Take a sideways look
Transform ordinary street scenes into abstract forms with a simple twist
Often the beauty in architectural photography, and in the architecture itself, is in the angles, lines and shapes that make up the outline of the building. One of the best ways to draw attention to shape is with contrast, or, if you like, the arrangement of light objects against dark backgrounds, and vice-versa. Think how well the shape of a silhouette stands out against a bright backdrop, or how a white lily contrasts with a dark pool. With architecture, the greatest contrast in the scene is usually between the building and the sky, as skies are invariably much brighter than buildings. When composing your frame, think about how you can use this contrast to your advantage.
To the left, a wide angle has been used to capture the jagged, angular shapes of the streets of Ghent. But who says that just because we see the world the right way up, a photo has to do the same? Henri Cartier-Bresson, perhaps the greatest ever composer of a frame, had a good piece of advice for those looking to judge the strength of a particular composition: turn the photo upside down. This helps you to analyse the frame in a detached way, by bringing the arrangement of shapes to the fore while muting the subject matter. If the frame has balance upside-down, it’ll work the right way up too. And if it looks especially striking while upside down, or on its side, as in the image above, why not leave it that way?