Living in the downtown core of a large city with some interesting glass towers makes for great opportunities to shoot urban architectural abstracts. The beauty of this type of photography is that sometimes uncooperative weather or light can make for some great opportunities to catch building reflections. So any day I feel the need to get out for a walk, I take my camera and head downtown to see what the towers will offer up for opportunities.
I guess the most important aspect of shooting these types of subjects is the ability to look up, vertical, sideways, basically any way that gives one a different perspective. When shooting, look for interesting shapes and reflections off the glass windows of the towers. This can be anything from the reflections of the other parts of the buildings themselves, to reflections of the sky or clouds, sunlight or other buildings in the area.
If you see something that catches your eye, try turning your head, body in a way that might perhaps give you a different perspective and if you see something, get the camera ready. I usually set my Pentax into auto-bracket mode because I like to have the option of an HDR shot to play around with when I get home. Put the camera to the eye and again turn the camera, sideways, on an angle or basically any way that intensifies the abstractness of what you see through the lens. Take your time and don’t be afraid to take several versions of the shot while moving the camera and your body into different angles as you never know what may work and what may not. When composing the image in camera, I often compose lines to move on the diagonal as this moves the eye through the photo and creates a pleasing perspective. I look for symmetrical and geometric shapes when I move and photograph. I will go across the street and try from a different street corner as well. The beauty of this kind of photography is anything goes and you never know what you may end up with just by moving either a few centimeters or several feet. (Just as an FYI, sometimes you may get hassled from security people but in Canada as long as you are on a public sidewalk and not on private property you have the right to continue to photograph.)
In this image, I really was attracted to the V shaped angle of the building, vanishing perspective, symmetry, and the reflections of the other windows and the clouds. I pointed the camera straight up and tried to angle it so it was perfectly symmetrical. I then autobracketed 3 shots at exposures of +.5/0/-.5 stops, combined them into an HDR image in Photomatix, converted to BW in Silver Efex and minor touch ups in Lightroom to really bring out the cloud detail.
Lisa Couldwell is a photographer living in Calgary Alberta, Canada. You can check out more of her work in the Pentax Gallery, on fluidr,‚and on Smugmug. She also goes by the handle casil403 on our photography forum.