The Tower

It was completed in the 1850s and stands 316 feet tall, next to Westminster Bridge on the north bank of the River Thames in London, England. Thousands upon thousands pass it by every day, many of them taking photographs of it. Chances are you’ve seen one of those photos – its big clock evident – in a travel magazine, tourist brochure or a friend’s travel album. It is the Clock Tower of the Palace of Westminster – or as the palace is better known, the Houses of Parliament. (The Tower of London, though, is something completely different.)

“But wait!” you say, “isn’t that Big Ben???” Well, yes and no. True, many people today refer to the tower as Big Ben, but few people have really actually seen Big Ben – although plenty have heard it. Big Ben, as originally named, was neither the tower nor the clock, but rather the bell inside it. (It seems to have been named after a government official who was extremely portly and had the first name Benjamin.)

Whatever it’s called, it poses a well asked question for the travel photographer: how do you photograph a well known place or monument that’s been photographed a gazillion times and still keep it interesting? With my photo of the tower above (top), I decided to frame the tower with the out-of-focus fence surrounding the Parliament complex. I think the fence adds some visual interest, helps fill the frame and gives a sense of the surroundings.

Likewise, in the second photo here, I photographed the tower from across the river, putting it out of focus and including the Westminster Bridge, whose lines lead toward it. The third photo was likewise made from across the river, this time photographed on a rainy day through a pane of wet glass on London’s huge modern ferris wheel, the London Eye, and including all of Parliament.

At the time that I was making these images, I imagine that plenty of others were photographing the Houses of Parliament, putting their cameras up to their eyes without thinking of how to make their photos better. They needed to know this: a little bit of brain, when exercised properly, can go a long way toward making a good photo.

I guess that goes for a lot of other things, too.

About Dave Rudin

Dave Rudin is a fine art photographer based in Brooklyn, New York. He specializes in art nude and travel photography, using black & white film and making silver gelatin prints in a darkroom.
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