City Guide - London
A ‘unique perspectives’ city guide
As part of Canon’s continuing ‘Come and See’ campaign, we’ve introduced this series of city guides designed to inspire you to take a fresh look at the world.
Cities are packed full of fascinating stories, breath-taking scenes and hidden gems. You just need to know where to look to find them. To inspire you to look deeper, we’ve teamed up with local photographers to create these exclusive city guides. By uncovering hidden locations from unexpected angles, you’ll be able to capture Madrid, Milan, Paris, London, Amsterdam and Berlin in a whole new light.
Meet Scott - your London guide
Scott Bass discovered Parkour in 2005, and has been in love with the discipline of movement ever since. When he’s behind the camera his trick for capturing the best photos and video footage is to track the route his subject is going to take. His best images are usually taken from unique angles and perspectives which require climbing, lying down or getting super close to a fellow freerunner in flight.
London through Scott’s eyes
As a professional freerunner, photographer and filmmaker, Scott understands what it takes to capture a shot from a unique vantage point. He’s chosen six unique locations around London and tells us why he finds them inspirational for photographers, whatever their ability. We also give you some handy tips to help you take better shots and a downloadable PDF which includes a map to help you easily get from one location to the next.
Three Mills Island, E3 3DU
First stop is just 30 minutes from Central London. Three Mills Island dates back to the Anglo-Saxon period and is home to the world’s biggest working tidal mill. The industrial history of the area both contrasts and complements its current natural state and offers many unusual subjects to photograph.
Scott says, “My favourite time to visit this spot is during dusk and dawn as the low-light conditions have this magical effect that accentuates textures adding a dramatic quality to photos captured.”
A good tip is to try capturing the reflection of the buildings in the water and play with different viewpoints. Experiment by switching focus between the object and the reflection – in autofocus mode concentrate on your chosen area and half press the shutter button.
Cody Dock, 11c South Crescent, Canning Town, E16 4TL
Next stop is what was formerly the Bromley-by-Bow Gas Works. The area slipped through the cracks of East London regeneration but a recent community project has turned the derelict dock into a thriving waterside community with stunning views of central London.
“This secret part of London is packed full of vibrancy and creativity,” says Scott. “It’s the perfect picturesque spot to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, to clear your head and gather fresh perspective on life.”
This stop offers a busy landscape with contrast between old and new, so finding your focal point will naturally be challenging. Our tip is to use your viewfinder to break areas into grids of thirds. Identify the most important part and position it on one of the third lines to make it stand out.
Trinity Buoy, 64 Orchard Place, E14 0JY
Situated half a mile from Canary Wharf is Trinity Buoy, an area that has been dubbed ‘Container City’, thanks to the innovative way it has used redundant shipping containers to create stylish work spaces for local artists and creative businesses.
Scott tells us, "For me personally, Trinity buoy is my best kept London secret as it houses a Parkour training academy! Asides from that, this area offers a great canvas for creative photography - colourful shipping containers, tonnes of texture and unique shapes to create dramatic shots.”
Our tip here is that before you start snapping away, think about the building’s composition. Try taking a vertical shot of one of its shipping containers, to exemplify the leading lines and how they interact with the windows’ circular shapes. This will draw the viewer’s eye to exactly where you want it to land in the photograph.
Stanford Wharf Jetty Shoreline & Mondrian Hotel, 20 Upper Ground, SE1 9PD
Scott’s next location is situated in Sea Container’s House. It’s the Mondrian Hotel, neighbour to the Tate Modern, and true to its maritime history, is reminiscent of a cruise ship. From here you can get breath-taking views of London and the Thames. It’s even possible to access the shoreline to forage amongst the river’s detritus for hidden treasures to photograph.
“The shoreline is a diverse space lined with so many beautiful buildings and structures. I could get lost for hours mesmerised by this stunning backdrop, capturing them on camera,” says Scott.
A top tip for this particular location is to get exploring your camera’s filters, such as miniature mode. This feature works best when you’re distanced from your subject so experiment with it from the Mondrian Hotel and turn London into a tiny model city.
Leake Street, SE1 7NN
From the Thames shoreline, Scott takes us to the Leake Street tunnel, also known as ‘Graffiti Tunnel’ or the ‘Banksy Tunnel’. This is a dedicated graffiti and street art space situated next to Waterloo station. Originally opened by Banksy for his 2008 ‘Cans Festival’, the tunnel is a great environment if you’re a photographer, as the murals are ever-changing and offer new inspiration.
Scott loves it here. “This is a great spot to watch street artists practice and create. There’s an ever-changing quality about the place. It’s awash with colour and you never quite know what you’ll see. I love that.”
This is a low light environment and a great place to get ctreative. Our tip is to avoid using a flash as this can flatten your images and make them less impactful. Instead, try increasing the ISO setting on your camera, this makes it more sensitive to the available light and reduces the need for flash.
‘Jeté’ statue, The corner of 46-57 Millbank, Westminster
In complete contrast, Scott’s final location is in Westminster where we find the beautiful bronze ‘Jeté’ statue capturing ballet dancer David Wall in full flight. Wall was just 21 years old when he became the youngest ever principal in the history of The Royal Ballet. The sculpture was created in 1975 by Enzo Plazzotta, an Italian Sculptor who spent most of his working life in London.
Scott says, “This sculpture is fascinating to me as it reflects the same classical movements that can be seen in Parkour. The elegant lines of the dancer’s balletic arms and pointed toes are beautiful and the soaring motion so effortless.”
This is a great opportunity to play with perspective and create really evocative shots. Our tip is to move yourself around the statue and try high and low stances to vary your results. Crouching low and silhouetting the figure against the sky will result in a beautifully contrasted shot of light and dark.
You can find all of Scott's locations talked about in this article on the map in the downloadable PDF below. As you go from one to the next, remember to keep your eyes open and look around; like all cities, London is full of great photo opportunities.