Photography Articles

Translated to English by "Farzad Emami", member of CPC & CAPA

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Architectural Photography

Raheleh Zomorrodi Nia

Iran, 2006

Sad-abad is in the neighborhood of Golab Dare from the east, Velenjak from the west and Tajrish from the south. The high stature of Alborz Mountain rises from the north. The kings of the Qajar era were dwelling here and stabilized themselves in this place at the summer times. After coup-d'etat of the year of 1920, this area extended to these districts: Shah Mahale, Bagh Mahale, Jafar-abad, Ghasem-abad, Ali Khan hill and Sad-abad and then allocated to the summer residence of Reza Khan (from the Pahlavi dynasty). Some palaces and villas for various occasions and necessities built beside the old aspen trees and cypress trees, distanced of remained Qajar constructions with a ochre covers of exhausted bricks. The numbers of these buildings reached to 18 during those years that each of them had built in a distinctive architectural style.

Human being always see his past, during history with respect, and trying towards future. He always study the past... I was in these thoughts that involuntary I saw the ambiguous pictures in my mind, in which some groups of wandering people traveling in opened fields of history. The lands covered by darkness... and I felt sorrow in myself. The sorrow, which connect all the people of the history!

What the old architects created a day here and what the kings, who intended to establish these palaces and buildings! All of them died, and now I stand here thinking about it. What I can do is to record their works. Hope I have been a good company in recording the history, architecture and my country heritage, not only in the intention of the kings.

If I want to explain about my photographs on Sa'ad Abad Palace, I have to illustrate my equipment first:
I used a medium format camera, Hasselblad with flex body that allows us the tilt and shift movement (this movement is used to control distorting the perspective). This ability is essential in architectural photography, though in medium format camera it is not complete. In most photographs, I used 40 mm lens for its wider view and sometimes 80 mm lens for normal views. Buildings are wide, so for photographing this subject, wide lens is needed. It is necessary to keep the vertical lines of building, so the flex body applied. The garden of Sad-abad is so beautiful, so it was tempting for me to take photo the building from the out door point of view in all season. The appropriate light for northern, southern, western and eastern facades of building are different in every season, so I tried to capture the best light. In my opinion the appropriate light for recording the texture of the north facade of building is in the sunrise. Southern facade has suit light for all season and most of the time

In the time of sunrise and sunset an inclined light, gleam on the buildings and if an obstacle does not make shadow, the light is nice for photography. Morning time has a good light for photography. In the autumn and spring, because of the clouds in the sky, nice views are created. So, I took photos during the periods. The best light for low contrast is the sunset time; the reddish sky makes the picture attractive. Of course, at this time it is needed to light metering for both natural and artificial lights. Because of long exposure photography at the time of sunset, using a tripod is necessary. I used a tripod with 2.5 meter high and in some cases I mounted from ladder for seeing the viewfinder. To obtain sharper pictures, I set the aperture 32 for 40mm lens and 22 for 80mm lens. Also this setting creates stars in some view, which in lamps exist. For out door photography of the palaces, I used Fuji Velvia color slide, Kodak VS special for daylight and for indoor photography I applied Tungsten slide color.

I used studio lighting equipment for indoor spaces, flashlights bounced from the white ceiling and/or walls, so as to not have deep and distinct shadows. For lighting indoors spaces, the best way was the camera shutter open on its B setting (e.g. 30sec.) and firing the flash a number of times (maximum 8 times). Of course the light of flash cerates blue bias considering using tungsten film, but the intensity of the Luster light compensates it. In some photos, just the soft box diffuser illuminated the subject and flash applied only for too dark spaces. In some point of my frame for example carpets, it was needed to fire the flash directly on it. The placement of the furniture was not as I wanted, so I chose a point for taking photo so as to not reveal distinctive shadows. There was some times a mirror in the room and I had to set my camera, so that its reflection had not taken in the picture, while I wanted to use its light intensifier specification as well. For decreasing intension of Luster lights, I turned them off for a few seconds during long exposure. I need helping hand for operating that. In Melat Palace, I had to use extra lamps for its large spaces, and bouncing light from the ceiling was impossible for the high ceiling.

I used normal film ASA 100 for low contrast in indoors spaces. At first I applied day light slide, but because of existence of the mirrors and sever light of Luster, which was the main lighting source and over than flashlight, I change it to tungsten slide. That's why some of the photos have the blue bias, near to windows that daylight coming through it. There was no solution for that problem unless taking photo in the nighttime. It was impossible for museum limitation, too. However, I tried to reject the direct daylight coming through the windows. Sometimes, I used several reflectors for flatting lights. For night photography (after working hours) I needed to obtain authority from the Security Unit, so I preferred to take photos in fall and winter seasons, when the daytime was shorter and before closing time, light had gone enough. Lighting at night illuminated the building and palaces. Those lighting gave yellow colored to the constructions. Say there is a secret in the middle of the night. The palace gleams like a piece of gold, and conceal the secret of the night.

Finally, I have to add that the architectural photography is so hard, and although there were so many obstacles in this way, I did it fondly and hope to continue this kind of photography.