Commission: New brochure photography for an office block re-development in Southampton city centre.
As with all architectural photography this project was weather-dependent. Obtaining sunrise and sunset data was the first step, allowing us to work out the optimum lightfall at various times of the day. We combined this with Google Street View which allowed us to look at potential angles beforehand, ensuring that once on site our time was optimised.
The first morning visit was forecast with cloud cover increasing by midday from the South. With this in mind we headed straight for the roof to shoot two panoramic views of the city skyline. Here’s the view looking West from what is Southampton’s tallest building.
… just remember not to look down !
Next we moved indoors to capture one of the office spaces. These are large (and currently empty ) but the aim here was to capture the space and the outlook. This was a challenge as there was a six stop difference between the interior and the exterior levels. To resolve this problem we ended up combining four different exposures and then blending the layers manually to achieve a result that looked as “real” as possible.
We followed this shot up with the reception area with it’s flowing curves and sweeps, reminiscent of the old ocean liners . Shot from the door this gave us deep shadow areas by the lifts and on the first floor landing, which we lit with two 200ws Lumedyne heads fitted with globe diffusers to balance with the ambient light.
The second visit was for daylight exteriors of the front and rear elevations and the new signage. These were essentially straightforward shots, just a case of donning a hi-vis and dodging the traffic to find some sympathetic angles to soften the rather rigid geometry of the building.
The third and final visit called for some dramatic night shots to highlight the building’s lighting and give a busy, city centre feel.
We arrived on site a few minutes before sunset and headed up onto the Itchen Bridge for a long establishing shot. Regrettably the forecast “clear spell” had not materialised and although the sun had set behind the building, the flat, pinkish cloud lacked definition and failed to inspire, so we headed back to street level. About 25 minutes later the structure began to come alive as it’s blue wing lighting came on and the sky started to darken. It’s for this reason that photographers often refer to the period just after sunset as the “golden hour”, but you have to work quickly as it doesn’t last long. For one of the overall shots a low angle worked best as it removed some unecessary street furniture from the frame and increased the drama. A 10 second exposure to catch the light streaks from the numerous passing taxis added colour and buzz.
For the final image of the evening we got down and dirty, with the tripod spread flat in the gutter and working only a few feet from speeding cars on one side and drunken Saturday-night revellers on the other. We thankfully survived both and headed home for a well earned nightcap !