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

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Art of Architectural Photography 9-7-2014

There is something so thrilling and appealing about a pop-up carnival.  On a hot summer's night, neon frosted rides appear in vacant lots surrounded by food trucks.  From distances, the colorfully brilliant lights, aromas of spicy/sweet fried fair foods, and the cries of pleasure from the merrymakers beckon like sirens.  There is an elusive architecture created and constructed by fleeting seasonal spontineity.  It is an architecture of movement, imagination, memory that is built on our link to childhood.  Neon is its core element just as light defines all architecture.

Black and white architectural photography with color.

To read more about night lights, architecture and neon visit:
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Architecture_of_the_night
 http://www.starlight2007.net/pdf/proceedings/CesarPortela.pdf
 http://www.salon.com/2013/03/31/flickering_light_illuminates_the_history_of_neon_partner/

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Art of Architectural Photography 9-2-2014

I have been a photographer of architecture for many years.  I am drawn to buildings, details and materials for their beauty, purpose, history and solid presence in the landscape.  I also am passionate about the construction aspect of architecture.  The problem solving, tools, machines and plans that go in to creating a structure intrigue me. 

My Dad taught me a lot about tools and machinery.  Although he was an English teacher by trade, my Dad was raised by a master jewelry maker.  Tools were in his blood.  My maternal Grandfather was a tailor so I guess I inherited a love of art, craft, design and building from both sides.  My Dad was always tinkering around our house.  Fixing the faucet or building a bookcase (to shelve his Shakespeare), Dad would decide he needed another gadget to complete the job. "Come, Ellen," he would say, "let's take a walk to the hardware store."  These outings were memorable for being with my Dad and in the wonders I saw housed in the narrow, dimly lit store.  Rows of every imaginable utensil, mechanism, gizmo shone from the floor to ceiling racks, impacting my imagination with marvelous notions.

Too, the  old row house in which we lived had been built in the early 1900's.  Metal grates, old fashioned spindles, elaborate brass and cut-glass doorknobs, and intricate tile work defined our rather modest home.  In those days, craft and art were part of any building.  In our basement, the big, black old fashioned furnace was an object of mystery and delight for me.  It was detailed with swirls, gold letters and jutting pipes.  I would visit it with awe. 

Recently I had the pleasure of touring a wood shop where stunning moldings and other beautiful wood objects are created.  As ever, I was drawn to the machinery and tools, as well as the wonderful works of wood.  And, majestically in its own alcove stood a furnace that brought back so many memories.  It's powerfully solid presence struck me as magnificent in its design and its purpose.

 Black and white architectural photography

To learn more about furnaces visit:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Furnace
http://explorepahistory.com/story.php?storyId=1-9-17&chapter=1
http://www.cchistsoc.org/about.html



Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Art of Architectural Photography 8-26-2014

I am pleased and honored to be hosting a webinar for Tiffen Dfx tomorrow, Wednesday August 27, 2014 at 12 PM est.






For more information please visit:
http://www.tiffensoftware.com/tutorials/webinars

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Art of Architectural Photography 8-16-2014

Light is integral to all visuals.  And light is the basic component of photography.  Yet light is elusive, mysterious, not easy to grasp either figuratively or literally.  Light is beautiful in its power and its ability to unify.  It is decorative, illuminating and creative.  Light can be harsh or soft; blinding or guiding; relevant or discordant.  As a photographer light is my adversary, my friend and my teacher.

On a recent trip to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, I was gifted with a day of varying light patterns.  The day started out cloudy.  Often a cloudy day provides the "best" conditions during which to photograph outdoors because there is no glare. My day then became gloriously sunny giving me a chance to shoot shafts of sunlight sifting through leaves and creating shapes on walkways.  Still later, humidity caused my lens to occasionally fog up.  (Not necessarily a bad thing, fog, if used to its advantage as a diffuser.)  The different lighting options gave me natural lighting opportunities to hone in on some macro photography I had been wanting to do.  Later, I enjoyed walking on the dappled sun/shade paths the Gardens offer.  All was lush and dense with summer's greenery and flowers.  Each lighting scenario accentuated the colors and forms.

In every season and weather, I always love looking at the natural plantings in the Gardens.  And I am delighted with the way that the architecture of the buildings complements these beautiful plantings.  Interiors and exteriors feature lovely augmentations to the gardens.  The art deco lobby I visited that day in one of the BBG's central buildings brought forth the memories I have of Brooklyn when deco abounded.  The style was extremely popular throughout the middle decades of the twentieth century and I grew up seeing art deco detailing in numerous buildings all over NYC.  It is a marvelously adaptive design palette that emphasizes light and all of its characteristics.  The forms and lines of art deco attract and appreciate every light perogative.  It is especially enchanting to see art deco shapes of light echoing, enhancing and creating design as they are admitted through the wonderful glass deco door panels.  

 Black and white architectural photography: Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, Brooklyn NYC

To learn more about light visit:
http://science.howstuffworks.com/light.htm
http://www.starlight2007.net/pdf/proceedings/CesarPortela.pdf
http://www.physicsinsights.org/interference_1.html