Using a Ricoh GRD III and a Nikon DSLR to photograph streets, people, architecture and anything else that catches my eye.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

London Architecture

I have always been interested in architecture, although on the most part, I prefer modern or new architecture.  It's something about the use of new materials and construction methods which excites me. Modern architecture often breaks the rules of the establishment, resulting in shapes and forms which would not have been possible just two decades ago.

London is a very old city, containing architecture from many centuries. All these buildings were once modern. It is a fact that many people were opposed to the dome of St Paul's Cathedral, exclaiming that it was a monstrosity. All architecture is influenced by previous styles; this is why many buildings constructed in the last two centuries have roman styles columns and other classic touches.  London is a good example of how modern architecture sits side by side with classic architecture. Everything is mixed up from one street to the next.  The finacial area known as the City of London is where most of the modern structures are rising up in a neighbourhood of classical architecture. Of course, just on the other side of the River Thames, we have the almost complete Shard. On completion, it will be Europe's tallest tower; although not for very long.

I took this image of The Shard 'under construction' about two months ago with my Nikon D80. Just to show that I have been taking snaps of architecture using digital cameras for quite a long time, here is an image I took in 2002 of The Gherkin (30 St Mary Axe), using an early digital camera:

If steel and concrete are the hidden 'skeleton' of most modern buildings; then on the most part, glass seems to be the 'skin'. The Gherkin and The Shard would not look quite so pretty if they were grey concrete monsters.  Stainless steel and concrete are used in conjunction with glass and often hold the design together visually.

The other favourite material used in modern construction is 'cladding'. This can either be stone cladding or metal cladding. It is the combination of coloured metal cladding, textured stone cladding and structural glass, which produces the contemporary and futuristic look of the modern city.

In some of the following images, which were all taken a while ago with my Nikon D80, I have used the glass as a giant mirror, with other details reflected, creating some abstract images. In these situations, the building itself is no longer the main subject; it is just a medium for producing reflected forms of colour and light. The final image is an example of how brightly coloured cladding can be used to produce and exciting entrance to a building.


I will post some more architecture images later. (I have many). I really need to spend a long day in London soon to update my tired old picture archive.  I have learned a lot about photography since I took these images, by reading other peoples' blogs; and I really need to try some ideas out on some of London's new buildings. In the last three years there have been so many changes to the London skyline. Architecture is changing the look of London's streets too, with new modern spaces between the rising glass towers.  It is now at street level where I try to combine architecture and street photography. You may notice that none of the above images contain people at all.

Here is a final image which I took last month with my beloved Ricoh GRD3, where I have started to include the public in the foreground of city images.


Michael Gatton said...

Wow, that picture of the Shard is just breathtaking, awesome. You've really got a knack for shooting architecture, wonder if that's a coincidence :-)

The color ones are beautiful too. I like the inclusion of people, but the alienating emptiness of the pure architectural shots also has an appeal, I think.

Bill Wellham said...

Thanks Mike.. You are correct with your last point. Both scenarios work well. City architecture can look great with people at street level, because people 'are' part of the city, and are the 'building users'. But sometimes, the clean lines and specific details of architecture need to be presented on their own.

Cherise Frias said...

Modern architecture really brings out the creativity of a person by defying norms and thinking outside of the box; creating structures with good aesthetics and using the right materials to maximize the building's functionality. You don't need high-end photography equipment to make your photos pretty. You just have to conceptualize and imagine subjects in a different perspective; thus, making your photos come to life.

Bill Wellham said...

Thank you Cherise. Architecture is indeed a great inspiration for me and my humble attempts at photography. Architecture is there for everyone to live and work in... or just to look at with admiration.

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