In New York City you tell people never to look up or risk being labeled a tourist, and perhaps increasing the chances of being an easy mark. I don’t know if that’s the case in San Francisco, but as you can see I was in full tourist mode. Coming from a smaller city like Austin, I took the opportunity to shoot tall buildings and in wide-angle to exaggerate the proportions. What resulted is a fun exploration of leading lines, textures and tones.
When I was younger, I believed firmly in Bauhaus architecture, the origin of simple lines and minimal ornamentation. Much of the modern skyscrapers these days are built in the “International Style” which have homogenized many of the cities throughout the world. As I grow older, I have to admit that I’m growing fond of details and texture. Perhaps it’s also the influence of photography. The super clean lines of the modern world are well, boring, and usually don’t interest me as subjects.
What I found in San Francisco is a nice mix of the old and the new. Of ornamentation and efficiency. It made for endless compositional possibilities. Unlike my recent photowalk on Burnet Road, where one struggles to find the interesting, the risk in San Francisco is of being overwhelmed. I shot more than architecture but for this post, I’m highlighting just the tall structures of the modern world. And unusual for me, all shot during the daytime, instead of my typical night-time images.
I originally intended to post these in color, as they were shot. But black and white looked more compelling — the images took on more abstraction. Texture is now emphasized instead of competing with color.
There’s actually a large amount of technology used to create these photographs, though their effects maybe subtle. These are HDRs but created handheld using the built-in processing on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II. It’s the first time I explored this feature and I’m really impressed. So much so that I shot almost every photograph during my recent California trip with the in-camera HDR.
In these photographs, the HDR reduces the contrast between the shadows and highlights. The tonal range stays in check and diminishes the harshness. I actually added contrast to give the images a bit more pop. But enough talk about technique, it’s the images that matter the most of course. I’ll talk more about the in-camera HDR in a future post, for today I wanted to showcase the city. And while shooting the Golden Gate is always picturesque, I’m glad I created a different kind of image of San Francisco.
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