A High Level View of London’s New Year Fireworks Spectacular!

Working at High Level gets us into many unique and wonderful locations. Being commissioned for a photographic shoot whilst getting a front row seat in a luxury penthouse to view the New Year fireworks display in Central London, was an opportunity that was too good to pass up at the end of 2016.

Stunning new penthouse with Skyline Views

Adjacent to Lambeth Bridge stands Parliament House, an apartment complex built and marketed by Telford Homes. Atop the building is the stunning £6 million penthouse for which High Level had already provided some view photography earlier in late 2015 using a special Polecam system to obtain a unique viewpoint (see below)

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A group ‘selfie’ taken using a polecam system from the balcony of Parliament House

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The original terrace view for Parliament House taken using a Polecam System

The final High Level assignment of 2016 and the first of 2017

Between Christmas and New Year Ian Leslie, the High Level MD, received a request from our client to see if we would be available to provide some night shots incorporating the penthouse with the added visual dimension of the London New Year fireworks display.

After some negotiation with his family and re-arrangement of News Year’s Eve plans, Ian manfully stepped up to plate and offered his services to take on the challenge. Part of the deal was that his wife and children could come along to help get the camera equipment in and enjoy the display from this unique vantage point.

High Level clients often have demanding deadlines and specifications which we understand and always do our best to accommodate as with this assignment.

The Technical Challenge

For this particular shoot the brief was to show not only the penthouse and terrace but also the views and the fireworks which proved a smorgasbord of different lighting conditions! Coupled with a relatively brief timescale for the display the pressure was on to get some great images.

Night photography, by its nature, is a little more technical than daylight photography, then add the dimension of incorporating fireworks and you have a quite a challenge to get it looking right, tremendously satisfactory and stunning when done right. As the results show.

Ian also used a technique known as light painting (using a long exposure time whilst waving a torch over the scene, moving it like a paintbrush over certain features) plus experimenting with varying shutter speeds to encapsulate the surroundings.

The human eye has a massive high dynamic range to absorb and filter bright and dark conditions for the brain to cope with. A normal camera (no matter how expensive) does not have this capability therefore Ian used skills and knowledge of light with a combination of exposure settings to allow light in for the darker areas whilst not ‘blowing out’ the bright fireworks.

In addition to Ian lurking behind his camera on tripod, he also installed several other cameras on tripods at varying focal lengths and positions which were set up with remote shutter releases (taking pictures every couple of seconds).

After a long evening of getting to the location – avoiding all the local road closures and setting up, plus 12 minutes of frenetic activity whilst the firework display illuminated the London skyline, Ian and family packed up and headed home for a well-earned rest on New Year’s Day.

The Alchemy Begins!

Once back in the office the images were turned over to Bryony (one of High Level’s long standing photographers and Queen of Photoshop!). A selection of initial proofs were sent to the client and once they had chosen the image they liked the most, Bryony could start the process of retouching.

At the client’s request, we were tasked with making the fireworks appear fuller, taller and more varied in colour, to truly reflect the display when it was at full crescendo. As the display was a combination of different phases and colours, Bryony blended several images to achieve this.

The essential element that Bryony had to get right was to accurately replicate the view that the potential owner will have and ensure that the final image is a true representation in terms of views and scale from the terrace.

Additionally the client noted that there were some creases in the sofa cushions, wet footprints on the patio and water marks on the work surfaces – these were all made to disappear with the magic of Photoshop.

Bryony takes up the story “The first image below shows you the initial image of the terrace. As you can see, the terrace itself is bright and quite nicely exposed. The sky is far too bright to show enough contrast for the fireworks but that would fix itself when the images were blended as shown in the second image. The finished retouching work and selected crop is shown in the final image alongside the client’s website.”

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Images worked and sent off – job done! The last assignment of 2016 and first of 2017 in the bag and one happy client.

Here are some other images from the shoot.

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If you have any requirements for photography be it day or night, from ground level (external and internal) or the air (mast, drone, plane or helicopter), High Level are always on hand to rise to the challenge.

Please call us to discuss what we can do for you.
020 3355 0274

Pictures commissioned on behalf of Telford Homes Plc

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