This winter 2011-2012 has been unusually mild, with warmer than normal temperatures and virtually no snow. While I don’t miss shoveling snow, I do miss snow. So in that spirit I thought I would post snow photos that I have shot in the past.
This week I have been trying to dream up a humorous and believable April Fool’s Day blog post, but I haven’t come up with one. Instead Mother Nature has provided the perfect April Fool’s event, snow. Here it is April and it’s snowing in Philadelphia. The snow isn’t sticking but it is keeping Spring at bay.
As a kid I always loved April Fool’s Day pranks. One year when I was about ten years old, I woke up early and switched the contents of the sugar bowl and the salt shaker. My dad proceeded to put salt in his coffee and sugar on his eggs. My younger brother spooned salt onto his cereal. Salty coffee and cereal taste terrible. My parents were not amused, but I sure was.
I am experimenting with a low cost time lapse camera. I want to document the sky above my studio, every day for an entire year. Here are the first four days, showing frames each shot at noon.
Here is a composite of images from 12/27/10, each taken an hour apart. It is amazing how quickly the sky changes, and how much variation happens in one day.
Greg captured many great views of this setting during the day, showing the pool, the built in grill and the pergola. But what lead to the dramatic twilight image was realizing that a second shoot at night would lead to even more dramatic images of this space.
For the twilight shoot, 1000 watt lights were set up outside of the frame, and a roaring fire was lit in the fire ring. Then Greg waited for the magic time when the sky is a deep blue, just before it turns black.
The homeowner should feel proud of what they have created for themselves. Now, who’s ready for a summer cook out and a midnight swim?
A few weeks ago we shared some photographs of University of Pennsylvania’s Weave Bridge to make the point that even though sunny days are generally the best days to shoot architecture the sun can also create unwanted, distracting shadows.
The following is a great example of why sunny days are, as a rule, best for architecture:
One could not ask for better conditions to photograph this office building in West Chester, Pennsylvania. The direct sun’s contrasty light gives the brick facade an attractive color and makes strong, but open shadows that give an otherwise simple structure a sense of volume and presence. The beautiful blue sky also has a nice balance of soft, wispy, white clouds.
The weather does not often cooperate and can wreak havoc with deadlines. Above is a comparison between an unretouched shot of the same building during a cloudy and damp day, and the same shot with an example of the sort of retouching that is sometimes necessary. Even though the added sky improves the shot; the pavement is still very wet. It is clear that returning to the site when the weather was best yielded the better image.
I recently received an assignment from University of Pennsylvania’s alumni magazine, The Pennsylvania Gazette, to photograph a new pedestrian bridge on campus. The Weave Bridge is part of Penn’s expansion of their campus towards the Schuylkill River. It crosses a major railroad line and connects distant sports fields with the main campus.
I scouted the assignment on a cloudy day, and returned when it was sunny to shoot final photos. In general most buildings and structures photograph better when it is sunny and the sky is blue. In this case when the sun is out, shadows compete with the strong visual design of the Weave Bridge. Whereas on an overcast day, the pattern of the bridge’s floor is less confused.
This poses a dilemma and illustrates the reality that sunny is not always the perfect shooting condition.
On the other hand the below photos of a warehouse clearly illustrate the standard idea that a blue sky and strong sun beats clouds and snow.