For a long time I wanted to take an architectural photograph of a place that was so modern in its design that it appeared to have been built far into the future. I scanned through some publications, and once I discovered this place in Aviles, Spain, something told me I had finally found my answer. Would this be the futuristic site I had envisioned for so long in my head? I had to plan my escape so I could see for myself.
It was around April 2014. I live in Bilbao and the site of my dreams, the Oscar Niemeyer International Cultural Center, was in Avilés nearly 300 miles away. It would take at least three hours to get there, more to scout the area and photograph it, and then three hours back home. This was going to be an all-day affair.
Nikon D90 . 1/100ss . ISO320
I decided to go there on a day that the weather forecast predicted clouds. I checked the long-term weather in Avilés on a forecast website and saw that the first week in April would have favorable conditions, so I settled on Wednesday, April 2, 2014. There would be a little rain throughout the day but not too much, so I knew there would be clouds present, providing me with both the light and the texture in the sky that I needed.
"It was next to the cafeteria, and the chairs and tables formed curved lines that blended in beautifully with the rest of the wavy, undulating architecture surrounding them."
Once I arrived at the Niemeyer, I walked around to find a suitable location. I was constantly sketching pictures in my mind every step I took through that magical place. After a while I stumbled across the perfect spot to photograph. It was next to the cafeteria, and the chairs and tables formed curved lines that blended in beautifully with the rest of the wavy, undulating architecture surrounding them. Of course this was the place! I wanted to give the photograph a more urban quality, though, and to do that I needed some people. Fortunately I found two tourists who were sitting and having coffee in the cafeteria, and I explained my idea to them. They kindly agreed to participate. The day was rainy as expected. Not excessive rain, but the clouds were silhouetted against the white, overcast sky. I knew that I needed a small aperture to capture the definition and texture in the clouds. By incorporating the dynamic element of the two people, I also knew I could not shoot slower than 1/100 second shutter speed to ensure that they were not blurred. By adjusting these settings, I ended up using an ISO of 320, and to avoid camera shake I mounted my Nikon D90 to a tripod.
"I wanted the people exactly at the end of the building, and once my two tourists had positioned themselves precisely where I asked them to be, I started shooting."
I wanted the people exactly at the end of the building, and once my two tourists had positioned themselves precisely where I asked them to be, I started shooting. I took several pictures to make sure I had all bases covered and captured everything the way I wanted it, but I was shooting in RAW format, so I knew I would have enough information in the files to make corrections if I needed to. I couldn't believe it! Finally I took the picture that I had dreamed about and craved to take for so long. The result far exceeded my expectations: I really had taken a picture that reflected the future.
The image was processed in Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop CS6.
1) In Camera Raw, I chose the Lens Corrections tab and selected Enable Lens Corrections, setting Make, Model and Profile according to the camera and lens I used. 2) Next, I desaturated the image by selecting the HSL/Grayscale tab, and under Saturation I dragged all eight of the color sliders to –100%.
3) To slightly enhance the texture in the clouds and give them more definition, in the Basic tab I increased Clarity to +17, decreased Highlights to –100 and decreased Whites to –100. This greatly improved the look of the clouds. I also lowered Blacks to –36 and boosted Contrast to +12, and now the picture was taking shape. 4) There was something that clashed; the mountains in the background were not working with the futuristic setting I had envisioned. Using the Clone Stamp tool, I completely removed them by replacing them with clouds.
Adobe Camera Raw: Desaturated all colors in the HSL: Saturation tab
1) To get a picture like this, you first need an idea. Once you know what you want to shoot, you then need to know how you will accomplish it. When you are at the location, follow your plan. Afterward, it's okay to improvise, but just make sure you take a picture of what you intended to photograph — the people, environment, light, camera parameters, and so on. Nothing should be left to chance once you're at the location. You will always discover new possibilities and ideas once you are there, so after you have taken the shot you envisioned, have fun exploring the unexpected.
2) With a lot of patience and imagination, you can achieve great results without the need of a team on location.
I'm from Spain. My experience in photography is not extensive. Since 2011 I have been a member of the Spanish Confederation of Photography (CEF), and in 2014 I was awarded the distinction of ACEF. I am also a member of the International Federation of Photographic Art (IFLA), and I'm preparing my application to hopefully get AFIAP distinction next year.
I've won numerous awards, locally and nationally in the few years I've been shooting. This past year I participated in many international exhibitions earning more than 200 acceptances, and I have received various medals from the UPI, PSA, FIAP and DPA.
One of the most important awards I received was in Tehran at the 2014 Khayyam International Exhibition of Photography; it was the silver medal in the Monochrome category for this very image — Niemeyer 26-ABN
I hope to continue growing as a photographer with the help of you all.