Night and day: 21 spectacular aerial photos of London by Jason Hawkes

Pictured at dusk or in darkness, the ever-changing British capital glitters with jewel-like hues.

Renowned British aerial photographer Jason Hawkes has shared his favourite photos of London from above that he took in 2016. Pictured at dusk or in darkness, the ever-changing capital glitters with jewel-like hues. New advances in digital-camera technology allow him to capture the city at night. "It's a fantastic city – the sprawl when looking from above is incredible," he says.

The bright and colourful lights of Winter Wonderland in Hyde ParkJason Hawkes
The skyscrapers of the City of London come to life when the sun goes down and the lights are switched onJason Hawkes
Busy Piccadilly Circus at night, lit up by the advertising billboardsJason Hawkes
The last wave of commuters around the illuminated King’s Cross Railway StationJason Hawkes
One of London’s most iconic landmarks, Tower Bridge, lit up at night – with a view along the River Thames and across the city in the backgroundJason Hawkes

Hawkes says that he loves shooting just after dusk, when the city lights come on and there is a tiny bit of colour left in the sky.

He says: "Each time I fly over London I notice the landscape constantly changing, new developments seem to appear overnight." His latest photos show the massive redevelopment of areas such as Victoria, Battersea and Nine Elms, home to the new US embassy. He also captures detailed photos of Londoners enjoying themselves in the sunshine, looking like tiny ants on a vast lawn.

A sea of people at Lambeth Country Show in Brockwell ParkJason Hawkes
Players cast long shadows across netball courts in Elephant and CastleJason Hawkes
A crowd gathers to watch the Changing of the Guard at Horse Guards ParadeJason Hawkes
A replica of the destroyed Monumental Arch of Palmyra recreated in London’s Trafalgar SquareJason Hawkes
The Isle of Dogs and the Canary Wharf business district, bound by the River Thames at Greenwich ReachJason Hawkes
The regeneration at Nine Elms and the River Thames as it cuts through the city. In the centre of the image is the new American EmbassyJason Hawkes
Beautiful light hitting the Houses of Parliament and Horse Guards Parade as the sun begins to set over LondonJason Hawkes
Apple’s UK headquarters are to be at Battersea Power Station, seen here with the development of Nine Elms behindJason Hawkes
A close-up view of the Arsenal Football Ground, the Emirates StadiumJason Hawkes
Buckingham Palace and its private gardens, and the surrounding St James' and Green Parks. On the right of the image the huge new development of Nova in VictoriaJason Hawkes
The Albert Hall in the foreground, with The Serpentine Lake cutting a path through Kensington Gardens and Hyde ParkJason Hawkes
A view from 280ft, across the whole of the Queen Elizabeth Park, home of the 2012 Olympics and ParalympicsJason Hawkes
A summer’s day in London, looking from the Jubilee Gardens on the South Bank towards The Shard and on to Canary WharfJason Hawkes

Hawkes is one of the world's most prolific and sought-after aerial photographers. He has been hovering over cities with a camera since 1991 – initially in microlight aircraft and then hanging out of helicopters.

Today, almost anyone can try their hand at aerial photography using inexpensive drones, but Hawkes says he always prefers the shots he can get from a helicopter. In an interview with Practical Photography magazine, he said: "Drones can do a good job for low-level photography and are very cost-effective when compared with hiring a helicopter. But there are many restrictions on where you can use drones and how high they can fly. Drone can only fly up to 400ft, while all my work is between 400ft and 1,000ft."

Hawkes attaches his camera to a special gyroscope mount that cancels out vibrations from the helicopter's rotors, allowing him to get sharp images. However, air quality is key – any haze or pollution can ruin aerial photos.

Towers on the South of The River. The Shard, Elephant and Castle and in the distance St George Wharf TowerJason Hawkes
The skyscrapers of the City of London covered in mist at dawnJason Hawkes
The Shard and a striking skyJason Hawkes

Hawkes was the official photographer on the BBC's huge Britain From Above project. He has published more than 40 books, including New York at Night and London at Night. His first book, London from the Air, came out when he was just 23 and has gone on to sell more than 160,000 copies. His work is in demand from corporate clients such as architects and advertising agencies.

To see more of Jason's images, visit Follow him on Twitter @jasonhawkesphot for the latest info and behind-the-scenes pictures.

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