The three requisite components to a successful image, in order of importance, are: Play of Light. Composition. Subject Matter.
The play of light is by far the most important aspect of an image, if that’s good, the photograph’s good, almost regardless of composition and subject matter. However, if this play of light is further complimented by considered composition whilst being wrapped around an interesting subject, one would be getting close to what a truly good image may look like.
A couple of days ago I did an architectural shoot in trendy London Fields Hackney, London, for a swimming pool building contractor. It was on the roof of a newly converted six-story residential block. What was particularly special was that the floor of the pool was glass, and visible from the central atrium within the building. Simply special was the wild grass meadow it sat within and the clean views of both Canary Wharf and The City. I knew the weather was going to be suitable on the chosen day, and aimed to be on site for mid-afternoon, recognising I could shoot in the glorious light we have at this time of year. As the site was exposed the images wouldn’t suffer from interfering shadows that more ground-based urban subjects can be afflicted by with a low angled sun. So the light was good, as was the subject.
So it was all about composition. What I like about shooting architecture are the natural shapes and lines to be found within a given scene, and essentially I’m shooting for these, feeling that when the inherent converging lines, boxes and shapes create a pleasing pattern, I’ve pretty much got the picture. Also, it’s important to include, where suitable and/or possible, a context for a given image, to show it in enough of its environment to help with its narrative. Using a full frame DSLR, with either a 17-35mm or a 24-105mm, it was bright enough to shoot at ISO 160 (best quality) at f16 and still retain ca 160-200th sec shutter speed… which meant I could shoot hand held and not be held up with that fuss of a time consuming tripod.
All I wanted to capture were the shapes and patterns responding to our afternoon light, knowing that within them would be the pool everyone wanted to see.