of the minster from an ultra-wide-angle lens, which really set this apart from any other photos I’ve seen of York Minster. I wish I’d taken a landscape from this angle too, but I’ll have to try that next time.
The next photo was a closer portrait, using the street lamp as interesting foreground detail. The 15 second exposure meant that the cloud movement was blurred against the twilight sky. You can see how much the cloud moved in those 15 seconds, so that gives you some idea of how cold it was there. I was layered up like I am for winter snow shoots!
The last photo I’m going to post here was a black and white close-up. Once the sky was dark, and I lost the rich blue colour, I decided to use a monochrome photo to really highlight the textures and the detail in the building…
I really like this photo as, once again, it emphasises the imposing nature of the building, and highlights the grand scale of it. It’s a building intended to remind people of their place in the world, and it works hard to make you feel small. This is further enhanced by using such a wide-angle lens.
So those are my efforts at photographing Cliffords Tower, the Shambles, and York Minster. I’m sure at some point I’ll be able to revisit York, and I can try alternative angles and views, as well as some of the other sights, such as the Roman walls and gates.
Typically for architectural photography, you would use a narrower, portrait lens to avoid distortion. But here I decided to embrace the magic of the ultra-wide-angle. I think that made for some more original perspectives, and I certainly found the lens (Nikon 16-35mm F/4) to be probably the sharpest lens I’ve ever used. The detail at F/8 was incredible. I’m really happy with this choice of lens, and I’m confident it’s going to do me proud in other landscape shoots later in the year – most notably Cornwall, and Iceland.
As ever, all of these photos are available in print, or to licence, so if you have a usage request, then get in touch.
If you’ve tried these locations too, then share your results in the comments below. Or if you have any questions about the route between the three of them, then again, just leave me a comment or get in touch or comment on my facebook page.
Post by George Wheelhouse, 2013.