- a fantastic night out in the capital
Between 14 and 17 January 2016, London is home to the Lumiere festival, which exhibits a number of illuminated art installations. Some are epic in scale in iconic locations, while others are more modest, tucked-away on side-streets. I managed to bag most of them during a frantic run around the capital on the first evening and can highly recommend it whether you're photographing or simply having a look.
The main action is concentrated in four areas, three of which are close together: there's Kings Cross / Granary Square by itself, then a series spread out over Soho, Piccadilly and Berkeley Square. I'd advise starting at Kings Cross and grabbing a bite to eat in the KERB market behind Granary Square (try the delicious salt beef bagels from Bell and Brisket), then taking the Piccadilly line to Leicester Square before wandering over to Piccadilly circus, crossing to Regent Street, passing through the Carnaby Street area before bagging Oxford Circus and finally heading to Mayfair for the Berkeley Square installations. It runs for four hours each night and you can just about manage that route in that time - I certainly did anyway!
The highlights for me were the enormous creatures floating above Piccadilly, with road closures making it easy to get right underneath the action. I found my fisheye lens invaluable for these and filmed a quick spinning sequence you can see here. Indeed it's worth a visit just to experience Piccadilly and Regent Street without any traffic.
As for photography, I confirmed before the event with Visit London that tripods would be allowed and I'm delighted to report that was indeed the case. In fact I've never seen so many tripods on the streets of London and never once saw any photographers being restricted or hassled by security as is often the case in the capital. Indeed, I must commend the organisers of the event for the excellent stewards who were plentiful, well-informed and very friendly. It reminded me of the Olympics where there was a positive, almost carnival vibe to the centre with careful organization and security actually proving a greater feeling of safety and freedom.
I lugged my tripod around all day, but never in fact extended it. Since I only had one evening to bag as many locations as possible, I opted to shoot handheld with the excellent stabilisation of my Olympus OMD EM1. When fitted with my 8mm f1.8 Fisheye or 7-14mm f2.8 zoom, I had enough light to handhold even at low ISOs, but if tripods are your thing, you should enjoy the same freedom I experienced. Even in Granary Square where I and most of my photographer friends have been stopped in the past.
So if you're around London, get yourself there on one of the remaining nights - remember Sunday is your last chance, and don't forget to tag everything with #LumiereLDN
! Oh and don't forget to wrap-up, it's cold out there!
PS - I'm posting some photos here, but the majority are on my Instagram feed at https://www.instagram.com/cameralabs/ https://youtu.be/7YHg2lIa9mg