"Observation is a passive science, experimentation is an active science"
Photography is a combination of passive and active science. I've spent years observing spaces and experimenting different ways to photograph them. Many factors come into play: light, composition, camera angle, exposure time, aperture, and time of day - to name a few. I don't often shoot at dawn, which is rare for an architectural photographer to say. Most photographers absolutely love shooting at dawn but, I have just always preferred the dusk image.
Here's an experiment on shooting at dusk vs. at dawn that I conducted while shooting the new Iowa Culinary Institute building in Des Moines.
What I observed about the dusk image:
- overall it is much more vibrant and dramatic
- the colors pop
- long exposure times bring out interesting cloud movement with nice contrast
- the interior of the building is much more visible
The dusk shot seems to become more about seeing into the space and how the exterior ties into the interior. The brightest points of the image are in the building drawing the viewers eye inside. The cloud movement actually points you into the space as well. The image reveals not only the exterior and interior architecture but also the lighting design.
What I observed about the dawn image:
- there is an emphasis on the shape and form of the building
- the curve of the glass is more obvious and dramatic
- the image overall has a warmer and inviting feel
- there is interest placed on the environment the building is in
The interior is darker which tells the story of the form of the exterior more efficiently than the dusk image. Most design takes the environment into account, with more available daylight, the dawn image reveals the context in a stronger way than the dusk image. If I would have made the dawn image much earlier in the morning it would be drastically different and closer to the dusk image.
Both images bring value in their own specific way. It is really interesting to me how making two images from the same spot at different times of day can be totally different.
The enemy of photography is the convention, the fixed rules of 'how to do'. The salvation of photography comes from the experiment." - Laszlo Moholy-Nagy