Reach For The Sky!

May 07, 2015  •  1 Comment

Reach For The SkyReach For The SkyCopyrighted Digital Photograph

I have been privileged twice in my life, once in London and once in New York, to live on the 40th floor of a residential tower. This image is of the St. George Wharf Tower in Vauxhall, London, a recent, 50-storey addition to the skyline, which is now the tallest residential building in London. My personal experience was that it was better to be looking out from within the buildings which I inhabited, rather than seeing them from the outside, since these were concrete-built 1950’s and 1960’s designs lacking the materials sophistication evident in the cladding choices of today’s constructions. I therefore enjoy the visual impact of many of the reflective, colourful towers which maximize the footprint of today’s city-centre residential buildings.

 

Location, Location, Location

 

I am also grateful for the fact that the site on the river at Vauxhall lies way beyond the area of traditional and historical structures in the centre of London, over which it would loom and with whom it would visually “jar”. Set apart in a vista of flat water and wide skies, it is able to be itself and stand proud.

 

In that regard, I was very disappointed recently to discover the external view of the new Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, which is crouched between a children’s amusement park a riding school and a (hopefully) waiting-to be-demolished 1960’s office building. I hope that the interior and the view from within the adjacent Jardin d’Acclimatation will change my opinion, when I take the opportunity to photograph from the private side, as opposed to that public view. Most of the flattering images I have seen so far appear to have been taken from the air. Maybe the architects are children of our new Era of the Drone and expect that their work be best seen from above?

 

Composition?

 

That said, my photographic conundrum was how to show this structure in its best light? (Pun intended) My tripod was set up for “architectural” photography, with a wide-angle, 24mm, “perspective control” lens, which allows the image to be corrected for vertical distortion and sideways focus. I did wonder whether to change to a long lens, in order to frame only the St. George’s Wharf complex, excluding the other, more disparate structures to its right. My aesthetic “juices” seemed to salivate more in the direction of the big sky option and the opportunity for added interest offered by the bare twigs of an overhanging tree.

 

The resultant image is, for me, to be read from left to right in a rising sweep from the lower buildings, past the tower, up into the triangular tracery of the tree. Although this goes counter to the general visual psychology of reading a landscape from near to far, I feel that the other natural, Western cultural rule of reading left-to-right and the strength of the shapes still gives satisfaction. Similarly, there is a lighting drift in the same direction, from bright to dark, which adds to the effect.  

 

Settings

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: 24mm f3.5D ED Perspective Control

Focal Length: 24mm

Focus Mode: Manual

Aperture: f/27

Shutter Speed: 1/50s

Auto Focus -Area Mode: Single

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: +0.7 EV

Bracketing set to 5

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 900

Mounted on a Tripod

 

I was surprised to learn that the building was a strong contender for the 2014 “Carbuncle Cup” a joke prize offered by the magazine Building Design for the “ugliest building” completed in the UK over the previous 12 months. As stated above, given its situation, it is my view that it can stand on its own merits, without distressing the view of previous, much-loved structures. What do you think?

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2015


Comments

Eric(non-registered)
Beau point de vue. Belle lumière. Bon cadrage, du matériel adapté... Et le résultat est très professionnel, une fois de plus.
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