UK Photography, OR how my ten-year-old daughter kicked my butt, three times

A few months ago, I posted this photograph of my daughter piloting my best camera and biggest telephoto lens, while I was reduced to snapping a picture of her with an early-1970’s vintage rangefinder loaded with honest-to-goodness black and white film. In that post, I alluded to a few occasions on our recent UK trip where she not only snaffled the camera, but outdid her old dad – quite convincingly.

The first such occasion I’m willing to admit to was in the challengingly dim light inside the White Tower, the most-recognizable bit of the Tower of London. It’s chock-full of interesting displays, very heavy on armaments and armour. Exhibit A:


On the left is her take on this display, and on the right, my attempt to be artistic. Hers, you will note, has foreground interest provided by the armour suit, and masses the shields behind in a pleasing way by viewing them at an angle. Mine, on the other hand, is flat, and full of distracting gaps showing the background, passersby, a window, and an unpleasant green thing at the left.

On to another day, this time for a run up the London Eye.


There are lots of nice views from up here, but the most iconic one must be this – the Palace of Westminster and its famous clock tower, nestled by the River Thames and Westminster bridge. Again, I’m on the right, and She Who Snaffles Nikons is on the left.

Her photo is from a steeper angle, which provides a more interesting perspective, and accentuates the angle of the junction between the bridge and the building. It also lays out the city rather nicely. Being terribly clever, she also waited until the iconic red double-decker buses were nicely spread out on the bridge. Mine tries to do all of these things, just not as well. I’ll claim a minor victory in that the sky is a bit more interesting in mine, but that’s about it.

Now, off to Scotland.


Here, we have a pair of photographs from our last evening in Lanarkshire, out with family for dinner at The Mill Inn. The meal was delicious, and the evening was bright and clear. Just the right conditions for some photographs of this picturesque spot. Cue the by-now predictable result.

In my attempt (again on the right), the building looks rather long, and there is a car visible, rather spoiling the vibe. The roof line also completely fails to intersect the top left corner, which is where it ought to go. By contrast, her tighter composition and steeper angle accentuates the shape of the building, places the door nicely at the left of the frame, stuffs the roofline into the corner, omits the car, and emphasizes the wagon wheel to add interest. Even the flower beds look more attractive, taking up a greater proportion of the frame, and there’s a pretty gleam of late-evening sunlight picking up the door.

So there you have it. Three out of three to the progeny. I’ll claim another minor victory in that I think my Stonehenge photographs were a bit better, although she was the only one of us to successfully capture one of the omnipresent crows in flight. And I win the Battle Of The Portraits, but only because she’s several orders of magnitude more photogenic than I am.

Now we’re into February, and I’m keeping that camera under wraps. I’m not sure I’m up to eating more photographic humble pie just yet – although perhaps I should just bite the bullet, hand it over, and claim that I taught her everything she knows. In the meantime, I think I’ll give a few of my favourite photography books another read, to see if I can sneakily bone up on a few secrets before next summer, while she’s still distracted with schoolwork.

About Richard Wintle

I am Canadian by heritage, and a molecular biologist and human geneticist by training. My day job is Assistant Director of a large genome centre, where I do various things along the lines of "keeping the wheels on". In my spare time, I tend to run around with a camera, often chasing horses, race cars, musicians, and occasionally, wildlife.
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6 Responses to UK Photography, OR how my ten-year-old daughter kicked my butt, three times

  1. Steve Caplan says:

    I actually like your London photo better – particularly because of the sky. But there’s no question that the F1 wins hands down on the Scottish inn. No competition on that one!

  2. Mike says:

    I don’t actually think so much of your London sky I’m afraid… it’s looked like that on these shores for the last 6 months without break. And perhaps a little more technically, the 50-50 sky-land(river) split maybe doesn’t make for the most interesting composition. Next time, more menacing clouds over parliament, please!

    So, massive kudos to your daughter for the great shots, and to you for being smart enough to trust her with your hardware 😉

  3. cromercrox says:

    I prefer your London shot – it has more interest in that the towers pierce an otherwise bland horizon, and has more contrast.

  4. Should have mentioned – all of these are jpg straight out of the camera. To Henry’s point, I would normally make some minor contrast and colour adjustments (at a minimum) to finish these off.

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