Urban & Architecture Photography


Posts tagged Absstract Photography
Urban photography with the Huawei P20

Every time a new smartphone is released it is inevitable there is going to be some sort of hullaballoo about the quality of camera attached to it.  I recently bought the new Huawei P20, not the top of the range three lensed P20 Pro, but it’s slightly cheaper, two lensed sibling.

Taken in HDR mode

Taken in HDR mode

We’ve all seen the marketing, the inevitable iPhone shot cover – funnily enough forgetting to mention the highly skilled photographer, the impeccable studio space, the photographers assistants and the thousand pounds of lighting – apparently it’s just the phone that does the work, but there you go.

All that being said, I wanted to try out the Huawei P20 for myself and see how it measured up for use for scouting my urban / architectural style shots.  So I thought I would give it a try on one of many aimless ambles.  Maybe this will be better option for me than a dslr with a 50mm I normally use when scouting locations?  

Taken in Pro mode

Taken in Pro mode

It is amazing how different the experience is using a smartphone compared to using my traditional styled cameras.  There is no denying the convenience factor but I still find handling a bit fiddly when photographing with a smartphone.

On the plus side smartphone design but default nudges you towards framing vertically instead of horizontally, so it is good to see things a bit differently.  It can be all too easy to fall in to habit of landscape framing when using a dslr or mirrorless camera.

Taken in HDR mode

Taken in HDR mode

So is it better than my previous option of scouting possible locations with my dslr and a 50mm lens?  Well, yes and no.  It is definitely much more convenient and being able to whip out a smartphone to take images in situations where using a camera would be frowned at is a definite plus.  Focussing is pretty quick and the Pro mode allows shooting in RAW (although, for my needs I am not sure how I often I will need/use this.  Time will tell).   Also, having the extra width (the lens on the Huawei is 27mm focal length) is useful for urban and architecture scouting.  The only downside is that smartphones (for me) are still a bit fiddly to use and can take a good while to set up to what I want in a given situation when using any of the advanced modes– perhaps I just need to use the phone more often?

What do you think?  How often do use your phone to photograph?  Do you find it a useful too?  Feel free to comment below.

Why imposing limits can boost your photography

As a photographer it is all too easy to fill up the camera bag with every single piece of kit we can physically carry and head off crooked backed spending endless hours in one spot waiting on the perfect light for one single shot.  This can be fantastic but sometimes we need to mix it up and get our minds doing something different.

I like this composition and plan to return soon. I will probably shoot it a little wider and more than likely during sunset or the blue hour

I like this composition and plan to return soon. I will probably shoot it a little wider and more than likely during sunset or the blue hour

I like to do this by imposing limits on myself.  So I made a quick trip to Stirling city centre with only one lens (Nikkor 50mm 1.8G) and two hours to make some photographs.  I like making quick trips like these; it’s a neat little exercise.  I find it is similar to how an artist would use a sketchbook – I am making quick visual notes, saving ideas on shape, compositions and possible locations which can be returned to and examined later, hopefully to create a finished photograph.  Luckily, Stirling has a very small city centre and can be easily walked around in two hours.  Also, it is a medieval city and therefore any modern architecture stands out a mile.

Abstract Forthside Bridge, Stirling Station

The Forthside Bridge became my main interest to photograph.  It is located only a minute from Stirling train station and is a stark contrast to pretty much all other architecture in the area.  It is modern and sleek and highly photographable.  I spotted the bridge as I approached the station on my train from Glasgow but decided to photograph all around the city and focus on the bridge upon my return from the station.

it is similar to how an artist would use a sketchbook ... making quick visual notes, saving ideas on shape, compositions and possible locations...

What I love most about photographing modern structures like this is that they offer great opportunities to go abstract and focus on elements with the structure as well as the structure as a whole.

In any creative pursuit imposing limits makes us think differently in order to find solutions.  As photographers it can be all too easy to just slip on a different to get the ‘perfect’ composition, but sticking to one focal length we are forced to seek out new compositions and ‘work’ a scene to get something new.

5 tips on how to take good photographs in the harsh midday sun

Sunny days are generally not great for photography.  The harsh light can make it very difficult to create good photographs but we should learn to use whatever conditions are available to our best use.  There are lots of techniques and ideas you can do to help in these conditions.

1 - Use a prime lens - the lack of zoom just gives one less variable to worry about when composing your shots... to be honest I prefer primes at the best of times but when the conditions are not ideal (for my needs) a prime is a definite.

2 - Bung on a polarizer - this will kill a lot of the reflections that ruin shots.

3 - Lower expectations - accept the conditions are not your friend here - I'm hardly going to get beautiful soft light at 2pm when the sun is blazing... this can take an unusually long time for us photographers to accept!

4 - Experiment! - I try and use the conditions to my advantage; try out unusal compositions, or including shadows and reflections.  Strong graphical elements can really stand out if you utilise strong sunlight

5 - Plan for later - It's a lovely day, so if I can't get the shot I want now... I make a note and come back later.  The Tyre Distributor image above is a prime example of this.  I like this shot but I know I can work it better on a cloudier day.  I have a 'Locations' folder in Lightroom where I squirrel away ideas I have to return to at a later date

Great Glasgow (nearish!) photo locations: Wemyss Bay's xxxxxxVictorian railway station

Only a short train ride from Glasgow's Central station, Wemyss Bay is the end of the line for anyone heading to Rothesay on the ferry.  For any photographer who enjoys shooting architecture the gorgeous station at Wemyss Bay is a great little location - rail enthusiasts may just enjoy it too.

The station is noted for its architectural qualities and is regarded as one of Scotland's finest railway buildings.  It is a now a Category A listed bulding.  The mix of steel and glass give the building an industrial feel you would expect.  However, the combination of light flooding in through glass panels, the bright paint work and long sloping curves also provide the the building with a modern edge.  It is quite a trick.

Pillars in train station: HDR image at f11, ISO 100 @ 22mm.

Pillars in train station: HDR image at f11, ISO 100 @ 22mm.

Wemyss Bay is only a forty-five minute train journey from Glasgow and weather permitting can be photographed in a couple of hours.  The station is very quiet and staff seem to allow photographers to go about their business - I was not interrupted at all during my visit.

Photography here was a fantastic, relaxing experience.  The only issue to be aware of is amount of reflections - the light reflecting off the gloss painted surfaces was problematic but the use of a polariser minimised these.

So what do you think, is Wemyss Bay worth a visit for you?  Can you suggest any other locations to photograph?  Leave a comment below.

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