Assignment 3: Buildings in Use

For this third assignment of the People & Place course I am to look at buildings in use, there function, use and usability by its intended patrons. I am to choose five or six buildings and for each produce two and four attractive images that effectively describe how they are used. I have my images have a mixture of people and not, I initially felt this assignment would be more effective for myself focusing fully on the building, space and use that itself shows however with certain buildings chosen I found it far more effective with people than without. I have therefore used a mixture to both show building devoid of people and with.

When I first looked at this assignment and gave it a very quick brainstorm of ideas I was quite excited as to the potential opportunities it could provide as a means of inspiration, architectural photography has been something I have looked at sporadically and only when something truly takes my eye. In this instance I was looking at it from a more methodical approach, I wanted to photograph a group of buildings that were not alike, certainly in the last two assignments narrative was very important in bringing together each image and elements within them, however in these images I would like to focuses on the function, form and space to name a few elements. Although these images would then lack a cohesive emotive narrative I have found looking at them that they do, in a very basic sense continue to advance our understanding on the building, be it size, function or form they continue to show us more about the building as look at them, similar to how a set of portraits should continuously tell us something else about the subject. I have therefore chosen to, after prior arrangement with a couple of the buildings managements photograph these buildings;

  • Friarsgate Car Park, Winchester
  • Eastleigh Railway Station
  • The Swan Center Shopping Mall, Eastleigh
  • Netley Abbey, Netley
  • The Ageas Bowl, West End

Each building has a uniquely different function, architectural style and use of space which I felt made this assignment more interesting with regards the approach taken to each building rather than obvious similarities of exteriors of grand buildings. I therefore sought permission with both The Ageas Bowl, home of Hampshire Cricket Club and The Swan Center, in both cases explaining what I am looking to do and why, both were extremely accommodating and friendly which if truth be told I wasn’t expecting so much, perhaps looked at being a nuisance instead. I planned in each case to investigate the building and to take a bit of time walking around and amongst it to gauge an understanding of the function and architectural qualities that come of it and my aim in each case of building was to show in an attractive and noticeable collection of photographs.

Eastleigh Railway Station

The station house in Eastleigh was originally called Bishopstoke after being built in 1839 by Sir William Tite, it later became Bishopstoke Junction, then later Eastleigh and Bishopstoke until finally in 1923 it was called Eastleigh Station. Catering to over one and half million passengers a year Eastleigh Railway is a hub of movement and traffic continuously throughout the days and weeks.

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This first image of the train station shows platform 2 alongside the victorian brickwork and architecture, I have used a smaller focal length to give more of an overall view of the surroundings. I think the image works well in drawing your eye across from right to left, the lines and colours certainly aid that. I have used a neutral density filter to give a longer exposure, I felt by blurring the movement of the commuters it would add more to the interest and show direction and emphasise the busyness of the station. I particularly like the accent of yellow on the right hand side of the image, the three different objects catch the eye nicely however I find that although the person on the left, who is much sharper than the rest of the people an element of interest and context he doesn’t stand out as well as I’d hoped when taking the image.

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Taking this second image along the platform gave me an interesting aspect on the movement of people boarding the train, from this perspective we are able to see the different speeds people are at to ensure they get on, the guy in the red looks as though he isn’t moving half as fast and the black figure behind him, as they obviously rush last to get on. I like the lines of this image, the depth it gives with the station and train although the focal point is running more horizontal across the image. I think this a good image representing the movement of the people within the space while also adding to our understanding of the place itself, its architecture, design and use.

IMG_6534This third image was taken on the victorian built walk way from platform 1 to platforms 2 and 3, I have taken this in a New Topographic style, aiming to represent the architectural elements of the bridge of which it is repetitive throughout the length. I have include this solitary person who is blurred. I really like this image, the imposing lines and composition work really well in captivating the viewer while also the the newspaper in the hand of the person is a great focal point as it is slightly more apparent with the fingers grasping it. I would have liked to have been further away from the subject but due to lens constraints and the width of the bridge I was unable to do this, I think it still offers a strong insight into the people, although blurred we know this is a person with a newspaper which leads us into further questions about them or who they could be.

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This final image of Eastleigh Railway Station shows the bridge connecting the platforms busy with people, I took this from an unused corner due to the direction of the movement, I therefore managed to capture this image relatively unseen which gives is a very natural look in each person. I really like the perspective this position gives, pulling your eye along the people further down into the image. while also the changing of light gives an interesting and subtle tonal range that captures the environment well. Personally I like the hooded figure to the right of the image, this anonymous figure adds an element of interest into the image but perhaps doesn’t add any more to the overall image.

Overall I think this is an interesting and effective set of photographs that show the architecture, function, people and space of Eastleigh Railway Station well, I think they each show an individual area of the station that has movement throughout and by capturing that using a ND filter I have emphasised the people and the movement, giving it a more flowing feel. I think that each image could be improved upon individually in the ways stated above but as a group I feel they work well in showing how this space is used in an effective and aesthetic manner.

The Swan Center, Eastleigh

Opened in 1991 it is Eastleigh’s only shopping center, cutting off the victorian grid iron layout of residential property it split both the High Street and Market Street in half. Designed in a very open planned style along the atriums the Swan center has glass roofs that fill the center with light during the sunnier days. Having lived in and around Eastleigh all my life I am very familiar with the Swan Center, and when planning these images I went for a walk around the center taking into considerations the different aspects of the building I wanted to show. With this being the time of the christmas lights being put up I wanted to use this where possible to add to the images an interesting relationship between the christmasy feel with the architecture .

IMG_5041This first image shows the french style Boswell’s cafe in the central area of the center where the atriums meet. I have photographed this from a higher perspective to show the lines and function of the space, the people lining along the counter one by one not only shows form, movement of the people and also the function of the space and how people use it. Designed this way the cafe invites you in and along this line, collection or choosing what it is you would like to eat and drink, then at the end you are in the center of the cafe, able to choose where to sit. I have used black and white here to emphasise the form and line within the image, the tonal range from light to dark is apparent from right to left.

IMG_5178This second image is part of the new development of the center, completed in 2009 it encompasses a cinema, blowing alley and a number of restaurants. I have tried to capture the main walkway through the new development, from the high street up to the cinema, passing restraints and the like. In this image it is clear to see that it is out in the open, unlike the rest of the Swan Center, I have framed this image, with the the colourful tables along the edge of the frame giving depth and context to the space. I like the placement and reflection given by the person coming towards me, it shows the wide accessible path for the users while also being interesting with the added interest in the reflection. This image perfectly incapsulates the uses of this space, often empty or with minimal people in it during the daytime hours, only really getting busy on a friday or saturday night.

IMG_5183I have taken this photograph from a higher perspective, similar to the first image, however this is at a different area of the swan center, the octagon, giving to the eight sided glass roof. This image initially grabbed me when walking past, here I found the people sat at the cafe looking at the days papers and having a coffee, amongst a shopping center to be an interesting use of the space and function. I included the christmas tree because I felt it gave the image context and an initial focal point. The height of the tree, especially noting you can see the second floor at the top of it goes to show the size of the tree, while also couple sat at the base of it add to that as will. I feel that although the interior and tiles of the building give at times a yellowish tinge the colour in the background is caused by mixed lighting scene with me correcting for the natural light from the roof. I am unsure if this takes anything aware from the image or if it fits in well with the background.

IMG_5246This final image was taken in the Market Street atrium of the Swan Center, using a tripod, like the previous images I set up in the middle of the walkway. My aim here was to use the interesting lines of the architecture above the shop fronts to compliment the blurred movement of the public using a ND filter to empathise the space, movement and function. I thought that by using a ND filter and gaining the blurred movement it would give me an interesting image that attracted interest. This coupled wight he composition of the lines drawing your eyes into the image and the bold central placement of the christmas tree and foliage the image would be a strong and eye catching composition that showed well the function of the space. I also wanted to use the wider focal length to show the roof in part here we get an idea of what the top of the atrium looks like and why the building is so softly and evenly lit.

Overall I feel these images show an effective use of the space with interesting and attractive photography that intern has complimented the center in its design and use. Photographically I like these images, I think they are effective and focus on the brief set out in the assignment and also my own personal brief that I wanted to work too. I feel they use an interesting use of composition, namely in the third image, where the overall size of the christmas tree dominated the image but still the couple and the function of the space was apparent. While the fourth image uses a longer exposure and ND filter to effectively blur the people to give an interesting frame. However I am unsure on the first image, although I feel it is very strong on showing the space and effective function of the building, being the only black and white image of the four it gives it a sense of not belonging and I am unsure if this effects the four together. The effectiveness and my understanding of the building before and after taking the photos has changed, previously I found the swan center to be a rathe uninspiring building during and after taking the photos I found elements of it that effectively and attractively added to the image, for example the lines running above the shops in the fourth image. I feel it is an effective use of the space, its in placed attractive, especially in the new development and very useful for the community.

The Ageas Bowl (Rose Bowl), West End, Hampshire

The Ageas Bowl is purpose design and built cricket stadium between West End and Hedge End, next to the M27 just outside of Southampton. It is home to the Hampshire Cricket Board and host the home matches of the Hampshire Royals and on occasion England one day internationals and test matches. Built at the turn of the Millennium the first game was played here in 2001 and since then has seen multiple redevelopments that continue to this day to improve not only the size but also the quality of the experience. Although primarily built and designed for cricket, like a number of stadiums up and down the country it has also played host to concerts.

IMG_4851This first image of the Ageas bowl was taken in the interior of the pavilion atrium, this first floor walkway leads from the offices to the stands. I chose to photograph this walkway as I found the light and open space and interesting and attractive piece of design, the amalgamation of both wood and white metal an interesting combination that worked well together, especially at the right of the image where the texture and lines of the wood contrasts against the plain and shiny metal. I also find the use of lines in this building an attractive design element, the wood drawing our eye deeper into the image towards the door at the end while the horizontal lines of the railing adding a pattern that again pulls the eye along. I think this image shows an interesting use of the space, from a  low perspective it gives an unseen view before that would often been missed, while also drawing the attention to the patterned carport that at the apex of the corner has worn away with constant use.

IMG_4934The second image of the Ageas Bowl was taken from the Northern End of the stadium at pitch side. Here I aimed to show the Pavillion and also the two newer stands either side of it. I wanted to emphasise the space so used a shallow depth of field focusing on the foreground. I found this to give the impression of further depth while also drawing your eye up into the photo from the grass. The overview of the space and pitch give a strong example of the vastness of the stadium, this coupled with the width of the two stands cements the context of space and size. The pitch side perspective was an important photograph that I had initially set out to create. I wanted an image that suitably gave the viewpoint of a supporter or a player. From this point here on the boundary of the pitch we have a good position where both could be considered a viewpoint. The outfielder and also the supporter sat in this area would have this overall view of the stadium and interesting architectural elements such as the pavilion roof.

IMG_4949-EditThis third image of the stadium focuses on the spectators. Here I have tried to capture the vastness and pattern of seats in the bowl, the row upon row of plastic seating designed for this stadium to give enough space for comfortable movement along each row and use of the stairs. With a permanent capacity of 15,000 people it is essential the stadium is designed in such a way to allow for easy movement along its more used areas. The wide gaps between rows allows for all sizes of people to move freely along while also people standing to allow them to pass is expected at all stadiums as well as this one. I like the colours together, the purple and beige work well together in a complimentary fashion. The contrast between the colours really stands out, the real focal point of the image is the scoreboard, an important area for both player and spectator alike.

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This final image of the Ageas Bowl selection was taken at a later date and I wanted to convey in this image more of an understanding of the space. I visited again due to a vintage fair taking place, and with the center concourse full of people I felt this would be a great opportunity to capture a bit more of the space and use. I composed the image like this as I wanted to give an understanding on the shape of the building while also keeping in view the upper level which held a three piece harmony group of 50’s style dressed women. I found this use of the space added to the dynamic design of the building and a further element of interest in the photograph. I felt this also would be a very good interior location due to its abundance of natural light and similar to interior photographer Nicolas Yarsley in his collection on his website.

Overall this modern design is extremely successful in both as an attractive piece of design but also as a top class cricket stadium holding thousands of people. Looking at the scale of both the background areas of the stadium and also the areas like the stands that will see the majority of the spectators its clear to see it has been designed to be accessible and useful throughout. The added stands give a much needed to capacity rise that although adds to the strain on the surrounding areas does so with a well thought out design structure that allows for a larger flow of people. I feel these three images show that in a interesting and attractive manner, I have taken three areas of the stadium and looked at the function and accessibility which again proves to be fit for purpose which when looking at the images is clear to see in the examples.

Netley Abbey, Netley, Hampshire

Built in 1239 the abbey and founded by Peter des Rouches and Henry III this medieval monastery was built for the Roman Catholic monks. It had a relatively quiet 300 year history producing no scholars of the time. In 1536 the abbey was closed by Henry VIII in the dissolution of the monasteries. It then was redeveloped into a Tudor mansion for a wealthy politician and was used as a country house until the early 18th century where it was left and partially demolished for building materials. Since then the ruins have been captivating people, through the romantic movements whereby poets and writers used it as inspiration. It is now owned by English Heritage and remains a scheduled ancient monument while continuing to inspire people with its beauty and romanticism. Currently visited by members of the public, history enthusiast and photographers the abbey is a constant source of interest.

IMG_5255This first image showing an entrance into the church at the Abbey is in the style of the New Topographic photographers, something which I will continue to look at in much more depth soon. I have tried to show the scale of the building and further wall in this image. By only including the one door this becomes the focal point, the light obviously coming from behind it as shown by the shadow and dark grass, achieved by underexposing slightly. The structured lines and form of the image make the building seem large in scale and formidable by the texture in the walls. In this image I have aimed to show the intricacy and lines of the brickwork and buildings, be that the individual stones or the column areas separating them. It is also an entrance into the church, an error of significant importance on the whole site where people over hundred of years would have passed through.

IMG_5295The large church at Netley Abbey is 72 meters long from west to east, this composition was taken at the eastern end of the church where the large doors once opened. Looking down what would have been a grand aisle full of white plaster and maroon paint I have tried in this image to give a sense of scale to what it both looks like now and how it would have been. The large windows would have been the sole source of light during the day, so the windows are  quite large, both on the sides and at each end. The space used now mainly for visitors to explore and enjoy is the perfect environment, short grass throughout and in interesting array of areas to view. With the church being the largest areas of the Abbey complex it is often the focal point, especially the large windows shown in the image. Photographically I think this image is an interesting composition of tonal range and form. The tonal range really helping to give contrast where the windows fall. while also darkening the  grass it enables the walls to stand out even more so which adds to the form of the building, the lines of the tops of the roofs drawing the eye down the length of the building focusing the view on the large sculpted windows at the far end.

Untitled_Panorama1-Edit-EditThis panoramic final image of the Netley Abbey complex is taken from the second floor of the abbots building, across what would have been a courtyard. I have created this image using three images stitched together using Adobe Photoshop. It gives the viewer a view from the east that encompasses the whole range of the Abbey, visibly in the image the placement of the sun has not had a positive impact on the left hand side. the shadows and darkness here is in contrast to where the light is hitting the church and connecting walls. The shadows although interesting and contextually interesting have a resulting matter of reducing the walls above them to less detail. I feel that this subtracts from the overall image, however the tonal range between the light and dark of the building is an interesting visual element that perhaps draws the viewers eye to the more dominant area of the building. The use of this area of the building varies seasonally, the courtyard in the summer months are a popular place for picnics while in the winter, the area is just used to walk around and explore.

These three images of Netley Abbey are similar in part to that of St Cross Hospital, being of the date and architectural style. What differs is the elements of use and state of the buildings now. With St Cross being a completely in service building, like it has been for hundreds of years, Netley Abbey has changed its uses throughout history until it became a ruin. I have chosen to depict this difference visually by taking these image monochromatically, I feel being an area of ruin the black and white darker images may give an element of gloom and disrepair that a bright vivid photograph would lack. I feel overall the photographs depict well the space and use of the area. Be that limited in its history and more accurately how it is used now. The spaces are generally open wide spaces leading around the grounds. The vastness and potential of the space and how it could of been is extremely interesting, I feel that how the grounds have been left to grass over has made it a more accessible and attractive attraction for people to visit, while the interest in the architecture and story of the building is aided by your ability to explore it freely and get up close to feel the brickwork and read the centuries old graffiti.

Friarsgate Car Park, Winchester

This is a city center car park in the middle of Winchester, very popular with commuters and the public it is always busy, especially around peek times. Built in the 1970’s it is a very basic designed concrete structure that by some is considered an eyesore compared to the more picturesque areas of Winchester. Over 6 floors of parking spaces resulting in 256 spaces it is one of Winchesters largest and most central, I chose to photograph it because I felt that by looking at a space that was used by something other than a human. Where all of the buildings I have looked at so far are used by people, all be it designed for larger numbers of people nothing has specifically been designed for anything else. Therefore I thought that by looking at a car park it would be an interesting experiment into the function, and context of the space.

IMG_5892This first image shows a row of occupied spaces, by photographing at an angle it gives the image depth and perspective on the size, and by having only the ends of the cars visible an interesting in following them through the image. The dark nature of the building with the flourcesnt lights made it for me to work best in black and white. I have kept the arrow in the composition as a reoccurring element of the composition. Car parks are generally littered with them so I felt it would be an interesting element to maintain in the images, and likewise with the lights and rows of cars it took the viewers eye through the photograph.

IMG_5899This second image of the car park shows a ramp from one floor to another, the curves of this image took my interest, while also the tightness of the corner adding the function of the building while also a specific area that needs to be designed meticulously to allow for the cars to turn through without hitting anything. Once again in this image I have used the arrow, and in this case part of another, these both work well together to emphasise the turn and curve of the image. They draw the viewers eye around the frame which work well with the lines of the building and also the light which line runs the other way helps it to stand out along with the highlight and tonal range around it.

IMG_5902This final, and in my opinion the strongest of the three images shows a single level of the car park, the space available and not available as motorists pass around. The composition works really well within this image, the strong elements of lines and form work well together with the tonal range to make it an interesting black and white image. Particularly the lights on the ceiling and the subsequent light pools on the ground work very well together in pulling the eye deeper into the frame while the around in the foreground keeps pulling you back, inquisitive as to where that arrows pointing. The vertical pillars throughout the image alternate in distance which gives an interesting effect on the depth of the image.

Overall these images show a very compact and tightly designed space for a user that varies considerably in size, I think although this car park suits small to medium sized cars it would be hard but not impossible to navigate a larger vehicle around. This is perhaps an oversight the architects of the building suffered with not knowing the trend in cars for the future. The car park itself is poorly maintained which only adds to the overall feel of the building, not only externally but internally in some places. Photographically I find these images to be an interesting look at the interior of the car park, the way the space is navigated and used while also how the light effects it, which by shooting in black and white has helped to depict this.

Technically this assignment has improved my architectural photography immensely while also having a big effect on my ability to look at a subject and decide which elements or in some cases all of it and how I want to photograph it and for what reasons. This has enabled me to look at my photograph in a more professional manner, being confident in my decisions and following through from what I initially saw with my eye through to how I captured it with the camera and into post production. Giving me a finished result of a group of images where from start to finish I understood and had clear reasoning for each one. Alternatively the assignment has enabled me to look at buildings, of all types as shown here and look deeper into there design and elements of them that effect them aesthetically or there effectiveness against the use. Although the majority of the buildings I looked at, where effective in both the use of space and accessibility the car park was an exception to a degree. I have enjoyed this assignment thoroughly as not only have I had the opportunity to photograph some interesting areas I have also found my photography to improve resulting from the brief and what I had to create. With each building and image I approached them concentrating on visible elements of the building, varying from the open space of the cricket field or a single door amongst a large stone wall to enable me to decipher the main uses of each, and how the visible elements of each effectively adds something else to the understanding of the building with each image.

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