I went back through my photo folders recently and something struck me as I was sifting through a decade or so’s worth of shots: A large proportion of my photography featured bridges. I don’t think this was particularly intentional but when it come to urban landscape photography, bridges make an excellent subject. They range from the medieval (and before) to the modern and can feature any number of striking architectural styles.

This post features a selection of ten interesting bridges I have photographed over the years. I start with five that span the River Liffey in my home city of Dublin and finish with five from my travels around Europe.

O’Connell Bridge – Dublin

O'Connell Bridge at Dawn - Dublin
f/10 30sec ISO-100 20mm

I took this shot early on a calm but ice cold January morning. The lack of wind made for perfect reflections in the River Liffey that morning. O’Connell Bridge is known for its quirky dimensions. It is the only traffic bridge in Europe that is wider (50m) than it is long (45m). My favourite feature of this bridge however was a plaque that adorned the bridge from 2004 until 2006. This plaque was dedicated to a Fr. Pat Noise. The thing is, such a person never actually existed. The plaque was placed there by a couple of Dublin pranksters. Two whole years passed before anybody noticed the addition to the bridge! We Dubliners are a very observant bunch.

Ha’penny Bridge – Dublin

Ha'penny Bridge at Blue Hour - Dublin
f/20 30sec ISO-100 12mm

The Ha’penny Bridge is without a doubt the most recognisable landmark in Dublin. The bridge itself was built in 1816 and gets its name from the half-penny toll Dubliners had to pay to cross. It’s official name is actually the rather unimaginative “Liffey Bridge”. To get this shot, I had to risk life and limb as I set up the tripod on the quay wall and leaned the camera out over the river. This wasn’t a problem in itself but leaning out to adjust the camera settings was more risky than usual. One slip and I would have gotten a very close up view of the River Liffey! Not being a great swimmer, this really would have ruined my morning.

Grattan Bridge – Dublin

Grattan Bridge and the Four Courts - Dublin
f/14 4sec ISO-100 48mm

After photographing the Ha’penny Bridge I looked back upriver towards Grattan Bridge and I was struck once again by the near perfect reflections in the water. The current bridge was completed in 1874 and is lit by a series of beautifully ornate lampposts. The dome of the Four Courts can be seen to the left of the frame with the chimneys of the Guinness factory in the distance. I took this shot from the deck of the Millenium Bridge. this can be quite tricky  as this footbridge shakes whenever anybody crosses it rendering even the sturdiest tripod useless!

Samuel Beckett Bridge – Dublin

Samuel Beckett Bridge - North Wall Quay - Dublin
f/10 13sec ISO-100 24mm

This photograph features the Samuel Beckett Bridge viewed from North Wall Quay in the rapidly developing Dublin Docklands. In my opinion, the Samuel Beckett Bridge is a very welcome addition to the Dublin cityscape. This unique bridge is designed to look like a harp on its side, the harp being the national emblem of Ireland. In Ireland, we dread dread receiving a letter with a harp on it as it usually means the government wants something from you!

Sean O’Casey Bridge – Dublin

Sean O'Casey Bridge and Customs House - Dublin
f/8 1/320sec ISO-200 105mm

The Sean O’Casey Bridge is another of Dublin’s bridges to be named after one of the many outstanding writers the city has produced. I took this photograph shortly after sunrise when the quays were illuminated in the early golden light of the day. In the background is the elegant 18th century Customs House. Next to it is the rather less elegant sixties edifice, Liberty Hall. In between is the Spire of Dublin alternatively known by locals as the “Stiletto in the Ghetto”, the “Nail in the Pale” or ….. and I do apologise for this ….. the “Stiffy by the Liffey”. Dublin is a city of poets after all.

The Sean O’Casey can open to let boats pass. Between 2010 and 2014 however, the bridge was unable to open because ….. and I am being completely serious here …… somebody misplaced the remote control that operated the opening mechanism. It was probably down the back of the couch.

Pont des Arts – Paris

Pont des Arts at Night - Paris
f/16 30sec ISO-100 24mm

We go to Paris now and specifically the Pont des Arts which links the Louvre to the Institut de France. One thing about Paris at “blue hour” is that the sky often takes on a purple hue. I don’t know if this is due to pollution or the city lights or some other reason. I do quite like the combination of the purple and yellow lights illuminating the quayside buildings though. The original Pont des Arts was completed in 1804 under the reign of Napoleon I.

A rather unfortunate accident involving the bridge getting the way of a barge occured in 1979. This resulted in a large portion of the historic structure collapsing into the River Seine below. So if ever you are having a bad day at work, just think of that barge pilot having to explain to his boss how he’d just knocked down one of the most historic bridges in Paris!

Charles Bridge – Prague

Charles Bridge and Prague Castle Panorama
f/14 5sec ISO-100 24mm

Charles IV must have been a pretty popular or powerful Holy Roman Emperor to get an entire bridge named after himself. I photographed this handsome late medieval bridge during the evening of my first day in the Czech capital. The ever shifting clouds that evening added a sense of drama to the sky – always a good thing in any type of landscape photography. You can find more photographs and details from my trip to Prague in this post from the Photo Locations category: The Charles Bridge – Prague.

Ponte Romana – Tavira

View of Tavira at Blue Hour - Portugal
f/11 8sec ISO-100 13mm

The Ponte Romana in the picturesque Algarve town of Tavira has seen it’s fair share of disasters over the years. It collapsed in 1665 and was again destroyed during the 1755 earthquake that devastated Lisbon and much of Southern Portugal. In 1989, the bridge was again seriously damaged in a flood and was rebuilt in its current form. Before the flood, cars had been permitted to use the bridge. Thankfully common sense prevailed and the bridge is now closed to vehicles. Medieval Moorish bridges were not really built with 2000 kg petrol engine automobiles in mind.

On the evening I photographed it, the conditions were perfect. You always want a little cloud in these situations. In this case, the light from the sun (now below the horizon) bounced off the undersides of the clouds creating attractive pink and purple hues. Added to this, the windless conditions created mirror like reflections of the bridge in the shallow River Gilão below.

Bridge of Sighs – Venice

Bridge of Sighs at Blue Hour - Venice
f/9 30sec ISO-100 20mm

The Bridge of Sighs is known as Ponte dei Sospiri by Venetians. According to legend when prisoners crossed the canal on the bridge they sighed in despair as they approached their end of freedom and so the bridge acquired its name. Infamous author and womanizer, Casanova was the most famous person to cross the Bridge of Sighs to the prison in 1755. Apparently not finding the prison to his liking, Casanova managed to escape the prison after a fifteen month stint with the help of an obliging monk. This blue hour photo was taken from the Ponte della Paglia by the Venice Basin. During the day, this small bridge is thronged with tourists. At this time, I had it to myself.

Ponte del Diovolo – Cividale del Friuli

Ponte del Diavolo in Cividale del Friuli - Italy
f/9 1/160sec ISO-200 10mm

The bridge in this photo is called the Ponte del Diavolo and is situated in the charming town of Cividale del Friuli in Northern Italy. A wide focal length of 10mm was required to capture the entire bridge and picturesque town in the frame. Local legend says that the devil made a deal with the townspeople. He would build the bridge you see in the photo but in return, he got to keep the first soul to cross the bridge. The clever residents of Cividale del Friuli then sent a cat across the bridge first much to the devil’s annoyance!

I hope you have enjoyed this collection of bridge photography. Please let me know some of your own favourite bridge photography locations in the comments.

There are plenty of other interesting bridges around the world I’d love to photograph in the future especially the one in Sydney, Australia. It might be a bridge too far for me though.

I’m here all week folks.

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