A reader shares his architecture shots
Michael Townsend wants to make his architectural repertoire fresh and unique
From a photographic point of view I am lucky to live in London (although great pictures can be taken in any location). Every day I am surrounded by interesting people and iconic architecture. However, the views in London are repeated fairly regularly in many photographers’ repertoire. The challenge to me is to produce something new and fresh. This can mean either focussing on a detail, or choosing an odd perspective of a well-known building such as the Lloyds Building  or the Golden Jubilee Bridge . There’s an exterior of a car park near Oxford Street  that seems to stumble over itself and I feel it hasn’t been as frequently photographed as other spots.
One aspect of my photography that I’d like to improve upon is my use of colour. Although colour is present in some of my photos, I feel I have neglected it.
Therefore, any guidance on the use of colour in abstract/ architectural photography would be welcome.
Michael, your work speaks for itself. You obviously love clear geometric elements, with strong leading lines and straight, cut edges, so you’re definitely in the right city to find subjects that will inspire you. We see your point that you want to learn more about colour; a lot of your work is just straight-out black-and-white, or has naturally muted tones that make it feel close to monochrome. Black-and-white is a fantastic form of photography, and we even did a black-and-white special issue of N-Photo last year (issue 49), but an
ability to work with colour will present you with even more artistic opportunities in your photography.
Naturally, the best way to play with colour is to find colourful subjects (though light also has an impact on colour, especially in urban areas where artificial lights abound). Your image of the corner of a building in the City of London  has a strong yellow hue and is complemented well by the blue sky – this shot wouldn’t have worked as well if you’d taken it on an overcast day. Looking for buildings that contain colour, as you have here, and waiting for the right time of day to shoot them is crucial; the sky quickly goes from blue to orange, pink and red, to blue again as the sun sets behind the horizon, and the temperature of the light will shift as it does, so the apparent colour of your subject will alter along with the sky.
Maybe finding some new vantage points would help you get a fresh look at London’s more familiar buildings – many of your photos are taken shooting up (such as the City building, and the car park ). Instead, find a tall building and shoot down on the ones around it. It’d be fantastic to get in a helicopter or plane for some aerial shots, though not many of us have this luxury!
Don’t neglect London’s older buildings, either. Hawksmoor’s churches would suit your taste for geometry, while presenting you with slightly more detail to challenge and inspire you.
Your composition is good, with attention to the rule of thirds, and capturing shapes and patterns. If we were to suggest anything, it might be that your framing is slightly too tight. Try to leave a bit of breathing space around the subject, rather than placing it right up against an edge of the picture. Although we realise that may not be doable; perhaps you frame as you do to eliminate other nearby buildings.