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Chinese New Year in London

At Christmas it was suggested that the family should meetup in London to see the Chinese New Year event and would be a good opportunity to capture some street life.

As I was traveling into London by myself I decided to leave early. Looking at the weather forecast Sunday afternoon was to be wet so any exploring had to be done in the morning while it was still dry. 

Chinese New Year in Chinatown

The alarm was set for 5am with the idea to leave about 6. It was a cold night and the car was frozen which needed removing. Before setting off the passenger side light bulb had blown as it was turned it on which took a good 20 minutes to replace, most of which was trying to find the tools I needed. 

After much research I decided to travel to Epping which is the closest underground station from Norfolk and is the start of the Central Line. Parking is £1.50 on a Sunday and estimated the underground fee to be around £7 round trip. 

Other options would have been to park at Ely and take the overground in Kings Cross or Downham Market if it were not closed to engineering works. The train fare would have been £22 which isn't bad. But there wasn't too much of a cost difference between these options when factoring in the petrol. I felt Epping would give me more flexibility with the more frequent trains.

Walkie-Talkie (Left) Cheesegrater (Tall Middle Building) Gherkin (Right)

Arriving at the underground around 8am, this was to be the start of my day. In the case of a couple of people who stumbled into the same train carriage theirs had just ended and quickly went to sleep. I found it amusing when they got off at Stratford as both sides of the carriage were open and they must have walked through the train a couple of times figuring out which side of the platform they wanted.

I pre planned my route to exit the underground at Bank to walk across Tower Bridge to explore the South Bank area as I researched where the Sun would be at that time of day. As soon as I emerged from the underground I was inspired by all the old and new architecture surrounding me with the Walkie-Talkie being the nearest landmark.

The equipment I brought along was both my Fuji X-E1 using the 35mm lens and Nikon D7100 with the 18-105mm and 35mm lenses. As I only have the one lens for the Fuji I would be limited in what images I could take and I knew a wide angle lens would be very useful. The D7100 is also weather sealed where the Fuji is not and with the threat of rain I wanted the option to take images if it were to get very wet. 

I spent about 3 hours walking along the South Bank absorbing the London skyline through the viewfinder seeing such landmarks as Tower Bridge, The Walkie-Talkie, Shard, Gherkin and City Hall to name a few. 

Saw a few of these along the Golden Jubilee Bridge

My exploring was peaceful and relaxing until I entered Trafalgar Square where it was packed with people celebrating Chinese New Year and it was a struggle getting through to the meeting point at the M&M store at Leicester Square. I should have gotten here much earlier if have had a chance to see any of the event. With so many people in front it was hopeless to get any images of the dragon (or sheep?) acrobatics. I could only see the large screens which isn't too interesting.

We soon went into Pizza Express in ChinaTown and by the time we finished it started to rain which signalled the end of the trip to London and made my way to the busy underground to start the journey home. 

Thoroughly enjoyed the day out with all the architecture to photograph. I have some time off at the end of March and intent to revisit for night photography. My wishlist for equipment is a wider angle lens for the Fuji to cut down on the weight and a Gorillapod to attach along the bridges and walls to eliminate the need for a bulky and heavy tripod.