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:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reflection_%28physics%29
http://www.nytco.com/press/new-york-times-building/
http://www.west86th.bgc.bard.edu/translated-text/glass-modern-architecture.html

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Art of Architectural Photography 11-4-2014

There is something so appealing about looking through a window.  Looking into as well as out of a window gives me a sense of wonder.  Perhaps that is why I am a photographer.  Looking beyond the frame always seems magical to me and sparks my imagination to create my own world.

When I was a child, my family's narrow row house was in Borough Park, Brooklyn.  Down the street, on the corner, stood and still stands a small Roman Catholic Church.  Looking through the windows of the church held such mysterous beauty.  The exterior was stone and in the Gothic style.The interior was very dark with light streaming through jewel toned stained glass windows.  The glowing light made marvelous pools of colors within the velvety black space.  From the outside the reds, blues and yellows of the glass Biblical scenes shone like gems through the heavily mullioned casemet windows.
Smells of incense, candles and flowers drifted through the portals with organ music and Latin hymn singing.  Powerful sensory images for a child.

These have stayed with me and from time to time I chance upon a reminder like this beautiful Gothic Church in Brooklyn that I saw recently.  The colors of the stained glass gleaming from inside took me back to my childhood and inspired the same creative spark as long ago.



Black and white architectural photography.

To learn more about Gothic Church architecture and stained glass visit:
http://smarthistory.khanacademy.org/english-gothic-architecture.html
http://brooklynhistory.org/blog/2010/12/10/church-of-the-saviour/
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/26/nyregion/a-brooklyn-church-uncovers-a-long-hidden-celestial-scene.html

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Art of Architectural Photography 10-26-2014

Light is that marvelous substance that provides the shadows, highlights, lines, forms and focus to whatever you are looking at.  You may be viewing at a grand vista or an egg on a table, the light creates that which impacts your eye.  Light describes the subject and each place has its own special light.  Fortunately, I have been able to observe the different qualities of light in places where architects, artists and photographers captured the unique qualities that "their" light offered. For example, I was glad to travel to Sweden several years ago to see architecture, paintings, sculpture and photographs in the natural light in which they were produced.  One can really understand artworks when observing the light that directly affects artists and their subjects.  The cool, crystalline light of the northern countries, such as Canada, Sweden, Wales.  The hot, vibrant light of Spain. Some places surprise: Scotland truly has a "heathery" light and I found that Cornish, New Hampshire has a "buttery," glowing light. 

Then, too, available light may alter the perception of the individual work of architecture, art and other aesthetic.  When looking at an artwork, you are naturally influenced by the light that illuminates it.  Many public buildings have added glass walls and skylights to bring more natural light into the building.  Architecture is frequently positioned to be lit to its best advantage by ambient light.  Such power does light and its capture have that since the beginning of time, peoples have been trying to maximize its amazing characteristics by channeling it into their own creations.

Skylights, around since Roman times and probably before, were invented for just such a purpose: make use of light to illuminate and elevate the subject or important art in the structure.  Many modern buildings have incorporated skylights into their architecture and this provides natural light, even moon light.  I find the varied designs of skylights intriguing and, for the most part beautiful.  The light that comes through the skylights is, of course, marvelous.



Black and white architectural photography

To read more about skylights visit:
http://www.townandcountryus.com/html/public_tour02.html
http://aiadc.com/sites/default/files/ARCH017.pdf

http://www.cmog.org/expansion


Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Art of Architectural Photography 10-18-2014

My passion for architecture is not focused on any one style or period in particular.  I just love buildings, structures, ornamentation, building materials, railings, et al.   I must admit a fondness, however, for Art Deco.  The wonderfully imaginative perspective of architects such as Mies van der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright and Josef Hoffmann inspires my architectural photography and motivates me to look at my subjects in new ways.

Architecture that is designated as Art Deco in NYC is frequently lavished with ornamentation that is dynamic, compelling and enormously engaging.  The Art Deco genre originally abstracted traditional design and incorporated geometric motifs related to the machine age into architecture, art, fashion, jewelry and many other aesthetics.  It is a style that energizes the viewer.  The bold symmetry of Art Deco, such as that of the design that makes NYC's Chrysler Building instantly recognizable and powerfully iconic, gives it a unique look.  One that is intensely appealing to me.  

A recent article about Cubism also interested me greatly.  Cubism abstracts, yet has a very structural style.  The forms and lines of Cubist paintings create an Art Deco feel for me.  The genres definitely overlap.  It was from the influences of Art Deco and Cubism that I decided to abstract an already abstracted photograph I took some months ago.  In looking at the image I was struck by the forms and the design they created when juxtaposed with each other.  The horizontal initial shot was then further altered into the vertical.  As I manipulated the image, Art Deco elements began to appear. 

It's all about point of view.



Architectural photography
Architectural photography

For more information about Art Deco and Cubism visit:
http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887323475304578499074267279476
http://www.decolish.com/Cubism.html#axzz3GLh89iNr
http://char.txa.cornell.edu/art/decart/artdeco/artdeco.htm 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Art of Architectural Photography 10-2-2014

In visiting many of the NYC department stores, I cannot help notice the lack of interior design that once reflected the taste and style of the clientele.  For the most part stores are now either metal and glass open spaces with racks of discounted merchandise exhibiting the space's only color, pattern and texture or the current ubiquitous "warehouse" look that is supposed (I suppose) to subliminally suggest huge bargains to shoppers.  I don't think that warehouse interior design comes cheap and the merchandise is not always inexpensive either.

There are, of course exceptions.  My last blog was about Henri Bendel, a veritable bastion of grace and beauty.  The store's interior wood paneling alone is a lost luxury that may never be replicated in a commercial space.  The elegant interior is complimented by the stunning exterior that seems to be a throwback to another age.  Lalique windows are set into the building's facade like jewels and the elaborate Art Deco ornamentation throughout the store bespeaks glamor, a sense of style and a shopper who is discerning.  Amazingly, the entrance to the Ladies' Lounge is, in fact itself a beautiful Lounge with Barcelona chairs and glossy books (!) on sleek glass tables.  The room says, "Sit a while; relax before continuing your shopping."  In the snatch-and-run of today's experiences in stores, how refreshing and evocative of a time when one could stop for a few minutes to enjoy!



       Black and white architectural photography & Sepia architectural photography

To learn more about Bendel's please visit:
http://untappedcities.com/2011/06/22/the-windows-that-saved-a-building-henri-bendel-on-5th-avenue/ 
http://www.nytimes.com/1991/03/10/arts/architecture-view-a-shot-of-adrenaline-for-fifth-avenue.html?src=pm&pagewanted=1
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barcelona_chair





Friday, September 12, 2014

The Art of Architectural Photography 9-12-2014

Attention to architectural detail has diminished over the years for a variety of reasons.  Cost, lack of artisans, fast pace of life have all significantly contributed to paucity of the beautifully designed additions that afforded style and grace to many past architectural genres.  Fortunately there are still evidences of the detailing that was taken for granted not so long ago.  It may be seen in preserved architectural gems if you look carefully.  When I was a child, I looked forward to a trip to department stores not only for their wares but for extraordinary design and extravagant architectural detailing. 

Years ago shopping was a fashionable (literally and figuratively) activity.  Both men and women dressed for the occasion of a day out in the shops, especially one spent in those glamorous department stores in major cities.  My childhood was marked by special afternoons of taking the subway to the dowager stores of NYC: A&S and Martins in Brooklyn; B. Altman's, Bergdorf Goodman's, Best & Co., Macy's in Manhattan and, that mecca of bargains,  Alexander's in the Bronx.  There were others as well, each with its own distinctive merchandise; each with a "look."  The architecture reflected the  style and price tags of the stock as did the little touches, such as fresh flowers "on the floor" and hand milled soaps in the rest rooms. Logo shopping bags and carriers were a status symbol long before branding became the IN thing.  Bonwit Teller's floral decorated bag was so pretty that I kept it in the back of my closet for years!  And of course there were tea rooms or luncheon parlous in the stores.  After a long day of shopping, a cup of tea and tray of bites was definitely in order.

Few of these stores, filled with architectural detail treasures such as brass elevator doors that were heavily embossed; inlaid wood display cases and marble tiled floors, have survived.  Bergdorf Goodman still characterizes grandeur and haute style with its lavish attention to preserving a store that is frosted with architectural details.  My first job was at Bergdorf Goodman's and it is still a treat to visit this venerable department store.  Down the street from Bergdorf's on Fifth Avenue, is Henri Bendel's.  On a recent trip to Bendel's I was captivated by some of the interior decor designs that add a dimension to the ambiance unparallelled in most of today's architectural designs.  In the tread-mill world of current shopping venues it is marvelous to find the stunning echoes of the past.



 

    
To learn more about department store architecture, architectural detail and history visit:
http://www.departmentstorehistory.net/
https://ephemeralnewyork.wordpress.com/category/defunct-department-stores/
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/06/fashion/06CRITIC.html?pagewanted=all
http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-end-of-saks-as-we-knew-it