Photographing Architectural Abstracts by Lisa Couldwell

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.

Energy Plaza - Calgary, Alberta by Lisa Couldwell

Energy Plaza — Cal­gary, Alberta by Lisa Couldwell

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.


  1. test says:

    good art

  2. Wicked Dark says:

    Woo hoo! You go girl. Great first article.


  1. […] This post was men­tioned on Twit­ter by Phyl­lis Gran­nis, wicked­dark­photo. wicked­dark­photo said: Pho­tograph­ing Archi­tec­tural Abstracts | Pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast blog and forum — via @wibiya […]

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