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David Fitzgerald's picture

LADWP Building at sunset

This is my first post here, and I look forward to learning from all the great photographers that post and comment on here. Prior to COVID I worked in restaurants for 10 years, but have now decided to pursue Architectural Photography as a career, and damn it feels good to have something to work towards. Having said that, my skin is thick and I'm ready for any and all critiques ;)

I was watching Inception last night and was inspired to edit a shot of the LADWP building in Downtown LA. Shot at 16mm, perspective corrected in LR, and sky replacement done in PS.

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7 Comments

Daniel L Miller's picture

Hi David,

Welcome to the group. I also got my start in the restaurant business and made the jump to visual arts.

I'm not familiar enough with this building to know whether the left facing side is supposed to be slanted. (In other words is it asymmetrical?) Judging by the smaller building behind it I'd guess it is slanted. If not, the vertical line on the left needs to be straightened.

As a portfolio piece though no one will know that, so along with the 16mm distortion it's maybe not a good choice. At the least I would suggest a tighter crop— especially on the left. That would help make the building the focus and not the sunset.

Also take a peek at what happens when you use some contrast on the building. It comes alive and my eye goes right to it.

You really want to have fun with this because it's a tough time to pursue architectural photography.

Chris Jablonski's picture

Daniel, I think that David has in fact corrected the converging verticals pretty well perfectly. (Try suprerimposing a grid on it.) It just LOOKS wrong.

Daniel L Miller's picture

That's quite an illusion.

I just figured out why. The lines on the left side of the building are twice as long on the top floor as they are on the first floor. Combined with the lens distortion and the building looks slanted.

David Fitzgerald's picture

Thanks for the feedback Daniel! The building is a perfectly rectangular shape, and I agree the left side appears a bit wonky. This was a handheld shot as I was wandering around the city, so I didn't really take my time to line everything up. Thought I might be able to coax it into an appropriate architectural shot in post.

Chris Jablonski's picture

I had the same initial reaction as Daniel, David, and wondered if the building has sides that lean outward. Checking carefully, it seems to me that the building has vertical walls, and you've corrected convergence perfectly..

I think the isssue is a subjective one, that when the horizon line is very low as in this case when portraying a typical building with vertical sides, fully correcting convergence creates a "looming" effect which can be disconcerting, more so for some reason in a photo than an architectural rendering. It leaves you with the dilemma of an "inaccurate" but correct-looking image versus what you have here - strictly accurate like an orthogonal projection, but not looking quite right, at least to some.

Otherwise it's an appealing image with beautiful light & colours. I might have been tempted to move right a few feet so the outline of the tree at left fell between the distant buildings. Its a small detail, but that area balances the buidling's mass and the light there draws my eye to it.

David Fitzgerald's picture

Thanks Chris! Compositional points noted, especially regarding the tree on the left. I find that I have an engineer's mindset (I studied electrical engineering in college...then went into the restaurant industry...oops) in the sense that technical accuracy should translate into a correct end result, i.e. the verticals are straight, so why doesn't it look "right", or natural? A habit I'll have to strategically adjust, no doubt.

Chris Jablonski's picture

It's up to your judgment, David. I read about the "looming" effect from Ansel Adams' books, and when eventually it came to processing and looking closely at architectural images, I concluded he certainly had a point. Others may not see it that way, perception being so subjective. So maybe you could ask yourself whether the building looks "right" to you - and then do what seems right for you.