Architectural photography in black and white


August 22, 2018

Throughout my recent posts on this blog, you probably noticed my current leaning toward urban and architectural photography as a genre I like exploring in addition to people-centered street photography. What attracts and sometimes bothers me at the same time in exploring people in urban environments is the unpredictability of what people you will cross paths with during the next photo outing. In my perception during the last months, this sometimes makes this kind of street photography highly dependable on situations in the streets.

Architectural photography – or buildings do not move

The reason why I like urban or architectural photography so much is its complementarity to (people-centered) street photography: architecture is there, no matter what, making photo outings much more projectable. Of course, you still depend on many other parameters such as light conditions (bright sun versus heavy overcast, for example), but with some preparation, I have the feeling to become much more of an actor in my photography. This sounds probably weird as you are always an actor in your photography, but urban photography seems to make me less dependable on many parameters, which are key when taking pictures of people in the streets. 

Of course, there are so many things to learn and to consider in urban (and architectural) photography and I am only beginning to scratch its surface so far. But keep in mind both photography genres when hitting the streets makes times out there even more fun. Simultaneously to gaining first experiences with urban photography, I tried to get documentation to better understand challenges and pitfalls to avoid. In this attempt, I came across two excellent books, which I only have in French: La photographie urbaine by German architectural photographer Adrian Schulz (there are Englisch and German versions of the book out there as well, Architectural Photography) and La photo urbaine by French photographer Eric Forey (it seems as if there is no translation of the book). 

Creating a short series of architectural photos in black and white

In addition to his book on urban photography, French photographer Eric Forey has recently published his book Serial Photographer in its second edition and I already had the opportunity to quickly write down some thoughts on sequences and series in an earlier post. Mr. Forey describes a serial approach to photography (urban photography in his case) as an important stepping stone toward greater creativity and a better understanding of one’s own photographic path. 

As I was not able to get out for photography as often as I wanted recently, I took, however, the time to prepare my next outings. One of the points on my agenda was going back to the biggest covered market in downtown Toulouse in France. While the market hall was already before that outing a regular candidate on my list, I usually went inside to take photos of situations and moments between vendors and clients. This time I stayed outside and used the hard morning light to photograph the front of the building which accommodates the daily market. The building serves as a major parking garage in the city. Among the typical Toulouse architecture made of red bricks, the more contemporary architecture of the parking building almost seems like a violation of the city’s style. I have to admit that I actually found the building quite ugly when I first visited the market. But this is taste, and tastes can change – especially when looking at the building from another angle.

The angle or perspective I adopted was the one of architectural photography in black and white and selecting the ACROS film simulation for my EVF on the X100F and spot metering provided already an excellent preview of the potential of the building. I finally shot pictures from different perspectives and decided to offer a mini-series. In the processing of the pictures in Lightroom and Silver Efex Pro, I strengthened the contrasts to get an almost abstract look of the photos. 

Victor Hugo Parking 1 | 2018

Victor Hugo Parking 2 | 2018

Victor Hugo Parking 3 | 2018

Anmut Street Photo

Anmut Street Photo

Family man and academic, I am an amateur street photographer since 2017. My photos explore people in urban environments.

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