Archives for posts with tag: Architecture Photography

My recent Christmas holiday included Paris as our real travel destination. Paris is a city that I am quite familiar with having lived and worked there some years ago. It is a big, bustling, but also coy city. You might question the description, coy, but the majority of Parisiens keep to themselves and lead their lives in the midst of the Napoleonic grandeur doing their own thing.

So you can imagine my shock when we arrived only a few days in the wake of the tragedy of Charlie Hebdo. When the incidents occurred, we were over at Disneyland Paris and you could see an immediate and overt increase in Police and security presence. So when we got to the city centre for our last night before returning home, there was an uneasy feeling pervading the fabric of the city. Like I said, most Parisiens do their own thing and lead their own lives most of the time. Quite often neighbours have only one thing in common, that they are neighbours. But Charlie Hebdo was on everyone’s lips, and when red beret soldiers in flak jackets are walking around flaunting their automatic rifles around the prime tourist destinations something was up.

But I was not going to let that stop me or my family from touring the beautiful city of light. We stayed at the Pullman, Eiffel Tower and I wanted to walk around the locale of my old office. The tower itself was only a block away, right on our doorstep. Capturing it never gets tired.

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The Seine itself was quiet, but that was not surprising given it was the middle of Winter. As always there were several canal boats unassumingly moored on its banks.

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I was shocked to find the big ‘Je Suis Charlie’ banner draped on the Palais de Tokyo. Normally these pillars hold the banners for the latest exhibition of modern art.

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At Place d’Iena, the location of my old office, both the French and European Union flags flew at half mast in solidarity.

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I was surprised to see electric car charging booths on quite a few streets. I am a keen fan of Elon Musk’s Tesla, but these little electric buggies were new to me as were their berths. Maybe Australian politicians could learn a thing or two from where France is going with clean and sustainable transport. (I still want the Tesla – Model S P85D please…)

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Did I mention there were Police everywhere? If you look to the end of the platform you can see several gendarmes – they were everywhere.

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When we emerged out of the metro at the L’Arc de Triomphe, the first sight we were greeted with was… three burly gendarmes making their presence felt on the Champs-Élysées.

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The L’Arc de Triomphe itself was bearing the projection of solidarity for the whole city.

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Paris remains a city in love with movies since the time when Lumiere gifted the world with his new performance medium. There are more cinemas in Paris than there are pubs in Dublin.

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We were making our way to a restaurant that I dined at regularly when I was working there. Though it has changed hands and has a new proprietor Oscar remains a great restaurant which is well patroned by the locals. I think most tourists in Paris are hoodwinked by the overpriced eating establishments when all it takes is to walk off the main streets to find fantastic food and wine at half the price without the BS. The team at Oscar made us feel welcome even when we were dragging two children and a wet pram into their restaurant – so I (and many others on tripadvisor) definitely recommend this place to dine.

Even with all the unease and tension, the city remains the city of light. And when my boy saw the Eiffel Tower light up and glitter for the first time, for a brief few moments the tension was pushed away.

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Hopefully the next time I visit it will be under a different set of circumstances.

Addendum: I wrote this post last night and overnight tragedy befell Copenhagen too. Two worlds are colliding right now; one secular, modern, and liberal (but not necessarily without religion or morals) against the other ultra-doctrinal, intolerant, and archaic. Neil Degrasse Tyson tells us that colliding worlds are not a good thing at all.

I use the photo sharing website Flickr for sharing all my photos with the world. I have been using it for some time, and yet in the last two months I have seen my photo views sky-rocket. I know I have been uploading more photos recently, with this blog being a prompt to pursue my amateur photography. But that alone cannot explain why I have now close to 18,000 photo views. Particularly when I posted 6 weeks ago that I was creeping up to 10,000 photo views.

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I think one major contributing factor would have to be the 1 Terabyte of storage now on offer on Flickr. Couple that with the ability to manage the rights to your photos (unlike Instagram which is really Facebook in disguise). Of particular fascination to me is what photos have become popular as a result of this surge.

#1 Is Still the Mayan Witch Doctor

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I am sure he is not a Witch Doctor, but my ignorance on old Mayan culture has me reverting back to bad stereotypes. He is still my most popular photo, even if it is a staged shot.

#2 With a Bullet – The Control Tower at Pearl Harbor on Oahu

This is really surprising for me as I took this photo in May this year and is now the second most popular photo I have on Flickr.

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It might have something to do with the striking colours of the tower itself, backed by the breaking stormy clouds. I suppose that this was natural HDR.

#3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10 Summer Night Food Still Life

I never thought shots around a BBQ at my Brother and Sister-in-Law’s place one night midweek would be so popular. I blogged about this back in January this year called Australian Summer Night Food. Here is my favourite shot from that night.

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Maybe the stock photography sites don’t have too much of this sort of stuff.

#8 A Tokyo Service Station

A former work colleague and friend described to me that Japan was the most familiar and alien place that he ever went to in his travels. I didn’t get what he meant until I started shooting regular “things” around Tokyo. I love  Japan, but they do modern things so differently from the rest of the world.

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Look at the efficiency of space by having the hoses descend from the overhead roof. The micro car is typical of the city and not one that I ever saw sold in Europe, the United States, or Australia. And why would the signage be in English to the store? “Dr. Drive” is a pretty stupid name in English, so why does it suffice for this poor name to tie back to brand recognition – only in Japan.

#13 My Favourite Flower Photo

I love shooting flowers, not because I am floral by nature, but more because the colour and texture that is on tap. My favourite flower photo that I have shot is ranked at unlucky number 13 in page views. I blogged about the place where I shot it earlier this year in my Singapore Botanic Gardens post.

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I love the simplicity of this flower’s shape coupled with the water droplets resting on the petal shoots.

Strangers Using My Photos

This is where my photo views have become very interesting. Through Flickr I have chosen for the rights to my photos to be usable, but must be attributed to me. I don’t get paid for them, which ideally I would, but I am using old equipment and not really of sufficient size (megapixels) to be used for stock. I have upgraded my lenses in recent years, but the body I am shooting with on my SLR is the hold back (I still use a Canon EOS 400D – my phone has more resolution on the image sensor – LOL). The majority of photos I have posted on Flickr have been from older cameras with quite a few point and shoots in there. I can see the distortion and chromatic aberration in my older photos. So when I did a google search on my name, I was surprised to see some of the references turn up

A forum called Skyscraper City took a shine to this aerial photo that I named “Sydney Skyline” which I took on approach to Sydney airport. I was quite chuffed.

Sydney Skyline

Then I found a website called IC Direct who wrote a blog post about a window of opportunity for property investors, and they chose to use one of my windows shots. Again they attributed me with the photo recognition.

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Jeff Parker Cooks, another WordPress blogger picked up another of my Flickr photos from the BBQ night to add some spice to his Friday Five: My Picks of the Week (July 1st – July 5th) post about his passion of cooking – my wife would get on well with him. My sister in-law’s water can itself is interesting in its shape and design.

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A travel website called Your-TravelSite.com picked up one of my MTB trail photos when I camping up at the Central Coast for their page Nature Freaks in Central Coast Australia. I have specced up the MTB steed since this ride, so she looks very different from that photo.

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Another WordPress site Hawai’i Schools used the photo that I took of the King Kamehameha statue on the Big Island of Hawai’i for their post about the Community Power Night on August 9th. I like that a phot that I took on my travels has been used by the local community that I visited.

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I am chuffed that people have been able to use my photos, but I am not sure whether I am doing a disservice to other photographers who are a much better than me and are trying to make a living from the great work that they do. I would like to have my photos, if anyone is interested, viewed as many times as possible. Now I think the key thing is to see more of the world and see more of it through the eye of my camera.

This week travel theme from Ailsa’s blog ‘Where’s my backpack’ is Architecture. I have loved this week’s theme, so much that I thought I would do a second post. My first can be found here. As usual the images link through to the larger photos on Flickr.

This first photo is of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Monument in Washington, D.C., USA. This monument, unlike many of the others in the capitol, is one of beautiful landscape architecture that was designed as a place that the long passed president would have himself enjoyed. It is not a monument in memory of military sacrifice, and it does not impose a sense of awe in visiting the capitol of the global superpower that is the U.S.A. Instead, it is secluded tranquility on a human scale.

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On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, in France is the town of Troyes. It is a gloriously preserved medieval town and is a showcase of the Aube département. The town centre is a beautiful and living example of medieval architecture with all the exposed timbers and crooked buildings. There is awesome eating too, with the region’s specialty being andouille sausage on many a restaurant menu. I wish we had spent more time here, would definitely go back.

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Back in North America, and when we visited my brother and his wife in Toronto, Canada we had a lot of opportunity to explore the nation’s biggest city. There are quite a few architectural gems in Toronto (not to mention the MASSIVE CN Tower), but my favourite piece would have to be the modern facade for the Royal Ontario Museum. The museum itself is pretty cool with some interactive displays that my son, The Pok, enjoyed trying to destroy.

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I love visiting Japan, and you could write constantly an entire blog on Japanese architecture and design. Tokyo itself is just epic. This building though is unique even for Tokyo. I have been unable to find out details of what is inside or who owns it other than what appears to be three letters on the upper facade spelling out NOA. It is one of my most popular photos on Flickr.

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We went to a few countries on our honeymoon, and one of the coolest cities we have ever traveled to would have to be Tallinn in Estonia. The old town is amazing, and only a quick walk from the ferry stop. But it wasn’t the many old buildings that caught my eye, but this small office building with its supports for its cantilevered upper floors. Cool, cool, cool.

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Singapore, Asia’s island city state, is exploding in new construction and its economy is booming. I have been so many times that I have lost count (as it is a good intermediate stopover on the way from Australia to Europe). The architecture of the Marina Bay Sands building is on epic proportions. The overall design is relative simple, and it produces some striking lines that fill the lens.

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Across the road from the new huge glistening hotel is another beautiful but more modern piece of landscape architecture, the Gardens by the Bay. I have blogged about this place before, even so the mega trees are cool.

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I used to work for an American software company and this involved annual training trips to the USA, particularly Silicon Valley in California. Driving past the Oracle Headquarters is pretty impressive. The campus of towers is gleaming over a lake, and the cylindrical shapes have a dual meaning as the architectural symbol for a database is a cylinder. The window cleaning here must be some job.

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England is a treasure trove of Architecture through the ages, and Shrewsbury in the midlands is a prime example of a town where you see a lot of architectural history in one place. The old town, not too dissimilar to Troyes, is well preserved and I love the exposed dark wooden beams against the white plaster walls. Many of these old buildings have new modern businesses now occupying them and plying their trade.

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Shanghai in China was one of the other major destinations on our honeymoon, and it was a bit overwhelming to say the least. I think China is moving so rapidly economically that people are forgetting the cultural challenge of maintain a link to the past while accommodating the demands for growth of the future. This shot for me typifies the architectural mish-mash that is Shanghai.

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San Francisco, in California U.S.A, is one cool city. It is vibrant and hip, and this is reflected in the “Painted Ladies” opposite Alamo Square – a set of terrace houses beautifully maintained and not far away from the city centre. I hope that they are earthquake proof.

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My final shot is from the small town of Porvoo in Finland, about an hour out from Helsinki. The town is famous for the row of red painted houses by the river and its church. The houses were painted in honour of a visit by the King of Sweden back some time in the 19th century. While not architecturally stunning, I think it is quite unique for the country.

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Why have so many of my photos from my travel’s got grey sky? No fair weather exploring for this traveler.

I have really enjoyed this week’s travel theme, hence my two goes at it. Check out some of the other posts that you can find posted in the comments by the other bloggers.

On a side note, since blogging my Flickr account photo views have shot up. I have now had over 10,000 photo views and it is climbing rapidly. This amateur photographer is quite happy about that.

 

This week travel theme from Ailsa’s blog ‘Where’s my backpack’ is Architecture. What a tough challenge this week. Not because I don’t shoot architecture photos, but because I shoot WAY too many architecture photos. My wife often complains when we travel that I have taken another photo of a building. But the challenge for me is that I am an engineer of the built environment by profession. I see beauty in the design and construction of buildings and the myriad of materials that are used to realise the architect’s vision. Often, my favourite architectural images are obscure buildings that are not known globally, but are striking in their design.

But given the number of “architecture” photos I have shot, I think I have to do this in two parts.

This first photo is from the Olympic Park in Athens, that I took at the time of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work on the games and see Santiago Calatrava’s handiwork in the flesh. This is the modern interpretation of the ancient Greek agora – or marketplace.

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Next, in Southeast Asia is Thailand’s absolutely gorgeous national treasure known as the Royal Palace. It is a place of religious worship as well. When we went it was not long after some internal political strife that scared the tourists away. This allowed me to take so many shots of the Palace grounds without many other tourists in the shots. The tile work and gold leaf gilding the towers is absolutely stunning and almost too much to take in.

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Closer to home, in Australia, on the Northern New South Wales coast is the small town of Bellingen (not too far away from Coffs Harbour). What I found unique about this town was the Art Deco buildings that lined the main street, a perfect compliment to the local artisans who also ply their trades in the town. Even though the many of the buildings have modern fixtures and fittings, the locals make a very big effort to maintain the essence of the buildings as seen below.

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Further South in the Australian capital city of Canberra is our national parliament house. When the old parliament house exceeded its useful life, a new design was done by  Italian architect Romaldo Giurgola with the assistance of landscape architect Peter G. Rolland. What I find unique about this building is that it was built into our capitol hill, and sunk underneath. It blends in with the land, and while massive I think typifies the Australian ethos of being one with the land and the desire to protect our environment. It is both a simple and complex design at the same time.

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Further South still in the city of Melbourne, Victoria is Federation Square. This set of buildings at the heart of the city features what I think is one of the most complex geometric facades on any building that I have seen with the “fractal” tiles arranged in an aperiodic tiling pattern. It was controversial at the time of construction, but what a building!

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Back to Asia and the Hong Kong skyline is dominated by one of the new kids on the block, the International Finance Centre Tower number 2. It is huge! At 420m tall, it is only the second tallest building in Hong Kong – but for my money it is the most elegant. Christopher Nolan thought it was suitable enough for a certain caped crusader to launch from. Walking next to it is certainly a humbling experience.

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Further East of China is the medieval gem that is Himeji Castle, in Japan. It is a UNESCO world heritage site, and the most stunning example of Japanese military architecture. It was never taken by siege. It is known as either the White Egret Castle or White Heron Castle. The six storey central keep is imposing over the cityscape of Himeji, and when I wandered through the castle grounds it was like stepping back in time to feudal Japan.

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Still in Japan but on the Western side of Honshu is the coastal city of Kanazawa. Also a city of artisans, arriving at the train station one is greeted by the modern day interpretation of a Japanese mon (or gate). The wooden construction is huge and elegant at the same time. I wish more train stations were as beautiful as this one.

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Continuing with the train station theme is the art nouveau design of Helsinki, Finland’s Central Railway Station. Its imposing figures holding aloft their globes are classic in their designs, and the building’s clock tower is beautiful. It was designed by the Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen back in 1909. I would love to see more new buildings constructed with this level of detail and design, but the period and style is probably lost to time.

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I lived in Paris, France for a while back in 2004 and I could have pulled up any number of buildings for this post. But I chose a set of buildings that reflect a lost architectural direction of its era. The Forum des Halles in the 1er arrondissement of Paris is a collection of architecturally designed buildings built on the site of the old Paris markets. But they have remained soulless since their construction in the 1980s. The site is currently being redeveloped, but it still represents an attempt at architectural rebirth that is odd, but striking… in my opinion. What I love about the French is that they are not scared of attempting to reinvent their future, while still respecting the past history.

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Staying with the French speaking world, but on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean is the city of Montreal. Montreal is FUN! I can only imagine what it would be like to get up to mischief in Montreal without a 2 year old in tow. Another city of artisans, where there are numerous examples of architectural wonder. One highlight for me was the Palais de Congrès and Mario Saia’s multi-coloured glass facade. Big and bold.

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Lastly in North America, one cannot travel to New York and not be knocked over by the plethora of architecture on display. But the architectural heart and soul of New York would have to be the Rockefeller Center. It is a complex of 19 buildings, which at the center is dominated by the GE Building at 30 Rock. On our last trip to New York, my wife gave me a pass out to do the internal tour of the Rockefeller Center and I must have shot at least 400 photos of the building. This shot is simply the tower and its stepped sides.

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More to come in part two.

The ANZAC Bridge is Sydney Harbour’s other bridge. It is the one that is often forgotten by the tourists, but equally important in keeping Sydney moving. In my opinion it is an engineering beauty whose elegance lies in its myriad of cable stays and it’s two sentient towers. The area in which the bridge is situated holds lots of Sydney’s working history, with the old sandstone quarries being located on the Pyrmont side (East) and one of the many old dockyards surrounding the harbour foreshore being located on the Rozelle side (West). For many American GIs posted to the Pacific Theatre in World War II, they would have departed from Sydney in boats docked near where the Western footings now stand.

The weather this last weekend has been pretty much rubbish, but at sunset on both days the heavens opened up and provided a spectacular sky show with the ANZAC bridge as its star. Come to think of it, the weather this Summer has just been bizarre – and I think there may be another heatwave coming our way later this month. Both my Canon EOS 400D SLR and Canon Powershot G15 came out for a play and here are the results. As usual all the photos link through to larger images on my Flickr photostream.

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The last shot is of the cycle path that loops around on itself on the Pyrmont side to bring you up to the height of the bridge deck. I have ridden this too many times to count. If you are interested in going for a walk to the bridge you can find it at the location below on Google Maps. Make sure you stop at the Sydney Fish Markets for a bit to eat while you are at it as well.

ANZAC Bridge - Google Maps

 

I have recently been travelling to Melbourne for work quite a bit. In fact, I have been to Melbourne so many times that I have lost count – and the number of trips would easily number over 200. As a Sydney-sider I find it awkward to say that I love Melbourne. It is a totally different city to Sydney, in the same way that Los Angeles is to New York or Toronto is to Montreal. I love going there, and I love visiting family and friends that I have down there too. The client that I am working for is based in the Docklands, and it is interesting to hear what the locals think about the precinct. Empty, soulless, heartless, dead are adjectives that I have heard numerous times in describing the new modern construction going up all around.

So I decided to see what my perspective would be through the lens. I took my new trusty Canon Powershot G15 to see if I could put it through its paces and what I decided to focus on in the end were some of the fascinating patterns that the modern architecture and buildings presented. There have been huge leaps in building construction since I left university over 15 years ago, and the new materials and manufacturing processes mean that architects and engineers can produce patterns in exterior cladding that were just not possible before (or more correctly cost viable – the Sydney Opera House being a perfect example). So here is what I found. The strange thing is that in some ways, these patterns remind me of the skins of reptiles – but made of metal and glass.

BTW – All the photos link through to the larger images on my Flickr page.

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My photo excursion was beautifully ended with a spectacularly dusk setting over the unusually calm Docklands with a crescent moon over the water. I love the colour of the sky in this last shot – no Photoshop necessary!

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My next photo excursion down in Melbourne will probably involve either two wheels or the myriad of cool sculptures that grace the city.

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