Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Art of Architectural Photography 10-3-2015

Photography has become so much a part of our culture that it is incorporated into almost every aspect of daily life.  Who does not have a camera and multiple devices, tablet iphone, et. al. to record not only vacations and special occasions but trips to the mall, candy wrappers in the street and cups of coffee!  For billions, Instagram has become a wonderful way of communicating the moment to moment way we live to people all over the world.  I, too play with Instagram, taking pictures of the momentous and the mundane.  Usually I convert to black and white in my Instagram photography because monochrome is my medium of choice.  Currently I have no real sepia application for Instagram, although I'm sure I will begin to download many Instagram apps soon.

Yet, once in a while I find a subject out of my realm of architectural photography that is so breathtaking that it takes me completely by surprise.  Instagram, my cameras and any other gear I have cannot capture the image in my mind let alone on a device.  Such was yesterday as we drove through Crawford Notch, NH on Route 302.  This was not my first view of the Notch as I have traveled this road for decades.  However, the sight of early foliage and the chill (about 45 degrees) in the air gave the experience a pictorial quality that was entrancing and nostalgic: far beyond my own life, I could imagine the forest primeval.  Once in a while a view captivates me so that it is difficult to decide on how to present it.  And so I have it in color, sepia and black and white photography.  Each has ts own life.  Each conveys what I saw at the top of Crawford Notch in early Autumn. 

                                                                Color Photography
                                                                  Sepia Photography
                                                            Black and White Photography

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Art of Architectural Photography 9-22-2015

There are some who favor stillness in their lives, in the arts and even in the weather.  I love motion.  In all aspects of my waking hours ( I DO favor a quiet sleep!), I like to feel that things are moving around me.  The swirl of people; the feel of the wind; rolling waves, all appeal to my personal tempo.  When looking at a still mirror lake, I am most fascinated by an errant bubble rising to the surface or a moving cloud sliding across the reflection. Movement gives stillness life for me. 

Perhaps my passion for movement was the impetus for my fascination with elevators.  Or was it that I grew up in a single family house?  Down the street from my childhood home was a six-story apartment building with an elevator.  The apartment building was a simple brick rectangular structure, but to me it was a portal to fantasy: elevator rides.  I loved the sliding steel doors with their magical silvery glow.  As they swished open, I would quickly glance left and right to make sure no one else was going up.  Then, as the doors hissed closed, I merrily pressed every floor button on the panel.  In those days they were black projecting circles with white etched numbers on them.  A single strip of fun for a little girl.  The fan shaped dial would indicate the floors with an arrow shaped arm that pointed to numbers: 1, 2, 3 and so on.  It was a great activity until the "super" or a tenant caught me and I was ousted for the rest of the day.

Many of the elevators of my childhood were simple steel or wooden door affairs with little decoration.  However, on trips to Brooklyn's downtown shopping or Manhattan's department stores or hotels, I was awe struck by the magnificent brass paneled elevator doors.  All sorts of imagery graced these stunning elevators housed in ornate lobbies. Many are gone now.  Progress.  Recently I went into a midtown NYC hotel and found the lobby so changed I hardly recognized it.  Yet, the elevators were still there.  An entire bank of gleaming brass door, intricately designed to delight the eye and add elegance to surroundings. To invite the visitor into a special place of sophistication and luxury. This elevator door tells the story of another age.  I still love riding in elevators (Today I rarely press every floor button!), but to ride in one like this is to enter a yesteryear of artistry and style.

                                                      Sepia Architectural Photography

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Monday, September 7, 2015

The Art of Architectural Photography 9-8-2015

Amusement parks hold a special fascination and pleasure for me.  As a child, growing up in Brooklyn, I loved our trips to Steeplechase in Coney Island.  My brothers and I each had a favorite ride and we would challenge each other to see who could ride the ride the most times.  The eponymous Steeplechase ride, wooden horses that wound their way around and above the park on a track with only a thin strap to keep the rider safe, was my particular thrill.  I would ride the ride 10+ times before the afternoon trip wound down, waving my arms in the air, looking at the people below, feeling the freedom and lightness that joyful and daring adventures bring.  The ride dynamics also intrigued me.  Why did the track dip here?  How did the horses stay on the track?  Was the boarding platform close enough to the horses?  Thus began my passion for and captivation with amusement parks and rides.

This summer I was delighted to visit a few amusement parks.  Anew, I looked at the rides with great interest.  The design, construction, architecture, engineering of the rides are as important as the building of any structure; however, unlike constructing a building, the rides are in constant motion, must provide a thrilling and or pleasing sensation and ultimately, safety is essential.  These exquisite features of the park are perhaps some of the most complex and wonderful architecture that exist.  Gems of functionality and eye appeal, rides are often overlooked in their superb craftsmanship and development that are required to provide a good time while keeping riders safe.  Next time you are near an amusement park, state fair, carnival or other event, look at the rides:  engineering and architecture seamlessly joined as one.

                                                Black and white architectural photography

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Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Art of Architectural Photography 8-10-2015

Amazingly, and I do not use that word lightly, New York City is still a treasure trove of architectural details.  The juxtaposition of old and new architecture in the CITY is often jarring, especially when no attempt is made to reconcile building style or even purpose within an area.  Take for example a row of brownstones c. 1900 and, end the visual line with a glass and metal cube bank or drug store.  The brownstones are graceful with ornamentation of stylized designs around the windows and doorways.  There are stately columns with carved capitols at the entryway and intricate wrought iron or sculpted stone railings.  Then the eye is diverted to a recently erected antiseptic glass structure lacking any sort of character other than a business logo.

NYC once encapsulated elegance in architecture and architectural detail.  Materials were freely used and lavished with ornamentation.  Several reasons caused the rise of relatively inexpensive ornament-free structures in recent years.  Practically speaking, the City has grown enormously and the need for workable space with it.  The artfully constructed buildings of the past are now deemed (perhaps rightfully) inefficient in offering maximum space and acceptable technology logistics. Cost is a prevailing factor in almost all construction decisions today.  In yesteryear there was apparently money to spend and much thought given to the look of the City.  It seems that today people with the purse strings are looking only at the bottom line.  Finally, the master masons, sculptors, craftsmen and artisans are not the legions they once were.  The waves of immigrants seeking a new life in New York in the 1800's and early 1900's no longer bring their expertise in artistic building with them to the City.  And those whose grandparents or great-grandparents were artisans have rarely followed in their ancestors' footsteps.

When I chance upon architecture beautified with architectural detail, I stop to reflect, with respect, on the marvelous past that New York City enjoyed in its architecture and design.  And, once in a while I will be buoyed by a new building that hosts my eye to the pleasures of exquisite architecture, art and craft.   

 Black and white architectural photography

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Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Art of Architectural Photography 7-25-2015

There are two types of people: those who reread books, rewatch movies and TV shows and, in general love to peel back layers and layers of surface meaning to find new meanings.  And there are those who see it once and move on.  Nothing wrong with that, but I'm one of the former.  I could watch a movie like Moonstruck or Babette's Feast or Key Largo and so many others over and over again.  The characters in the plays of Ibsen, the poetry of Frost (narrator) and the Agatha Chrystie mysteries (even though I KNOW how it ends!) become dear friends and companions.  That is how I am about art and architecture.  To see a treasured painting or a building about which I am passionate repeatedly lends new meaning to the work.  Every time a see an artwork I love, I view it anew.

The statue of Atlas at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan always surprises and mesmerizes me.  It is perfect in its lines, power, balance and form.  To look at negative space as well as the mighty bronze sculpture, is to see a wondrous encapsulation of the City's complexity and style.  Look through the  delicate and massive globe towards the fragile, elegant and hopeful spires of St. Patrick's Cathedral to realize a stunning composition.

This image is not new for me or many others.  However, each time I see it its aesthetic is breathtaking.

Black and white Architectural Photography
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Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Art of Architectural Photography 7-19-2015

Interiors are often a reflection of the facade of a building.  In particular, interiors may mirror the style and period of the structure; however, there are instances when an interior can emphasize the exterior of a building by using design elements that are complementary but completely different.  For example, enter a Victorian house and see a Bauhaus interior.  The styles may be very disparate but completely compatible.  It is all in the execution of the designer, craftsman and architect, who work together to produce a cohesive whole.

For the most part, interiors have a far greater influence on inhabitants and visitors than do exteriors.  The exterior is noted, may be studied, but then people usually enter the building for a longer time than they spend outside.  Here, such structures as pyramids, gazebos and the like are excepted.  Homes, offices, warehouses, restaurants and other such places command far more of our attention once we are inside.  To this point, the interior impacts us greatly and in many ways.  There is a psychology related to the environments in which we live, work and spend leisure time.  

In many places there are buildings that, although harmonious with their surroundings, are unique.  One such structure is Alwyn Court in New York City.  The early 20th century French Renaissance building is intricately ornamented and very dissimilar to the surrounding buildings on the street.  It is a standout in any context.  Alwyn Court houses Petrossian, a fine dining restaurant.  Enter Petrossian and experience a stunning decor that reflects Art Deco elements and a sleekness that is totally unexpected from the elaborate building facade.  This exterior/interior encounter is a visual treat that emphasizes architecture, design and craftsmanship at the most sophisticated and finest levels. 

Sepia Interior Design Photography

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Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Art of Architectural Photography 7-2-2015

Monochromatic images are a way to focus singularly on subject.  Color, while extremely beautiful in its scope and infinite possibilities, may cause the viewer to be distracted from the real intent of the photograph.  Of course, this is a very personal choice: color or monochrome.

Another way to focus on a subject is to abstract it.  Although this may seem contradictory, abstraction often brings out the very essence of a focal point.  In order to abstract, the photographer/artist must understand completely the essence of the thing that is  central to the work.  This knowledge of the subject expands to include form, line, composition to create the abstraction.

This Opera House dome is breathtaking when viewed in person.  Photographs of the ceiling are often visually busy and complicated with distractions.  I chose to abstract the subject while retaining elements of the stunning architectural embellishments.  Sepia monochrome seemed a soft background to make the individual elements pop.

Sepia Architectural Photography

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