John Sandell photography

Image of the Month Archive

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The Pier at Cromer. I spent some time walking this lovely North Norfolk beach, enjoying the strong October midday sun and looking for a suitable base for a long exposure of the sea and of Cromer's iconic pier. I was carrying the Lee Filters 'Super Stopper' and the sturdy but lightweight Manfrotto Befree carbon fibre tripod. I was careful with the Befree on the soft sand, but it held rock solid for the one-and-a-half minute exposure... with the image at 100% there's excellent detail of the structure under the pier... [posted March 2019, first update for a while!] / more »


Cartier in Motion. Photographed across the foyer of the Design Museum in its superb new home in Kensington High Street, London. I liked the sense of movement in the elegant young lady's pose – feet pointing one way, head looking the other – as she stood in front of the exhibition banner: "in motion", as it were. While her upper half is dimly lit, her mauve skirt and part of her blue-green rucksack are emphasised by the bright light running under the handrail... [posted December 2017] / more »


Walking By. I always enjoy overhead views: here I've picked out some architectural detail in a modern building... The lady walking by with her flowing trousers is actually on a pavement to the right of the picture – her reflection in the glass front of the building gives her a slightly distorted and rather ghostly appearance. She's positioned somewhere between one-third of the way across the image and the Golden Mean, in an attempt to keep all the critics happy! [posted October 2017] / more »


Number 19. A shot from my first attempt to photograph ice hockey, on this occasion Milton Keynes Lightning v Peterborough Phantoms. Ice hockey is fast and somewhat unpredictable. The light level was relatively low – although perfectly good for the spectators – meaning I had to use ISO3200 which I regard as absolute maximum on the D800, yet I still had a shutter speed lower than the 1/2000th I would have preferred... [posted September 2016] / more »


On the Limit. One of many shots taken on an excellent bike day with Nikon at Brands Hatch. Number 63 was one of the faster bikes and provided great dramatic opportunities for us photographers. Taken at 300mm, but the frame cropped by 50% to give an effective 600mm lens – for me a better solution than trying to get a decent composition using the longer focal length. [posted August 2016] / more »


The City from Tate Modern. I was fortunate to visit the new Tate Modern extension on a sunny day. In addition to the huge new galleries and more intimate display spaces, the building features a tenth-floor viewing platform just right for mid-height views of London's taller buildings. So this is just a straightforward view towards the City, being careful to keep the camera level on both axes. I'm amazed at the detail captured by the very sharp 85mm f/1.8 lens. [posted June 2016] / more »


Interlock. Another image from my on-going project based around the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas) in Berlin – usually referred to as the 'Holocaust Memorial' – this time from my second visit to it in June 2012. For this image I've concentrated on the aggressive interlocking shapes of parts of the blocks, and pushed the contrast of an already contrasty image to emphasise the effect... [posted May 2016] / more »

Red Carpet

Red Carpet. A hotel in Berlin that I've stayed in a few times is part of an apartment block, one of many in the city that feature a small internal courtyard. The lift to the fourth floor emerges onto an open balcony with a vertiginous view to the courtyard below. I felt I should try to capture it in the camera. Nighttime was best because of the ground-level lighting and the more saturated colours, though it did mean that the outside of the image was in almost complete darkness and needed a lot of shadow recovery from the RAW file... [posted April 2016] / more »

Walking Down

Walking Down. A view looking down onto the marble staircase below the domed rotunda in the Tate Britain gallery in London – part of the renovation by architects Caruso St John which was completed in 2013. I waited for a visitor dressed in appropriate colours to walk down the stairs, and later thought carefully about the left and right crop. [posted February 2016] / more »

Look Up

Look Up. Emerging through the spacious entrance of the Potsdamer Platz S-bahn station in Berlin I couldn't resist this view of the tall modern buildings through the lattice roof of the station. There was some warm mid-morning sun on the reddish bricks, and open clouds in the blue sky, all of which made for a good conversion to monochrome to emphasise the dramatic angular shapes. The disembodied feet in the bottom-right corner are part of a tall sculpture, something we don't see much of in the crowded London Underground! [posted December 2015] / more »

In The Cafe

In the Café. The Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna (the 'Museum of Art History' or sometimes the 'Museum of Fine Arts') has an excellent café in the lavishly decorated space under its central octagonal cupola, and this is a wideangle view from the balcony that surrounds it. I used architectural features of the balcony to ensure that I was exactly on the centre line, and the viewfinder grid in the camera to make sure the picture is symmetrical and level. I was also careful not to drop the camera onto the paying customers below! [posted November 2015] / more »

Yellow Cab

Yellow Cab. Another photo from our excellent local Classic Car Show in 2015. The cab was an interesting Chevy right-hand-drive model, allegedly made for the South African Market – I've seen it described as a "1948 Chevrolet Fleetmaster", although I'm not convinced that any cabs in service had red mudguards, nor that any had yellow bodies in South Africa! I'm open to correction. But the cab has appeared in films and commercials, and looks great. Obviously it was a must-have photographic subject for me. [posted October 2015] / more »

The City Hall Angle

City Hall Angle. Part of London's City Hall seen through the structure of Tower Bridge. The pale blue and white colours of the bridge were rather harsh against the sky and the muted grey-green of City Hall, so I felt it best to concentrate on the strong composition in monochrome. Really the image is an exercise in careful cropping, contrasting the robust strength of the 120-year-old bridge against the more delicate outline of Lord Foster's 2002 building. [posted September 2015] / more »

The Pantheon, Rome

The Pantheon, Rome. When I arrived the Pantheon was closed for the Sunday service, but the huge doors were partly open and I could see and smell the incense inside... It's circular in plan, with a huge dome: 43 metres diameter and 43 metres high, with no supporting arches or vaults. Incredible! At the top of the dome is a 9m diameter hole which lets in the sunlight to give a beautiful soft light. What I hadn’t realised is how stunningly beautiful the building is inside. The strong sunlight was streaming almost straight down through the dome to create a beam in the remains of the incense hanging in the air... [posted August 2015] / more »


Hannah Barnes Leading the Chase. After its successful debut in 2014 the Women's Cycling Tour returned to Hertfordshire on 20 June 2015. After some careful thought about the route in the run-up to the event, I cycled to this junction on the day, waited 20 minutes, took all my shots of the bikes in less than two minutes, got wet, and cycled home in the rain... This is Hannah Barnes leading the chasing pack about 30 seconds behind a breakaway by Elisa Longo Borghini and Sabrina Stultiens. Hannah went on to finish 5th on the stage, taking the Best British Rider and Best Young Rider jerseys... [posted July 2015] / more »


Balconies. These apartments overlooking the sea were an irresistible subject for me. The verticals have been made perfectly vertical in Photoshop to emphasise the pattern, though they're not far off in the original. Predictably a judge wanted a "person in a red shirt" on a division of thirds, but I prefer to let my eye wander over the identical balconies to find the small differences in the arrangement of the chairs and doors; a traditional focal point would discourage that. [posted June 2015] / more »


In Case of Fire. I found this fire extinguisher on the shore of the River Thames at low tide, somewhere near the National Theatre. I didn't put it there: in competition the judge suggested I might have done, and that I should perhaps have put it closer to the 'sea' for some reason. But that's not what my photography is about. Anyway, it was the obvious incongruity of the scene that attracted me, and I made sure to eliminate any clues to the location. Took two or three shots to get the right balance between the light and dark parts of the little breaking wave in the background. [posted May 2015] / more »


Above. 20 Fenchurch Street – nicknamed the "Walkie Talkie", among other things – is one of the more unpleasant new buildings dominating London's skyline. In this photo from almost half a mile away, at Bankside, I've hidden it behind the Cannon Street railway bridge: its ribs echo the folds in the walls of the bridge... The camera was the diminutive Nikon D3200 fitted with the Nikon 18-200mm VR lens, an ideal combination for walk-about travel photography when the full features of the larger and twice-as-heavy bodies such as the D800 are not required. [posted 6 April 2015] / more »


Confined. This image was taken in Auschwitz in September 2005. For me it records the dark, oppressive, locked-in feel of the place with the simplest design I could manage, and it's the only image so far out of the 150 or so that I took that day that I've processed or posted here. The sun was shining and the sky was blue and there was a complete unreality about the site, bearing in mind the contemporary black & white images that we've all seen so many times. Posted on 27 January 2015, the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. / more »

The Brandenburg Gate

The Brandenburg Gate. In September 2014 I had one night in Berlin at the end of a visit to northern Germany. As a complement to my book project based on the Holocaust Memorial I had intended to take some photos of the Memorial at night, but it wasn't possible... So I set up the tripod in Pariser Platz for a shot of the 'revellers' taking their selfies in front of the Brandenburg Gate. In fact I took four shots, identical except for the positions of the people, which have been merged in Photoshop to eliminate objects which don't exist in all four images. In this case the effect has been to create ghostly people, which I find interesting rather than intrusive. Shot with a 24mm lens but cropped a little to about 35mm to get rid of a street light... [posted 6 November 2014] / more »

Caught in the Light

Caught in the Light. At a camera club evening of night photography, my friend Peter made artistic circles with a bare-bulb torch on the end of a length of string for a minute and a half or so, while I held down the shutter release with the speed set to 'Bulb'... The lens had been focussed before the shot started and then switched to manual. Afterwards, with Long Exposure Noise Reduction switched on (as it always is), another 93 seconds had to pass before the camera could save the image to the card, by which time everyone had gone inside for tea. This final image is 60% of the full frame. There's no significant post-processing, except to remove some reflections from Peter's glasses. [posted 15 October 2014] / more »

Emma Pooley Leads

Emma Pooley Leads. I was lucky that the 4th stage of the first professional Women's Cycling Tour passed through my home town in Hertfordshire. I decided against being in the centre of the town, where shop signs would be a distraction, despite a sharpish corner which might make for interesting cycling, and settled on this gentle bend with a slight incline on the way out of town. Finally the bikes appeared, with Emma Pooley leading this small breakaway group. With the shutter release set to Continuous High I pressed the button and tracked them up the hill, hoping Continuous AF would hold focus all the way. They're quick! In the end I was quite pleased with the arrangement in this penultimate shot; it's about half the frame, so effectively a 200mm lens... [posted 15 April 2014] / more »

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