Architecture photography by ANDREAS PAEHGE

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Tell us a bit about your background in photography and where you're living currently

I’m into photography since beginning of 2011. I’ve been interested in photography before but never done it, excerpt shooting with a small digital camera during e.g. vacation, until I bought my first digital reflex camera, which was a NIKON D90. I’m 52 years old and I live in Gelsenkirchen which is a town in the Ruhrarea in West-Germany. It’s quite a good and central location to reach a lot of places around which are interesting for me.

Is there any gear in particular that helps you in your architectural photography?

Currently I’m using a Canon 5D Mark III for my shots. The most of architecture pictures are taken with a 17-40 wide-angle lens from Canon as well. I’m using Camera Lantern as a firmware replacement for my bracket or long time exposure shots. Two other important accessories are a pole filter to avoid reflections and to steer light of sun and a ND pro filter set from Formatt Hitech with 3, 6 and 10 stops. Another new element is a Panorama Head which helps a lot to create panoramic pictures.

You didn't actually start out as an architectural photographer, did you?

You’re right, I have a colleague which acts in the area of taking photos during the blue hour and that was the first situation where I get much more curious in photography during 2010. That was the milestone when I decided to by a better digital camera which was realized end of 2010 with the Nikon D90 and the journey had started. The first step was to get into the details how to steer the camera and not to be in the situation that the camera steers you ;). That was the first goal. Afterwards I started to take my first HDR pictures, to focus on blue hour pictures and to develop them afterwards in Lightroom and Photoshop. This was a difficult process not to get lost into all this different processes, hardware and software issues and so on but it went somehow good from my prospective.

But it took not so much time where my interest into architecture inflamed by visiting the interesting places here in Ruhr Area. Therefore I focused more or less into this to take architecture shots and to develop my skills in that area not only by taking the shots itself and to develop an eye on shooting interesting RAW pictures but also in doing the post processing process in Lightroom and Photoshop. That led to the decision to upgrade to a full format camera which is a Canon 5D Mark III.

What advice would you give someone who was interested in architecture photography?

There are a lot and this is an excerpt out of them:

  • Start small, think big, which means try to improve your skills in small steps but try also to reach your bigger objective (which should be defined)
  • Learn from other photographs but try to find your own style
  • Learn to handle your camera somehow blind which gives you more potential to concentrate more on the picture you take
  • Explore a building before you start to shot to get a feeling what it is and what possibilities it gives you for different shots
  • Light and shadows are your friend in area of architecture photographing which means if it is very cloudy or it rains it does not make sense to shot (Excerpt you need this conditions for a special shot you’ve planned). Stay at home and try to improve your technics otherwise.
  • Don’t give up getting better, everyone has started with first picture

In what ways is architectural photography different than other forms of photography?

Photography especially in the area of Architecture is the possibility to give buildings, cityscapes, etc. somehow a soul by developing them in the direction which is in your mind during shooting them. It’s a long process which a photograph has to develop by itself to find its own style somehow but not only this but also to focus on things like composition, line direction, picture language and so on. On the second hand it’s a driver to visit a lot of places you may be wouldn’t visit if you would not be a photograph. It’s the possibility to take care of the area where you live in and to engage in. Not only close where you live but also wider scattered.

Thirdly it’s a good way to meet a lot of interesting people in real live and also virtual (referring e.g. to our Paradox Architecture project on Facebook). And at the end it’s also sometimes a good idea to improve your health because you have to walk a lot to reach all this amazing places and buildings. ;)

Do you feel that the art of architectural photography is overshadowed by the attention given to the captured architecture?

No, I do not think so because the way the captured architecture acts on someone is quite often different as the art of architecture which is created by the artist because the artist tries to achieve and include its own style and vision.

Is there any particular technique that you could share?

The most important technique for me is the use of luminosity masks in my workflow. You can steer any detail especially light and shadows in your pictures. It is not so easy to understand and it is sometimes complicated to get into the details but if you do you won’t like to miss it any longer. There are a lot of helpful resources already to make the creation of all needed masks very easy.

Please describe your digital work flow and the software you use? What do you feel one must do to master image processing?

When I started to work with Lightroom and Photoshop I was quite unorganized like many other beginners I assume. What should I do next, before and after that which led to somehow unexpected results and that annoyed me a lot. Therefore I decided, I think as from 2014 on, to divide my workflow into different steps which could sometimes to be used individually or as a step by step approach.

Here is one example:

  1. Perspective and clean
  2. Color
  3. Contrast
  4. Creative (Filter)
  5. Final

But the process to get minimalist and neat pictures begins while your shoot. I’m e.g. focusing on to get the correct cut when I shoot. This saves a lot of work regarding transforming the picture afterwards. One other element in my workflow, which I use very often with beginning of 2014 as well, are luminosity masks which is a very great technique to influence the picture style.

What is the most critical moment in the capture of your images?

I do not think that there is “the most critical” moment but there are some things which I consider if I plan to shot:

  • Find a location e.g. by checking the picture search of Google or WAM (World architecture map) if you have a special target city in mind
  • It is also possible to search on favorite picture sides, like 1x.com in the needed sub folder like architecture
  • Check weather and light situation as well, e.g. with “The Photographer’s Emphemeris”
  • Check the location by using Google Earth
  • Check if a permission is needed to shot, especially if you have to travel far
  • Is everything prepared, like loaded batteries, a clean sensor, enough SD cards, clean lenses and filters and so on?
  • Do you need a lamp (with full batteries) if you would like to shot during night?
  • Is the Mobile loaded and does someone know where you are?
  • Proper clothes prepared?
  • Check if you have all with you before you start (lenses, SD cards in your camera, something to drink and eat, etc. )

Name a shoot or project that revealed to you the distance you've come as an artist

As I started to do my first architecture fine art creation a lot changed because it forced me to shoot in another way, to use new techniques and to structure my workflow in another way as done before. That was the starting point with beginning of 2014 and I’m developing and improving this continuously.

What does the future hold for you? Do you have any trips coming up?

The most inspiring thing which drives me is to realize things which are not visible in real or which are not quite possible in reality by looking at in one moment. What does this mean with respect to architecture for example? Digital photographing and post processing possibilities opens such a big area to develop your own ideas which was not possible in the past in area of analogue time frame or only with a lot of effort. Here are some examples

  • Long time exposure
  • Paint with shadows and light
  • Use of luminosity masks
  • Combine different images to create one in the end

My interests are more or less focused on architecture, landscape and lost places at the moment which does not mean that I will not do other things in the future. Portrait photography especially in area of arranged ones like taken by Alexia Sinclair really inspiring me. The second thing which I would like to deal with is astronomy photography and time lapses. So stay tuned, may be more will come. As I’m traveling a lot it is always a chance to combine it with my photographic projects.

How social media played a role in your photography?

It plays a big role because I won’t like to take photos only to leave them printed or on my hard disk. Social media used to be a place for me to share my work but also to find people with the same interests, get inspired by other photographers, share ideas, learn new techniques, arrange travels or create networks.

And question we love to ask: your experience with Camerapixo?

From my point of view Camerapixo is a very good starting point for serious photographers to promote their work on different channels if you are a professional or an amateur. The way Camerapixo doing this differs from every platform I’ve seen by now. It's an amazing platform and a great way to share and publish my work. You can present your own work to a wide audience in an easy way but you can also use Camerapixo as a host for your own inspiration. Thanks Artur and Anetta from Camerapixo team for keeping up your good work!

Thank you Andreas for taking the time to do this interview.
We are happy to welcome you on board among other photographers.
Your photography is very valuable in this community and very beneficial for our readers.
Camerapixo Team

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