Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Art of Architectural Photography 3-29-2015

Natural architecture is the blueprint for almost all that humans reference either directly or indirectly.  Whether you are contemplating Jackson Pollack's Number 5, van Goght's Starry Night or Mies van der Rhoe's Glass House, more creative ideas germinate from what is seen and experienced than not.  Creatives who take the observed to another plane frequently are building on the natural world or the everyday to derive the ultimate impact.  For example, when Meret Oppenheim covered an ordinary cup, saucer and spoon with fur or Magritte painted formally dressed men "raining" from the sky, the visual surprise of surrealism is magnified because the ordinary has been altered into the imagined.

Of course nature can elevate the familiar to the breathtaking in ways that are singular.  Whether it is a perfect leaf or Victoria Falls, nature architects in extraordinary ways.  From the spectacular to the very common natural sights, we may gain insights into composition, form, line.  Nature is the great instructor.  All we have to do is be open to the view.
Birch Forrest: Black and White Photography

To learn more about natural influences in the arts visit:

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Art of Architectural Photography 3-20-2015

Most of us have heroes, role models, and others whose work has influenced us.  I mentioned Atget previously, but I come back to his work over and over again. The body of work that Atget left for us bespeaks of Paris and his feelings for the city so many years ago.  The romance of Paris and the beauty that Atget adds to Parisian streets with his genius of capturing the atmosphere through photography shines in every street scene Aget created. The sepia tones that Atget preferred underscore the enchanting and timeless view of the streets of early 20th century Paris that Atget loved.  Sepia gives the stone and wrought iron edges a softness and allure that is singular.  And to that end, Atget was a master at giving his subjects an artistry that transcends time and place. To me, photography is just that: capturing and adding=creating.  Throughout my journey as a photographer, I have added to the scenes, architecture, product and other subjects that I photograph, capture and make my own in post production.  Atget's guidance has given me much in the way that I approach my photography. Granted, Atget used sepia tones because that WAS photography, along with black and white, in the years he photographed.  I use sepia and black and white because I think it brings out forms, focuses ultimately on subject without the diversion of color and sepia may just replicate some of the magic of the early days of film.

On a street in Potsdam I saw this stately building.  Immediately I was drawn to the architectural details. The timeless grandeur and attention to architecture detail struck me as very majestic.  Later, in post production, I noticed the vivid cloud reflections in the windows.  These contrasted well with the solid stone and metal of the building.  This sepia architectural photograph illustrates my influences and my heroes.  As an architectural photographer, I incorporate the reality of the subject and the sum of my abilities, influences and vision into my photography.     

Sepia architectural photography

To learn more about early sepia photography visit:

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Art of Architectural Photography 3-4-2015

Back again!  After a hiatus caused by this year's NYC winter--nothing like other parts of the country-- but bad enough, a fractured hip and various other snags, I am happy to share anew.

Being laid up is either a serious impediment or a wonderful impetus to be creative.  It really depends on the individual, circumstances and work at hand.  I spent a good deal of time reflecting about my work during the last few weeks and realized that I show few interiors on my web site.  After that epiphany, I started looking through the thousands of photographs I've taken of architecture to see why I had not included many interior shots.  I was no more aware of the answer to that question after seeing the many photographs of interiors I have taken through the years than when I posed the thought.  So I began to work on some.

Interiors are fascinating because they can either mirror the facade of the building or create a completely different dynamic.  Entering an interior is like opening a present for me.  Regardless of the richness or beauty of the outside of the "package," I love looking in. Once I heard that an individual received a gorgeously wrapped package and never opened it.  Not I!  Wrappings and ribbons are immediately torn apart in my effort to disclose the contents of a gift! I think that I am among many who enjoy the element of surprise opening a package brings.  Even if an interior is as predictable as the exterior, there is always something unique about each and every space.

This interior is a bar/lounge in Europe.  The ultra modern hotel is echoed in this room whose atmosphere was suited to clientele, function and its decor.  I departed from my usual black and white and sepia palate to recreate the feeling I experienced when I was in the room: dusky, moody, relaxed and enveloping.

Architectural photography.

To learn more about interiors visit:

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Art of Architectural Photography 12-29-2014

Although I majored in photography and architectural drawing in college, I wanted to be a painter.  I followed the dream and painted for forty years.  I drew a lot as well.  For me, drawing is the foundation of painting and as as such, it demands constant practice.  I love to draw.  Looking at a blank paper exhilarates me for I can imagine my sharp or blunt, dark or light pencil delineating space.  The first line becomes an anchor that supports the next and so on. Building, so to speak, the image. Therefore, when I came to digital photography I was excited at the prospect.  In digital I could draw in the computer in post production.  Photoshop became my sketchpad and the Wacom Tablet's stylus my pencil.

When I painted full time, I was a representational painter.  In college and grad school and at the Art Students League I learned about color and abstracting and expressionism through painting and drawing.  And I, who studied formally during the 60's and 70's, painted abstract art.  Big canvases of color and form.  But my heart was with the realism with which I had become familiar as a child visiting the Brooklyn Museum almost every week-end.  Sargent, Eakins, Ogden Pleissner, George Bellows at the Brooklyn; book images of works by Michelangelo, Rubens, Durer, Velasquez; and the great illustrators like Gibson, Rockwell and Leyendecker  and so many more influenced me in the way I created and saw.

As an architectural photographer I remain influenced by realism and dreams.  When I see a building, I am reminded of its glory days and think of the craftsmanship it took to create the brickwork, ornamental balustrades, ironwork and the overall design.  I frequently think of post production when taking the photographs, but sometimes I am overcome by the beauty I recognize beyond the wear and tear flaws of what currently exists.  Such was the case with this wonderful old apartment building majestically situated overlooking Moshula Parkway in the Bronx.  I was so taken with the marvelous brickwork, design, et al. that I overlooked the huge amount of post production drawing involved in "restoring" the building.  I include the Before so that you can see how the building, window air conditioners, hanging wires, graffiti and signs, looked in its current state.  However, I saw the structure as it appears in the After black and white photograph.  The After was a few weeks of intense Photoshopping and around 10 Gs over 5 images with multiple layers.  Occasionally, like in this instance, I don't see dangling wires, graffiti, window air conditioners, and litter.  The time I spent realizing the way I wanted the wonderful old Bronx apartment building to look was well worth it for me!



Black and white architectural photography

To learn more about Bronx architecture visit:

To learn more about Photoshop visit:

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Art of Architectural Photography 12-23-2014

I love eclectic visuals.  Although I admire the smooth unadorned sweep of an alabaster bowl or an elegant crisp edge of a beveled glass object, I am exhilarated when my eye stops at odd angles, curlicues, textures, light playing on surfaces et al.  The thing about a multifaceted architectural work as opposed to a steel box is the ability for the viewer to wonder.  Wonder at why the architect used wood or marble.  Why the building is frosted with plaster rosettes.  Why the windows are stained glass or mullioned panes.  I especially love statuary on a facade.  Who were these spirits, people, animals!

The surrounding area of a building also intrigues me.  Cobble stone courtyards, slate paved streets, trees or grass.  The exterior may tell the story of the interior.  In the case of this building, the interior was equally as grand as the marvelously embellished facade.  The textures, materials, seemingly modern glass top/skylight work together as a visual feast.  Rarely are such traditional building techniques complemented with a contemporary alteration.  The design of the structure allows wonderful lights and darks to play over the surfaces creating an even more elaborate, yet perfectly in sync composition.

Black and white architectural photography: Germany

To read more about architectural contrasts visit:

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Art of Architectural Architecture 11-30-2014

There are those people who love cities and others who appreciate the quiet countryside.  The architecture in cities can be spectacular or ordinary.  Nature's architecture, the same.  Where there are mountains, white-water rivers, blooming foliage and grand vistas, settlements of people exist so that these sights can be part of daily life.  Too, there are people who prefer the muted landscapes of long grasses on flat plains.  Cities, also may be characterized by tall glass and steel skyscrapers or by ornamented lower buildings with "character."

Personally, I love the element of surprise.  On a dive in the pristine landscape, I delight in coming across a 19th Century Federal brick building apparently constructed or commissioned by the landowner.  A clapboard house with a wide lapped porch perched on a cliff enchants me (I always look for the widow's walk!).  Elaborately gnarled trees; naturally constructed intricate rock formations as well as a perfectly constructed flowers found in a city are all architecturally enticing to my lens.  The juxtaposition of nature's genius for architecture as well as humans' creativity and artistic building has been my inspiration all along. 

The combination of nature IN the city is a twofer I can't resist!  On a recent shoot in the Bronx, I visited Mosholu Parkway on foot.  Frequently I have driven along this beautiful road to get from one place to another and have always marveled at the wide expanses of park ribbonned into the highway lanes.  The boarders of deco apartment buildings face a single service lane.  Then a broad, tree-lined grassy stretch, followed by three traffic lanes.  This configuration is mirrored and the entire parkway is truly a park.  Last week I took the opportunity to explore the area with my cameras.  As I walked along the road, I encountered hills, brilliant flowers and foliage, stately trees, wonderful deco buildings with names like Delacourt, Oliver and Park Lane Court and old fashioned street lights.  Finally I came to a beautiful concrete elevated train station that spanned Mosholu Parkway.  City and country combined architecture in ways that revel in the complexities of creation.

Sepia architectural photography

To learn more about Mosholu Parkway and parks in cities visit:

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Art of Architectural Photography 11-12-2014

There is something so appealing about glass.  Glass allows light in.  It also has a certain glow factor that draws us to it.  Whether glass is used as building material, ornamental substance or the many other uses glass has, the undeniable allure of glass has motivated its employment for centuries.

Reflections also inspire our imaginations.  Water reflections, reflections in glass, images in metal: all created by light and attractively rippled to give the eye an opportunity to follow the arc of refracted light.  Reflections are captured in a moment and then altered by light so that their essence is ever changing.

Glass and reflections are a fascinating combination: bound in light, these inspire creativity.

Sepia architectural photography

To learn more about glass and light visit: