Building Blocks

For a change let’s switch from my normal subject of nature, to my second most important subject, architecture.

Today I have brought you some examples of architectural photography.  Some of the images you find below are modern, and some are historic.  The first group of images comes from Google photos. While my personal work with architecture has always reflected my love of human history, when I was in the business of photographing buildings (and other things), modern buildings were usually my assignment.

It is often easier to produce interesting work with modern architecture with its acute angles and contrasting colors and tones than it is with old buildings.  The more “modern” a building is, the easier it is to produce images that “seem” creative.  Sharp angles combined sometimes with skies and clouds that belong in the natural world, magnify the crisp contrasts that are inherent in the building’s design.1Architectural-Photography-by-Kevin-Saint-Grey-1

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One great way to view (and photograph) architecture is from above1b3architecture-and-landscape

This building is both simply and complex at the same time.  Despite the unique design, it is stark in its mood. The inclusion of the figure in an opening humanizes the structure. The building’s purpose is a home for the elderly.1c-Fernando-Guerra

Large exterior artworks are also architectural designs.  The more abstract the subject, the more any sort of image becomes an abstract itself.1darchdesign1_chen_difei_fala_joseph_19_FT

It’s normal for historic architecture to receive a more traditional treatment by photographers.  It is a way of paying homage to both the era and the design.1eCSwTGG

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Interiors are a part of architectural photography.  I enjoy this image very much and I would love to spend time in this building.1fopendoorpolicy

The pictures below are mine, and have all been shown before.

I rarely photograph entire buildings. This old Wisconsin cabin was however, a perfect subject for that treatment.  From the flowers to the chimney, and on to that blue sky, it all worked together.  I used an 18mm wide-angle lens from up close.2aDSC_9850

I usually look at buildings, including those that are historic, as bits and pieces. I photographed what most impressed me about this old lighthouse.2bEgrets, fall 092

I was attracted to the shocking red colors of both of these old barns and found several compositions among the bits and pieces of each building.2cDsc_0265

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Both of these shots come from the same old town on a South Dakota prairie.  Both buildings were only recently abandoned.  The signs of life were still there. With the first building I employed my usual piece work + compression.  I looked for the part I found most interesting.2deSCENIC4

This second building had a different feeling to it.  I opted for a straight up black and white image.  I felt that the sun glistening from the surface of this building meant eliminating color and reducing the building to tones. I actually photograph most historic architecture with the intention of a b&w conversion. 2dfDSC_6951

Initially I was searching for only stone and flowers here, but I liked the way those subjects worked with the old window.  Notice despite my rather square compositional crop (something I rarely do), the window itself is not dead center.2dgOld Shed & Flowers2

My love for shadows on the land continues with old architecture.  These ruins of a  1600s Spanish mission are the oldest buildings in my submission.  I treated the shadows and the building just as if I were photographing a southwestern rock formation, which in a sense I was.2dhSlides3 024b

This 1960s observatory is my only “modern” building in today’s pictures.  I photographed the entire building in its environment for a reason.  Contrasts. I thought the modernist design contrasted nicely with the green grass and trees, and that the building bathed in warm light, contrasted even better with the dark ominous storm clouds.2eFilmArch2012 035bbb

In the 1970s when I was doing commercial photography, any paid architectural work on my docket was always modern,.  Actually they were usually brand new buildings. My personal work was historic and usually with b&w film.  I often added Sepia toning to my prints.

I had a job photographing a new 8 story office building, exteriors only.  It was one of those 70s buildings of mirrored glass.  Almost every inch was covered with mirrored glass.  It had a beautiful shape that converged near the top and the glass was gold.  Like most real estate customers,  they seemed to want very straightforward imagery.  I began doing my job, but consistently found myself getting more and more abstract. It was impossible to stop. The building reflecting foot traffic on the near-by sidewalk, shots going straight up the corners of the building, an image from near the top of the building that reflected blue sky, clouds, and commercial jet climbing into the heavens, and finally some that were so abstract that you barely knew it was a building.

When I showed up at the ad agency to show my work, I had my most straight forward images set in cardboard viewing pages, that were held in a leather cover. My more creative images were in an unobtrusive black folder kept separate from the pictures that I thought they would want.  They all loved my wide-angle shot showing the whole building, but one man was not impressed with my images that showed the entrance and the building flat sided. Well if I was going back to the building to re-shoot, I might as well take a chance with my more “unique” imagery.  In the end they accepted my lead in shot of the whole building, but chose two of my more abstract reflections to finish it off. It turns out that the architect was allowed to make the final decision and my more visionary views were closer to his original intent, of how to look at this building.  You just never know.

The 1970s commercial job I most enjoyed, was a day of photography at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.  I photographed cadets and all of the facilities, but the hour I spent making interior/exterior pictures of their small nondenominational chapel was outstanding.  That was the only non-historic church I ever photographed, but the colors, the design and the mood translated wonderfully into images.

Have a great day,                                                                                                                          Wayne

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