I spent a few days in Italy last week photographing a villa for a client. The weather was quiet poor while I was there and the time spent waiting for the rain to clear provided plenty of opportunity to plan shots with strong compositions and narrative. It’s amazing what you can do with a short period of good weather providing you are happy to set up shots, mark camera positions and push patio furniture around in the rain. The ability to take good twilight photographs also helps in these tricky situations.
The content used in my basic Architectural Photography CPD is now on line. The 1 hour talk deals with,
If you have already had the basic talk and want to refer back to the presentation then contact me for the password.
There seems to be a move to more and more exaggerated banner images on websites. Web designers like these because it gives more space for text and makes the layout of a site easier. It is possible to shoot images to suit these layouts, and some subject matter works well with a narrow letterbox frame, unfortunately Architecture is not really one of them. The creation of Art, Architecture and Photography normally works best when it uses certain tried and tested golden proportions which are both aesthetic and functional. If you are thinking about redesigning your website around a letter box format think carefully about the way this will work with your existing image stock and the lack of flexibility this will create when commissioning new photography. Trying to squeeze architecture into a letter box is not a great long term proposition and will cause Palladio to revolve at high speed in his perfectly proportioned grave.
It was nice to see Chipperfield’s Hepworth gallery being nominated for the 2012 Stirling Prize. For me this must be one of the favourites. Not only does it meet the various Vitruvian ideals for a good Architecture, but it’s regenerated a particularly run down area of Wakefield. Other winning features for me are the high value durable design and the way it delivers Art to the proletariat. It’s also one those rare designs that really looks effective at any time of day in any weather conditions.
Here’s quick review of the excellent Hoodman Hoodloupe 3.0 which I’ve just started using. One of the problems with digital cameras of all types is the difficulty in see detail or even anything on the rear screen in bright light. I always use the histogram to check exposure but often with architectural or interior photography you might choose to overexpose a bit of the scene, such as the view from a window where the weather is poor or the view’s a bit disappointing. Or you may be using off camera fill flash and worried about creating hot spots which can be a bit tricky to see on the histogram. The Hoodloupe gets round all of these problems by giving you a consistent 3x magnified view of the rear screen, which lets you quickly review the image whatever the lighting conditions. It also allows you to check focus and depth of field much more effectively than looking at the rear screen with the naked eye. All this adds up to a quicker shoot and removes some of the need for taking a lot of bracketed shots, just to make sure you get a decent exposure. The centre of the image is a bit sharper than the corners but if you move your eye around you can then see the corners at full sharpness.
The loupe is small and lightweight so that you can wear it round your neck on the supplied lanyard without it becoming a pain. It also has an adjustable dioptre to accommodate different eyes and this allows it to be used with an extension hood to cover a 4” screen, making it fairly future proof. It all comes in a well made compact black carbon effect pouch.
The only downside to the whole package is the price, which is currently £75.99 from Amazon, which initially seams a bit steep, but after you’ve used it is grudgingly acceptable. I lent it to another pro-photographer last weekend and despite being a bit sceptical initially he was very impressed and ordered his own on Monday. Cheep Chinese copies are available but these don’t have the adjustable dioptre or the optical quality.
I had a nice commission recently to photograph a barn conversion on the Dorset coast. I was given the original job back in April but the lack of good and predictable weather meant that it didn’t happen until June. Luckily most clients would rather wait for appropriate weather to get the images they want. I think this shot is a great example of the ability of photography to create great narrative. I wanted to create an image that showed how the building fitted in with its surroundings, the surrounding wheat fields reflecting the barns past life. I chose to photograph it at night to allow me to draw out the stylish and minimalist interior to the exterior space.
Technically the image was really tricky. I needed several exposures of up 30 seconds to make it work and the 35 mph onshore winds meant I needed a few goes to get it right. In the end I had to spend nearly an hour and a half in the middle of the night waiting for the right light on this damp hillside being battered by the wind with only a couple of rabbits for company.
I was invited back to University last week, to see The Arts Summer Show, comprising the various Photography and Arts graduation shows. The standard of work was high but I was left fairly unmoved by the exhibition as a whole. While there I took the time to look around the foundation year art students exhibition, they are free to use photography, painting, sculpture etc. or any combination of techniques in their work, during this year grades don’t count towards degree grades.
The level of creativity in this first year was amazing, the use and combination of materials and technique inspired and it really underlined my suspicions that the academic process and the desire to achieve high grades stifles creativity and risk taking. The final year work may have greater academic value but it is produced at a cost of little or no emotional response from the viewer. In the photographic industry technical competence is taken as read and what separates photographers is their creativity. Perhaps the balance between grades and creativity needs to be reassessed.
I was in London last Thursday photographing several architectural projects for a client, one of which was the BT Tower. While touring the streets looking for a good vantage point to make the best of the early light and rare blue sky it struck me what a great example the tower was of the Vitruvian ideals of Commodity, Firmness and Delight. Opened in 1965 the Tower is redolent of times when global excitement was created by manned flights to the moon and supersonic passenger travel and not by the release of the latest slightly upgraded igadget.
I have now produced a follow up to my original “Introduction to Architectural Photography” CPD talk the imaginatively titled “Advanced Architectural Photography”, expands on the original subject matter and is aimed at the more advance DSLR user. The new talk lasts about an hour and is tailored to suite the audience but normally covers;
Please get in touch if you want to know more or book the talk email@example.com
The iCon Environmental Centre in Daventry, designed by Consarc and photographed by me continues to collect awards, having just won the British Council for Offices, Regional award for Best Commercial Workspace.
It now goes forward to the National finals in October.
You can see the other regional winners at British Council for Offices
The Cafe and atrium are open to the public and it's well worth a visit if you are ever in the area.
The design and material choice by David Chipperfield mimics the massing and scale of the industrial environment surrounding the galley on this urban regeneration site. Normally when photographing Architecture I always try to capture a subject in context, showing how it interacts with its environment. When I saw the site for the first time the beauty of the Chipperfield's design came from the mono-chromatic appearance of the building and its immediate more colourful surroundings detracted from the building's stark tonality, texture and sculptural form. Looking through the viewfinder it immediately reminded me of two things the photographic work of Bernd and Hilla Becher and their black and white depiction of 1960’s industry and Ford Prefects description of Hot-black Desiato's ship in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe "..light just seems to fall into it"
I went back on a dull day and photographed the building with as little extraneous colour as possible, trying to heighten the sense of form and texture, and in this case isolating it from its surroundings. I intentionaly included a small hint of colour in each image to try and heighten the viewer’s awareness of the absence of colour.
All taken with my favorite lens the Nikon 24mm PC-E Tilt/Shift.