I keep shooting this building and the surrounding intersection because the architecture provides all kinds of graphical possibilities. Here, today, the drum in front of the tower looks almost like polished metal, whereas in reality, it’s coarse concrete. And a 25-second daylight exposure eliminates all but traces of traffic and the most immobile of pedestrians.
The 6×18 pinhole, when kept plumb, level and square, is virtually distortionless. I’m going to try shooting this scene again but from a low angle, pointing up, to see how curved it gets.
Now, with working with the pinhole, Kodak Tri-X has really turned into my go-to film because I really need the extra speed even in daylight. And the grain of Tri-X, in 120, and in contact prints/scans, really is a non-issue.
I’ve been photographing the World Health Organization building in black and white, regularly, because the architecture lends itself so very nicely to geometric abstracts. Here it is in color, to show a different take on photo abstraction and the creation of meaning in an image.
The building itself was designed by Uruguayan architect Roman Fresnedo Siri. In 1961, Siri won an international design competition with his arc and cylinder concept. Construction was begun in 1963 and the building opened officially on September 27, 1965. There are bronze plaques on the face of the tower representing each of the 29 member nations.
A recap of the World Health Organization images I’ve made. There are more coming, but they’re on several rolls I haven’t had a chance to process yet (I’ve got to get a couple more shot to run a batch).
This first one is in some ways the most graphic of the bunch, if not the most abstract. In winter, near sundown, you can see this bare tree in front of the white marble wall on the end of the building. There’s the contrast between the black organic shape of the tree against the white rectilinear grid of the wall.
The rest of these don’t bear commentary because you’ve seen them before here on my blog. Go back and re-read the posts ( here, here, here, here, here, and here) for the details of my thoughts and ideas about the images.
Outside the WHO building, there is a series of flagpoles, most in bronze, with a few at the far end that appear to be bronze-ish aluminum (probably modern replacements). I wanted to capture something of the receding-to-infinity effect of the line of them. All winter they’ve been barren, but yesterday for the first time I’ve seen them flying flags of all the American nations (from the US and Canada through the Caribbean nations to Argentina). I will have color images of that coming soon.
I think I need to go back and re-shoot the handrail, as the near end seems a touch out-of-focus when it should be totally sharp. Part of the reason for this is that I’m still getting used to my new-to-me Tele-Rolleiflex (it has a 135mm Zeiss Sonnar f4 lens on it, as opposed to the normal 80mm Planar f2.8 on my standard Rolleiflex). The Tele has a shallower depth-of-field, and it also has a relatively far minimum focus of about 7.5 feet.
Perhaps my favorite shot of this series- I love the repetition of the columns and the arc of the building with the related but contrasting vertical stripes.
A different view of the columns, from behind.
As a side note, I keep short-handing the name of the building to the World Health Organization, but in reality it is the World Health Organization/Pan-American Health Organization building, but WHO/PAHO is a bit unwieldy, and the full name even moreso.
A few more from the World Health Organization building. These I cropped more than I normally do for compositional purposes. I mostly compose and print full frame, but in these cases, including everything the camera saw didn’t match what I was thinking and feeling when I shot the image.
With the Curves image, I wanted the reflection of what’s across the sidewalk from the building showing in the black granite slabs, but I didn’t want much of the vegetation in the background to intrude and directly conflict with the geometry of the building. The grass in the foreground stays in because it is bordered and bounded by the curved lines that echo the shape of the building and the can lights above.
I was mostly interested in the organically shaped column supporting the building, and the dynamic angles of the superstructure it points to. Keeping in too much foreground robs the energy of the image, and including more of the superstructure overweights the top.