New Work - Urban Contrasts Series

I wanted to share a long-term project that I have been working on for the last few months. I currently have no defined project end-point but rather a desire to slowly evolve a style and technique that has always interested me. 

For a long time I have had more than a fleeting interest in design and architecture and while I enjoy older classic buildings I feel a stronger draw to more modern and minimalist architectural designs. Minimalism is a design and architectural style and there is currently a school of thought that the general state of the economy plays a key factor in determining whether the minimalist style is in vogue or not. Basically, the theory goes that when the economy is booming, the general trend in design and architecture is to be flamboyant, extravagant and even garish as a means of exhibiting a measure of wealth and success, whereas in times of austerity, the design trend naturally favours a more scaled-back approach.

My simpler personal view is that, as with most 'style' related trends, it is most likely affected by the same varying cycles of preference that frequently sees past trends re-visited and re-invented for a modern age - until they go out of fashion again! Examples of this are limitless and a modern, minimal design is no less affected by these cycles than any other design style.

Personally, the appeal of a modern minimalist design is to the aesthetics offered by the employment of a reduced set of elements. This, in turn, leads to a clean and uncluttered form. Interestingly, in many instances, the architect or designer employs these limited elements with great skill to provide an equal level of function. As with all art, whether the audience or customer of such designs sees them as functional and, more importantly, aesthetically pleasing, is purely subjective. 

I generally enjoy the bold use of uncluttered negative space, simple colour elements, strong clean lines, angular shapes and free flowing curves. I also look for solid, industrial looking elements in architectural design, particularly in the smaller details. If it looks like it could be in a Sci-Fi movie, then we're probably on the right track.

This is my explanation as to the "why" I'm interested in photographing these designs, so now to the the "how".

The current fashion when photographing modern architectural structures leans almost exclusively towards the use of black and white photography. And for very good reasons. The absence of colour strips a design down to its key component parts. There are no distractions from the familiar colour palette our eyes see every day. Instead, they are replaced by the varied rich tones available between pure black to pure white, as well as the drama provided by the presence of strong tonal contrast. This, in turn, gives the viewer a primary focal point on the textures, geometric shapes and strong forms that are the hallmark of such designs.  The result can have a very strong visual impact. (As a side-note, over the coming months I also plan to concentrate on producing more black and white images for my natural landscape work).

Another trend is to add split tones as part of the digital image processing. The in vogue choice are selenium, blue and silver tones. These are most commonly used to help convey drama or punctuate highlights and shadows. My personal preference is not to add such tones, but this may change as work progresses, so stay tuned.

Finally, light is one, if not "the" key element in photography and this is very evident in black and white architectural photography. Within the black and white image, focused light reflecting across highly polished metal, glass, panels, stone and concrete surfaces helps to illustrate key elements of the architect's design vision. In turn, the use of long exposure photography helps add drama, pin-sharp optics capture the smallest details and the powerful digital darkroom tools and processing techniques all afford a photographer the opportunity to deliver their own personal artistic interpretation.

The developing body of work currently falls under the working title of "Urban Contrasts" and will be loaded into its own portfolio gallery within this website. You can view and expand each of the enlargeable high resolution images simply by clicking here or by visiting the Fine Art Portfolio from the main menu.

Please keep in mind that the work is ongoing and the portfolio will grow as I add new images. The style of photography is very different to my usual work, but I hope you take the time to view and hopefully enjoy some of the images. As always, I welcome constructive comments and feedback in the comments section below and will always endeavour to respond in a timely manner.

Until next time,

Frank