Twilight Hailstorm at the Docklands

The weather was pretty crazy today. The day started with sunny and clear skies – really gorgeous day, and ended with an unexpected, although brief, hailstorm.

At sunset, as I stationed myself in East India pier looking across the Thames directly towards the O2 Dome, I noticed a reddish cloud moving from behind me and heading straight to the dome. I set up my tripod anticipating a colorful sunset. I took more than a dozen long-exposure shots of the dome using my ND Grads. Shortly right after sunset, while walking around scouting for a different location, hail poured from the skies out of nowhere. Luckily, there was a McDonald’s just down the street to take shelter from and at the same time, grab a bite to eat.

I must say, despite the untimely hail, the weather gods were still considerate because it cleared up for the remainder of blue hour.  Therefore, I was able to do the shots of East India station and part of Canary Wharf’s skyline from Blackwall Way. Perhaps not much of a thrilling view, but I’ll take a little of something over nothing at all.


QUICK TRIVIA on the 02 DOME : In the James Bond film “The World is Not Enough,” the O2 was the structure that aided James Bond in reaching his hot air balloon destination. It was also shown in the background of a sequence in the 2006  movie “The Da Vinci Code.”

Two ND Grads stacked on top of each other plus a small aperture gave me a long-ish exposure - in this case, 5 seconds. The grads gave me this nice, rich color in the sky and smoothness in the water. F/22, ISO 100, 5 seconds.

I love it when buses come just at the right time, almost at my beck and call. This one came towards the end of my exposure, and saved an otherwise mundane scene. Part of Canary Wharf's skyline can seen in the distance. F/13, ISO 100, 20 seconds.

The East India DLR station. A nice full moon appeared through the clouds right after I had already packed up for the night. 'Would've been nice if I was able to include it in the picture. It will match those pretty "stars" that I've created using a small aperture. F/16, ISO 100, 25 seconds.


5 responses

  1. I agree with you on the buses. I like how it leaves white and red light stream. They really do add to the shot. Great series.

    • By the way, I forgot to ask earlier, do you use circular or square/rectangular ND filters? I use Lee’s cheap polyester drop in and find they get scratched very easily. I’m thinking of getting glass drop in over the circular type. What has been your experience?

      • Hi Rex, I have both the circular ND and rectangular grad-ND filters. I rarely use the circular except for the occasional 10-stop, but I find myself using the grads more often. I have the cheaper 4×5 HiTech resin filters. They’re not too bad, and I have no scratch issues which is amazing because I drop them all the time. But I think I see a slight color cast in my photos, and plan to switch up to the Lee filter system but they’re hard to find these days, ‘seems like. I’m still waiting for the new Lee 10-stop to be back in stock – it’s glass and rectangular. I gather that will be more convenient for me since there’ll be less fiddling around and screwing in filters involved especially when combined with other grads. But that remains to be seen until I have one in my hands. 🙂

  2. Lee’s has a 10-stop ND filter? I’ve only seen 3-stop max. Can’t you order what you’re looking for online?

    I used to use Cokin square filters but I hated how easy it was to drop them. Circular Tiffen filters have been my friend for a long time.

    Sweet pictures btw. That hail storm sounds like the kind of weather we’re used to here in Oregon. Out of curiosity, what did you get at McDonald’s? 🙂

    • Yes Mark, Lee just launched what they call the Big Stopper (10-stop) early this year. As expected, photographers jumped on it and now I can’t find one anywhere. It’s out-of-stock in B&H online the last time I checked.

      I don’t know if you have it in the States, but I had the garlic-and-herb chicken wrap in McDonald’s. It’s pretty good 🙂

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