How I Got My Photo of The House of Commons, London, England

How I got the shot of the Houses of Commons, London, England

Well I said that I was going to write about some of my photos of buildings, and I have taken this a step further. I will explain all that in a bit.

I took my photo of the House of Commons, London with my Canon 5D and Canon 70-200mm F4L lens handheld whilst walking on Westminster Bridge one January evening. The main camera settings were

  • ISO – 1250
  • Aperture – F5
  • Shutter speed – 1/25th second

The photo was processed in Lightroom.

The Canon 5D?

Yes, the Canon 5D, Not the 6D, the 5D. And the Canon 5D Mk 1. And when was this photo taken? Some time ago. Let me tell you all about it.

What was I doing in London?

Well I can’t remember to be honest. I wanted to tell you about 4 photos that I have taken, and I wanted to start with one of the first serious photos of a building that I took with a digital camera.

This is it, and I am happy with the photo, but I can’t remember a thing about taking this photo, as it was way back in  erm 2008. But don’t worry, I can make up for that with some very important points later on in this post.

2008? Really?

Yes 2008. I started taking my photography seriously in mid-2007. And this photo was taken in January 2008, right at the beginning of my journey to where I am now.

All I can tell you is that I was walking around London on an evening in January, and that I also took photos of the London Eye, Big Ben, all that good stuff.

But I can’t remember what I was doing in London on the evening of the 13th January, 2008.

So back to the stuff I do know

Camera settings for the photo

This is all there in Lightroom, something that we all take for granted but a wonderful thing if you think about it, it knows everything metadata wise about a photo that I cannot remember taking, all the way back in 2008.

  • Aperture – F5
  • Shutter speed – 1/25th second
  • ISO 1250
  • AV Mode
  • Focal Length 70mm

I have been using AV Mode for years, and would have worked out that at F5 I had enough depth of field at the modest 70mm focal length for the photo that I was taking from the position that I took it. I will come onto the exposure when I talk about the gear – don’t worry it will make perfect sense when you get there ok?

But reassuring to know that 14 years ago I was using AV Mode, which is what I teach photographers to use now to take photos of buildings.

Gear that I used

Canon 5D with Canon 70-200mm F4L IS lens.

The interesting thing with this lens is that, all those years ago, Canon had already produced a lens with 4 stops of image stabilisation.

What does this mean? In short, I shouldn’t have been able to get a sharp photo with a 70mm focal length and a shutter speed of 1/25th second. I should have had a shutter speed faster than the reciprocal of the focal length, so faster than 1/70 second, which would have been 1/125th second. But 4 stop image stabilisation means that I can go down to, well let’s work this out.

Shutter speed for the exposure – 1/125th second

  • 1 stop – 1/60th second
  • 2 stops – 1/30th second
  • 3 stops – 1/15th second
  • 4 stops – 1/8th second

I could have gone down to 1/8th second handheld and got a sharp photo. I stuck with 1/25th, as I probably did not want to push it, and the F5 aperture was clearly fine for depth of field from where I took the photo.

The edited photo

This is the photo that I found in my Lightroom Catalogue.

Houses Of Commons, London

I edited this photo many years ago. This is what I did to it at the time. And it is ok. It is nothing special, just OK.

But I decided to have some fun in Lightroom.

1 minute edit

I gave myself 1 minute to do a new edit. In Lightroom you can create what are called virtual copies, and do different edits and compare them. So I reset the settings and gave myself 1 minute and here is the result.

Houses Of Commons, London – 1 minute edit

Yes, I cropped this photo. That was the big difference. I got rid of some of the stuff around the edges which detracts from the subject matter. I have done the main adjustments, but would have liked more time, there was more to do with this photo.

And then I thought I would try something new.

Auto editing settings in Lightroom

You can do auto white balance and auto basic panel stuff. This is the photo after two clicks. Pretty impressive right. This is Lightroom doing all the work for me.

Houses Of Commons, London – edited by Lightroom

Black and white version?

One further click and boom, here is a black and white version of the photo, which is equally impressive.

Houses Of Commons, London – in black and white

Lessons learned – gear

The photo was taken with a Canon 5D. Now that is old tech here in 2023, but the photo is still perfectly valid today. And this is such an important point. If you don’t have much money for a camera, the Canon 5D is still a perfectly valid camera in 2023.

It may be an old camera, but that does not mean that you cannot use one in 2023.

If you think about it, there are photos taken with much older cameras that are valid today.

So don’t think that to get into photography you need the latest and greatest gear, because you do not.

And if anyone tells you that you do they are wrong, and this is how I justify this statement.

You do not need the latest camera

If anyone tells you that you need the latest camera they are just wrong. Buy the best camera that you can sure, but buy the best camera that you can afford. And if that is a 20 year old Canon 5D so be it. Sure it is an old camera, with old tech, but remember this.

I have processed and published a photo taken in 2008 with a Canon5D Mk 1. And that photo is as valid as any other photo that I have taken since.

So if someone tells you that you need the latest camera ask them this – does that mean that every photo taken with an old camera is irrelevant, useless, not good enough?

I would rather you used a Canon 5D Mk 1 than nothing. I would rather you used a Canon 5D Mk 1 than did not get into photography.

Lessons learned – composition

Composition is king. Whilst I am quite happy with what I have got I would have preferred a much wider photo. I mean taken with a wider focal length, getting more in.

I take 95% of my photos with a 17mm focal length.

On reflection I am going to disagree with myself. The 70mm view is good, giving me something different. And this is why I love writing about this stuff, as it gets me thinking. Now this can be a dangerous thing for me to do, but no,. different focal lengths are good to give variety.

And I will say it again, composition is king. By having a decent composition I have a decent photo that I can work with in 2023 that I took in 2008.

And that is more important than what camera I used to take the photo.

Lessons learned – image capture

Its all good to be fair to me. A decent exposure that I can work with. The only thing that I would change here is to have taken three photos using auto bracketing and merged them together to give me more data in the lights and the darks.

Having said that I have lost some of the data in the sky which I would have not lost had I taken the photo knowing what I know now.

And that is another learning point – keep learning about taking the best photos that you can, and try to do better next time than last time.

Keep learning, keep practising, keep improving.

Lessons learned – processing

Lightroom did a better job than me! Not sure how I feel about that to be honest. I guess it should do really, but it is interesting just how good the auto settings are in Lightroom. Always worth trying them to see what Lightroom comes up with, and take it from there.

I am not saying use auto every time, well you can if you want to and that is up to you. This is a no for me no. But Lightroom can very quickly show you what is possible with a photo, which is certainly not obvious when looking at an unprocessed RAW image.

And if auto white balance works what is wrong with that?

What if I use a phone to take photos?

Well this will apply to you for sure. If you want to progress with your photography, and get a camera, even in 2023 the Canon 5D is a relevant camera. You can pick them up very cheaply, although spares might be a challenge.

But you can still use any Canon EF lens on a Canon 5D Mk1 just like you can on a Canon 5D Mk 4.

And you will still take great photos. And even with a Canon 5D Mk 1 you have more photographic opportunities than you get with a phone. Controversial this view may be, but check out some of my other posts on this subject.

And also check out this episode of my splendid Photography Explained Podcast – Photography Explained Podcast Episode 142 – I Only Take Photos With My Phone – What Photography Stuff Am I Missing Out On?

What would I do differently?

Now I have been thinking about that. And looking the photos that I have from this trip to London not a lot.

I would have liked a long exposure photo with the water all flattened getting the reflections of the building. But I might have been moved on by the Police back then in those uncertain times.

But no, I am generally happy with the photo taken all those years ago. And I am happy with what I have shared with you and the learnings that have come from me going back to a photo from nearly 15 years ago.

Next, I will pick a much more recent photo. Well why not?

OK – and now a few more things

The Photography Explained Podcast

I want to tell you about my small but perfectly formed podcast. I am the creator and all things at the splendid Photography Explained Podcast. In my podcast I explain one photographic thing per episode in plain English without the irrelevant details in less than, well less than 27 (ish) minutes these days.

I talk about all aspects of photography in my podcast, and welcome questions from listeners that I love answering.

Related reading

Check out my website. Simple. Everything pretty much is all about taking photos of buildings.

My You Tube channel

Yes I have an ever growing You Tube channel, where I talk about what I have written on my blog. Check out the video for this post right here.

Again no frills, no bull, just me telling you the stuff that you need to know.

Get a weekly email from me to you

Yep, if you want to receive an email from me every week then fill in the form on this page – there will be one somewhere. And in return I will send you a splendid Lightroom thing, and you will receive my thoughts straight to your inbox on a Friday afternoon. Which is nice.

Finally – how can I find out more about this stuff?


Get in touch with me – email me –

Get in touch, ask me a question that I can answer on my blog or podcast, or just say hi – it would be great to hear from you.

Thanks for visiting my small but perfectly formed website, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Cheers from me Rick


Rick McEvoy

I am Rick McEvoy, an architectural and construction photographer living and working in the South of England. I create high quality architectural photography and construction photography imagery of the built environment for architects and commercial clients. I do not photograph weddings, families, small people or pets - anything that is alive, moves or might not do as I ask!! I am also the creator of the Photography Explained Podcast, available on all major podcast providers. I have a blog on my website where I write about my work and photography stuff. Rick McEvoy ABIPP, MCIOB

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