For this initial task, we experimented with different forms of light, their different effects in a photo and how they can be manipulated to suit a subject. I experimented with several different types of light, such as natural sunlight, tungsten light, and studio based lights such as hard and soft lights. Whilst photographing, I tried to manipulate the lights in order to better suit the subject, or bring out an interesting effect using the shadows present on the subjects face. I then edited the images on Photoshop by adjusting the contrasts of the photos, bringing out the full effect of the lighting.
With this project, I intend to present the essence of London through its variety of different landscapes, both architectural and natural. Every person that makes up London's population of 9 million has a different perception of the city they live in, and I seek to convey some of these perceptions through my work. I also wish to explore the relationship between man and nature in the City of London, as well as examining London from different viewpoints (e.g. birds eye, worms eye views). There are also several artists whose works I admire, and hope to respond to during the course of this project. These artists include Thomas Danthony, Marcus Lyon and Giacomo Costa, and their work involving architecture is unique and aesthetically stunning.
Landscapes of London
For my first shoot, I travelled to the South Bank of the River Thames and visited the Tate Modern, in which I took a lift up to the viewing area where there are panoramic views of London. Here, I took photos of the cityscape and its horizon, seeking to portray the beauty of its vast variety of architecture, which ranged from historic sites such as St Paul's Cathedral (in which construction started in 1675), to modern architecture such as The Shard (built from 2009 to 2012). I wanted to convey a sense of enormity, and shoot the city to its fullest before condensing my project into smaller areas of London.
I felt that I achieved what I set out to do with my initial shoot, capturing a certain urban beauty in each photo whilst shooting the city to its fullest. The sense of enormity is also present with each of the photos, likely due to the fact that the images are taken from a birds eye point of view, adding a strong perspective to the images, whilst the large aperture allows viewers to observe every detail. Using Photoshop, I played around with the contrast, brightness and saturation of each of the images, hoping to convey the different perspectives of the city that Londoners have. For instance, the harsh black and white with a strong contrast could represent a grimy perception of the city, whereas a brighter, bolder saturation suggests a positive, hopeful outlook on London, as though it is advancing instead of regressing.
Marcus Lyon - Brics
In 2008, a watershed was crossed and the world saw the irreversible shift from a global majority of rural dwellers to a new army of urban residents. Mass urbanisation trends predict that the world’s urban population will double in the coming 40 years. The cities of the developing world will account for 95% of that growth. These are the megacities of the BRIC economies, the urban giants of Brazil, Russia, India and China. These people-magnets draw in rural workers with the promise of higher wages and a better quality of life, but the delicate balance between expanding population and limited physical space defines the human condition of these powerhouses.
The evolution of these urban spaces defines today’s global economy. In 2001, Jim O’Neill of Goldman Sachs first coined the term BRICs, accurately predicting that these 4 economies would drive future global growth. In 2010 these 4 countries account for 25% of the world’s land mass and 40% of its population. In 2025 the BRIC economies will have created at least another 200m consumers with per annum incomes over $10,000. By 2050 the BRICs will eclipse the combined economies of Europe and America. Whichever way it is examined the megacities of the emerging markets are the defining human environments of our time.
London Response - Creating a Landscape
Responding to Marcus Lyon's BRICS project, in which he conveys the rapid development of megacities through powerful images showing a world in which nature is rapidly regressing, I attempted to envision London in a similar way, as though London was a developing megacity. I wanted to show London's architecture as less diverse and more as though it had be cloned repeatedly, so I essentially cut certain buildings from photos and pasted them onto a new photo. I then strategically placed these buildings on top of already existing buildings to make it look believable, and repeated this several times.
Using the Quick Selection Tool, select the building you which to transfer.
Using the mouse, cut the building you have just selected from its original position.
Drag the building you have just cut onto the photo you want to move it to.
Place the building onto the next photo (preferably just below the horizon depending on the size of the cutout).
I was fairly happy with my edits, as they looked reasonably believable and convey a sense of modern futurism. The photos reminded me of the New York skyline, in which it is difficult to see the horizon due to the sheer amount of skyscrapers that occupy the city. I much prefer the London skyline, in which there are only a few skyscrapers, making it far easier to see the horizon. The repeated effect of the architecture, especially in the monochrome image, gives a chilling effect of systematic order; a complete contrast to the diverse architecture that currently occupies London.
Building on the work I've done previously when I visited the viewing area of the Tate Modern, I attempted to seek out another high rooftop that displays the vast skyline of London. I decided to take a trip to the Sky Garden, on 20 Fenchurch Street on the Bank, where panoramic views of London are present. I visited at around 5pm, which gave me the perfect chance to capture the sunset. Despite the timing being virtually perfect, one aspect of the shoot that prevented me from taking the ideal photos was the panel of glass that gave each image a tint of blue. The results of my shoot are below.
To remove the blue tint on each of the photos caused by the panel of glass, I played around with the saturation, contrasts and brightness of each image. I wanted to give each edit a soft orange glow, which created a sense of relaxation in each photo, and the background haze that covers the horizon adds a chilled, wintery atmosphere. I really love the effect of these edits, as I feel that they convey an almost tranquil urbanity, which is a perception of London rarely felt, due to its intensity as a modern, 21st century city.
In Berlin, I focused on shooting architecture from a worms eye position, aswell as a birds eye position when travelling to buildings such as The Fernsehturm, in which there are panoramic views of Berlin. Opened in 1894, The Reichstag was one of my favourite places to shoot in Berlin, due to its fascinating design. It was set on fire during WW2, and remained in ruin and disuse until it was fully refurbished in 1999. It houses a modern design despite being designed in the late 1800's, and currently acts as the parliament building. Another piece of architecture I loved to shoot was Olympiastadion, originally built for the 1936 Summer Olympics, in which famous athletes such as Jesse Owens competed. Since 1963, it has been the home ground of Hertha BSC football team, and also hosted 3 matches during the 1974 Fifa World Cup and 6 matches during the 2006 Fifa World Cup.
Photographing Berlin's architecture was an interesting experience, as there are similarities and differences between it and London's cityscape. Like London, there aren't too many skyscrapers so the horizon is relatively clear, however there are far more skyscrapers in London than in Berlin. However, unlike London, much of Berlin's architecture is made up of bright colours, almost making the city feel homelier than London. From shooting Berlin, I have learnt that worms eye photography can be just as effective as birds eye photography, as shooting something from below looking upwards gives a strong sense of perspective. I have also found that taking photos from a high point often involves an effective and colourful sky, which perhaps takes the viewers eye away from the architecture.
Worms Eye View - Canary Wharf
For my next shoot, I travelled to Canary Wharf on a Sunday, which was a good place to shoot as it was relatively quiet.