It's A Shard Life...

Since I started out in photography I've always been fascinated by London architecture, although if you read my blog my love for London photography is usually when it is dark.

Before I start I would like to point out that anyone reading this and planning a visit should note that this article contains a big spoiler along with photographs of it, if like me you like surprises, then it is best you not read the very last part of this piece.

As the Shard was being built, I photographed it in it's many constructional stages, though most not worth sharing... Who wants to see a photograph of a concrete lift spine? But saying that though, once it was 90% finished with just a small crane at the top I did share quite a few photographs taken from Tower Bridge and also The Scoop.

When The Shard opened on 1st February 2013, you think as a photographer that I'd be the first in the queue to get to the top and photograph the London I love from such an amazing height. Sadly that was so further from the truth! They wanted £25 to basically look out of a window, OK granted it is not any old window, this window is 802ft above the ground. But £25!? I just couldn't pay such a ridiculous admission fee.
So why the change of mind?... It wasn't me... It was the wife's idea!

Arriving at about 10am, an hour earlier than our ticket time, we managed to get in half hour early due to it not being very busy and after going through what seemed like airport security, we entered the lifts that incidentally travel at 6mtrs per second! And after two lift journeys we arrived at the viewing platform on level 68.

The 'Viewing Platforms / 'Viewing Galleries' are located on levels 68, 69 and 72, these 'viewing spaces' are just basically open areas around the central lift shaft with glass windows surrounding all four sides facing north, south, east and west.
From a photographers stand point, the south is probably the least interesting view.

Views From The Shard

The North View
This is in my opinion the best view, from here you will be able to see the River Thames, HMS Belfast, Tower Bridge', 'The Walkie Talkie' on 20 Fenchurch Street, 'The Cheese Grater' on 122 Leadenhall Street, 'Tower 42' formally known as the 'Natwest Tower' on 25 Old Broad Street, 'Heron Tower' on 110 Bishopsgate and 'The Gherkin' on 30 St Mary Axe just to name a few, with all these apparently have bars or dining areas at the near tops of their buildings.

 The North View

The North View

The West View
From here you can see the London Eye, St. Paul's Cathedral, Southwalk Cathedral, Borough Market, The Millennium Bridge, The OXO Tower, The Tate Modern, Cannon Street, Blackfriars and Charing Cross Stations and more.

 The West View

The West View

The East View
The view from the east is almost as impressive as that of the north. Views from here are best if, as a photographer, you want that shot looking up the Thames towards Canary Wharf. From this side of the Shard you will see Tower Bridge, The Scoop, The Tower Of London, City Hall, More London and Canary Wharf and more. 

Just some information about this photograph. The main composition of this shot was to show the River Thames as it winds up river towards the sea, as well as to capture as many of the important points of interest I could get. 

 The East View

The East View

The South View
Finally the view to the South is for me the least interesting with the only recognisable building I could see was The Strata Tower.

Olympus OM-D M10
On this visit to The Shard I also took my newly acquired Olympus OM-D M10. This was the first test that I'd put this camera through, and although for serious photography I will always use my Nikon, on this occasion I wanted to see what overall image quality was produced.
With the camera being a 'Micro Four Thirds' and only 16mpx it was never going to live up in terms of quality and sharpness to its Nikon big bother, having said that the image quality was rather impressive.
I will say shooting through some seriously thick glass did have an impact on both cameras in terms of final image quality.

Final Thoughts
Whilst from a photographer and viewers stand point, I enjoyed The Shard and it's stunning views across the city of London, but I can't help feel that for the value for money aspect this attraction in my view is just not worth the money. If it was priced at £10 then I probably have been up there 3 or 4 times by now, but because of it's crazy overpriced admission fee of £25 or even higher at £30 if you just turn up. This latter price being just plain ridiculous!
I feel it's these stupidly priced attractions I believe kill London, and probably why we were allowed in 1/2 hour earlier as now once the hype is now over then the emptiness will slowly begin.  
My Next visit will be to the building opposite - "The Walkie Talkie" Sky Garden.
And it's admission price? FREE! - Take note Shard!

The Spoiler!

One of the best views I personally believe you can get from the shard is from the toilets!
Picture a toilet that is 800 ft up and placed next to a large floor to ceiling window giving you one of the most impressive views of London!
From here you look out over the north view without jostling for space with other visitors, along with not having the design of exterior obstructions (other glass panels) restricting the view.

The images below were taken on an iPhone