The Square Mile, with added colour

This photograph of London’s Square Mile nearly didn’t happen. It was taken in the early afternoon and despite the fact I had post-school childcare in place for my daughters, I was keen to get home as quickly as I could to spend time with them. I had spent much of the day shooting photos and I wasn’t particularly bothered about taking any more.

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The Square Mile in London, photographed from a jetty at the foot of the OXO Tower.

I was in Southwark on the south side of the River Thames walking to an Underground station when I looked over my shoulder and saw this view of the City of London (another name for the Square Mile). To be precise, I was at the base of the OXO Tower building and there was a jetty leading out in to the river.

A couple of tourists strolled out to the end of the jetty and took some pictures. I stopped for a few seconds and considered doing the same but decided not to bother. It was a grey, overcast day and although the weather had cleared up a bit, I just didn’t think the resulting image would be worth the effort.

Needless to say, I thought better of it. The resulting image was indeed a bit grey, but I thought I’d have a go and see what I could do to brighten it up using Photoshop.

What I did to the image

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Here is the above image, straight out of camera.

I felt the sky needed a bit of colour adding to it. I watched this YouTube tutorial by the photographer Sergei Ramelli. The tutorial provided me with a few pointers as to how I needed to make these changes. I didn’t follow every step, but what I did had quite a dramatic impact as you can see by comparing the two images.

If you don’t want the technical information, skip the next four paragraphs. For those of you that are still with me, here are the ultra-geeky details of how I shot and edited this image.

First of all, I shot the picture in RAW format which gave me more editing options. Exposure time was 1/100 sec, aperture f7 and ISO 100.

As I explained above, it was a grey, misty day. The first thing I did when editing in Photoshop was to ‘dehaze’ the image. I also increased both the vibrance and saturation considerably.

At this point, the fun really began. I opened up an entirely separate image I had of a beautiful orange sunset. I then copied and pasted this over the main picture. I then created a ‘multiply layer’ of the two combined images.

I don’t mind admitting, the image looked dreadful at this point. I thought I had ruined it. Following Ramelli’s instructions, however, I selected the entire image, hit the filter tab, selected blur and then Gaussian blur from the drop-down menu. I set the pixel rate to 120 and voila! This image was the result.

What you can see in this image (…the non-geeky details)

For those of you more interested in the image’s subject matter, that’s Blackfriar’s Railway Bridge in the foreground. On the far right, you have 20 Fenchurch Street, also known as the Walkie Talkie.

Moving to the left, the next notable building is The Scalpel which is reflecting all the light at the top and then the The Cheesegrater, or Leadenhall Building to give it its proper name. The building under construction immediately to the left is 22 Bishopsgate. It all gets a bit confusing from that point but in among the remaining buildings is Tower 42.

Getting back to the after school childcare situation. . .

I am very glad I stopped to take the photograph and grateful to Ramelli for his tutorial. I hope I will be forgiven for saying I am pleased with this image.

Better still, I picked the kids up at 4.15pm so they were with the childminder for less than an hour. I think I shall try using the same technique to edit a few more of my pictures so there may be more images like this to come.

I hope you have enjoyed this picture and the comparison with the straight out of camera version. If you have, feel free to leave a comment below with your thoughts or, indeed, whether you have suggestions for improvement.   

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