Catching the light – how to take a cover-worthy photograph

  • Written by  Simon Anderson
  • Published in Geophoto
Catching the light – how to take a cover-worthy photograph Simon Anderson
25 Nov
Photographer Simon Anderson tells Geographical about the process of capturing our December issue’s spectacular cover image of the Brighton Pavilion...

I was told by a friend about the Dr Blighty laser show at the Brighton Pavilion so went along with my wife and children to see this amazing spectacle of colours and architecture.

Being the photographer I am I like to take my camera everywhere and the Dr Blighty show was no exception and boy what a show it was. Once word spread the spectacle attracted thousands of people who came to see this free event for themselves.

(Image: Simon Anderson)(Image: Simon Anderson)

I set up early next to a few other photographers who grabbed the best spots but as more and more people arrived they just stood in front of my camera and blocked my view. It felt like I wasn’t going to get any shots at all so I moved my gear and stood in front of the people blocking me. With everyone else sitting down I now had a good view.

(Image: Simon Anderson)(Image: Simon Anderson)

Now in position I set up everything manually including the pre-focusing and composition so I could enjoy the show whilst taking pictures. My camera was on my Manfrotto Befree tripod and using my cable release I could just randomly press the shutter button when the projections changed on the Brighton Pavilion building, meaning I didn’t have to look through the viewfinder. I had my cable release in one hand whilst holding my daughters hand in my other.

(Image: Simon Anderson)(Image: Simon Anderson)

The show was amazing and we loved every minute of it but I didn’t realise how good the pictures where until I got them back home on the computer. I feel what sets mine apart from some of the other pictures is balancing the exposure between the sky and foreground using my lee 0.6 2 stop ND Grad filter, this allowed me to capture detail and colour in the sky while still being able to see the crowd holding their phones in the foreground. Combine this with the colours and shapes projected onto the Pavilion and I knew this was a great image.

(Image: Simon Anderson)(Image: Simon Anderson)

The moral to the story is make sure you take your camera with you wherever you go as you never know when there will be an opportunity for that special picture. For me, a family fun evening out got me a special picture that was Highly Commended in the Landscape Photographer of the Year Award in the Visit Britain OMGB category.

Camera: Nikon D7100
Lens: Sigma 10-20 @10mm
Settings: ISO 400, f/8, 1.3 sec, Lee 0.6 ND Grad
Equipment: Manfrotto Befree travel tripod and cable release

To see more of Simon’s work, visit his website at

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