A few weeks ago, Joshua Preston got chased out of an abandoned theme park by two very unhappy security guards and a couple of equally unhappy alsatians. A descendant of Captain James Cook, the 24-year-old is a natural explorer and hobbyist photographer. You’ll often find him crawling through small gaps in fences to explore and document derelict places – some pretty interesting derelict places, too. We asked him to give us a guide to London via his Instagram account @jpfpreston.
Out of all your pictures of London, which is your favourite?
‘My current favourite has to be one I took of a tunnel at Embankment station a few weeks back – purely because it catches my eye every time I take a swipe down my feed. I like that if you look closely you can see the red and white doors of a tube at the end of the tunnel, with someone waiting to board. The tunnel itself is so clean – partly helped by me spotting a tissue and a discarded ticket whilst framing the shot – safe to say I went to get rid of them. The dark green tiles are a lovely contrast to the clinical whites and creams of the fluorescent lighting.’
What’s your favourite landmark to snap?
‘Somerset House. It’s beautiful and endless. I have the luxury of being there for work most weekdays so I get to see the changing light, seasons and events. It’s like a maze once you get below the surface and it never lets me down. I highly recommend positioning yourself at the north entrance of the courtyard, in the hour after sunset. The quiet emptiness (providing there isn’t an event on), with subtly lit eighteenth-century stone walls set against dusky blue skies is to die for. Plus, more often than not there’s something going on that inspires you to click the shutter.’
What’s your go-to filter?
‘I’m not a big fan of Instagram’s offering. I mainly like to play around with just the exposure and contrast. That said, Instagram’s recent update added the ‘Lux’ adjustment – which really does rock – and I’m using that quite a bit at the moment. I got a lovely snap of a London sunset recently and tweaked it by just using the Lux slider.’
Is there a photo you’ve taken that’s been unexpectedly brilliant?
‘Yes. It’s an odd one. I was setting up my camera ready for a long exposure of the Thames Barrier and whilst turning a dial with one hand and keeping a tripod from falling in the river with the other, I managed to fire off five simultaneous shots of some old pink piping on the edge of a river pontoon. I only noticed it when I arrived home to check out my shots of the barrier. The colours and tones that are present are limited, but striking. There are purples, pinks, blues and whites. It’s like art… or something.’
Where’s the best view in London?
‘A little place the locals call ‘The Point’. The view is very similar to the stunning view you get from up on the hill next to The Royal Observatory in Greenwich – and it’s very close too. But it’s more peaceful, lesser known, and there’s arguably a better landscape on offer, which includes more of west London. You’re quite restricted to just central and east London by the way the trees lie at the Observatory, so nip around to The Point for that next-level London sunset.’
Read more London on Instagram here.