Architecture, Interiors, Technology

Architecture with the Zeiss 35mm PC-D

There are plenty of people who would suggest that you can’t shoot architecture with a 35mm and you need a 24mm or wider.  I used to be in that camp too some extent but I have found that with a shift lens on a full frame body you can do a lot with a 35mm lens. It helps that I’m beginning to ‘see’ in 35mm for the first time in years thanks to starting my Little Chef project with the Zeiss 35/2.8 on a Sony A7r – partly because it’s a retro sort of field of view, typical of the compacts available in the chain’s 1980s heyday, and partly because it’s still my favourite lens for the system in terms of overall ‘feel’.

As well as having this very special lens I’m also lucky enough to live in a vibrant city with some amazing architecture and architectural events. So, when this year’s serpentine pavilion coincided with the launch of the V&A Museum’s new entrance I decided to challenge myself to shoot them both exclusively with the Zeiss PC-Distagon on a relatively new-to-me Canon full frame body.

This session was also the first time I’ve really shot architecture with intent for some time and I enjoyed both the lens and the challenge, though it’s slightly flawed. Having a very short throw between ∞ and 3m is bonkers in a lens that will be primarily used for critical shooting of buildings. Other than that the lens certainly wasn’t a limitation, easily matching the 50 Megapixel sensor of the Eos 5Ds when it was properly focussed and held steady – the latter being key as resolution increases. In all honesty I would place the Zeiss ahead of the Canon 35/2 IS for sharpness but perhaps that is to be expected as the Zeiss lens is designed for critical sharpness and low distortion where the Canon is more of a street shooter. The other issue is that when the PC-Distagon flares it’s not the nicest flare I’ve ever seen – one image in the Serpentine set shows this very clearly.

Architecturally both buildings are superb, although I do think that there is a lack of seating space in this years Serpentine Pavilion as the structure itself doesn’t have the perching places that some of the others have, so it’s not as enjoyable on a busy, sunny day as some of the earlier ones.

First gallery is of the V&A Exhibition Road Quarter, by Amanda Levete Architects and the second Gallery is of the Serpentine Pavilion, designed by Diébédo Francis Kéré…

Gallery One – V&A Exhibition Road Quarter & Entrance.

Gallery Two – 2017 Serpentine Pavilion

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Architecture, Art, Projects

Little Chef Road Trip Pt II

As per my last post, I’m expanding on the Little Chef thing. Also, I’d really appreciate feed back and thoughts on this post, and the project it is about.

Little chef is a bit of an institution in the UK, as a Kid I loved the bright red roadside diners an always looked out for them, even if we didn’t stop at them. The pair at Balhaldie on the A9 are a major landmark for me.

A couple of years back I noticed that the last Little Chef restaurant on the routes I travel most often these days closed down – this was at Lamberhurst on the A21 between Tunbridge Wells and Hastings. There were another coupe of closed which re-opened as Starbucks, near Eastbourne on the A27 and A22. This got me thinking about change and corporate influence.

I then wondered if there might be something in looking at the re-use of of Little chefs and if it actually might show something about the UK now. A bit of research about former little chefs turned up a number have become Adult Shops, successful because their roadside locations allow anonymity to  customers. This seemed kind of interesting given the child friendly history/nostalgia around the brand.

So, instead of big corporates, A lot of these roadside establishments which were marginal at best are being taken up by lower end uses, which are more varied and interesting, Though there are some exceptions. With these half baked notions in mind and a tank full of petrol I set out over a couple of days last weekend to get out there and gather some images.

Initially I travelled North on the A1, as this is the prime hunting ground for the Sex shops, but also travelled East into Essex and will be making more trips and adding more images over the next few weeks to see if there is a valid body of work here, I suspect there is but I think the scope and the message are still poorly defined.

Also I’ve been under a couple of influences – I’m following Mark Power on Instagram and after seeing his ‘Destroying the laboratory for the sake of the experiment’ and coming into contact with Paul Graham’s A1: Great North Road series the idea of a road trip chimed as a logical way to survey the nation (Graham’s Little Chef from the series isn’t on his site). At the same time I hope it works slightly differently and but without slipping into an Ed Ruscha/26 gasoline Stations territory or Becher style cataloging. On that basis I hope to use the landscapes around the existing and former sites in an attempt to broaden the scope.

 

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Architecture, Interiors, Photography

Work

The montage below is a number of images taken for the HFM architects website of a new office suite we have recently completed. The while space is clad with a translucent panel which gives a lovely airy feel to the space which I tried to capture. The images were taken on a Sony A7r, and using a second hand Canon 24-70 f/4L IS lens which was cheap to buy as it had a small mark on the front element, but which I have found to be absolutely stellar, particularly for it’s class leading low distortion at the 24mm end.

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Architecture, Art

A Sea of Steps

My wife and I visited the South-West of England over the weekend past and one of the places we took in, albeit far too briefly was Wells Cathedral. As a student of architectural photography I was only too aware that one of the most famous early 20th century architectural photographs – ‘A Sea of Steps’ was made there by Frederick H. Evans (the first link is to Christies and shows a print of this famous image has sold for $233,000).

According to Britannica Evans was; “A man of strong opinions on many subjects … constantly involved in controversy. His most impassioned beliefs involved what he considered to be the proper practice of photography. A purist, he believed in never altering a photographic image after exposing the film. His goal was to create an aesthetically and spiritually satisfying image, utilizing the play of light and shadow on static architectural structures.”

I would subscribe to much of this and do try to take very straight shots which require as little processing once they are off the card as is practically possible so, as a little homage to Evans, I decided to reprise that iconic image of the stair to the Chapter House. I popped my Zeiss 18mm on to the front of My A7r and made a couple of exposures. A cropped from which is here.

While the soft, filtered light of the cloudy day is very beautiful I don’t think I achieved the composition…_DSC5155-2

I also made a shot of the Chapter house ceiling itself (below) which make full use of the lens’ low distortion and 100º diagonal field of view.

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Architecture, Photography

A Walk on the New Hastings Pier

We visited the revamped and revitalised Hastings Pier on Saturday. This was a rewarding experience as my wife was a trustee for a couple of years and I was a core volunteer. We both contributed to setting up the shop and providing it’s best selling product and my wife was key in appointing the design team via an RIBA run competition, so has a particular interest in how the project has turned out.

We reckon the Architects – dRMM have done as well as they could – Budgetary constrains mean the buildings are not as exciting as originally planned but the results are really good when you are close up to them, with a high standard of detailing. The crucial thing is that, unlike so may of England’s grand piers this one has a future.

A gallery of images;

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Architecture

Darkitecture VI

Latest addition to the ongoing series on empty buildings in London. This, the first for this winter, is in the Hoxton area of London, a building which must be worth a fortune yet has been empty for ages.

Personally, I was drawn by the green fluorescent light in the building on the left and the way it contrasts with the red light on the right.

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