Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Thames to blame

London Eye at Night.  London England 2013

I hate tripods. Yes, me who takes many night and nature photography at very slow shutter speed, hate using it. Tripods are heavy to carry, I can't be spontaneous, it slows me down and sometimes I can't get the angle that I want.  But I love the results, crisp sharp images, the silky water and the blending of the moving lights are just mesmerizing to me. 
During my recent trip to London I didn't take my tripod because of the above reasons, but also because of the weight restrictions of the airlines. So what do I do when I see a subject that requires a slow shutter speed with long exposure?  In this particular instances I put my camera on a stone wall, propped the lens up with my scarf and used the timer. This was a 20 second exposure at F-14, ISO 200.  I think it turned out pretty nicely...
I was so intent on capturing the London Eye that by the time I was satisfied with the image I was left all alone on the banks of the Thames River.  After putting my camera away I hurried to the Underground station and hopped on to the tube (London subway).  I felt relieved and tired and was looking forward to getting into a warm bed. 
After a few minutes the tube stopped. I mean dead stopped between two stations.  I tried to stay calm, and in about 15 minutes it started moving again.  After getting to the next station, the announcer came on the intercom and announced that this would be the end of the ride and that there will be no more tubes running until signal problems were fixed.  We were to find another way to get to our destinations. What? I had several more stations to go.  How was I going to get back to my hotel?  I had a pass for all day tube ride to get around the city but No Cash.
I ran out of the station to orient myself as to where I was. However, since I had been taking the underground in London the surface streets meant nothing to me.  To make it worse, the streets were deserted.  By this time it was close to 10 pm and I was getting little scared. So I walked around the station until I started seeing some cars.  I figured that whether I had money or not the only way to get back to my hotel was to hail a cab.  So I waited for a cab to come by and when I saw one I waived frantically but it did not stop.  Another cab came by.  Again I waived but it did not stop.  Why weren’t they stopping?  Couldn’t they see me? Or did they think this lunatic, funny looking lady was too scary looking that they didn’t want to stop?  Or did they secretly know that I didn’t have any cash?

But I had to get back to my hotel.  I didn’t know which direction my hotel was and I didn’t have a phone that I could use in London.  So I started jumping up and down (with my camera bag jumping up and down with me) waving my arms to get their attention. Finally one cab driver saw me or felt sorry for me and he stopped.  Thank goodness. I told him which hotel I was staying at and I asked the driver if he could take me to the hotel in under 10 pounds. Can you believe this? I was negotiating with the cab driver; me who didn't have any cash on me.  As the cab was getting closer to the hotel I had to come up with a plan.  I could ran out of the cab just as he drove up at the hotel then... well that wasn't going to work.  Maybe if I pleaded with the front desk, they could pay the driver and charge it to my room?  Well that was as good as it was going to get.  Just as the hotel came into my view it occurred to me that I had put 20 pounds into my wallet for an emergency.  I had forgotten all about it. Thank goodness I remembered.  I gave the driver a huge tip and I didn’t have to embarrass myself at the front desk. Soon I was back in my room.  phew..... 


  1. Your post made me grin, but it also made me so grateful for Tokyo. Trains are 99,999% reliable, and services are only disrupted by suicides or very bad weather. You don't have to worry when you get lost or stranded - doesn't matter when or where - because chances are 99,999% that nothing will happen to you.

    I often wish I could have a tripod, but always decide against it. Mobility is my nr 1 requirement. :)

    PS: Nice shot!

  2. Ru-san,
    I totally agree, while I lived in Tokyo way back in my college years, I can remember only one instance when the train schedule was disrupted. yes, the typhoon had landed in middle of Tokyo. Also, I used to take the last train out of Ikebukuro at 12:11am and never worried about my safety.

    Tripod and street photography never goes well...


  3. Hello, N Buckles.

      Lovely your works, full of joy.

      Thank you World-wide LOVE, and your Support.

      The prayer for all peace.
      I wish You all the best.

    Have a good weekend. From Japan, ruma ❃

  4. Ruma-san,
    Thank you so much for visiting today.

  5. Walls, news boxes and all sort of things have saved me while traveling with out my tripod, great shot!

  6. Stunning photo! And I'm with you on the tripod thing -- but sometimes it's a necessary evil. :)

  7. It can be scary in a large city not knowing where you are. You were wise to get in a cab and be safely taken to your hotel. Great photo.

  8. Hi There! I love the electric blue colors against the red. Such unexpected colors in the night!

  9. Oh, I can relate to that sinking feeling of being stranded in unknown territory, and I am so glad you got out of there safely!

    The picture was worth it, though, it will be the image that appears in my mind if I hear someone mention the London Eye.

  10. Replies
    1. Thank you for stopping by and leaving me a comment. I hope to see you again soon.

  11. What a beautiful shot! Glad you made it through the unexpected with the London Tube.

  12. That is quite the adventure! Glad you found a way back to your hotel. That can be especially scary when visiting a new city.

    1. Thank you for visiting today. I think if this had happened in my city I would have been more calm and rational.. maybe..

  13. Thank you Ruth. I hope to see you back again..

  14. Great shot! I agree about tripods... actually I was looking at new light weight tripods at the camera store yesterday... didn't buy a new one. Sigh... mine is heavy and built like a tank! Thanks for sharing on WTS this week!

  15. Oh, your story not to mention that amazing photo, had me smiling and nodding my head and sympathizing! I remember insane nights stuck between stations and then being kicked out of the tube. What a system! So glad you found your way back. I'm in London now and this post made me want to go out and see the London Eye again (used to be old stomping grounds:), preferably via walking!

  16. Oh my goodness, so this happens often? how does Londoners cope with this? To me no matter how terrible this experience was I would go back to London in a heart beat... I am so happy that you like the photo... Noriko

  17. I do that also NB, the old camera on a post trick :) you got a super shot but gee you had a bit of a scary time getting back to your are so brave going out there alone in the first place :)