Lately I have been experimenting with different styles of the architectural photography dusk images. Over the last few years I would typically only shoot in specific weather conditions at a specific time during the magic hour. I had normally been waiting until well after the sun goes down and then waiting some more before I start shooting. This would yield me a very rich dark blue sky, the buildings would really pop out at you. The colors would shine without bumping the saturation much. You can see an example of this type of dusk shot here. I really love the look this technique gives me and I don't plan to leave it behind. I plan to putting it in the metaphorical photography tool belt if you will. As a photographer, or any type of creative individual for that matter, experimentation is an essential element. It keeps the art fresh, puts me on my toes, and exercises the mind. I love this quote from the Hungarian painter/photographer Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, "The enemy of photography is the convention, the fixed rules of 'how to do.' The salvation of photography comes from the experiment."
The day these images were made was completely overcast and raining off and on. The shoot was only a few hours from my office so I decided to go for it with hopes of a perfectly timed cloud break so I could make the images I saw in my mind. Well that didn't happen. What did happen as I was walking around studying the structure was I began to see a mood. A mood that I would have normally written off. I remembered the quote I shared with you about photographic experimentation and decided to go for it. I had been in the experimentation mode lately anyway, and nature was providing me another opportunity for it. I made these images well before the sun went down. The overcast sky created a heavy handed soft-box over the whole city. I always say photography is a problem solving profession. This shoot is an example of that fact. My client Knutson Construction was on a tight deadline needing these images right away for an award submission and there was no other opportunities for us to shoot a different day. Overall I love these images and now the AJ Brown Imaging architectural photography tool belt is a little heavier.
Let me just start off by saying, I absolutely love Cedar Rapids! This city was hit with a devastating flood in 2008 which I have blogged about several times. Since the flood 5 years ago, Cedar Rapids has been going through a major downtown renewal period. They have renovated many buildings, built a new library, convention center, education center, and the list goes on and on and on. This is the newest addition to this booming city, The McGrath Amphitheater. It is located right on the banks of the Cedar River with plans to extend the river walk from the amphitheater down to the festival grounds in the near future.
The theater has the capacity to host 4,600 visitors at any given point. They plan on holding concerts of all kinds as well as many different city events and activities at the amphitheater. The project also serves as a new form of flood protection for the west side of the city which previously had none. It's a beautiful place and a great example of combining the needs of the project with a creative solution.
Since this is ultimately a photography blog, I often like to mention the problems that arise while shooting specific projects and the solutions/decisions I had to make. I decided to minimally light the image above because the existing lighting is such a major part of the project. We only needed to bring in a little supplemental lighting on grass and the side of the stage. This was a balancing act because I didn't want it to look like we lit the scene at all. We wanted to show off how nice the lighting setup was designed in the first place so we didn't want to take away from that at all.
Honestly the biggest issue during this shoot was keeping people off the stage! I think people are really excited about the project, so all day and night there were people aimlessly wondering around in my shots! Hahaha, can't blame them though.
After the flood of 2008 Cedar Rapids downtown was devastated by water damage. The old library was ruined and now, after lots of hard work, houses the corporate headquarters of the insurance company True North. The library was scaled down and functioning with several satellite locations until now. The brand new Cedar Rapids Public Library is set to be completed within a few weeks! The public grand opening will be on August 24th. I had the pleasure to photograph the new building for Knutson Construction a few weeks ago to get some in progress images. The building was designed by OPN Architects and had a total project cost of 48 million dollars.
This library is huge with 94,000 square feet of space! The building is Leed certified and is expected to meet the platinum performance level. It supports a beautiful rooftop garden with seating areas for readers to enjoy the libraries massive new book collection while taking in the sites from above downtown Cedar Rapids. There is a local coffee shop called Brewed Awakenings that is set to operate the library coffee shop and service the drive though window for readers on the go.
There is even a 200 person theater in the library where they will hold book readings, concerts, plays and many other local events! The Cedar Rapids Public Library when completed is said to have the possibility to be one of the best libraries in the entire country. After 5 years of waiting, the people of Cedar Rapids are celebrating the revival and restoration of downtown with the newest addition being their brand new library.
The fans and players in Marion, Iowa have recently wrapped up their first season in their brand new baseball complex. I got the impression that they do realize how lucky they are as the complex looks more like a college complex than a high school's. Since the complex has completed its first year of use we decided to shoot it in a slightly lived in style while still keeping the images relatively clean and sleek. The first image was made just after the softball girls finished their final game of the year. I really love the effect this has on the field with the baselines worn and the obviously not freshly manicured infield. The field almost appears to still be warm from the game just minutes ago.
The shot of the locker room has much more obvious lived in effect. We made this image just before the varsity team suited up for the game.
I was contacted last week by a brilliant architect/artist named Volkan Alkanoglu. He was commissioned for an installation art piece that was to be placed in the main atrium of the brand new Cedar Rapids Convention Center that opened this week. The artwork was designed as a contrast to the architecture of the building to introduce a visual focus point in the space. I would have to say he succeeded in that vision as you can not help but crazy glue your eye to the piece as you spend time in the atrium. There is some sort of magnetic field attracting your eye to the art Volkan named Distortion.
The sculpture was constructed out of flat tessellated sheets of aluminum. Distortion is a piece of endless variations as the day goes on from morning, afternoon and night. As the sun scrapes across this art it becomes a living thing sending constantly changing colorful light refractions against the wall. You really need to experience Distortion in person to fully understand its capabilities.
Distortion was installed by a team of professional artwork installers called Demiurge. Demiurge made a time-lapse of the installation process seen below.
Installation of Volkan Alkanoglu's "Distortion" - Cedar Rapids Convention Center from Demiurge LLC on Vimeo.
This type of project gets me super jazzed about what I do for a living!
AIA Iowa's magazine IA Architect has selected to feature a project that I had the honor to photograph in Iowa City for their Green Issue. I just wanted to share with you a quick post of the images that were selected for publication. To order a copy of the magazine go to the AIA Iowa chapters website. A big thank you to AIA Iowa and Shive Hattery Architects and Engineers!
The Cedar Rapids school district facilities were devastated by the flood of 2008 along with many other businesses. With damage cost being astronomically high, the board decided to pursue building on land the school district already owned on the northwest side of the city. After operating out of temporary trailers and rented space throughout the city for four years, they finally have a permanent space back.
This beautiful building is the new Cedar Rapids School District Educational Leadership & Support Center. It is a 170,000 square foot facility with a $44.5 million dollar price tag. This will be the first time all of the districts support services will be under the same roof, housing over 200 employees that used to be spread out all over the city. Together they serve over 17,000 students.
The project was designed by Shive Hattery Architects and Engineers and built by Knutson Construction. Construction was completed in May 2012.
Cedar Rapids, Iowa suffered a historic flood in 2008. There were 5,238 houses damaged, 940 businesses damaged, and 1,300 city blocks effected. The entire downtown was underwater including the Cedar Rapids Public Library making news all over the nation. Fast forward 4 years. AJ Brown Imaging was hired to shoot the newly renovated building where the library used to sit. It is now occupied by True North an Insurance and Financial Strategies company. Oddly enough the new library just happens to be under construction at the former site of True North's headquarters. The cost of the facelift exceeded 10 million dollars and it is definitely a beautiful site built by Point Builders of Cedar Rapids.
True North has an extensive gallery of photos spanning from the begining of construction all the way up to the public open house when they opened the doors for community tours. Take a look