In the previous Photography Location Guide I discussed some of my favorite shooting locations. More particular I talked about the Zeeland Bridge and the Chrysler Building. This series isn’t about just naming some random spots in the world. I will give you detailed advice on how to get to a certain location, I’ll talk over the best vantage points and when and how to shoot on that location. This will give you a better understanding on how I work and, better yet, you can go out and shoot it your self.
This time I’ll discuss the Salk Institute (located in San Diego, CA) and the Scoop (located in London).
The Salk Institute
In 2010 I photographed The Salk Institute while working on a promo for Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro. The Salk Institute is a building I was specifically interested in shooting as it represented a design and symbolic meaning that matched my artistic vision at that time. The Salk Institute is designed by architect Louis Kahn, and like in most of his creations, the interaction between light and shadows, and his idea on the purpose and meaning of shadows, played an important role and inspired me to shoot this building.
Where and when to shoot
How to shoot
I’ve suggested how to shoot the Salk Institute in the previous paragraph, and I will try to suggest a few other interesting vantage points, but of course you have to experiment with it yourself. Another recommendation for example, would be to point the camera to one side of the Institute instead of the central view facing the ocean with the water channel and fountain in the frame. Generally I would approach either view with a long exposure and I would bring my 16 stops ND Firecrest filter so you won’t see any people in your photo. Having said that, I didn’t encounter too many people in the early morning.
Another way of photographing the Salk Institute is without long exposure and going for a more abstracted view of parts of the Salk Institute. If you walk around the Salk you will encounter various darker corners and openings, that are the deliberate intent of architect Louis Kahn who propagated the use of shadows in specific areas, as places to retreat yourself and find silence and awe, as if you were in a dark cloister. I personally experienced an almost mystical sensation when I visited this place. I can recommend reading this interesting article on Kahn’s ideas and use of shadows.
Where and when to shoot
How to shoot
The shot that you see as the final result was taken with a 24mm Tilt shift lens and is only possible with a tilt-shift lens. The final photo consists of three different shots that are stitched together in Photoshop. The first one was with the lens shifted down to the maximum position so the sunken amphitheater would be visible. The second photo was taken with the lens in the neutral position with the Shard as most important element. The third shot was taken with the lens in maximum upwards shifted position for the sky.
It may be possible to take this photograph with a very wide angle lens but the actual scene as depicted in the photo would look much smaller with many more other elements on the sides. A crop could solve it but the trade-off is a loss of pixels and resolution.
I didn’t use a long exposure for this photo since the clouds were very static and too gray and there were no people there anyway that I could reduce to ghosts with a long exposure.
A few more thoughts
My photography location tips are highly personal and based on my own experience. If you have additional location tips for the locations I’ve described, then feel free to add your comments below. Don’t be afraid to share your secret tips, it will result in some competition indeed, but authentic artistic vision and interpretation will always remain unique. I would love to see photos that will render my photographs obsolete. If you want to know more on architectural photography then I can highly recommend the eBook From Basics to Fine-art, that I co-wrote with Julia Anna Gospodarou. And if you want to know more on shooting long exposure photography in the field then I can recommend the video tutorial ‘Mastering Long Exposure Photography‘ with information in video and accompanying eBook that hasn’t been covered anywhere. A novelty for example is my approach towards architecture that is called ‘The maximum point of Perspective’. An approach that adds the maximum amount of dynamics to an architectural photograph. This new video tutorial has been released Wednesday, April 12, 2017 with an introduction discount.