|‘Architecture and Landscape’||4 December 2018|
Ian Thompson ARPS EFIAP/g was welcomed to Devizes Camera Club to present a talk on Architecture and Landscape. Ian explained that he had been an architect all his working life and when he retired, he wanted to do something different. He went walking in the Scottish Highlands and English Lakes, often getting up before dawn and taking photographs around the rising sun.
However, there came a time when he wanted to move from “technicolour sunrises”, and a series of images of the Infinity Bridge in Stockton-on-Tees marked, he said, the start of a transition back to architectural photography. He said he always wants to get some dynamism into his shots to create additional interest. His bridge photography progressed to taking ever more detail, creating abstracts of shapes, including bridge pylons and supporting wires.
He moved on to buildings, creating interest through his choice of angles and shapes, including squares, triangles, diamonds and curves, within the structure of a building. Ian likes to work handheld, usually with a 16-35mm or a tilt-shift lens, so that he can easily adjust his position to get the best composition and maintain vertical verticals. He tries to fill the frame with shapes and sometimes will endeavour to include people in the images to add some context. He also demonstrated the use of long exposures on external images which can help with cleaning up unwanted cloud reflections on glass. During his post-processing, he will often replace uninteresting skies and remove distracting elements surrounding the building.
Ian demonstrated all these techniques with many wonderful images of dramatic perspectives and sweeping curves from buildings and staircases in different countries across Europe. Always concentrating on shapes and angles, he showed us how a different position, or a different lens, can alter the perception of the same structure. He also showed us how much more dynamic night-time shots can be in places like railway stations.
Ian gave us an insight as to how he finds buildings to photograph. He scours the architectural press and e-architect.com to find lists of new buildings and buildings of different styles. He marks the location of structures in which he is interested on Google Earth and uses 3-D view and Street-view to take a closer look. Using apps such as Maps.Me he can get step-by-step offline travel instructions.
In the second half of his presentation, Ian went back to his love of landscape photography. Although he said he likes bright colours, several of the images he showed us were great in monochrome. He likes to get up in the dark to capture the full range of the sunrise and he often goes back to the same location on different days or times of the year. He illustrated this with several images of Bamburgh Castle all taken from the same place (roughly) about 20 minutes before the sun rose. Some were of dazzling sunrises while others (with no sunrise) were more muted using wave movement to create a different atmosphere.
His research of locations and planning of shoots was as detailed as it was with his architectural photography. Using software such as Theodolyte he finds the co-ordinates and bearing of suitable place and drops them into Google Earth, where he can add photos and notes. Setting “animation” in Google Earth he can scroll through time to see how the sunrise will affect the location he has chosen.
And so he took us to some of his favourite locations with wonderful images taken in various places across the UK. There was a sequence of shots taken over 20 minutes as the sun rose through the mist at Chew Valley Lake; there were misty woodland shots in places like Savernake Forest and West Woods; and there were waterfalls in the Yorkshire dales. There were also some great images taken at Derwent Water and Ullswater in the Lake District and shots taken in changing weather conditions on Harris in the Outer Hebrides where he wanted to capture the structure of the sand.
After taking some questions our Chairman concluded the evening by thanking Ian for a very entertaining talk which not only presented some “refreshingly different” architectural images, but showcased Ian’s continuing passion for landscape photography, and expressing his respect for Ian’s meticulous approach to research and planning. The audience showed their appreciation with a warm round of applause. DF
Images © Ian Thomson ARPS EFIAP/s Top: Infinity, Top right: Painted Staircase, Left: Wooden Spiral, Bottom: Last Leaves of Autumn