Architectural stompings..

Yesterday, the weather was so nice and summery (even though it’s Autumn now), I thought I’d seize the opportunity in the late afternoon to do some reconnaissance for one of the buildings I’m meant to be photographing. The building in question was the, as yet unfinished, new Royal Children’s Hospital by Billard Leece and Bates Smart – and before wandering along to what remains of Royal Park, I always hop onto my favourite bit of free software, to see which way the sun will go…
The Photographer’s Ephemeris is a super bit of software that uses Google Maps, and adds useful info about the path of the sun and moon, for any given date and time. This way I get a really good idea what time of day to make my pictures, which for buildings that are miles away, is of great use. Prior to this, I’d use the Melways, which works, but for this task requires orienteering and astronomical skills I have sadly neglected to develop.
Here’s a screengrab of the software in action. From this, and having driven past the site weeks ago, I know the “interesting bit” is the Western and Southern facades, and so the big orange line suggests the afternoon sun will light those! Factoring in a heap of shadow-making things like trees and construction fencing, and I’m reasoning not-too-late afternoon is the go, perhaps 5.30pm when the light is softer and warmer. The much praised “magic hour” is a risk because the unfinished building may not have any useful lighting within…
So, with all this mental preparation, I went for a wander there at around 5.30pm yesterday, and, um, it was a super time to photograph the thing… so lucky I had my Wista with me, and some colour film loaded in holders (the 4×5″ variant of Kodak’s lovely new Ektar 100).
And this is what I came up with, after levelling the tripod on the centre-median strip of Flemington Rd, and aiming the Wista squarely and the open gates of the construction site.
With such a big building, and limited opportunity to move further back (on account of trees, mostly), I had to use my widest lens – the beautiful Nikon 65mm f/4, which squishes up the bellows a heap, and restricts front rise – so there is a heap of boring foreground in the uncropped negative. To pick the exposure of f/32 at a 30th of a second, I made half a dozen readings with my trusty spot meter and averaged them, noting on the meter’s display that the overall spread of shadow to highlight readings were nicely within the exposure limits of negative film. Hooray for soft afternoon light! Then I made two exposures, whilst waiting for waves of traffic to pass by in-between.
So what was meant to be a recon, turned into the actual shoot. And today it was all overcast and glum too, so I was, like, totally wise.
This morning I dropped the sheets of film into Bond Imaging, in Richmond, who now appear to be the ONLY lab in Melbourne able to process C41 colour negative 4×5″ film. Good thing they are close and cheery – by lunchtime they’d sent me an email to say they were done, so I picked them up on the way home, and scanned them at 4800dpi/48 bit. For here, as before, I have reduced the resolution somewhat….

2 thoughts on “Architectural stompings..

  1. Hi again, Marc,

    Sorry, it’s me again 🙂

    Just two things :

    – Thanks you very much for mentioning TPE, I didn’t know that, and it’s very useful ! Such software can help to planify much more my LF sessions, which are rather conditionned by the conjunction of good weather (almost always a challenge, here), and my own idiosyncrasies (inspiration, mood, physical courage to move that beast…). As I have a long time project to take LF landscape shot around astronomical subjects (I pratice amateur astronomy too), this software is a find ! I will try this software ASAP.

    – Your shot of the Hospital is stunning, again. It’s so sharp I am in the edge to believe it’s a computer generated image 🙂 ! How do you do such scan, with a flatbed scanner ? How do you avoid dust and specks ? ICE scanning , manual retouching, both ? Very nice colors, indeed.



    1. Thanks Raphael!

      My 4×5″ scans are all on an Epson V700, at 48 bit/4800dpi (not that the scanner really is capable of anything higher than 3000dpi or so, but the extra data gives me more leeway if I need to paint out a piece of dust). I clean the glass obsessively with a micro fibre cloth, and tend to avoid ICE – it’s slow and can leave weird artifacts…

      Cheerio, Marc!

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