18 May 2012

An Architect's Work is a Photographer's Pleasure

It's no wonder Frank Gehry's architecture is photographed as often as it is: it's as if he designed, specified materials, and built with photographers in mind. Planes of curving glass or metal, ascetically clean and unadorned, reflect the world and sky that surround his buildings. Whether glowing or burning, radiating soft hues or blindingly pearlescent grey tones, his work is our pleasure.

Certainly one of the most oft-photographed Gehry creations has to be the Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Like a beached futuristic Ark of alien design, it sits upon a hill, positioned between the older, New Formalism style architecture of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and the imposing high rises of Bunker Hill. I have enjoyed shooting there on several occasions with both infrared and visible light cameras. On my latest trip to L.A. we arrived an hour or so before sunset ?? an ideal time ?? and were rewarded with smoky clouds as backdrop. The soft billows and hard-edged planes both caught and threw back the changing light as the sun dropped lower.

As usual, selecting a few representative images from the many is a challenge: a slight change in angle or in time of capture yields a whole new interpretation. Infuriatingly, the management of the Concert Hall permit no tripod usage on the block the building sits upon. (If you want to use 3-legged support, you must cross to the other side of one of the streets.) This is fine for relatively shallow depth of field images, but the building demands a least a few sweeping wide-angle, extreme DOF photographs. Even without a tripod, with a combination of my Pentax camera's built-in shake resistance, timed breathing, and the creative use of the building itself for support, I was able to capture the f/22, near-to-infinity drama shots I was looking for.


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