One of the reason why I enjoy going on photography field trips with friends who are also interested in playing around with their cameras, is that they might notice something that I had completely missed. While Wil and I were walking towards City Hall in downtown LA, I was focusing on the skyline, trying to find any interesting cityscapes that were near by. Wil on the other hand had stopped and taking various photos of this valve that was tucked off over by the side of a building.
I realized that Wil had found a wonderful photographic subject and I wanted to see if I could capture any interesting photos as well. I finally settled on this framing and personally I feel this is the best photo that I took that day. To think that I would totally have missed it if Wil hadn’t seen the valve first and realized all of the potential it held.
No photo tour of downtown LA would be complete without taking a few shots of the Walt Disney Concert Hall that was designed by Frank Gehry. I played around with the idea of converting this photo to black and white since it’s more about shapes and patterns, but I found that the color actually helped define those shapes and patterns this time. The gradation from blue to yellow helps give shape and texture to the building, while when I tried to convert this to black and white, the building became flat and uninteresting.
I’ve been going on and on in these posts about how black and white images are more about shape and texture, and how colors can distract from that. This image is proof that there are no hard and fast rules that you should always follow, but instead use those rules as a guide and then break them when it’s appropriate.
When I have a camera in my hands, I tend to see the world in a very different way from how I look at things without a camera. I begin to notice interesting shapes and patterns more often, even if they are only going to be around for a fleeting moment. While on my photo tour of downtown LA, I noticed the way these shadows were being cast on the walkway and wanted to find a way to best capture all of the shapes in front of me.
I knew this was going to be a black and white photo simply because my focus was on shapes and patterns and I knew that color would just distract from this image. I finally settled on framing the image so that the most dominant of the shadows stretched from on corner of the frame to the other. I feel it helps draw the viewers eyes through the image and helps give it a greater sense of depth.
One of my good friends recently purchased a Canon 5D Mark III and he is getting into photography as a hobby. I figured it would be fun for the both of us to take a photo tour of downtown LA. I know very little about downtown and for the most part avoid it, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to get to know it a little better.
The first place we stopped at was the Bradbury Building. Quite a few movies have been filmed here including Blade Runner, Chinatown, and most recently The Artist. The architecture is stunning. I never would have imagined that something so classic looking actually exists in LA.
I had recently purchased a new 50mm prime lens and figured this would be a wonderful excursion to try the lens out. I found that to capture the Bradbury Building correctly I actually needed a wider angle lens, so unfortunately I was only able to get some interesting detail shots instead of capturing the beautiful and iconic lobby area. I’m still quite pleased with the way some of these detail shots turned out though. This handrail decoration for example, I loved the shapes and ironwork that went into it’s creation. I’m definitely going to have to go back and bring several different lenses with me so that I can get even more angles of this breathtaking building.
The architect of the Palau de la Música Catalana in Barcelona intended for the audience to feel as though they were seated in a garden listening to a concert, instead of sitting indoors in a music hall. So he added stained glass windows throughout the hall. The most impressive of all the pieces of stained glass was the massive stained glass ceiling. The architect designed it to look like a sunny sky, where the sun is slowly dipping down into the hall itself.
I tried taking several photos of this ceiling, but I wasn’t able to find an angle the best captured the entire stained glass design. Instead I opted for a close up of some of the detail that can be seen. Really wonderful craftsmanship.
Tracey and I only spent a couple of days in Barcelona, but Tracey’s sister Carrie was a magnificent host and tour guide. She took us all over town and easily one of the most breathtaking places that we visited was the Palau de la Música Catalana. This music hall was built only about 100 years ago, but the architecture is stunning and the artwork and stained glass throughout the music hall keeps everything bright and colorful. It’s almost as if you were outside for a garden concert instead of being seated inside a music hall.
This is one of the pieces of stained glass that caught my eye. I loved the simple design and it is such an elegant way to cover up the fact that there is an apartment building just across the alleyway that is truly unattractive. I think stained glass is an underutilized form of art in modern buildings and should be included more for added beauty and color to our daily lives.
During our visit to Barcelona, Carrie took Tracey and I on an evening tour of the city. I loved the way Barcelona lights up at night. I saw this apartment building and loved the way they managed to light each window with a little electric candle. It helped provide a nice variation from what you typically see don to modern apartments.
One of the many advantages to visiting a city where you know someone who lives locally, is that you get the opportunity to see places that you might have missed otherwise. Tracey’s sister, Carrie, has been living in Spain for a quite a while now and gave us a phenomenal tour of Barcelona.
One of the places she took us to was the Santa Maria del Mar Cathedral. The local Catalonians finished building this cathedral back in 1384 and have done a wonderful job of maintaining it over the centuries. I had so much fun playing with different angles to show off the sweeping ceilings and elegant pillars that lined the cathedral. I’m glad we had the chance to view this beautiful architecture and if you’re ever in Barcelona, I highly suggest you stop by so that you can enjoy the cathedral as well.
One of the things that I really enjoy about photography is that it helps me refocus the way I view the world. When I have a camera in my hands, I’m constantly scanning my surroundings for interesting or unique subjects to photograph. This tile in the sidewalk in Barcelona is a perfect example.
If I hadn’t had my camera with my, I probably wouldn’t have even looked at the ground, and I’m sure I would have missed the beautiful tiles that lined the sidewalks. One other note about this photo that I want to make is, I did not convert the background to black and white. If you look closely, you can see little specks of color in the sidewalk as well. It just worked out really well, that the color of the tile was so vibrant compared to the simplicity of the sidewalk.
Tracey and I had finished our wonderful vacation in Paris, but our travels weren’t quite finished. Before we started our journey home, we stopped off in Barcelona for a couple of nights to visit Tracey’s sister Carrie. Carrie has been living in Barcelona off and on for the last several years, and I’m always happy to have a “local” as my guide around a foreign city.
We had just dropped off our luggage and were on our way to the train station to head to downtown Barcelona, when Carrie pointed out these windows to me. I loved the simplicity of their design, with the beautiful accents along the outer edges. It was tricky finding the best angle for this shot, but finally settled on this framing. There was more in the original shot, but I had always intended to crop that out.
My final two images from France are wide shots of Sacré-Cœur. It truly is a magnificent piece of architecture. It looks as though it has leapt off the page of a fairy tale and settled itself on the top of a hill overlooking all of Paris.
Sacré-Cœur was a bit of a challenge to photograph because I wanted to limit the number of tourists that appear in the shots. It would have been easier to avoid tourists if we had arrived first thing in the morning, but we were on vacation and the last thing I want to do while on vacation is wake up any earlier than I absolutely have to.
During our walk around the exterior of Sacré-Cœur, I was looking for interesting ways to photography the building. I wanted to capture it’s beauty, but also find a way to show just how enormous Sacré-Cœur really was. I thought about getting shots with people in the foreground so that you can see the full scale, but then I noticed this view. It feels like it something out of a fantasy novel.
When I was developing these photos later, I tried getting the color image to work, but I found that converting it to black and white made it so much more dramatic.
At the end of our walk around Montmartre, Tracey and I stopped off at Sacré-Cœur (Yes I copied and pasted this spelling from wikipedia). The architecture from every angle is just breathtaking. By European standards, it’s actually a very new building. Construction started on it in 1875, but it definitely belongs among the more ancient cathedrals and churches of Paris.
The path that Tracey and I were wandering, took us around the back end of Sacré-Cœur first, and meandered along the side before reaching the front. While walking along one of the sides I realized that from the angle I was standing at, I was able to line up three of the pinnacles. I thought this would be another from bit of practice for playing with framing. my shot. I later converted it to black and white so that the shapes would be better emphasized and bring out my attempts at framing.
Tracey and I had a wonderful afternoon walk through Montmartre during our stay in Paris. Montmartre is an incredibly picturesque town along the outer edges of Paris. I was a happy shutterbug snapping off photos on every street that we turned down. At one point we saw this little neighborhood park, just off the beaten path, and decided to go exploring.
I’ve been playing more and more with framing and I’ve been trying to incorporate classic painting techniques into my photographs. One of the techniques that I’ve been trying to employ more often is the use of leading lines that curve off into the distance, hopefully giving my image a better sense of depth.
When I saw this set of stairs leading past this quaint little cottage, I knew I had a photo that I could play around with some of these framing ideas. I had the added luck of an incredible sky overhead to finish off what has become one of my favorite photos from this trip.
When taking photographs, it’s always a good idea to not just take the initial photo that you had envisioned, but to try out several angles and change your perspective on the subject. You might end up being surprised with your results and have more than one enjoyable photo to bring home with you.
Tracey and I decided to take a walking tour of Montmartre. We had seen so many wonderful images of the wonderful section of Paris in the movie Amelie and wanted to explore it’s streets for ourselves. Montmarte sits on top of a hill that overlooks the rest of Paris. From this vantage point I couldn’t resist snapping off several photos of the city below.
When I got home and started to develop the photos I had taken, I realized that I actually had two different shots from this view that turned out really well. What I found interesting though, was the fact that the portrait framing of the cityscape work really well for a black and white image, while the landscape framing of this same view looked much better when I left the color intact.