Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Art of Architectural Photography 4-12-2014

The anticipation of photographing architectural icons is always an inspiring prospect.  These unique and remarkable structures, visions of creative minds,  must also rely on functionality.  It is true that there are architectural rarities that forfeit the practical for looks alone, but for the most part form follows function.  One of my primary considerations in photographing known architecture landmarks is  to discover a new aspect of the structure.  Instantly recognizable buildings are a challenge to present in that they are usually accepted at a glance.  The viewer has seen the building so many times that the slightest suggestion of it recalls previous impressions.  Really engaging the viewer then becomes problematic.  As a photographer, I try to bring something new and creative to each image and then communicate that to the viewer.  Show and Tell as it were: seeing something about the architecture that appeals to me and giving others the chance to interact with that uniqueness as well.
The Empire State Building is an example of an iconic structure that has a global profile.  The beautifully majestic Art Deco building exemplifies a people, a city and a way of life.  Capturing this totality in a fresh way is daunting.  I have taken hundreds of shots of the Empire State Building.  Mostly they record the impression most people perceive.  However, from a 6th story window in midtown, I saw something new.  The window frame and the angle I needed to use to capture the image put the building in a different context for me.  Always open to options, I appreciated an unexpected way to see the renowned Empire State Building.

Black and White photography: Empire State Building, NYC

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Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Art of Architectural Photography 4-6-2014

Building "jewelry" has always greatly appealed to me.  The metals used to accessorize architectural deign and craft may add greatly to the complexity of the exterior and the interior of a structure in numerous aesthetic and functional ways.  Elegant wrought iron railings and window grills, glowing brass plaques, polished steel plates and casings add shine and contrast to other building materials, such as plaster, wood and stone.  The jewelry aspect of these metal complements creates a wealth of visual eye candy in every type of space.  Industrial buildings as well as luxurious period mansions usually all have some glint of gold or silver.
Recently I was riding in a beautifully wood paneled elevator in a NYC department store. I became fascinated by the stunningly crafted brass control panel.  Each aspect of the plate is meticulously and beautifully designed for visual appeal and functionality. Architectural jewelry at its best.

 Sepia photograph architecture detail: New York City

For more about use of metals in architecture see:

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Art of Architectural Photography 3-30-2014

My last post concerned the architecture of nature and how masterful architects incorporate nature's tutelage into their building designs.
Another way that architects combine the genius of nature's patterns and schemes into their own visions is by using natural materials and organically inspired ornamentation to enhance architecture.
The Art Nouveau movement, initiated in Europe in the late 1800's/early 1900's, was based on using natural, organic embellishment in lavish ways to adorn architecture.  Plasterwork, stone carvings, metal work and wood compositions resembled sinuous vines, stylized flowers, idealized forms that appeared to grow around a window, doorway or facade of a building.  These present as architectural embroidery: so fanciful and fluid are the designs.
Art Nouveau is wonderfully evident in the lobby of this Berlin building.  The art tracery of the metal doors echoes the back garden, which can be seen through the hallway.  The use of marble with its naturally veined organic markings adds to the Art Nouveau design of the interior.  Plaster frieze work is in wonderful accord with the natural architectural theme of the space.  Finally, the lights and darks mirror nature's contrasts to create beauty and graceful style.

Black and white architectural photography: Apartment House Lobby.  Berlin, Germany

To read more about Art Nouveau Architecture and Design visit these links:

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Art of Architectural Photography 3-22-2014

Nature is the best architect.  Structure is defined by the organic growth of organic elements in the natural world.  The process by which nature combines stone, wood, water, foliage harmoniously in patterns is dynamic and infinitely subtle.  Many architects have used nature for inspiration, notably Frank Lloyd Wright.  Wright's fusing of nature with his magnificent architecture is a testament to his reverence of the natural world. Another master architect, Mies van der Rohe  was deeply devoted to having a harmonious relationship with nature in his Bauhaus architecture, creating as did Wright a confluence between natural structure and human structures.  Further, Philip Johnson's Glass House sought to incorporate nature into the house through its groundbreaking transparent exterior, which makes the house seem to "float" in the landscape. These architects knew that there are always abundant examples in which line, form, function, rhythm and composition may be learned from nature; one only has to observe and copy freely.

At the end of winter, branches that are beginning to come alive with foliage create a fretwork against  a landscape that still has vestiges of snow.  The outcroppings of rock provide texture against the patchwork of earth, snow and faded grass. These natural architectural elements provide wonderful subjects for my photography.  They are especially compelling and effective when presented in the black and white architectural photograph.  I recently walked through Manhattan's jewel: Central Park.  In a City teaming with people, business, skyscrapers and vehicles, the beautifully designed park is a respire from the chaos that surrounds it.  There I observed nature in tandem with Olmstead's architecture.

Central Park, NYC: Black and white architectural photograph

 To read more about Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies van der Rohe and Phillip Johnson's linking nature and architecture visit these links:

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Art of Architectural Photography 3-19-2014

It is always my honor and pleasure to be published in the marvelous Black Star Rising:

With Color, Less is More

I learned to develop black and white photography in my college darkroom decades ago. Back then, we didn’t shoot or develop color photographs. Instead, we hand-tinted black and whites if we wanted to colorize our images.
Continue reading: 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Art of Architectural Photography 3-16-2014

Architectural elements are appealing in anything: clothing, furnishings, transit and a host of other categories that fall under the creative umbrella.  And, of course buildings are all about architecture.  Architectural elements strongly influence not only the exterior of the structure but the interior as well.  Interior design certainly is part of architecture's success, but frequently is offered second billing to the outer art of the building.  The interior of the architecture augments the exterior of the structure in creating a wonderfully harmonious work of architecture.  However, interior need not necessarily conform to the style of the building's front.  Sometimes the interior may surprise.  A modern building has an antique focused interior and a Gothic edifice exhibits Bauhaus furnishings.  These are successfully realized but not as frequently as adhering to the architectural style of a building's facade, as in Federal out+Federal in.  I must admit I like surprises and an eclectic look is appealing to my aesthetic perspective.

Recently I was in NYC's iconic department store, Macy's on 6th Avenue and 34th Street.  The building's exterior is a amalgamation of styles from Palladian to added Art Deco and other period embellishments.  The interior of the huge flagship department store has lately undergone modernization.  The previous architectural interior design, filled with interesting detailing and nooks has been vanquished in favor of a more open, modern style.  However, touches of the century+ year old interior is captured in this architectural-style display, which incorporates bygone elements into an arresting way to draw attention to merchandise.  I appreciated the unusual use of items to create a visual work that is old and new; unusual and familiar and wonderfully artful in its use of architectural design.

Architectural Department Store Display: NYC, Black and White Architectural Photography

Read more about Macy's transformation:

Read more about architectural department store displays:

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Art of Architectural Photography 3-8-2014

Aside from the point, the line is the most basic element of all visual art.  In fact the line underscores the theme in every art: sculpture, painting, dance, music, literature, poetry et al.  By far the line is the most expressive artistic aspect of an art work as well.  Not necessarily bound by form or function, the line may curve, glide straight, distort itself and inscribe subject or not.  Lines are only restrained by the artist's imagination. However, in order to successfully interact with the other elements of an artwork, the line must accommodate each component of the art in which it exists.
In the black and white architectural photograph of escalators, the lines are a decided focus.  They sweep through the piece with rhythm and their movement emphasizes the darks and lights.  Essentially the lines move the eye around the photograph in a way that echoes the hypnotic up and down flow of the escalators.

Escalators: Midtown Manhattan