Architecture & Abstraction: Visualization in Three Dimensions

Andrew Reed

(Andrew Reed)

This project has 2 components:

  • Part 1 : Architecture in 2 dimensions;
  • Part 2 : Architecture in 3 dimensions.

NOTE: Interior and / or exterior architectural subjects are appropriate for both Part 1 and Part 2.

Part 1
Part 1 explores architecture by building on the concepts in “Light & Texture”, generally, and “Abstraction”, more specifically. Architectural subjects should be examined for formal elements that will, when properly framed form images of balanced and compelling composition such that formal elements grossly overshadow content / language.
Keep the following guidelines in mind while working on this part of the assignment:

  • You are recording an image, not taking a picture of an object. The distinction requires an understanding of roles of form and of language within any specific work of art.
  • You should always attempt to record an image under the best conditions possible. If lighting is natural (i.e. available light,) ideal time of day should be considered. For example, will re-shooting at a different time of day provide more interesting shadows?
  • Carry your camera with you as much as possible. If you do not have a specific concept for this assignment, you will need to explore your environment and will need many images. It is unusual for experienced photographers to produce more good than mediocre images. Shooting ratios for the films of Robert Flaherty, of one of the greatest documentary filmmakers, was reported as high as 100:1 (he used 1 foot of film for every 100 feet shot.) You are shooting digital. There is no reason not to shoot 100s of exposures. It is difficult to accurately assess the relative worth (in aesthetic terms) of an image before you view it on your monitor.
  • If you choose to set up your shot(s), your shooting ratio may not need to be as high but it is still vital to shoot as many iterations as possible. The execution of your concept may require subtle or substantial modifications to come in alignment with your vision. Cover your butt.
  • By this time, you should always choose the best aperture / stutter speed / ISO / focal length, combination. Obvious blunders on final work will affect your grade.
  • All final images must be 100% in focus (unless there is obvious justification.)

Andrew Reed

Andrew Reed

Andrew Reed:Guggenheim

(Andrew Reed:Guggenheim)

Part 2:
Part 2 explores 3 dimensional visualization within the context of architecture. To be successful you will need to frame various details of architectural subjects (loosely defined as any man-made structures) and as in the last architecture project, present them largely non-linguistically and free of narrative. Once again, you will be concerned primarily with formal issues but for this project, you should search for unusual angles, large reflective surfaces, strong formal elements, and other elements that will add to the viewer’s disorientation. Depicting easily identifiable elements in extraordinary ways encourages the viewer to carefully reexamine the formal aspects of the subject. Labels tend to disappear or are at least demoted to subordinate roles.

Andrew Reed:Citibank

(Andrew Reed:Citibank, NYC)

This assignment requires the use of a tripod. You will find a tripod equipped with a ball head or with 2 axis tilts to be especially helpful. Wide angle lenses are generally very useful when shooting architecture and extremely useful specifically for this assignment.

The entire viewfinder is your canvas and you must consider every bit of it before you press the shutter release.

Once again, these images should not be cropped. The entire exposure must be printed. Composition must be determined before the exposure is made, not in post.

A working familiarity with the Zone System is very useful. For each composition, record all light readings taken and before film is exposed, sketch a map of the subject labeling each area of interest with the readings taken. Be sure to include highlights, shadows. Translate each meter reading on the map into the zone number as you intend to print it. Record the calculated exposure used for each shot. Even though you will have perfectly exposed your film, remember to bracket by at least ± 1 stop (±2, even better.) Be prepared to explain and justify your decisions with regard to each exposure. This will include a detailed analysis of your exposure map relating each reading taken to the zone in which you placed it.

Andrew Reed:Amsterdam

(Andrew Reed:Amsterdam)

Your grade will be based on your grasp of the project’s conceptual constraints, the effective expression of your vision, the degree to which it is unique, your demonstration of technical fluency and of course, the degree to which the translations of your vision to print are successful.

Andrew Reed:Airport

(Andrew Reed)

As usual, there is no quantity requirement for this project but a submission of 10 excellent photographs will be reviewed more favorably than a submission of only one but be advised, quality must accompany quantity.
All final work must be completely processed and ready for printing, publishing or posting.

Andrew Reed:McGraw Hill Building

(Andrew Reed)


  • VISUALIZATION:The process of seeing the completed (black & white) print in one’s mind (as it is intended to be printed) before the exposure is made.
  • NARRATIVE: Representing stories or events pictorially or sculpturally: narrative painting. Telling a story as in photo journalism.
    • Relating to form; shape; composition devoid of meaning.
    • Of, pertaining to, or emphasizing the organization or composition of the constituent elements in a work of art perceived separately from its subject matter: a formal approach to painting; the formal structure of a poem.
    • Pertaining to the form, shape, or mode of a thing, especially as distinguished from the substance: formal writing, bereft of all personality.
  • LINGUISTIC: Relating to language; labels; names of things. A non-linguistic approach implies a focus on formal issues, generally.


  • All images must conform to the conceptual requirements defined previously.
  • Each image submitted must be critically focused. Additionally, the entire image must be in focus indicating a working knowledge of depth of field.
  • All final images submitted must in folders viewable in Adobe Bridge. For clarity, mark the folders “Architecture Part 1″ & Artitecture Part2″
  • Images may not be cropped. They must be composed in the viewfinder. Original files for each final image must be submitted as well. These, as above, should be in a Bridge-viewable folder marked “Architecture Part 1 UNEDITED” and “Architecture Part 2 UNEDITED”
  • Images must be completely processed and ready for printing, publication, or posting.
  • Minimal post-processing will be accepted for this project. Obvious post-processing is not to be used. This assignment is about photographic vision not software tricks.
  • Late submissions will not be accepted.