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

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Art of Architectural Photography 8-11-2014

As previously mentioned: nature is the great architect.  Molding, building, sculpting and shaping nature creates our universe.  It is from nature that many architects derive their inspiration.  Occasionally nature is glorified by the setting aside lands for the specific purpose of enjoying the majesty that nature seemingly offers effortlessly. 

One such natural place is the Flume Gorge in Lincoln, NH.  Here, a wonderful pathway created from natural wooded walkways and stairs allows visitors to follow the passage that nature creates with water, trees, vegetation and rock.  This natural marvel is for hiking, reflecting and observing nature.  There are also natural locations where humans have utilized nature's instruction to benefit commercial projects.  The Panama Canal is one such undertaking that used natural resource as a platform for architecture and building.  Whatever the case, nature in its genius for construction freely shares knowledge that we may use to better our own creations.

Sepia architectural photography: Lincoln, NH

For more information please visit:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flume_Gorge
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/08/22/travel/frugal-traveler-misty-about-niagara-falls.html
https://history.state.gov/milestones/1899-1913/panama-canal

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Art of Architectural Photography 8-3-2014

Light and its mannerisms play a most significant part in taking a photograph and the subsequent look of the image.  Further, light appeals to our emotions.  The way that light plays on a subject can trigger different responses from viewers to photographs.  For example, a harshly lit image may cause the viewer to feel repelled or excited by the photograph.  On the other hand, a softly lit scene may appear romantic or induce a sensation of calm.

There are few scenes that can elicit the melting moment of the magic hour after a rain in the bucolic countryside.  Recently I had the pleasure of seeing such a sight from the porch of an old inn in New Hampshire.  The emotions of peace and pleasure came to mind as I snapped the shutter on the fleeting scene that the light, time of day, setting and architecture had conspired to produce.

Sepia architectural photograph: Whitefield, NH

For more about light and its effects in photography and painting visit:
http://www.edwardhopper.net/
http://www.adammarelliphoto.com/2011/05/robert-mapplethorpe/
http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/natural-light-photography.htm