Archive for March, 2009

ShangHigh

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

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On the first sunny day in a long time, the views from the 100th floor of the Shanghai World Financial Centre are the tallest in China.

and you are..?

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

I like to involve my assistants with the shoot. More often than not, they are the ones you spend the majority of time with throughout the day, coming to terms with the physical realities of the assignment, conferring on decisions about the best ways to achieve the desired result, sharing the frustrations and the vicarious thrills of taming a project.

So it seems only natural that they too would have a response to what’s happening in front of the camera and where possible, I initiate dialogue about that. In many ways this openness within the “team” benefits everyone and I often find myself re-appraising my own responses to a particular problem as a result.

Of course at the end of the day, I’m always right!

Apparently though, this kind of exchange isn’t necessarily encouraged by some photographers. I certainly appreciate that in many cases, particularly with larger productions where client, crew and talent considerations demand a totally different working environment, soliciting input from those around wouldn’t be perceived as cool. However, I’d offer up the notion that by sealing themselves off, these photographers are missing out in some way.

And in those situations, I dare say the following act of defiance would likely have drawn the sullen “…and you are?” glare from the photographer.

“Yes, that’s terrific but let’s go, we’ve got a lift to catch..”

Rising to the Occasion

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

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“outside in 10” came the inescapable text message.

After yet another sleepless night of staring out the hotel window trying to determine whether those really were stars in the night sky, the pre-dawn rush to get out the door for a sunrise shoot had become quite the familiar morning ritual. As I’d confirmed to myself recently in Singapore, these attempts to outwit Nature were never guaranteed to bring the results one had in mind. But in my experience, if you don’t make the effort, you’ll never get the reward.

I’d made arrangements to access a rooftop in Puxi for a view across the river to Pudong in the hopes of a dramatic context shot for our project. Sipping from a double-shot cup of optimism on the mercifully short taxi ride there, we arrived at our destination just as the sky was getting some colour to define the distant horizon.

The bleary-eyed security detail got us straight up to our selected vantage point and we set ourselves up, pointing the Alpa towards the brightening eastern sky. With all looking like it was going to plan, (well, except for the capture software refusing join us in an awakened state), my only concern became where the sun would actually cross the horizon. If it was too close to the taller towers, the balance would be all wrong, meaning we’d have to move to a different camera position along the rooftop.

Something didn’t feel right though. The sky was too bright for the sun to not yet be in view. Just as I was about to make the unwanted move, we were relieved to see the glowing orb rising majestically from the lotus-leafed roof of the Westin. Exactly where I’d hoped it to be.

The planets and this one in particular, were indeed coming into alignment for us this morning. Even the security guards were smiling!


Star Turn

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

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While Hong Kong’s waterfront undergoes massive redevelopment and in the process, cleaves a whole new shoreline around Central, some things over in Kowloon have remained much the same. For now at least.

Still one of the world’s great ferry rides, the Star Ferry continues to operate on the Tsim Sha Tsui side, from the twin piers built in 1957. The Edinburgh Place piers in Central, built at the same time, were demolished in 2006 to make way for the new shoreline development.

Looming tall on either side of Victoria Harbour are the International Finance Centre designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli (above) and the International Commerce Centre designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox (below). These form an impressive gateway to the harbour, signaling clearly that Hong Kong is definitely still here. And here to stay.

Roger That

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

It’s a mixed bag of architectural styles along the road into town from Cochin Airport. Heavy concrete construction abounds but with many projects stalled midway through, the bleak, abandoned structures with their antennae of protruding rebar seem at odds with the frenetic pace of life on the street.

Even when a project does come to fruition, you get the feeling that many of the local developers have sourced their materials from the leftover bins of other Asian projects finished sometime in the early 90’s.

The designs too, seem like an amalgam of conflicting ideas, picked up along the way and reinterpreted wherever the opportunity arose. Here, the Milestone Building celebrates a little Richard Rogers moment.

And the original architectural milestone… Lloyd’s of London.

Shop Lifting

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

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In Orchard Road, Singapore’s famous retail strip, development continues on several major sites along it’s length. At it lower end, nearer the Presidential enclave of Istana, the enormous Orchard Central is taking shape. This boasts to be the first vertical mall standing 12 stories above the ground with two levels of basement. Super escalators on street level will whisk unsuspecting passers-by up to various clusters of retail delights.

From a distance, the dramatic new structure is barely visible on the horizon, possibly due to it’s stealth-bomber-esque exterior skin.

Walking past the development last evening and looking from across Orchard Road, I had to crane my neck upwards to see the narrow strip of sky overhead. It felt more like being in a deep ravine.

Nothing like a super escalator to lift us up where we belong.

Popping Pills

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

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Still in Singapore, recent Aga Khan Award winners WOHA Designs were testing the lighting on their Iluma mixed use project. The project, located in the bustling Bugis Junction part of town, comprises theatres, nightclubs, restaurants and retail. It is due to open to the public in the next few months.

Working with renowned German lighting designers Tim and Jan Edler of realties:united, the external facades along Victoria Street have been covered with a series of interconnected lighting pills that can be individually programed to actively display an astounding array of visual wonders. The effect on the street was mesmerising and each night during the tests, crowds of passers by would stop to marvel at the display.

Throughout the test sessions, the realities:united team commandeered a cafe sidewalk table across the road from the project. From this vantage point they used laptops to tweak the programing of the building computer system driving the facade. The different data sequences being fed into the laptop appeared instantly, in grand scale, across the street.

With testing over for the night, we returned the table to a more profitable use (from the cafe owners perspective at least). Waiter, another round of Pils, if you will.