Thursday, August 22, 2013

Architectural Photography

When I was a little kid, I didn't know what I really wanted. So when my dad asked me, 'Andreo, what do you want to be when you grow up?' I foolishly replied, 'I wanna be an architect dad!'.

Foolish child.

It was only until I discovered that in order to build a house, you needed 'above average' math skills. Above average was one step above too many for me. To say that I am average at math is probably even gunning it a bit too close to the edge.

Anyway, I took what frustrated dreams of being an architect  I had left and enrolled myself in PCCI's architectural photography class under Mr. Jojo Guingona. (Link here)

It was a pretty neat 2 day class that focused on the fundamentals of perceiving architecture and how to properly capture it on camera for publication in print materials. I'll probably get around to doing a comprehensive review about the class soon. (Well, let's hope so.)

As of the moment, the most important thing I took away from the class was to: 'Keep verticals, vertical and keep horizontals horizontal.'

This of course refers to keeping the fidelity of the lines in a picture. A good architectural photo has to look as close to how it is actually perceived by the person looking at it. In other words, distortions are a big no no. A wall cannot look like it's falling to one side, nor can a building look like it is about to topple over. We must be able to control the distortions caused by our lenses in order to produce an image with clean, straight and crisp lines. Anyway, more on that if finally get around to doing my review.

For this class, we headed to the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in Taguig. [Link Here] (Open everyday from 9 A.M to 5 P.M. except Philippine and American holidays)  For photographers who plan on going there, they are pretty camera friendly. The only points that will cause the guards to flag you are if you take pictures of the names on tombstones and if you bring studio lights into the memorial.

(There was this story going around that a couple had a wedding shoot among the tomb stones, it cause quite a stir due to the sacrilegious act.)

Luckily, PCCI (my photo school) had a permit and they allowed a big group of us (around 15) to come in and take photos.)

The grounds were pristine and fastidiously well groomed. There were an abundance of gardeners and guards as this is one of the few memorials left in the Philippines that is under American management. I wish we could replicate something like this with one of our national monuments.

The names of the US fallen during WWII were inscribed on the marble walls of the memorial. The names are accompanied by the ranks and country of origin of the noble fallen. What struck me as a bit disappointing was that almost all Filipinos who fought with the Americans only had designations as Mess Hall Attendants, Cooks, Attendants and the like.

Although I do know that the Philippine's had fighting men in the First Philippine Scout Corps, it's a little saddening seeing this. I shouldn't feel that sad though since I'm sure they contributed the most of what they could to the war effort.

They had halls where there were intricate and well detailed murals made of lapiz that talked about the major battles that the United States fought in WWII. You could lose yourself for hours just sitting on one of the benches among the silent halls and reliving the war.

In the below picture is a bell tower from which emanated a instrumental hymn every hour. There was also a small chapel inside with a guestbook.

Stark contrast between the solemn tombs and the gaudy commercial buildings.

Photo below is most obviously edited. I kind of like how it looks though.

Lastly, we tried our hand at indoor architectural photography at the showroom of One Lorenzo Place Makati. I found it very challenging to shoot mixed lighting in the confines of a cramped space.

All in all, I learned a lot and I'll definitely be practicing more architectural photography soon.

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