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Category : Architectural Photography

Dar Roumana, Fez, Hotel downstairs room

Dar Roumana, a Gem Hidden in a Labyrinth

Dar Roumana, Fez, Hotel downstairs roomDar Roumana is within the Medina of Fez.

I had been to Morocco one time before, also for work. That was in Casablanca, working for Harvard, you can read about it here.

I wouldn’t say I am a fan of Casablanca, my disappointment compounded because I loved the film. The reality is that it’s very noisy, dirty and for the most part kind of charmless.

Fez on the other hand was is more captivating, disorienting too, the world’s biggest maze.

The first night I got a whirlwind tour through the labyrinth of the Medina, popping into a beautiful and mysterious riad owned by French friends of the client.

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A worker in Bunzl warehouse and forklift truck

Photographing Warehouses and Workers for Bunzl

Bunzl, warehouse man wrapping palletThese jobs came via a UK based agency called  AAB Design.  The first job was for Bunzl. Their warehouse and offices are near El Prat Airport, I was there to photograph the space and the workers.

The second time was maybe 2 years later, near Cabrera de mar. The company was Cemelin and Bunzl had recently bought them, ignorer to further increase their presence in Spain.

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Amazing magic hours light in the afternoon

City Light; Those Magic Hours When You Can Take your Studio to the Streets

Amazing light in the afternoon

Plaza España, Barcelona

I would like to take the idea of ‘Magic Hour‘ and turn it into Magic Hours.

Maybe ironically, what I am suggesting might fly in the face of something sacred to many; that moment when the natural light is just perfect (and alas fleeting) for beautifully lit portraits.

My magic hours are when the natural light, by chance of modern architecture and it’s gleaming brutality, can give you a look like that of a studio and most likely won’t be at all soft and nostalgic.

Many years ago when living in London I began to notice this effect and endeavoured to remember when and where it occurred. It is the look you get when the sun hits the glass or metal of modern building and creates all sorts of amazing specular effects that, like the natural type, are all too often fleeting.

The great advantage of this light is that it can happen any hour of the day and of course is affected by the seasons.

If I were a more organised person I would have written down the info in the past, but never did, luckily today with your smart phone this is no longer a problem, take a photo and you will have date and time and GPS if needed.

I really think it’s a good idea to watch out for this phenomena where you live as it could make for great fashion or portrait shoots, especially if like me you favour the use of environments.

I decided to write this post because of a particularly spectacular occurrence near where I live and I grabbed a few shots on my iPhone one of which is below:

Amazing light from reflections

Plaza España, early evening, amazing light reflected from buildings behind me, notice the couple taking pictures, they spotted the effects as well! (iPhone 6)

Now of course if you are just shooting head-shots or something that does not directly reference the place you are, you can get similar effects with reflectors, or even flash, but you will be limited by their size, availability of assistants and if it’s windy, well good luck!

When I think about this lighting it is because I imagine capturing the someone in the space or even just the space itself, as is the case in the examples I have posted here.

When I decided to write this post I did a quick search of my archives and found some images easily, but I know there are probably many more, so I’ll maybe update this article when I come across them.

Below is the earliest example I can find, dating from the mid/late 90s and captured on one of Olympus’s first digital cameras which they kindly lent me:

Specular reflections creating something abstract

An image captured somewhere in North London in the the mid/late 90s with an early digital camera lent to me by Olympus

Below are a mix of images captured with iPhone or camera.

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Luxury home with pool

Linear Curves; How Making Your Images Look Really Dull Might Be the Way to Go

Luxury home with pool

This is the title for my article about linear curves and HDR in Capture One Pro 8/9 on the website PhotosApps.Expert

Read the full article here

Homage to Catalonia? (A Touch of Gaudí in Texas)

A little side job I had whilst in Texas (for a wedding shoot) was to photograph the house that Zack built (He was the groom and designed it as well).

I stayed there for about a week and in a few sessions took photos for a book they wanted to make.

It was an enjoyable project; though most of my work is with people (and that is what I like to do most), architecture/interiors is a close second.

What I love most is the change of pace, the thoughtfulness of the exercise. You should use a tripod, not for the obvious reasons, but because it too slows down the process and any excuse for this Zen like approach, in the modern world, has to be cherished.

I am not really being flippant though, these kind of projects benefit from preparation; getting as much right in the camera as possible and most definitely shooting with whatever post-production workflow you have in mind.

The are several recurring motives in the design of the house that appear, you could say (even if it’s not technically correct) on a macro and micro scale. The common denominator is plant structure; supports look like tree limbs, tiles show representations of microbiological details of leave structure etc and the palette is predominately of greens and browns.

I was very impressed by the attention to detail, there were lots of ‘games’ to be played I reckon exploring and trying to find the not always obvious inspiration for certain objects (a fun learning game for kids, beats looking for Easter eggs the whole time).

I particularly liked the story of the exterior walls and the experimentation that was needed to get the right texture that mimics the roughness of tree bark, apparently the ended up throwing the plaster of a particular consistency at the wall, rather messy I was told.

If I was to be perfectly honest I am not the biggest fan of Gaudí, Zack’s interpretation however I like a lot, it has none of the excess and creates a much warmer, comfortable environment and does it in a much more subtle way as well. Though when you walk around the idyllic neighbourhood they live in with its detached custom-built houses it most definitely is the one you will notice first!

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Jose Manuel Apt bcn living room

Apartments & Interiors

Jose Manuel Apt bcn living roomI love doing architecture and interiors because it is a completely different process to photographing people; each can perhaps act like therapy for the other if you are feeling a little burnt out or jaded.

These pictures were for a friend who wanted to rent his apartment on an exclusive site, I was flying out to Hong Kong the next day but found a couple of hours to do the shots. I was basically left alone to get on with it which is perfect as the therapy of this type of photography is that people are not the subject!

I find I can get into a special zone and the time flies by, just mounting your camera on a tripod makes for a much more considered working method, where you really become acutely ware of every detail and the changing light.

I would definitely like to do more work like this because a) it is enjoyable and b) living in Barcelona you have to be capable of taking on all types of work in order to survive, personally this suits me as being slightly out of your comfort zone and not working like you are on auto pilot is where the best results can come from.

I have recently started renting rooms using a well known online agency and having good shots of your apt is an absolute must; people need to think of good images as an investment and not some frivolous and unnecessary expense, too often in this city it’s not even a case of ‘good being the enemy of great’ but ‘free crap being the enemy of good!’

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Sagrada Familia, A Never-Ending Story, tourists

Sagrada Familia, Never-Ending Story

Sagrada Familia, A Never-Ending StoryThis was for an article in the Metropolitan magazine. I knew nothing about the story or the person nor had I ever met the writer.

The pictures were taken in the summer but the article did not appear till October.

I am not a big fan of the Sagrada Familia, to tell the truth, I find it kind of monstrous, a case where Gaudí had decided ‘less was definitely more’, also the neighbourhood is not one of my favourites, it has that transitory feeling of areas around train or bus stations, and a little sordid perhaps.

And of course the multitude of tourists can be claustrophobic, especially if you are trying to work.

Because the writer was there I did not have much time so decided on using the park in front and used a brolly on a flash and did the whole thing in about 5 mins. I quite like the wonky angle and I like the post production that brings out all the texture, even in his shirt!

After I had finished with him I toyed with fleeing this hell-hole but decided I should get some shots of the place. At first I thought it would be best to get pics without the crowds, then I realised ‘no, why bother?’ The crowds are all part of the dubious experience, as was almost getting run over by a coach driver who was obviously enjoying the whole experience as about as much as I was.

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Chacarita Cemetery, Argentina

Argentina, Chacarita Cemetery, Cap Fed

Chacarita Cemetery Gardens, ArgentinaI returned to Buenos Aires this April after being away 4 years. I was lucky with the weather and on the few occasions I took out my DSLR it always seemed to be perfect, most of the shots here have not had a great deal done to them, the most drastic effect being a tonal enhancement that is apparent in the cemetery shots.

I had taken quite a lot of camera equipment with me because I intended to search out some work or projects to do, but after a lot of inconclusive interviews with wedding planners and a lot more social activity than I expected (yes, there was a girl driving the dream and ironically it was this that may have undone it). I got distracted, which in some ways is a shame, as I am really determined to make my trips pay in some way (especially after the success of the NYC/Ogilvy pictures).

I am still thinking of things I could do if I go back to Buenos Aires, I want to find contacts and opportunities there, it was; after all my home for almost 5 years and I am always happy to have an excuse to go back

Regarding the cemetery that features here, well what can I say? Everyone always talks about Recoleta cemetery, which is very cute blah, blah, blah, but Characita is something else, apart from the sheer size of the place, it encompasses a range of different styles and ways to deal with the dead that is quite fascinating. From the Recoleta style tombs of the rich, to the traditional wall burials, which include a very ominous modernistic/militaristic underground complex that feels like a cross between a nuclear bunker and block housing usually built for workers, except these blocks of flats are like mirror images and are underground. I find the potential for metaphors and conceits about these places never-ending.

What really struck me whilst there this time was how it is falling to pieces in many places, the older buildings, using the wall burial technique ,are managing this in a more elegiac manner, but the modern bunkers are suffering that fate of all badly made concrete structures and is quite simply depressing, it made me think how the arrogance of the politicians/juntas that commission such works, thought little about the dead and more about with their own grandiose dreams immortality.

And like all such arrogance, the reality of political change, corruption and economic collapse leaves only a testament to their vanity; a concrete  memento to ego.

 

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    Flowers at Chacarita Cemetery, Argentina

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    Chacarita Cemetery, Argentina

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    Chacarita Cemetery, Argentina

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    Chacarita Cemetery, Argentina

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    Chacarita Cemetery, Argentina

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    Chacarita Cemetery, Argentina

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    Chacarita Cemetery, Argentina

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    Chacarita Cemetery, Argentina

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    Chacarita Cemetery, Argentina

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    Tree at Chacarita Cemetery, Argentina

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    Chacarita Cemetery Gardens, Argentina

Barcelona view from Montjuitch

An Afternoon on Montjuic

Old Barcelona housesIt was a Monday but a national holiday, normally I don’t really take much notice of these, but it was such a lovely day and besides, some idiots thought this would be the perfect time to dig up the road yet again below where I live so I headed for the hills to get some peace.

I spent a few hours there, the walk up is good exercise and the the great thing about Montjuïc is that is one of the few parks in Barcelona that actually has grass so you can lie down and read or have a picnic. It was quite busy but still felt pretty tranquil and I managed to spend some quality time with a good book.

On the walk back I noticed the light was looking interesting, what with it being around 4pm and a slight haze softening down the shadows, I only had my little Lumix but in ideal conditions like this is very capable of getting decent shots.

I passed a sports ground that was deserted and it had that atmosphere I always am attracted to; a kind of vacancy and a sense of desolation that is not so hard as to be depressing but is more organic, perhaps more like natural decay.

Further down I found a building nearing completion and here the mix of the antique  lamp post with the shiny newness (even the temporary metal barrier was quite pristine) again benefited from the lovely light so I grabbed a few shots, when I got home I decided I quite liked them, so decided they merited posting.

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    Monjuitch Architecture: Fence

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    Architectural contrasts in Barcelona

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    Montjuitch arquitecture: Metal

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    Modern Architecture in Monjuitch

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    Old Barcelona houses

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    Grafitti walls in Monjuitch

Gatwick Airport: Toilets

An Evening in Gatwick

Gatwick Airport: Hallway with Blue SkylightI was flying to Tobago for a wedding (I was best man). The way things transpired I ended up having to stay overnight, having flown in from Barcelona.

The groom (Andy) suggested trying the Yotel situated in the South Terminal, it is one of those Japanese style ‘pod’ hotels that you can rent by the hour.

I booked a room, but found I had a few hours to kill before I could check in, so, with nothing better to do, I strolled around Gatwick hopping on the train back and forth between terminals, well, the truth is I had hoped to ensconce myself in a bar, grab some food and try to write a best man speech,whilst polishing of the best part of a bottle of Italian wine, but they closed up shop at 9pm and I found myself adrift in this place.

Airports late in the evening are strange. Maybe there are a few people wandering around but the overall ambience is of a well lit and functioning eco-system from which the human population has removed itself. Even the Yotel room felt like accommodation on a space station, with it’s clever little ergonomic features and padded bulkheads.

I wandered around, occasionally snapping pics with my compact camera and iPhone, I was not trying too hard to do anything particularly clever or ironic but looking at the images now I do see a curious ambiance that I realise I have dealt with before, when I had found myself alone in a place normally full of life and movement; people in transit or finally where they want to be and enjoying themselves. This contrast for me is captivating and poignant.

 

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    Gatwick Airport: Toilet Doors

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    Hallway at Gatwick Airport

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    Gatwick Airport: Red Hallway

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    Gatwick Airport: Ceiling Detail

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    Gatwick Airport: Metro

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    Travellers at Gatwick Airport

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    Gatwick Airport: Hallway

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    Gatwick Airport: Hallway with Blue Skylight

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    Gatwick Airport: Blue Skylight

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    Gatwick Airport: Treadmill

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    Gatwick Airport: Treadmill and Hallway

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    Gatwick Airport: Waiting Room

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    Approaching Tobago

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    Landing at Tobago Airport