Archive for May, 2012

Jolly Good

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Each year, the Australian Institute of Professional Photographers honours a selected few members whose actions, usually over a prolonged period, are deemed worthy of recognition as a valuable contribution to the Australian photographic community. At a gala event last evening, in the gloriously restored deco splendor of  the Regent Ballroom in central Melbourne, I was humbled to have been inducted as a Fellow of the Institute by friend and colleague Greg Hocking.

At the same gathering, the results of the 2012 Canon Australian Professional Photography Awards were announced. With two Gold and two Silver with Distinction results for my portfolio of four images, I was pleased to once again, be named Australian Architectural Photographer of the Year and unwittingly perhaps, increase my hand luggage by a few pounds for the flight home.

Window Seat

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

The flight path when landing into Hong Kong International Airport doesn’t often take you right over the heart of the city.

But when it does, it’s always a treat.


Cage Match

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Back in Shanghai to finish our coverage of Pelli Clarke Pelli’s twin towered International Finance Center, we were chasing a strong view that placed the project firmly into the skyline of Pudong. Given the overwhelming scale of the neighboring Jin Mao and SWFC towers, there were only a few options available. The most promising of which was from one of the observation decks of the iconic Oriental Pearl Tower.

After scoping out the higher floors, we settled on the open air deck about 90 meters up. Only problem was maneuvering a tripod close enough to allow poking a lens out through the fairly restrictive web of cabling. I can’t be sure who’s idea it was but somewhere in the contortionist act we ended up with the Alpa outside the cage adding a certain gravity to threading on the filters. Then of course, there was the thunderous vibration from the roller coaster immediately next door to deal with. Personally, I only ride on roller coasters when they are at least 300 feet off the ground!

Jam Traffic

Monday, May 21st, 2012

In contemplating the potential problems of day ahead, I always find breakfast a good place to start looking for answers.

The closely stacked towers of Pudong and the low afternoon light were going to be challenging. But nothing that couldn’t be solved over toast and jam.

Rise and Shine

Monday, May 21st, 2012

Early morning starts are always an arduous affair but once you’re out there, the calmness pervading the streets as the city wakes and the sky slowly lightens usually makes the effort worthwhile. That is of course, unless it starts getting darker instead.

The clouds had been lifting and the sun should most definitely have cleared the horizon, so what was with all the dull light?

Moving further along the street offered me a glimpse of the sun between the densely packed buildings. Or at least what was left of it as the moon moved across its path in a rare partial eclipse.

View with a Room

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

In Shanghai, as I do in most cities I visit, I try to seek out hotels that offer some prospect of a view.

I rationalize this habit by arguing that it helps me gauge the prevailing weather, the sunset times, the traffic conditions etc. The reality though, is that I just love looking at cities. There is an energy, a connectedness that, despite the often chaotic scenes below, seems to hold everything together. Tapping into that essence of a city’s character often provides a great foundation for capturing how these many new developments fit into the overall context of their surrounding societies.


Spring Blooms

Saturday, May 19th, 2012

A call from Bloomberg Businessweek in New York saw us dropping in to the Gensler designed Nokia campus in Sunnyvale to shoot a feature for their Office Envy column. If I really had to spend all day working in an office, as opposed to just photographing them on occasion, this would probably on the shortlist!

Pho Pass

Friday, May 18th, 2012

One of the good things about photographing a masterplan project is that it is less about the architecture and more about the experience.

After a morning spent trawling around looking for ways to illustrate the “life” of the project, we stopped for lunch at a local restaurant specializing in all kinds of Pho. I went for the combination bowl with two kinds of beef. Delicious!
The boisterous group at the next table passed on the pho and hopped into the more communal hotpot.

Hatching a Plan

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

For the last decade in Ho Chi Minh City, Skidmore Owings & Merrill have been watching as their South Saigon Masterplan slowly comes to fruition. The master plan was awarded by the AIA in 1997 with a National Honor Award for Urban Design and in many ways, is still a work in progress with new areas of the plan being developed as the growing city continues to push south.

Photographing masterplans is always a challenging prospect because unlike singular buildings, there is generally no specific subject. The photographs purpose is to describe the way various precincts relate to each other. The schools, the parks, the retail and services areas, the differing residential configurations, all influence the way the society goes about its day. As none of the buildings were designed by SOM, the success of the assignment revolved around capturing what was going on between the buildings, without actually featuring the buildings themselves.

With a site area of 6,430 acres, comparing the stylistic differences of one area to another was almost impossible from ground level. Instead, we sought out some elevated positions towards the edges of the site which could provide more of an overview. Most of these vantage points involved hoisting ourselves and the camera kits up  ladders and through roof hatches which themselves turned out to contain a plentiful variety of arachnid housing developments.

Back on the ground, the tree lined boulevards of the Crescent District were a focal point for various activities throughout the day. From pre dawn joggers to late evening diners, the new environs a definitely setting a desirable tone for the future aspirations of the expanding city.

Tips for Architectural Photography in the Tropics – Condensed Version

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Sometimes, though not often, air-conditioning sucks.