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First Night Shoot from the Top of the Humber Bridge

2017 is the year that my home town of Kingston Upon Hull hosts the UK City of Culture and what a year it’s been so far. Hull has a very large photographic community and many great images have been produced this year of new and old features, areas of the city and the amazing events that have been part of the celebrations so far. Early in the year I had been thinking about what I could do to photography and show off a part of the city in a way that hadn’t been seen before and for weeks on end I searched for that something different. After a while I almost gave up on this, but then I had an idea to attempt a night shoot from the top of the Humber Bridge (tallest in England).

When I made the call to the bridge’s PR team, I didn’t actually think the shoot would happen and that I would just be the next person to be turned down, but as a night shoot had never been done before, the idea seemed to go down well and after a short wait it was given the go-ahead.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Humber Bridge, it was officially opened on the 17th of July 1981 by H.M. the Queen and for sixteen years it was the longest single span suspension bridge in the world and is currently the eighth longest. Still England’s tallest bridge (155.5 mtr) the platform on which we would be setting up on is very close to the top of the tower, around 120 mtrs above the road deck and due to the curvature of the earth the tops of the two towers are 36mm further apart than at the bottom. The week that this shoot happened, the bridge not only turned 36 years old, but was also granted Grade 1 listed status and this made me even more excited to be doing this shoot.

On the day of the shoot, it had been raining for a few hours leading up to the time we needed to arrive at the bridge, but luckily it cleared up with an hour to spare. We were met by John who is the chief engineer at the bridge and he kindly escorted us to the base of the North Tower where we would enter the bridge and take an elevator to the top. Stepping out onto the platform was very exciting and I had no idea what to expect as I hadn’t been to such a height for quite some time. The wind was strong and non stop, but the view was amazing and I was told that on a clear day you can see the cliffs at Flamborough on the East coast that are about forty miles away.

I used the last of the daylight to find my compositions and then waited for it to get dark.

 

I had planned on bringing my 190 Go! Carbon tripod, but decided to use my heavier aluminium 190 Xpro-4 with my Xpro Ball Head and I had the new Manfrotto Pro Light Bumblebee 230-PL backpack to get all my gear up there. The Bumblebee 230 is a high capacity backpack that I recently wrote a review about and if you’d like the read it, you can follow this link 

 

 

I was taking 20-25 second exposures to hopefully capture some light trail on the roads below and although I did get some, the downside to shooting long exposures up there was the potential camera shake caused by the wind. Thankfully, due to having a stable tripod and not doing really long exposures, this didn’t happen.

 

When the light had completely gone, I started with a shot facing North over the toll booths with the two main cables going down from the top of the tower down to their anchor points on the North bank. This is a 25 second exposure shot at f/7.1, ISO 100.

 

 

I decided that as the first shot was looking north, I would continue clockwise following the compass points, so the next shot was taken looking East towards Hull. I used the A63 (Clive Sullivan Way) snaking into the city centre as my lead in line for the shot and I really like how good the city lights look in the distance. I’ve never seen my home town from this kind of angle before and I must say…it looked amazing! This one is a 25 second exposure shot at f/13, ISO 100.

 

 

The next shot was the one that started it all,  this was the one that sparked the idea of doing a night shoot on the Humber bridge in the first place. I would have liked a lot more traffic on the road at this point to get more light trails in the shot, but at about 10:30pm the roads were very quiet. I did manage to get some trails in the shot and looking back, I think I should have light painted the main cables to accentuate them, but I’m still really happy with how it came out. This one is a 25 second exposure shot at f/13, ISO 100.

 

 

The final image is looking West and this one has the A63 heading out of Hull with a local pub illuminated in the foreground and that red light trail towards the top left of the image is a train heading out of town and I also managed to capture some light trails from cars in the distance. This one is also a 25 second exposure shot at f/13, ISO 100.

 

I always wondered what I would be like to go to the top of the bridge and I’ve spoken to a couple of people that have been up during the day, but having the opportunity to not only go up, but being able to be up there after dark was amazing! I’m so thankful to everyone who helped make this shoot happen and my big challenge now is thinking about what to do next.

Lee GaleOther articles by author

Lee Gale is a Photographer from Hull, East Yorkshire, UK with a keen interest in Long Exposure, Landscape, Urban Exploration and Light Painting Photography. Lee has always been a lover of the great outdoors and photography has gone hand in hand with that passion over the last few years. Lee has recently taken part in some local photography exhibitions and one of his goals is to put on a solo exhibition of his own work and hopes to one day produce a book of his work.