A couple of weeks ago, I found myself on the Chicago Architecture River Tour in downtown Chicago. I’d had an early morning appointment that didn’t last very long. So, camera in hand, I started photographing the buildings as I headed to the art institute to study some of my favorite artists. However, because I was alone and had the pleasure of doing whatever I wanted, I soon found myself along the Chicago River. The results? Four and a half hours of photographing the incredible Chicago architecture and an art lesson in contrast, texture and lines.
As a photographer, I know it is important to make sure my images have contrast. This gives the images detail and depth. Contrast emphasizes the part of the image where the viewer’s eye should be to drawn to first. It also sets off one part of a scene from another. This is crucial both in the studio and on location. Referred to as ratios, I can work with a 1:2 ratio which gives us just a little contrast, all the way to a 1:4 ratio which really shows the difference of light and shadows in an image.
I love a lot of contrast in my images and will often push the limits with the ratios in my studio. When I’m photographing men, I use a 1:4 ratio; but if you look at my work, some of my gals can pull off that look too.
As I was photographing the buildings, it was that 1:4 ratio that I was looking for. As the boat moved slowly through the water, I kept my eye on the building and when the light was right, I pressed the shutter.
Another thing that I focused on while photographing was all the different textures the buildings had to offer. When I photograph textures, I try to shoot at different angles, keep them sharp, and stay away from a shallow depth of field. Although the Chicago textures stand alone as pieces of art; my goal was to find textures that I could incorporate into my studio work.
Finally, Chicago architecture is a great study in lines. I studied how the lines in the buildings drew me in. I also studied how they drew me away. What a wonderful and unexpected art lesson this trip into the city became.