Openhouse London 2018 Part I / by Mark Greenfield

If you like architectural photography the chances are you've heard of London Openhouse which takes place every year, normally on the third weekend in September. It's the best opportunity to get into buildings which wouldn't normally let you photograph inside such as City Hall, Bloomberg and Angel Court for example. Some of the buildings you need to pre-book but most are free and you can just turn up on the day. What follows is a record of my trip to London for the 2018 Openhouse Event.


Friday is travel day. Just over 2 hours from Manchester Piccadilly to London via Virgin Trains with the aim to get into London just after lunch time, hop on the tube and drop off the suitcase at the hotel in Aldgate then head out with the camera to a couple of locations, one of which was part of the Openhouse event but I didn't manage to get on the tour so thought I'd try and get in the day before. First port of call then was Bevan Court...


Bevan Court, Canon 8-15 Fisheye, 15mm, 1/30 sec, F7.1, Iso 800

I've wanted to shoot this staircase in Bevan Court for a while now and this was the perfect excuse. It's been photographed often and no wonder, it did meet all my expectations. After spending 20 to 30 minutes in Bevan Court it was time to head back towards the hotel with just a slight detour to photograph another staircase. Now this one was not on the list of buildings as part of London Openhouse but it is easily accessible and to be honest you don't expect what you see when you look at the building from the outside but what a staircase it is, and it's found in the Blackfrairs Premier Inn...


Blackfriars Premier Inn, Canon 16-35 F/4L, 24mm, 1/13 sec, F/7.1, Iso 800


The Openhouse event starts today but my one and only pre-booked event is at 11:30 in the morning so there is time to fit something in beforehand. First off headed to Lloyds Registry but the queue was far too long so decided to go into St Botolphs Aldgate church which wasn't far from the hotel and it was well worth spending an hour in there it is such a beautiful church although I didn't have a go at ringing the bells which you had to prebook for but you were free to wander around to your hearts content and I even managed to get the tripod out for the shot below... 

St Botolph's of Aldgate, Canon TS-E 17mm, 6 second exposure, F/11, Iso 100

After here it was time to get across to the pre-booked event at Angel Court which ended up being a little disappointing as you only had about 30 minutes on the 19th floor when in the past judging by what others said on the tour you had much longer. I'm glad I did it but it's not somewhere I can envisage going to again.


The reception area in Angel Court, taken whilst waiting for the tour to begin. Canon 24-70 F/2.8L, 35mm, 1/50 sec, F/7.1, Iso 800

The retreat from the office, Angel Court.....Canon 24-70 F/2.8L, 24mm, 1/40 sec, F/7.1, Iso 800


The 19th floor of Angel Court, Canon 24-70 F/2.8L, 24mm, 1/60 sec, F/9, Iso 400

After here a quick visit and a welcome cup of tea at St Helen's church, Bishopsgate before onwards to the Leadenhall Building aka The Cheesegrater were I managed to blag my way into . This was meant to be a pre-booked tour but it seemed the weather may have been putting people off. Luckily for me :) great tour of the floor who designed the building the architects Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners given by someone who had been with the firm only a few months and whilst it wasn't the most photographic of places you could still find subjects to photograph

The corridor from the lifts, Leadenhall Building, Canon 24-70 F/2.8L, 24mm, 1/30 sec, F/7.1, Iso 1600

From here it was onto Lloyds Registry which I'd tried to get into in the morning. In the afternoon there were no queues, you could just walk straight in, what a difference a few hours make! Now the reception area here is very modern but also rather hard to photograph due to the lights being so low as can be seen from the photo below...

Lloyds Registry Reception Canon 8-15 Fisheye, 15mm, 1/25 sec, F/8, Iso 100

You then move through the building and it goes from modern architecture to classical architecture literally just round a corner and here you can explore rooms with journals dating back to the 18th Century and the board room, and it offers something a bit different for photographers like me as it was easier to include people than exclude them!


Lloyds Registry Canon 24-70 F/2.8L, 24mm, 1/50 sec, F/5.6, Iso 3200

As there was still time left in the day it was time to head over to Alphabeta, one of my favourite buildings from my first event back in 2016. This time though I had my tilt shift lenses with me and the tripod and I had a photo in mind I was determined to get, the one of the cycle garage which I failed to get on my first visit, luckily this time I was successful :) 

Canon 16-35 F/4L, 17mm, 1/80 sec, F/8, Iso 1600

I just love the bright, bold colours here. Only problem was shooting through glass but thankfully I got round this by pressing the lens right up against the glass and use a lens pouch where I'd cut open the end over the lens to further reduce the chances of any reflections in the shot.


Canon TS-E 17mm, 0.6sec exposure, F/11, Iso 100

The entrance to Alphabeta. I had taken this back in 2016 and managed to get the shot into the now sadly gone What Digital Camera magazine (if anyone can remember that publication) and Monopix.


The staircase leading up to the reception area, Alphabeta, Canon 8-15 Fisheye, 15mm, 1/80 sec, F/7.1, Iso 800


The staircase again leading up to the reception area, Alphabeta, Canon 16-35 F/4L, 16mm, 1/25 sec, F/6.3, Iso 800

Canon TS-E 17mm, 1/25 sec, F7.1, Iso 1600

I had shot this previously back in 2016 but wasn't happy with the result. This time I shot with the tilt shift lens and the camera placed on the tripod (I did ask if I could use it and to my pleasant surprise they said yes :) 

Now it was around this point that a large group of photographers came in and I must say thanks to the Pontefract Camera Club. Not only are they a great friendly bunch but they told me about a location to shoot near the Barbican, all of which will be revealed in the next blog (which won't take over 4 months for me to get round to writing!) but will be here next week!

Hope you've enjoyed reading this and if you've any questions/ comments don't hesitate to contact me :)