Some City of London Film Photography [Kodak Tri-X 400]

city of london film photography

Images shot on Kodak Tri-X 400 in Yashica Electro 35 GSN

I’ve been lucky enough to have had a few short breaks in London in recent years. Just two or three days at a time, and usually because I’m in town anyway having just arrived from Shanghai or before flying back there.

These stays have pretty much always included a walk up and down the Thames in the general area from Tower Bridge down to Westminster, with various sights in between on both sides of the river.

What I’d never done was shot any film whilst on these strolls. Until the last one, when I loaded some Kodak Tri-X 400 in my Yashica Electro GSN and got the shots you’re now seeing in this article.

Any city of London film photography was a long time coming from me, but here some finally is – starting where my riverside walks have always done, at the Tower of London.

From the Tower to across Tower Bridge

I can’t be sure, but I think I used to think Tower Bridge was so-called because of its two iconic towers. And if I did use to think that, I would have been wrong. Because, as that last photograph above hints at, the name comes from its proximity to the Tower of London.

Regardless of me being mistaken in my youth or not, crossing Tower Bridge and heading west along the south bank of the Thames – towards the area called Southbank – is the next stage of the little walk I’m taking you on now.

This is also where you’ll find the HMS Belfast moored up on the river and now serving as a museum. It is, according to those who operate it, the most significant surviving Second World War Royal Navy warship.

Before you get to London Bridge, which some people seem to think is what Tower Bridge is called, you’ll see some of the city’s shiny new buildings to go along with all the old stuff.

Across the water, and I’m not making these names up, are the Gherkin, the Walkie Talkie, and the Cheesegrater. Meanwhile, the UK’s tallest building – The Shard – is on the same side of the river as you.

And to go back to some of that earlier bridge name confusion for a second, The Shard was once known as London Bridge Tower. I’m kinda glad it still isn’t.

Shooting film in Borough Market

Just the other side of London Bridge is a place I always enjoy wandering through – the historic Borough Market. Said to have been operating in some guise or other for the last 1000 years, it’s understandably the city’s oldest food market.

Perhaps one day I’ll actually buy some food or stop for a beer in there but, on this occasion, walking through and getting through some more of this Kodak Tri-X was enough.

I’ve shot quite a few different ISO 400 films up to now, but I’d never really tried any of them indoors. I’d saved that for the real high ISO stuff like this 1600 Fuji Natura. But opening up my lens to f5.6 or wider meant I had the shutter speed for these to mainly come out okay.

The only issue really was the blown-out highlights in the fish stall shots, but that’s not unexpected I suppose. I can’t blame a film for losing detail when shooting ice of all things, and Kodak Tri-X is known for its high contrast anyway.

Aside from these Borough Market shots, I used some of the film in and around the London underground too, which of course included more indoor ones. You can see how they came out in this post here.

Some Capital-C City of London Film Photography

Earlier on in this post, we walked along the south bank of the river towards Southbank. And now it’s time for another slight spelling variation in London’s geography.

Every time I’ve mentioned the city of London so far, I’ve written city with a lower case c. But now we’re going big. And that’s because there’s an area in the city of London called City of London with an upper case C.

It’s the home of all the strangely-named buildings from earlier, as well as the wonderful Barbican Centre, and of course the imposing and illustrious St. Paul’s Cathedral, which is often included as a backdrop in photographs shot from the Millennium Bridge.

That’s where the very first image on this post was taken and is where the first one below was too – complete with more blown highlights from the bridge’s shiny metal floor. Regardless, crossing this relatively thin walkway and heading up to the cathedral is a very photogenic part of this little walk around this part of the small-c city.

In contrast to St. Paul’s, St. Mary Somerset is a church I’d never heard of until researching what I’d taken pictures of so I could write about them here. At the time, I just saw a tower between the buildings and thought it’d make a nice picture.

I now know that the body of the church was demolished in 1871 and that tower is all that’s left. I also know that the windows in the nearby One New Change shopping mall give some good reflections for another photo of the dome at St. Paul’s.

And I only found that out because I headed in there looking for a toilet.

Wrapping up my City of London film photography

I’m no expert on the different areas of London and it’s very possible there are better places to go and wander around with your camera. Depending on what better means to you, of course.

What I can say for sure though is that the general area between Tower Bridge and Westminster Bridge, on both sides of the river, makes for a good London photo walk for visitors to the city with plenty of famous sights to include in your shots.

This was the first time I’d shot some film on my stroll around the place, and the first time I’d shot Kodak Tri-X 400 anywhere.

I can tell you it’s a legendary stock that’s long been popular with street photographers due to its grain and high contrast look, but any more information than that will have to wait until I get around to adding a full review of it to this library.

All I’ll say for now is that, based on the evidence of what it gave me in London, I’d be happy to work with it again. And possibly even shoot a whole project with it some time, if and when the inspiration to do so strikes me.

For now though, if you want to pick some up and try it yourself, you can from Analogue Wonderland, from Amazon, or from B&H Photo.

And if you don’t happen to be in the city of London, or even the City of London, just know that there’ll be plenty of photogenic stuff to shoot and create something great with your Tri-X 400 wherever you are too.  🙂

If you enjoyed that post, why not take a look at these others to stay inspired or learn more about some other films I’ve shot and reviewed:

  1. My comprehensive review of  another iconic Kodak film
  2. Shooting another Kodak film out there in the streets
  3. Some colour street shots on Kodak Portra 400

And if you think others will enjoy this post on some London city film photography, help them find it by giving it a share.  😀

written by
Hi, I'm Lee - creator of My Favourite Lens and the one whose work you're seeing whenever you read a post on here.
I shoot as much film as I can in as many different cameras as I can, and I enjoy playing with vintage lenses on digital cameras also.

Everything I do and what I learn along the way gets shared on here, to inform and inspire you to get out and shoot as much - and as well - as you can too.

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