The fisheye does architecture and I embrace massive distortion

Circular Flow, Emphasized - Austin, Texas

Circular Flow, Emphasized – Austin, Texas

I was at a loss of how to use a fisheye lens. Sure it was fun shooting the book signing over at Precision Camera but what else? You know I’m a city person that likes architecture, but how wacky would a fisheye be? I decided to embrace the distortion head on and I found the perfect place to shoot it.

The neighborhood around the former Seaholm Power Plant is starting to take shape. The first phase is nearly complete, the corporate tenants are moving in and the first store has opened. In fact, the new residential towers in the area across from the Pfluger pedestrian bridge have turned into a quiet and desirable spot. The centerpiece of the pedestrian bridge is its circular ramp that allows joggers and cyclists to flow smoothly on to the bridge. The fisheye had an exceptionally nice effect, I think.

Wildflowers at Seaholm - Austin, Texas
Seaholm Courtyard - Austin, Texas

I headed across the bridge and towards the old power plant. I discovered that, used in a particular way, the wild curves are somewhat tamable. Sure the distortion is still there but I think these two shots don’t scream fisheye. The look more like super-wide angles.

I decide to convert these to black and whites, like the super-wides I created in downtown San Francisco. I’ve received a lot of positive feedback about the San Francisco architecture photographs and I wanted to echo the look but with a fisheye twist.

Stairs to the underbelly, Seaholm Development - Austin, Texas

But of course, why use a fisheye to minimize the effect. Here I show it off. These stairs lead to underground parking for the entire complex which is comprised of the retrofitted Seaholm Power Plant, a small shopping area and a substantial condo building. You can see the condo in the background, which is the last to be completed.

Super Structure #1, Seaholm Development - Austin, Texas
Super Structure #3, Seaholm Development - Austin, Texas
Super Structure #2, Seaholm Development - Austin, Texas

I’m glad the architects kept the maze of steel and catwalks intact, behind the power plant. The utilitarian structure now acts as modern art that hints at the building’s original purpose. In fact, I’m sure the dark pipes in the second photo are actual art pieces added to the structure. I had a chance to visit Seaholm years ago, before any hint of renovation and I don’t recall these dark elements.

They’ve added skylights too, which should help light the multilayered substructure. You can see how the Seaholm Power Plant looked before the renovation, It was a fantastic industrial space. The main building is now corporate offices, which is disappointing. I was hoping the the power plant’s interior would house a large shopping mall where the public can admire its structure. The main hallway had the feel of an old train station, sort of like a minimalist, industrial Grand Central Station in New York City. Unfortunately, just a single tenant gets to enjoy this centerpiece. Perhaps they might let me take some “after” photos.

Smoke Stacks #1, Seaholm Development - Austin, Texas
Smoke Stacks #2, Seaholm Development - Austin, Texas

They also kept the giant smokestacks. They loosely define the boundary of the power plant from the new areas beyond. There’s a grassy plaza that forms a courtyard bounded by stores and the large condo. The three buildings forms a nice semi-enclosed space — I like how this turned out. Beyond the courtyard, to the east, the new Central Public Library is going up. To the north, the streets are now seamlessly connected to the neighborhood that continues to sprout new high-rises. To the south, the popular hike and bike trail and greenbelt that runs along the river.

Framed, Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge - Austin, Texas
Mighty Oak in Fisheye - Austin, Texas

Back across the pedestrian bridge, I’m now by the river front park. The framed opening is the same structure shown at the top of the post but from below. And just to show it’s not only architecture that can benefit from some fisheye fun, here’s a majestic Oak Tree.

The Olympus 8mm fisheye might be a very specialized lens but I certainly had more fun with it than expected. This Pro lens is high quality and expensive however, it might be just the ticket for anyone wanting to create that unique perspective. My thanks to Charles from Olympus that let me use it for a couple of weeks, before it hit the stores.

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5 thoughts on “The fisheye does architecture and I embrace massive distortion

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