Thursday, November 4, 2010

Assignment 1: 1 - Tower Blocks

I tend to work pretty long days, starting around 7am and finishing up after 7pm, so I can sometimes justify nipping out to do a little photography for an hour or so. This morning was a good opportunity, clear skies, low sun and strong Autumn colours.  Not the easiest conditions to work in but if done properly the results can be good.

My goal was to take some photographs of an area of allotments squeezed between a group of 1950's tower blocks and the ultra modern looking Arabella Park development.  On the South side is a raised walkway offering an overlooking viewpoint.  This helps to provide greater depth to the images, although I found that 24mm is rather wide, my previous shots of this area had been done at around 100mm.  The other problem was that the contrast between sky and foreground was very strong and making a balanced shot was hard, all of these have needed substantial brightening in the dark areas.  I am trying to get into the habit of exposing for the highlights and letting the cameras excellent noise control deal with the shadows. However, the fall colours created some interesting images, and the larger angle allowed me to include the Arabella Park buildings in the frame.  

Although not ideal for what I was trying to image the 24mm tilt-shift enables a neat trick, and that is to lock the camera in position and shift the lens fully left and then fully right, taking a photo at each setting.  This yields a panorama shot on a sensor that is effectively 60 x 24mm and an effective 35MP camera.  The downside is light fall off in the corners, so this would need more work before being a useable image.

As the allotments proved something of a challenge I turned the camera to the tower blocks south of the lane I was on.  This meant they would be backlit by a low sun, so again quite challenging lighting conditions.  My interest here was to capture the way that the mature trees (planted over 50 years ago when the blocks were built) overlap the buildings:

I have always admired the black and white images of Alfred Stieglitz photographed in New York, often combining trees and skyscrapers.  I used the shift mechanism during shooting to preserve the verticals, however, care needs to be taken not to overdo this.  The eye expects a tall building to recede as it grows taller, optically correcting this can make the building look very strange

This splayed out look is an optical illusion, the sides of the building are parallel to the frame sides.  I this case I had to correct the overuse of the shift.

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