The Forth Bridge lights

After 2 years in darkness the Forth Bridge is finally lit up again, by 1000 new spotlights. I remember the old lights. You were never sure they were on at first; the lights came on gradually until the bridge was tastefully lit. These new lights though?

See for yourself from this picture.

Forth Bridge lit up

As you can see, the lights are very… open? The bridge looks fantastic but do the lights really need to be so blatant? It’s seriously one of the worst examples I think I’ve seen of structure lighting. You couldn’t see the light source from the old lights but these lights are way too open. The light pollution around the bridge itself is huge. A snow shower moved over last night and you could see the lights streaking up way above the bridge for a fair height. It’s simply too bright.

For photography purposes this is an issue. The old favourite panoramic shot of both bridges with a wide angle lens is not really an option at night anymore, the road bridge is a lot darker than the rail bridge and the lens flares from those lights are terrible. You could try a grad filter to ease out some of the rail bridge but I think that would make the flares even worse. See below for an example, I’ve marked the lens flares on the shot.

Not that long ago I was shooting star trails with the bridge, that’ll be impossible now. You simply couldn’t get those lights under control for a 30s exposure and the resulting pollution will mask the stars anyway. I didn’t try from down the Hawes Pier last night but I suspect the problem will be even worse down there.

It’s not a lot better from the North Queensferry side either sadly, although there does seem to be access under the bridge from that side with the works now removed, one to be better checked out in daylight.

Forth Bridge at night with lights

The Lights are on

I do hope that Scotrail don’t leave the lights like this although I suspect the bridge will now be like this forever. IN a time where we are more away of light pollution it seems very odd to light up an iconic structure in this fashion, especially as we’re all supposed to be getting “greener”. Frankly, I preferred it in the dark.

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4 responses

  1. Ian

    I agree that the lights may be bad for photographers – but the bridge is lit up for people to enjoy at the site itself!

    March 16, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    • Fair point Ian, the bridge does look awesome but since this is a photography blog I have to point it out from a photography point of view and it’s pretty bad!

      March 17, 2012 at 12:19 am

  2. Alex

    Hello Grant,
    I am really pleased that you have made this information available. I am attending the Edinburgh Festival this week, and was setting some time aside to be able to go visit The Forth Rail bridge at night to take some photographs…… as I was in the company of my family, it was a hard decision to drag them away from the festivities of Edinburgh, for me to indulge in my hobby of photography.
    I am non too glad that the bridge has been lit up like a xmas tree 😦 I too remember the subdued lighting of old that was very in tune with the grandeur of this monument…. to drag it into the 21st century with this horrid lighting has disheartened me.. and saved me a wasted trip to get some photographs… I think I will just have to savour my memories of the old rusting red monster that meant so much to me on my wayward journey moving from Scotland to live in England for the last 40 years… I do so remember this iconic bridge with pride, the gateway to Scotland’s Highlands…. I much preferred the subdued lighting… I do hope you persevere with your photographing of this amazing structure, and find a workaround of the ghastly Halogen Halo that now envelopes it !

    Regards Alex

    August 18, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    • Thanks Alex, we can only hope that one day ScotRail will perhaps install a dimmer switch!

      August 18, 2013 at 4:10 pm

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