The Pittsburgh skyline and Monongahela River as seen from Mount Washington. The water reflected the intense deep blue glow of the early morning sky.
Five different exposures were blended together to produce this final image. This was done in order to be able to show detail in the trees that lie in shadow as well as in the lit buildings of the city.
Old And New
While photographing in downtown Pittsburgh, my eye was caught by the juxtoposition of old and new architecture. I used a telephoto lens to make this image in order to compress the perspective and make the buildings appear closer to each other than they truly are.
This photograph was chosen for display at an exhibition at The Pittsburgh Center For The Arts.
Union Station was designed by Chicago architect Daniel Burnham. The station connected the Pennsylvania Railroad with several subsidiary lines. Construction started in 1898 and was completed in 1903; in the mid 1980's the building was converted into apartments and commercial space.
The building's rotunda features this massive dome. As has occurred to me many times photographing in Pittsburgh since 9/11, a private security guard asked me to leave when he saw me taking pictures. In this instance I had no choice but to comply since the rotunda is on private property. I would think a terrorist would be far more likely to use a miniature spy camera than a large 35mm attention grabbing setup with a tripod. Alternatively, they could forget the whole camera thing and just use Google!
Built in 1963, the United Steelworkers Building was the first exterior space frame building ever constructed. Architectural firm Curtis and Davis designed the load bearing steel walls in the shape of a diagonal grid. The pattern of the steel walls is what led me to make this photograph. I chose to give it an abstract feel by isolating just a portion of the building.
I took this photograph of One Mellon Bank Center while in downtown Pittsburgh. I have always liked the lines and shapes of this building's architecture and wanted to relay the feeling of it being something of an impenetrable and cold edifice. Converting the image to black and white as well as tilting the camera to produce an 'off kilter' look seemed to convey the feeling I was after.
The repeating pattern of this fire escape on the side of an apartment building caught my eye. To photograph it I had to stand far away in order to get an unobstructed view, as there were other buildings all around this one. I used a 400mm telephoto lens in order to isolate just a portion of the repeating pattern.
This photograph was chosen for display in an exhibit at The Pittsburgh Center For The Arts.
Union Bank Building
Designed by MacClure and Spahr, The Union Bank Building was constructed in 1906 and was once a focal point of the Fourth Avenue financial district. In 2009, it was converted into luxury condos.
I was drawn to the front of the building, which has an unusual rounded shape.
The Snake House
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
The entire Snake House building is a work of art. Based on the sign however, it seems like the Snake House is in danger! You can visit the website mentioned on the sign to find out more (though it really doesn’t tell you why people want it removed, only that they want to save it).
In the artist's statement to this portfolio, I mentioned that I approach urban photography in much the same way I do landscape imaging. Just as I enjoy photographing reflections in pools of water, I am also drawn to reflections in glass. Here, the Union Trust Building is reflected in the windows of One Mellon Bank Center on Grant Street.
Snake House Doors
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Close Up of the doors to the "Snake House".
I have always liked the idea of seeing nature battle to take back urban areas. Here, it looks like nature will ultimately win!
South Pennsylvania Ave Mural II
Portion of a wall mural.
South Pennsylvania Avenue Mural
Portion of a wall mural.
First Presbyteriabn Church
Early one Sunday some friends and I were taking pictures of the exterior of the First Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh when someone came to open the doors at 8 AM. Naturally enough, they asked what we were doing and we told them that we are photographers who enjoy taking pictures of Pittsburgh architecture. In the past, at other buildings, that led to our being asked to leave,
But this time we had a surprise. We were told “Oh, well if that’s the case why don’t you come in and take pictures of the inside as well. You can bring your tripods, nobody is going to be here this early”. Because it was quite dark inside, with the only light coming from the incandescent fixtures and whatever came through the stained glass windows, I took a number of HDR sequences.
On the way out, we were stopped by a church member who saw that we had been taking photos and wanted to tell us about the two 80 foot beams in the church that had been cut from two tall trees that had been imported from Oregon.
That chance meeting made me change the way I wanted to interpret the photographs. I had originally planned to keep them quite dark, to reflect the actual appearance of the interior. However, this gentleman made me realize that for him the beauty was in the interior details and wood. With that, I decided to portray the interior as filled with detail, even though most of it could not be well discerned when we were there.
This image is from a 5 sequence tripod mounted HDR series.
World Market Center
At five million square feet, The World Market Center in Las Vegas is the largest showroom complex in the world for the home and hospitality furnishings industry. But what I found compelling was the abstract shapes with strong graphic lines that were formed by areas of the building's facade.
K & L Gates Center
Place: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
The K &L Gates Center, now named after the international law firm that is the building's major tenant, has previously been known as One Oliver Plaza, FreeMarkets Center, and Ariba Center. Completed in 1968, it was the tallest construction in the city during that decade. Currently, at 511 feet, it is the 9th tallest building in Pittsburgh.
People have asked me if this is what the building "really" looks like. Well, yes and no!
This is the true structure of the building and the deep orange metal beams do look like this. However, the building's windows are made of mirrorlike glass panels which reflect the sky. Thus, the windows of the building would appear grey from November through March (a little Pittsburgh joke, you folks that live here know what I mean) and bluish throughout the rest of the year. Rather than have the windows appear grey, the photograph of the building was combined with an underlying texture to give the image more color and depth.
The view from Mount Washington of downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania skyscrapers at sunrise. The multicolored lights atop the Gulf Tower in the center are a weather beacon indicating the current temperature, precipitation, humidity, and wind speed. You have to know the code to decipher it, but the current light array indicates that the temperature is between 33 and 49 degrees Fahrenheit, precipitation is less than 0.25 inch, humidity is less than 50%, and wind speed is greater than 10 miles per hour.
During the slideshow, click the gray 'i' on the upper right for more information about the photo.
When photographing nature and the landscape, I find the strength of the composition to be even more important than the subject itself. I look for strong graphic lines, shapes, and colors.
My approach to urban photography is much the same as my approach to photographing the landscape. While photographing the city, I am intrigued by the angles and shapes that are made by the skyscrapers. My eyes are drawn to the reflections found in a buildings' windows much as they are drawn to a reflection of trees in a pool of water. I tend to see the "urban landscape" in the abstract, rather than grounded in reality.