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  • Writer's pictureSteve Gemmell

Third Visit to London with the GFX50R

Updated: Nov 25, 2022

Just over a year now since I last took my trusty GFX to London. I think we can all agree it's been a crazy couple of years, but we do now seem to be back to some sort of normality. I enjoy my trips to the big smoke.

For those of you wondering what on earth I am referring to, the "big smoke relates to air pollution in London in the early 1950s. Back then air pollution regularly gave rise to pea soup fogs and that nickname still persists to this day. The Great Smog of London, was a severe air pollution event that affected London in December of 1952. A period of unusually cold weather, combined with an anticyclone and windless conditions, collected airborne pollutants, mostly arising from the use of coal, to form a thick layer of smog over the city. It lasted from Friday 5 December to Tuesday 9 December 1952, then dispersed quickly when the weather changed. So all this occurred a year after I was born and I grew up hearing this reference "The Big Smoke" to represent London.

Today the city of London has certainly changed from the 1950s. I worked in the city in the mid 1960s and the skyline in 2022 is unrecognisable from back in those halcyon days.

St  Pauls Cathedral

My day trip started at St Paul's Cathedral. Luckily the weather was good, no smoke or fog, just sparkling November sunshine. I framed this classic view from New Change Street. The only lens I took on this trip was the 32-64mm with the widest frame being 32mm equating roughly to 25mm on a 35mm DSLR.

St Paul's has been around for over 300 years and is still a very impressive landmark. The blue of the morning sky was a perfect contrast to the white cathedral bathed in the sunlight on this fresh Sunday morning. The glass windows on either side of the street providing the reflections that make the composition.

From here I made my way to the Millenium Bridge busy with tourists on this November morning. It was fun to look back across the bridge towards the cathedral and wait for the best arrangement of people to complete the picture.

Millenium Bridge

Next stop was the Tate Modern just the other side of the bridge. Here again I concentrated on the flow of visitors waiting for the best composition.

Tate Modern

After a spot of lunch in the Swan, next door to The Globe, I walked on to cross back over the river via Blackfriars bridge. I spent a few hours exploring the striking contrast between the old and the new in this great city of London. What a contrast! Look at the neo classical columns of the Royal Exchange compared to the modern glass skyscrapers rising up behind it. At the front we can see the Duke of Wellington on horse back and in the following image, situated further down Threadneedle Street, we can see the bronze statue of James Henry Greathead 1844-1896 Chief Engineer City & South London Railway.The next vista features the Gherkin, opened in 2004, 591ft tall with 41 floors.

Royal Exchange
Threadneedle Street
The Gherkin

Then we have the Lloyds building, sometimes known as the "insides out building." It is a leading example of radical Bowellism architecture in which the services for the building, such as ducts and elevators, are located on the exterior to maximise space in the interior.

The Lloyds Building

Eventually I arrived at Leadenhall Market. However it's not really a market anymore. Although I do remember it as a market when I used to walk through it on my way to work. In the 1970s around fifty tons of poultry per week passed through the market, with the amount becoming unquantifiable over the festive period. Most of the units were occupied by butchers, poulterers, fishmongers and grocers. Now it is home to a number of boutique retailers, restaurants, cafes, wine bars and an award-winning pub. For my evening and night photos I headed off to Somerset House To have a look at the ice skating which takes place every year in the Christmas season. From there a walk down the Strand taking in some of the seasonal lights including the impressive display at the iconic Savoy Hotel.

Leadenhall Market
Ice Skating at Somerset House

The Strand with Christmas Lights

The Savoy Hotel

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