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Beth’s Pick – Photographing Architecture

This last couple of weeks participants in Your Camera, Your World, a creative camera course, have been exploring how to photograph Architecture.

They spent the two weeks discovering their own ideas around Architecture, understanding the medium in more detail and deciding on a building they would like to photograph. The entire purpose was to discover for themselves the types of buildings that were interesting to them, and why. Then, with camera in hand, they would have a more focused point of view from which to approach their chosen building.

Their assignment was to photograph the same building in four different ways so that the four pictures together would tell the story of the building as seen through their eyes.

Here I would like to share with you one of the sumbissions with my feedback. For ‘Beth’s Pick’ on Architecture, I’ve selected Barbsie’s results.

The Inspiration

Barbsie’s considerations and thoughts about the theme:

‘I have been a fan of Federation Square’s architectural design since the start back in  2002.

I chose one of the individual buildings with the atrium as I am  fascinated with the geometric shapes and glass that make it stand out from the other buildings.  Triangle shapes are in the steel framework  exterior, the inside ceiling and the inside wall. I am drawn visually to the geometrical shapes in the space and the natural light inside and also because it has exhibitions, festivals, public art installations. I have been there and seen artworks suspended from the high lofty ceilings of the open air gallery. When I took these shots a writers festival was on.

The images are showing the geometric shapes and the quality of natural light, so that is the story I am telling.’


Part 1 – Building with surrounding environment

‘I have included a tree and the street outside…there are people standing outside the entrance which I included to show perspective of the size of the building.’

Barbsie, a great capture for the drama of the building, captured from a low viewpoint, looking up with a wide angle, with the top angular point dominating the composition. The vastness of the building certainly dwarfs the people below which is the look you were going for. Compositionally, yes, you achieved that – but – you wanted to make the picture about the scale of the building against the little people, so the exposure needs to support that. Overall the picture is underexposed by 1-2 stops. Opening up the lens or slowing down your shutter speed to let more light in would render all the facade of the building and the people with more detail. The sky would blow out, but that’s OK, because the picture is not about the sky, the picture is about the scale of the people against the huge building. If you wanted to keep the detail of the sky, then it could be recovered later in post production – or – you could have set your camera on a tripod, and taken two exposures. This one, for the sky, and then the second one with 1-2 stops slower on shutter speed to give light to the key areas. Then, using your High Dynamic Range tool in Adobe Photoshop (HDR) you could knit them together.

It’s a bright day with full sun so that means bright highlights and dark shadows. The tonal range is broader than the camera is built to handle, so it was a tricky one to pull off. The other way to go is come back once the sun has set, or at dawn, for that soft-light look and pretty sky.

Part 2 – Building and Sky

‘Tilting my camera up toward the sky, I like that the next building was reflecting into the atruim so I have included that building in the shot.’

Similar to the last capture, it’s tricky to manage when you have bright highlights and deep shadows. This one is more abstract with the repeating patterns and reflections.  I would love to have seen you wait for that sun to drop, letting the top of that building at the left go into uniform light. Then you could have opened up one stop, captured the patterns and reflections and added contrast in post production for the drama element. To achieve that deep blue at this time of day can also be achieved successfully with a polarising filter which reduces glare and would make some pretty cool results with the reflections.

Part 3 – Design/form/pattern

‘I chose to shoot from inside-out to the show the geometric shapes contrasting against the sky.’

You’ve handled the composition very well here Barbsie. You’ve taken your time to line up the exterior building with the lines in the interior. Overall the picture is underexposed. It feels too dark as I look at it, and the histogram tells me so too….I know this is tricky to do.  Although you have held the highlight well towards the bottom there where the sky goes pale, I think you could have afforded to raise the exposure by perhaps one stop to bring in a bit more detail of the exterior building, whilst keeping the silhouette effect of the interior patterning. If too much detail in the interior creeps in, then you can always darken that later by dropping the Blacks slider in post production.

There is a wonderfully abstract quality to this image that I feel is impaired by the light source in the middle because it brings me back to reality. I would consider spotting out the light to see if removing it renders the picture a bit more abstract.

Part 4 – Inside

‘The lofty ceiling made up of lots of shapes…and the natural light flooding in…I think its beautiful…so I wanted to keep it soft and not use much post production…

A check of your image capture details shows me this was shot at F7.1 – a good choice as from that distance, focused up high, all the walls and ceiling are sharp in your composition. This effect fore-shortens the depth, rendering everything with a flatter perspective which works for this image about pattern-on-pattern. I love the three clearly defined parts to the composition. I can see here you are deciding what the viewer will see, and what they won’t see. The soft pinks and blues work well together. You’ve composed well for those interior lights too. Composition is so important!

You said your inspiration was around the high ceilings, the atrium, the geometric shapes and glass. So isn’t it interesting how those elements governed the way you composed your images?

Well done Barbsie, you and your cohort are all going along so well in Module 1.

Next we move onto our final theme in Module 1, Food photography, and Module 2 begins on 1st October 2013. More details on Your Camera, Your World are here.


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