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.
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.
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.
When the Forth Road Bridge Twitter stream tells you there’s a speed restriction on the bridge because of fog, what’s the first thing you should do as an Edinburgh photographer? Check the road bridge webcam of course! Which I did and it confirmed what I’ve been looking for now for a while, the fog was heavy enough to obscure the opposite bank, meaning that the elusive bridge disappearing into the fog shot I’ve been after might be possible.
Heading to North Queensferry just after work seemed like the best plan, get in underneath the bridge and get “that” shot. In the event, the good people of Fife had other ideas and in their scramble to get home the bridge was chockers with traffic. Plan B swung into action as the sunset was approaching and a path was blazed down to South Queensferry instead.
If you drive in past the rail bridge there’s a spot with some parking and you can get down to the beach at low tide. Perfect spot and the fog was also perfect, more on the North side of the water it was low and thick. It obviously drew out the photographers as there were loads of them about.
Highlight of the night down here wasn’t the fog, or the bridge or anything even related to why I was there; nope it was watching the Rover 25 slide off the road, down the slope and end up at a 45 degree angle against the sea wall. Any thoughts of offering help went out the window when the driver stormed out the car shouting at the other occupants to move it as “a cannae be here…”, intrigue indeed.
Anyway, back to the photography.
Sun was setting and I went to work with the filters, what was apparent though was that the fog was getting worse. With the last of the decent light I got some shots off but just as we were looking for the sunset the fog went all pea souper on us and blocked out the last of the golden tones.
Still, I did get this shot before it closed in…
By this point light was fading fast and the fog was so thick options were getting limited. Took some shots with the Nikon 18-70mm to let me zoom out past the rocks and also tried out the Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 EX HSM to get close in and get some detail.
And the detail shot at 200mm from the beach:
With the light going fast a change of location seemed like a good idea so moved up to the Binks car park and headed down to the beach at the side of the little harbour. Now, this is normally a pretty good location but with the tide right out it wasn’t the best tonight so after a few shots abandoned here and headed over the bridge to the North Queensferry side.
Driving over the bridge the thickness of the fog was apparent, nearer the north bank you could hardly see 20ft in front of you but as soon as you cleared the water the fog thinned right out.
When you come into North Queensferry if you go right at the first junction you come to you’ll head towards the bottom of the road bridge. You can park up near the houses and there is a little gap in the low wall leading to a grassy area that leads to a fantastic spot to get shots of the underside of the road bridge.
I was kind of glad I didn’t get here till the twilight was setting in as the lights were on on the bridge and and casting a sort of eerie glow in the fog. I’d only taken the Sigma 10-20mm with me and to be honest, this lens doesn’t perform well from the side of the bridge; the wide angle distortion is VERY obvious. The Nikon 18-70mm lens would have been a better choice.
Undeterred, the one spot this lens does work well in directly under the bridge, not somewhere your really supposed to be so nipped in and out quick, got the shot and headed out. Glad I did as this was the result…
Finished the night off round at the harbour and by the side of the rail bridge getting some shots of the lights in the fog, which I’ll process later.
All in all, a 3 hour night on the camera with some fairly satisfying results and very glad to finally have got the Bridges fog shots at last, another one ticked off the list. Not that I won’t be back for the next bout of fog as well…