Tuesday, September 02, 2014

British Isles trip, part 4: London

Link to photo dump.

London is one of the biggest, oldest, and most interesting cities in the world--and we saw about 0.0000001% of it.

I'm saving shots of the Tower of London for tomorrow. This is a sampling of the rest of what we saw.

The first two pictures are the gorgeous Natural History Museum. That these photos convey anything at all of its beauty is miraculous, considering that they were shot through the window of our tour bus--which is, sadly, the only way we saw the place.

One of the best things that the tour company did was hire local tour guides at our major stops. They were all absolutely first-rate. Unfortunately, I don't remember the name of this chap in London, but he was a fount of knowledge and a sheer delight, too. [EDIT: My wonderful sister-in-law reminds me that his name was Patrick.]

That last shot is technically pure crapola. But it serves me well as an aide-memoir, to use a phrase my girlfriend taught me just the other day.

It had been a rough day. Dad woke up too sick to go sightseeing with us, and just stayed at the hotel to recover. I cut my touring short at noon, after the Tower of London, to go back to the hotel and check on him.

That afternoon, having convinced myself that Dad was safe to leave alone for a while, I looked around on Google Maps to see what interesting things might be within walking distance of our hotel that I could go out and see on my own. I was greatly surprised to discover that we were just one block away from the north perimeter road around Heathrow Airport, and that one of the two main runways was just a bit over 200 yards from a fence that looked like one might be able to get at on foot.

After dinner, I convinced my brother to go explore with me. We found our way between fences and buildings and got right up to that perimeter fence without being arrested, and watched a bunch of planes land. The very first one that came, as shown above, was one of the new Airbus A380 double-deckers, the largest passenger jet in the world, which I had never before seen in person.

One of the most-touted features of my new camera is its supposed superiority in low-light situations, so I was eager to try it here, and delighted that my very first shot was actually usable, even if a little blurred. (That plane was still moving really fast, and it was hard to frame it--especially shooting through a chain-link fence.)

Everything about the situation--having a little unauthorized fun adventure after a tiring and worrying day, having it with my big brother, seeing that model of plane for the first time, having my camera be reasonably successful in a technically challenging situation--it all just made me glowy and happy. That's why I like this picture far out of proportion to its aesthetic merits.

For the photo geeks among my readers, the camera chose ISO 1600, f3.5, and 1/160 second here.


Memphis MOJO said...

I'm glad to see that London Bridge has NOT fallen down. Nice shots.

mrben09 said...

Great shot at Heathrow.
Memphis, that's Tower Bridge, London Bridge is a boring concrete thing up river a bit. But fact fans, the real London Bridge is in Arizona. It was taken there in the late 60's from London !!!! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_Bridge_(Lake_Havasu_City)

The tall spike shaped building is The Shard and about 5 minutes walk from my office. The train station I use to get into town is below it.