Photoessay: Until next time, Chicago

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Variety, hope and restoration

I loved the short amount of time I spent in Chicago; more than enough to want to go back again very soon. I’ve never been in any other place that felt quite so much like being in an open-air architectural museum; it isn’t so much the history but the diversity of styles, the visible progression and being able to see these buildings very much used as intended, and sometimes beyond the imagination of the original architects. Several days of very cooperative weather and a never-ending variety of clouds didn’t do any harm, either. This will be my final post of images from Chicago; fittingly, it’s a mixed cityscape/ architectural set. Enjoy! MT

Shot with a Pentax 645Z, 55 and 150mm lenses, Nikon D810, 24 PCE, Zeiss Otus 1.4/85 and Ricoh GR.

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Photoessay: the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Chicago

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Chicago can be considered both a city of architects and in a way, a city for architects; despite the huge number of other famous buildings in the city, I found myself particularly taken by the form and execution of the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. Perhaps it was because it was my first encounter in person with a Frank Gehry building – they’re understandably somewhat thin on the ground in Asia. It probably didn’t do any harm that I also happened to go on a day where the sky was throwing up a fantastic assortment of clouds and light; if you didn’t like the arrangement of cumulus, just wait a few minutes for a fresh one. And of course late September in Chicago means that the light is never directly overhead, because the sun sweeps over the horizon in an arc – making any time of day fair game to shoot.

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Photoessay: A corrected perspective, part II

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Skyscraper evolution and streamer

Today’s photoessay is a continuation of the previous monochrome series of hand-held tilt shift work from Chicago; it is in color and I personally believe has a more immediate, present feel than the monochromes – hence the separate presentation. Enjoy! MT

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Photoessay: A corrected perspective, part I

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Hancock building parking beehive I

While my students were out completing assignments during the Chicago Outstanding Images workshop earlier this year, I was working on a personal project of my own. I wanted to see how practical it was to shoot fully perspective-corrected architectural work handheld – in decent light, of course. Up til this point, I’d always done this kind of work on a tripod because of the need to use live view. As many of you who’ve tried to use a tripod in general urban situations will know, this isn’t always possible due to property restrictions and city ordinances.

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Photoessay: The Verticality Project, part II

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XXVI, Hong Kong

Today’s photoesssay is a continuation of the Verticality Project photoessay. I see this as an ongoing study of architecture. The aim is to replicate the feeling you get when you stand at the base of one of these things and look up: a sense of overbearing monolithic massiveness. The choice of a black and white square with no building base is deliberate: the sense of size remains because off the perspective, and the mood is maintained regardless of the color of the sky.

The majority of these were shot in San Francisco and Chicago, with a Pentax 645Z. Enjoy! MT

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Photoessay: A little Cuban architecture

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La Fabrica.

Havana’s buildings are a mix of a bit of everything: colonial spanish, modern, neoclassical, Soviet brutalist concrete and a whole bunch of other things I can’t even begin to identify. All I know is that the visual contrasts are extreme, and the range of textures quite sublime – especially in that wonderfully strong and directional Caribbean light. How could I resist photographing the buildings – more than the cars?

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Limited edition Ultraprint offer: Nob Hill

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Nob Hill, San Francisco. 20×30″ printed area – Ultraprint on Permajet Portrait White matte cotton paper; $1,500 including DHL shipping anywhere in the world. Limited edition of 10 prints, never to be printed again. Click on to order… [Read more…]

Photoessay: London architecture in mono

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Pillar and shadow

Summer is a good time for architectural photoigraphy. From a photographic standpoint, colors of course become more intense, but the contrast is also helpful for monochrome photography, and with the right filters (film or digital), extra punch and contrast can be given to skies. Given London’s relatively high latitude, even during the height of summer the sun doesn’t go perpendicularly overhead as it does in the tropics – which means not being quite so restricted about shooting during noon.

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Photoessay: London architecture in color

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The face of London has changed so much in the last few years since my previous visit – 2010 – that frankly there are parts of the Square Mile I no longer recognise. (Never mind the fact that it’s also spread northwards towards the Barbican.) I have to admit that driving through it was an extremely strange feeling – as though an American, or perhaps Japanese (due to irregular street layouts) city had been plonked there with towering edifices of steel and glass. As you all know, I like photographing these things, so a return trip had to be scheduled.

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Photoessay: Melbourne architecture

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For a fan of abstract geometry, form and texture, Melbourne is an absolute paradise. Being a relatively new country, Australians seem to be far more open to experimentation with modern architecture, progressive design and integration with the unique landscape; the result is an interesting mix of 1940-s feel Chicago in places, Blade Runner and Utopia in others. The result is a place of extreme contrasts; you can see the evolution of postmodern architecture from simple geometric solids – cuboids, trapezoids, cones – to more complex shapes that appear to be formed of recursive application of those shapes. Any decorative elements are simply a further scaling and evolution again of that; there doesn’t appear to be much ornamentation in a classical sense. Perhaps that in itself is a definition of the current architectural gestalt.

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