Before and After — San Francisco Architecture 1

The Before and After series focuses on the two or three key creative choices, in terms of composition and processing, that go into creating an image.  Specific technical details about the shot have been left out — you won’t hear me talking about tone curve adjustments and whatnot unless it was a key component of the end result.

A couple buildings in SF, part of a new architecture concept I’m experimenting with.


  • Shutter:  1/125
  • Aperture:  f/8.0
  • ISO: 1600
  • Camera:  Canon EOS 1D Mark IV
  • Lens:  Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L II USM (at 135mm)

Composition and Processing

  • I’ve never really had a good feel for how to shoot architecture.  It’s like shooting someone else’s creative work, which strikes me as more editorial than artistic, and thus outside the bounds of what interests me in photography.   So I’ve been looking for ways to bring more to the table, where the way the structure is shot changes how it’s viewed.  I spent an afternoon walking around the financial district in San Francisco, attempting to capture uniform patterns from building exteriors, subject to a couple constraints:  (1) no tops, ground floors or anything that suggested the surface terminating in ground or sky;  and (2) more than one building must be included in the shot, in effect combining two separate patterns together that might be complementary.
  • These two buildings are actually separated by an alley, so I chose this angle intentionally to close the gap and create the illusion of three adjacent patterns (the middle pattern looks to be in front of the left building when in fact it’s behind it).  The tilt of the frame causes the eye to travel left to right, but the perceived adjacency causes it to halt at the darker building on the right.  Really, the entirety of the lighter building appears to be pushing up against the darker one.
  • The uniformity of the orange stairwell lights created a nice contrast to the overall blue cast of the shot, so I pushed up the saturation on them to exaggerate this further.


February 11 2012 09:21 pm | Photography

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