Temples of Steel and Glass with David Rosen
by Candia Peterson
I recently completed the RPS Landscape Group on-line workshop with David Rosen entitled Temples of Steel and Glass, a workshop spread over five days with a break between the first three and last two in order to create a small body of work.
The workshop was focussed (no pun intended) on urban architecture, specifically modern as suggested by the title, and specifically in black and white. The first day covered a certain degree of theory as exemplified by David’s excellent study aids and we were encouraged to work out what spoke to us viscerally, what we wanted to see in the mood of an architectural photograph and what we should consider when seeking to make such a photograph.
Before the third session, we were asked, by way of homework, to come back with three lots of three – three examples of our personal style, three inspiring architectural images taken by someone else and three possible choices of target building – images sourced either from our own archives or the internet.
During that session, we took it in turns to discuss with the group the whys and wherefores of our selections. David concluded the second day with a very clever demonstration of some of his post processing techniques including a most effective method of rendering an impression of 3-D using the centred gradient tool.
We then took off for our 5-week break, armed with ideas and – with a bit of luck – the tools with which to execute them.
For my own part, I completely failed in shooting any of the three buildings I thought I might shoot. This was down to weather for the London building I had had in mind and a paucity of time for the two back home in New York State. However, I did get one fine day in London and spent it in the City, alighting on 100 Liverpool Street as my chosen subject.
Images © Candia Peterson
We were fortunate in that we were a small group; me, Bryan McCormick and Colin Balfour. This allowed us more than the normal amount of time to present and discuss our work which I certainly found extremely useful and enjoyable.
Bryan was first up and presented some wonderful images of the Lloyds Building juxtaposed against the Willis Building adjacent to it and also of 3 Glass Wharf in Bristol which he says he found to be particularly inspiring. I think of the three of us, Bryan was the most obedient to David’s techniques, and it was clear from his amazing images that he had spent a considerable amount of time in very painstaking post pro. It very definitely paid off and he demonstrated great skill in producing a standout project.
Images © Bryan Mccormick
I was next and my style is very different, both in the type of image I produce and the way in which I produce it. I am particularly keen on fine detail shot with a long lens and do not attempt to shoot an entire building. I confess that my process in post is considerably less labour and time intensive, concentrated more on the high contrast of my blacks and whites rather than the art of fine selection.
Colin went the next day and had the session to himself. He gave us a lovely portfolio of the SEC Armadillo and the OVO Hydro in Glasgow and showed us a range of perspectives from a long exposure vista from the other side of the Clyde to the fine detail of the hulls of the Armadillo. He probably cut a happy medium – both stylistically and in terms of process – between me Bryan and, as such, we were a perfectly balanced trio.
Images © Colin Balfour
We concluded the last session – at least I did – happy, and full of inspiration. I think we learnt from each other as well as from David, but David’s enthusiasm and constructive criticism were key to the success of the group and the workshop.
I hope that David will repeat this excellent learning experience so that others may partake, enjoy learn and produce some very satisfying photographic art.