Chasing Symmetry

As the train pulled away from the station i was thinking about the challenge i’d set myself… I’ve been to London a few times to take photos, when the weather’s right it’s an amazing place for photography. I find my best work comes from when i have a set agenda, in the next 24 hours my brief was simple; find symmetry.

We decided to go up the night before and stay at the Shangri-La hotel at The Shard, it’s a luxury resort occupying the 34th – 52nd floors of the iconic building. The hotel offers stunning views of the capital and feels like a retreat away from the hustle and bustle below. Our room didn’t disappoint with views out over the river and towards the west end of London.

Shangri-La Hotel The Shard Shangri-La Hotel The Shard

Symmetry is something thats always interested me in photography, i often find myself obsessing over lines and composition when viewing a subject. It’s amazing the results you can get from composing an image in this way. You only truly appreciate how hard it is to capture lines in this way when you try for yourself. I’ve scratched my head countless times after taking a photo wondering why it’s not symmetrical and i wanted to use this challenge as a learning curve as well as a way of seeing the city in a different way.

I set out to use 3 lenses, my 10.5mm fisheye, my new 50mm and my trusty wide angle 10-24mm, i wanted to take the photos completely handheld, this would make it even harder, i often found myself lining the subject up and then holding my breath to not lose the composition. You can make changes to the distortion and alignment of an image after but if you don’t have a good foundation it’s seriously tough to rescue your efforts. The viewfinder in my camera has a number of guides to help with alignment, i find the most important thing is to be parallel to the subject from both a horizontal and vertical point of view, obviously this isn’t always possible but does help a lot. Sometimes you’ll be perfectly aligned an realise that something still isn’t right, often i’ve convinced myself that the building just isn’t straight! You’ll also be surprised just how symmetrical and how well designed some older buildings are.

I had a couple places on the checklist that i wanted to visit but the rest of the photos were taken whilst wandering around and keeping an eye out.  I feel that the entire image doesn’t always need to be symmetrical so long as the main subject or guide lines provide good composition. I’ll leave you with a selection of my favourite images from the day, perhaps you’ll recognise a few of the locations. If you’re up for a challenge next time you’re out with the camera then why not try chasing some lines.

Tower Bridge Shangri-La View The Shard London Symmetry St Pauls Cathedral Waterloo Station History Museum London Underground BankCanary Wharf

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