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

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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

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