Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Art of Architectural Photography 12-12-2015

There is always a fascination with looking through one dimension and beyond.  Perhaps when Leonardo DaVinci said: "The eyes are the windows to the soul," he was referencing that beyond concept.  Beyond one plane lies another.  The anticipation of going from one place into another location, whether that be visually or physically has always greatly appealed to me.  The reality of beyond is exciting, provocative and speculative.  I have the ability to imagine what is around the corner, through the portal and find yet another sensation.  The reality of more comes into play here, as well.  Knowing that there is another sight to see, another experience to encounter and new adventures to add to my cache entices me to go through that doorway into the beyond.

While traveling in India I encountered many such doorways.  Each offered new and unique vistas: some mythical and some stark reality.  However, there was always the sensation of traveling through one dimension into another to explore and discover and to even learn a bit more about myself as a photographer and perhaps as a human being.  All by going beyond. 

Monsoon Palace: Udaipur, India
Tomb of I'timād-ud-Daulah: Agra, India

Friday, November 27, 2015

The Art of Architectural Photography 11-27-2015

The old saying "A picture is worth a thousand words," is true for me.  A picture tells me a story.  The story may be personal, newsworthy, romantic, scary, but nonetheless, whatever the subject, there is a tale to spin.  The photographer views a subject and captures forever its impression by snapping the shutter. The impression is always part of the narrative I weave around the photograph, mine and other images I look at. 

When I look at photographs I like to think about the befores and afters.  What happened prior to the photo's being taken and what transpired subsequently.  This is how I approach taking photographs as well.  Was the old temple abandoned decades or hundreds of years ago?  Who worshiped there?   Did the noodle maker always cook or was he formerly crafting something different to sell? Does he love noodles or is this simply a livelihood?  These and many other aspects of the story are the thoughts that intrigue me.  This is why I take pictures: to tell stories. 

Temple: Delhi, India

Noodle-maker: Jaipur, India

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Art of Architectural Architecture 11-19-2015

I love architecture.  One of my majors in college was architectural drawing.  I spent 7+ years as an architectural draftsman.  I photograph architecture.  I guess I'm really into architecture.  So much so that sometimes I put the most important part of architecture on the back burner of my mind: people.    It is the people's creativity, wants and needs that produce architecture.  Without people, architecture may survive; however, if people do not look at or appreciate what remains of architecture, what is the point?

I told my friend sculptor Simon Rigg that I was going to India to see and experience the architecture.   I was told by this world traveler: "Ellen, the people ARE the architecture of India."  I mulled that over before my trip, not understanding.  When I got to India, my first trip to Asia, I got it immediately.  The architecture in India: temples, state buildings, houses, structures big and tiny are creations of the people of India.  The religious beliefs, cultural heritage, economic struggles, and very lives of Indians are clearly evident in the architecture; in everything. And so, my perceptions altered and reevaluated, I took pictures of the people, too.  The architecture reflects a culture so layered, textured and stunning, it takes my breath away.  Too, the people I saw, met and conversed with gave me a new perspective for which I am truly grateful.

Villager: Udaipur, India

Temple: Udaipur, India

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Art of Architectural Photography 10-14-2015

In preparing for a trip to India, I'm emptying my small Epson Multimedia Storage Viewer of the photographs I took on my last overseas journey.  That was in 2014 when I ventured to Germany.  I don't recommend storing images in a device for years; however, I backed up the Germany images shortly after returning home. I just hated to delete them right away because I had such a wonderful time.  And so the jpegs and raw images remained in the Viewer all this time.  And now, looking at the pictures I took many months ago, I am once again captivated by the sights I saw in Berlin, Potsdam, Munich, Ulm, Dersden and the other cities where I stayed.  The medium of photography allows us to vividly revisit the past with an immediacy that is breathtaking.  Each image I see on the screen perfectly captures the time, colors, scenery, people and essential perception of a past encounter.  Whether I snapped the shutter yesterday or years ago, for me the moment comes back fresh and intact.

Another way to keep time in a bottle is by using the app Instagram.  I have a good deal of pleasure in taking photos with my iphone and posting on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. It is a quick and fun way to share what I observe and that which attracts me.  Instagram provides an opportunity to instantly relate to other photography lovers and the give and take is not only enjoyable but a learning mechanism.  Right away, I am critiqued by others and in turn I can see great shots continuously.  Always fascinated by the immediacy of photography, I realize that technology has created a new time frame that will continue to speed up as new apps, like Instagram, evolve.

Having deleted all of my Germany files from my Viewer, I look forward to filling the Viewer with new images of India.  But the two need not be mutually exclusive.  The fresh look of the images I took a couple of years ago appeal to me in the same way they did when I was right there.  Recently, using Instagram has encouraged me to look for pattern in my images more than ever before. Thus another positive aspect of using the app.  To that end, when I came across this interior photograph, I was taken with the patterns and the darks and lights. Abstracting photography into shapes, patterns and darks and lights is a wonderful way to visualize architecture.  Instagram, with its lightening speed, is a remarkable tool for abstracting areas of buildings.  Using the app has made me even more aware of the individual parts of an image.  This one was taken with a Canon Mark II, but lends itself to my recent design inclinations. And, through the photography medium, the image transports me right back to Berlin!  Instantly!

                                                      Sepia Architectural Photography
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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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Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Art of Architectural Photography June-21-2015

Few experiences can be as aesthetically captivating as entering a place of worship, to say nothing of the religious engagement.  The hushed and holey atmosphere, which is suffused with a light that orchestrates an emotional association to worship and faith, provides many sensory experiences.  The shafts and swirls of light, often rich textures, ornamentation (or lack of it), frequently musty aromas, enveloping sense of sacredness and muffled sounds in these places: churches, synagogues, mosques, shrines are carefully architected to create uniquely particular feelings for the visitor.

Throughout time, the clergy, architects, builders, engineers and designers sought to use light to enhance, emphasize and define space.  Religious structures particularly were infused with a mysterious smokey light or luminously falling shafts of light that illuminated and emphasized the sacred areas and articles of worship.  Whether light played over prayer books, the statuary, images or the alter itself, light has always been channeled as a vehicle for messages from above.  The Incas constructed Machu Pitchu to receive a single shaft of light just once a year, as well as to burnish the entrances to what historians believe to be Inca holey places.  Gothic Churches were designed so that the devine light poured into the nave of the church to illuminate the way to the alter.  However the light was transmitted, it added enormously to the religious experience.  

Light has many uses and allures.  Employing light to augment religious experiences creates wonder, great beauty and an impact possibly like no other.

Sepia Architectural Photography

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Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Art of Architectural Photography 6-13-2015

Serendipity is marvelous!  Just when you think you are never going to find something new, there IT IS.....staring at you through your lens!

On a recent trip to latest NYC "hot spot," Long Island City, I was thrilled to see the skyline in a fresh way.  We parked on an upper floor of a municipal lot for a night on the town, Queens style.  Through the gaps in the concrete structure of the parking lot, I saw Oz: my personal interpretation of Manhattan.  I was transfixed by the sight of the stunning view of Manhattan bathed in lights.  Night lights are always alluring and this jewel-like presentation is no exception.

When ever I leave my house, a point and shoot camera is in my bag or pocket.  That way, when serendipity calls, I'm ready!

Black and White Architectural Photography

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Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Art of Architectural Photography 6-7-2015

I am fascinated with and inspired by light in any form.  And, as usual, my insights into light and its many configurations have a way of presenting when I am not looking for comprehension.  I came across a wonderfully profound aspect of light in an odd but familiar context quite by chance. When I was in college, I took a geology course.  One of the classes took place in a cave (!!) where we looked at natural rock formations.  The cave was very dim and our professor eschewed flashlights in favor of studying the rocky surfaces and outcroppings au natural.  It was OK but on that field trip an incident occurred that changed my perception about seeing and understanding all that is visual.  There was a hole in the top of the cave and for some reason I looked up just as a drop of water, gilded with light fell through the gloom.  It enchants me still, thinking of that single beam of golden light descending through the dim cave.  All at once I could fathom the glorification of light by the ancients.  Comprehend the beauty of natural light in its many guises.  The experience reinforced my desire to use light as the most pervasive element in my work.

While natural light is sublime, electric and other artificial light sources have their charm and value.  Often old electric fixtures can create unusual or even unique lighting scenarios.  This hallway graced by magnificent and imposing old chandeliers offers light that casts wonderful pools and shadows.  The "noise" prompted by the darkness and the artificial rays is fog like and gives an aura of mystery.  That, coupled with the antique furnishings gives a time-travel-to-another-age feeling to me.  Light can transport as well as illuminate.

Sepia Architectural Photography

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Monday, June 1, 2015

The Art of Architectural Photography 6-1-2015

I am pleased and honored to be the subject of an article by renowned Interior Designer and Art Consultant Richard Rabel, whose knowledge of art and design I greatly admire.  Thank you, Richard!

Black and White Architectural Photography: Bronx, NY

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Art of Architectural Photography 5-17-2015

I have written before about the genius of nature in constructing perfect structures.  There is no force or art like nature as it builds organic forms that work in simple design or in the infinitely complex.  Take for example a flower with petals that radiate out from the center.  Look at the marvelous way that the shapes integrate with each other: overlapping, supporting, designing the ultimate shape.  Never replicating a single construction, nature creates flowers that are each unique.  In a cookie-cutter world that accomplishment deserves our respect and the acknowledgement that nature is the supreme designer.

Sepia Photography   

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Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Art of Architectural Photography 5-10-2015

Light is the defining element of photography as well as of all the visual arts.  Without light, there is no photograph, painting or other aesthetic that depends on sight.  As the artist creates the art, light is always a critical concern.  The placement of light, the intensity of light and the relationship light has with shadow gives the artwork a unique quality that may be elusive or bold but never absent.  Many artworks incorporate light into other themes.  In those instances, light is a value to play off dark and to illuminate the mid-tones.  However, there are those works in which light is the focal point of the art.

I especially appreciate the art that has light pouring through a window.  The photographing or painting of natural light channeled through a portal is intriguing and often challenging.  The light may appear as shafts, rays, streaks, fog-like.  As well, surfaces react differently to the light as it comes through the window.  Some refract or reflect the light.  Others absorb light.  It is fascinating to watch the light as enters a space and claims the viewers attention.  Light has mesmerized artists since the beginning of time.  I am ever drawn to its allure.

Sepia Architectural Photography

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Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Art of Architectural Pgotography 4-26-2015

Novoimago is photography that is printed on fine art paper and augmented with fine art material including charcoal, pencil, ink and gold leaf.

Throughout my years as a photographer, architectural draftsman and fine art painter, I have infused my work with the originality that expressed my aesthetic.  From my most technical architectural drawings to the oil painting abstractions I created, each focused on my continuing experience with art, my desire for excellence and my hope to reach the next level.  My passion for art has taken me on a journey that encouraged sharing my vision combined with my observations about the world with others.  It is this odyssey that brought me to the photographic art of Novoimago.

As an architectural photographer I appreciate the art that the architect creates.  I also admire the craftspeople, builders and designers of the architecture.  However, when I photograph a building, I seek to imprint my own aesthetic on it.  Working in black and white and sepia photography I am able to portray the architecture while focusing on what about it appeals to me.  I can also emphasize the features of the architecture I want to share with others through the black and white and sepia photographic medium.  The art of Novoimago allows me to go beyond the two-dimensional photograph by layering the image with fine art materials to create a third dimension.  In using such traditional fine art materials as pencil, charcoal, inks and gold leaf in the photograph, I give each image the element of depth and light that cannot be achieved through photography alone. 

Novoimago is a picture that incorporates my life’s work of architectural photography, fine art painting and architectural drawing into one photographic artwork.  Each image engages the viewer in an aesthetic experience that goes beyond traditional photography, architecture and art into a realm of subtle beauty and enhancement of form, design, and light. 

Novoimago: Black and White Architectural Photography with Fine Art Media