Urbanity Image Review #5

Beware, I get a bit more technical liney on this one…

Taken in Hong Kong, March 2014. I am pretty sure this was at the International Finance Center. A perfect set of circumstances for black and white film… The IFC is surrounded by some awesome overhead covered walkways and connects through to the Hong Kong Post Office HQ which is worth a visit for a taste of the colonial past.

Actively working on becoming more conscious of position and timing really started to pay off around March. As soon as I walked into the foyer of the IFC, the opportunities got me all jumpy… I quickly looked around, expecting a bunch of security guards or similar to spoil my filmy fun. None. I channelled my inner Keating and determined I was going to do this foyer slowly!

What made it a great location?

1. It was virtually monochromatic even before the HP5 performed it’s still life magic. The marble and metal were always going to come out as subtle shades of grey on the film.

2. The people moving around the foyer were mostly service and hospitality types – lots of black pants, white shirts, black ties. The perfect complement to the surfaces. Even the Pretty Woman finance moguls were wearing simple, muted outfits that would not distract in B&W if I couldn’t avoid getting them in frame.

3. The architects clearly had the support of the owners to do something special. The feature in the image (the thing with the halo top) is an undeniable waste of real estate in a city where square feet of space costs ridiculous amounts. It is a beautiful, aesthetically pleasing, utterly useless space. I loved it.

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So, What Do I Like About The Image?

fan_ho_04My Fan Ho obsession was at it’s peak whilst I was in Hong Kong. By trying out a few of his composition techniques, I was able to understand a little about how he saw the world pass by. The technique used here is to change perspective, specifically by getting lower than your subjects.

The Fan Ho image to the right has had an enduring influence on my photography. At first I thought he must have put his Rollieflex on the ground, but then realised you can achieve the same interesting perspective by finding a stairwell and walking down a few steps.

This also has the additional benefit of helping keep you out people’s direct line of sight.

For the IFC image, just by kneeling a bit at the bottom of three or four shallow stairs, the perspective of the camera has been lowered just enough to grab the attention of the viewer.

Three always seems to be an aesthetically pleasing number. The three human subjects in this image appear as a harmonious group in my eyes. There is #2 on the front plane of the image heading to the right, whilst #1 and #3 are both positioned on the rear plane of the image and moving left. The oppositional movement of the main subject #2 is balanced by #1 and #3 combining. The positions are asymmetrical – #2 is not centred between them – which I like. Not sure of the visual theory of “why”?

Centrally placing a subject in a standard 35mm frame can often lead to a feeling of unwelcome stability. #2 is almost positioned dead centre of the frame, yet it the image still has a motion and dynamism to it.

The set of lines at the top of the halo shape support the motion of subject #2 moving to the right, and also draw the viewers eye to the subject.

The tones in the image do not offer distraction, and exist within clearly defined line boundaries. The contrasting high white vertical lines are particularly striking. The figure to ground ratio, how well the main subjects stand out against the background, is good – a result of the solid tones.

Overall, all the elements of the image combine together to give an impression of dynamic movement.

The main opportunity for improvement might have been to go for an even wider lens at try to get a bit closer to the main subject?

2 Responses to “Urbanity Image Review #5”

    • Probably a bit too much with my head and not enough with the heart! But then again, the two always need to work together to get the best result. Thanks for the comment.

      Like

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