Piran – The Tiny Jewel of the Adriatic Sea

[…Piran, Slovenia September 2011…]

What better way to spend your early morning than to climb up the hill over the red rooftops and watch the first sunlight touch the face of St. George's church, then gradually embrace the town in a nice, soft and warm light.

 

Boris picked me up at the airport in Trieste just before 4 pm. I had arranged for a car service knowing that I wouldn’t have made the 3:00 bus to Piran and needed the quickest way to get there before sunset.

It was only 24 miles (40 kms) away, driving along the coastal route, first passing the Gulf of Trieste in Italy then the Adriatic sea as we cross the border of Slovenia. As we pass different towns along the way – Koper, Izola, and smaller towns – I see the same campanile over and over again just like the famous one in San Marco of Venice. The landscape did not change much and had it not been for the border crossing sign, I wouldn’t have guessed where Italy had stopped.
[…Read more about Piran…]

Scenes from Golden Jubilee Bridge

The world's famous clock needs no further introduction.

Light trails at Victoria Embankment from Golden Jubilee bridge.

Crescent moon hovers over the Thames and London's famous icons, the Palace of Westminster on the north bank and London Eye on the south.

The Golden Jubilee Bridges were officially opened in summer 2003 and became a great new landmark for London.

The Bridges of Avon River

I have just found out the name Avon is of Welsh origin and means “river”, so the River Avon literally means “River River”, that explains why many English rivers are named Avon. The Avon river that runs in Southwest England crosses the cities of Bristol, Bath and Bradford-on-Avon, which I’ve had the pleasure of visiting this past weekend.

Don’t let the blue skies fool you, because it actually rained a lot during my time there. I was merely lucky I had some “divine intervention” during twilight – that 20 to 30-minute window of clear skies was all I needed to do my shots. What can I say? I have friends in high places. :-)

BRISTOL - Clifton Suspension Bridge, taken from the Leigh Woods Observatory. What a view! not only do you get the Avon river, but also the gorge and a sweeping view of the city.

BATH - The three-arched Palladian Pulteney Bridge of Roman origins can be seen just down the river. According to Wikipedia, it is one of only surviving 4 bridges that has shops spanning the whole bridge. I've been to 3 of them: the Pulteney bridge in Bath, the Rialto in Venice, and Ponte Vecchio in Florence. I don't know what the other bridge is, do you?

BRADFORD ON AVON - The Town Bridge of Bradford on Avon. It was actually a sunny afternoon during my visit here.The city was named so because it crosses the "broad ford" of the river Avon. It's interesting to note that the small house at the end of the bridge used to be a prison for town drunks and troublemakers during the 18th century.

BRISTOL - Down Bristol Harbour is where one will find Pero's bridge, also known as the Horny bridge. It was named after Pero Jones, a merchant's slave who lived and died in Bristol. Bristol was built, in large part, on the slave and tobacco trade during the early centuries.

Dusk at Tower Bridge

We just turned our clocks an hour back this past Sunday, and that only means one thing to night photographers like me – I get to to go home an hour earlier ! In fact, how’s 5:00 p.m. for civil twilight? Yes, it gets dark early in this part of the globe, and for convenience reasons (photographically speaking), that’s a good thing for me. The only downside I could see to that is it’s rush hour in London around that time, so the trains are packed and the volume of people on the streets is more than normal.

By 5:20 p.m., my gear’s all stowed away and I was done for the day, after squeezing in every bit of that blue light I could get from the sky. I had finished off on the bridge where both foot and vehicular traffic were busy, which equates to lots of unwanted movement. I think I still got decent shots though – it’s just all about timing!

I had been wanting to go to St. Katharine Docks since moving to England. The first time I was there, the side of the bridge facing the pier was undergoing renovations and had unsightly scaffolding and wrappings. This time, everything was clear and ready for some photography, so there’s really nothing to gripe about (well except maybe the overcast skies, but that’s normal around here.) 🙂

Hope you like them!

Designed by Wendy Taylor in 1973, this massive sundial measures over 3 meters in diameter. It's made of stainless steel ring supported by 3 chain link cables. I haven't seen many photos of this sundial in Flickr or elsewhere, and I thought it makes an interesting subject although a bit challenging to compose. The curved building in between the towers is the London City Hall.

Another subject that I found challenging composition-wise - there's just so many points of interest in the surrounding area. This sculpture, Girl with a Dolphin by David Wynne, can be found at the north side of St. Katharine Docks. A little hard to see but there's water spurting from its pool which I would have preferred not be there. It was windy that night and was blowing in my direction. As a result, I got several water spots on my lens and my photos which I had to clean up in post-processing.

This clock tower or Ivory House in St. Katharine Docks got its name from the amount of ivory passing through it during the 19th century. Today its been converted into apartments, restaurants and shops.

 

London's most recognized bridge (by sight and not by name apparently), the Tower Bridge, is often mistakenly called London Bridge. Unlike the Tower Bridge though, London Bridge is not as majestic or even beautiful. You can actually see some of it on this image - it's that red strip of light in the far right.

My last shot of the day. My 14mm prime worked perfectly for this tight scene, but for the last few shots I switched to my 24-70mm which I used for this particular shot. I could not quite fit the scene in the frame, hence this angle. I still quite like this shot though - it looks very dynamic and the jagged edges on the top red trails are quite interesting.

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.

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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.

Scenes Across the Bridge

A few of my photos from St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Millennium Bridge.

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View of the Thames, Vertical

Just wanted to post this vertical version of the same scene I had posted on Flickr. I’m still amazed how I was able to still take sharp photos considering how windy it was on the bridge that night. There’s some motion blur on the spinning wheel and the bobbing boat on the foreground, but the rest of the scene stayed sharp.

While shooting that night, I was talking to this other photographer who said he had vertigo and was having a tough time looking over the bridge and was paranoid about someone pushing him over anytime. It reminded me of the frightening experience I had  in Stockholm when some odd woman stood beside me while I was on the bridge in the dark by myself. I did not have such feelings while shooting from Waterloo Bridge because there were a lot of people around. I guess that’s one thing good about touristy London – there’s safety and comfort in numbers.

LONDON EYE TRIVIA: The London Eye is a 443-ft tall Ferris wheel on the banks of the River Thames. It is the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe, and the most popular paid tourist attraction in the United Kingdom, visited by over 3.5 million people annually. When erected in 1999, it was the tallest Ferris wheel in the world, until surpassed first by the 520-ft Star of Nanchang in 2006, and then the 541-ft Singapore Flyer in 2008. It is still described by its operators as "the world's tallest cantilevered observation wheel" as the wheel is supported by an A-frame on one side only, unlike the Nanchang and Singapore wheels.

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