This photo comes from my front garden. ‘Twas a dark, wintery night in London… Well, nothing new there, really. But on this particular night there was something magic in the air – and all over everything; snow.
The running joke in the UK is that the British people colonised most of the world, fought difficult wars and generally have a stiff upper lip about almost anything. “Keep calm and carry on” runs the British mantra. But sprinkle a bit of snow on this isle and the whole country shuts down as citizens panic.
London Mayor Boris Johnson famously stated that:
“London gets the right kind of snow, just the wrong quantities” — London Mayor Boris Johnson
Far be it from me to suggest that London (or the UK) should invest lots of tax payer’s money in the kind of snow clearing infrastructure required by North Americans or Scandinavians, but it is amusing to watch a world class city freak when the white stuff gets here.
However, snow doesn’t last long in London. In that sense snow is magical because it’s rare. So one night after work, after we had put our son to bed, I grabbed my camera and tripod and went onto our street to capture a few snowy scenes while they were still possible.
Some accused me of enhancing this series of photos in a digital editing suite, but I promise that that is not the case. Once I transferred my digital RAW files to my computer I did indeed correct the white balance (i.e. the colour cast) and adjusted exposure where necessary, but otherwise these photos are as true to reality as you can get without manipulation.
What causes this eery lighting is an effect produced by long exposures lit by gas lamps. Gas lamps in my neighbourhood are “heritage listed”, meaning preserved, and hence they still line my street. The light they cast is thus different from daylight or tungsten light, and in combination with the snow and a long exposure, the images can almost come out looking like a bizarre cross between day and night.
The blurry specs dotting the frame are snowflakes melting on the lens. Some might say I should have wiped the lens more between snapping, especially with long exposures, but I like the smudge effect they produce – almost adding a sense of “liquid intrigue”.
Here are some other photos taken that same night:
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