The beauty is in the de­tail

Be­witched by beau­ti­ful build­ings, Al­lan Mena talks to AP about telling your own story through pic­tures

Amateur Photographer - - 7days - Al­lan Mena is a keen am­a­teur pho­tog­ra­pher who in­cludes ar­chi­tec­ture and de­sign and trav­el­ling amongst his pas­sions. He is for­tu­nate enough to spend a fair amount of time pur­su­ing his per­sonal projects, and is a reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tor to In­sta­gram in­sta­gram.c

al­lan mena talks to aP about his ar­chi­tec­tural photography

What ap­peals to you the most about ar­chi­tec­ture?

All my fam­ily mem­bers are ar­chi­tects, so the pas­sion for ar­chi­tec­ture is in my blood. I love to seek out pat­terns, lines, tex­tures and min­i­mal shapes. I feel a sense of sat­is­fac­tion when I take a pic­ture and peo­ple can’t quite tell what it’s of, but they love it any­way.

When did you first take up photography?

I bought my first cam­era (a Canon EOS 70D) in 2016, just be­fore go­ing on hol­i­day to Asia. Since then I have been post­ing my pic­tures on­line and have re­ceived very pos­i­tive feed­back. This boost from friends and fam­ily has en­cour­aged me to dig deeper and take my photography fur­ther.

What is your pre­ferred method of learn­ing?

I at­tended a two-day photography work­shop at univer­sity, but I learn new tech­niques from mag­a­zines like and watch­ing tu­to­ri­als on­line. Am­a­teur Pho­tog­ra­pher,

What should pho­tog­ra­phers con­sider when shoot­ing ar­chi­tec­ture?

Find your per­spec­tive: Use the lines, shapes, pat­terns and de­signs of a build­ing to tell your story. Where rel­e­vant, keep lines ver­ti­cal and per­pen­dic­u­lar to the hori­zon.

Do your re­search. Use Google, Flickr or In­sta­gram to look at how a build­ing or piece of ar­chi­tec­ture has been pho­tographed be­fore. I look at about 100 dif­fer­ent pic­tures be­fore vis­it­ing a lo­ca­tion, so I know what to ex­pect. Some build­ings are closed to the public, so I some­times con­tact pho­tog­ra­phers to seek their ad­vice about ac­cess. Once I am on site, I try to take a pic­ture that I haven’t seen be­fore.

If you want your work to stand out from the crowd you need to in­vest in de­cent equip­ment. The best lenses for ar­chi­tec­ture are tilt-shift or widean­gle lenses, which can be ex­pen­sive, but there are some widean­gle lenses on the mar­ket that will do the job for less of an out­lay. If money is no ob­ject I would also rec­om­mend adding a drone to your kit bag.

Take your time. With ar­chi­tec­ture there are many sur­faces and ma­te­ri­als that re­act dif­fer­ently to light and cli­mate. You don’t al­ways need

a clear sunny day to get a strik­ing shot – stormy and cloudy days can help cre­ate drama. Once on site, take your time and ex­plore the area around the build­ing as well as the build­ing it­self. Ob­serve how the light and shad­ows af­fect the com­po­si­tion.

Look for the beauty in the details – when it comes to ar­chi­tec­ture ev­ery­thing is there for a rea­son. Search out small details. Look at the ceil­ing, win­dows, stair­cases, shad­ows, lights, and so on.

How do you seek per­mis­sion to shoot in­di­vid­ual build­ings?

It varies, but once I’ve found a build­ing I’m in­ter­ested in I tend to make my­self known once I am there. I ex­plain to every­one that I am tak­ing pho­to­graphs for my per­sonal use, and most of the time peo­ple will say ‘go for it, but be quick.’ To pho­to­graph a pri­vate build­ing, I will send an email or tele­phone the ap­pro­pri­ate per­son for per­mis­sion.

What are the ob­sta­cles in ar­chi­tec­tural photography?

Ob­tain­ing per­mis­sion; the best per­spec­tives are found some­times on, or in­side, pri­vate prop­erty, which would re­quire spe­cial per­mis­sion.

Also buy­ing gear. Equip­ment for shoot­ing ar­chi­tec­ture can be ex­pen­sive. Ideally you need a DSLR, tilt-shift, widean­gle, and fish­eye lens; a tri­pod and some light­ing equip­ment.

Be aware of for­bid­den gear. Gen­er­ally, when you’re shoot­ing in­side a mu­seum or public build­ing you won’t be al­lowed to use a tri­pod, Speedlite or drone.

What has been your most mem­o­rable shoot so far?

I love the ar­chi­tec­ture of Zaha Ha­did and San­ti­ago Cala­trava Valls. When I see work by these ar­chi­tects I am al­ways amazed by the level of per­fec­tion.

What equip­ment are you cur­rently us­ing?

I use a Canon EOS 70D; Canon 10-18mm, 16-35mm and 18-135mm lenses; and Opteka 6.5mm f/3.5 HD Aspher­i­cal Fish­eye lens. I also have a GoPro and a DJI Mavic Air drone. If I could, I’d buy an EOS 5D Mark IV and TS-E 17mm and 11-24mm lenses.

What would be your dream as­sign­ment?

I would love to travel with my wife, dis­cov­er­ing new places and help­ing others in some way.

Al­lan spot­ted this sky­scraper as he came out of a Metro Sta­tion in Hong Kong

Look­ing up at the Axel Tow­ers in Copen­hagen, Den­mark

This stair­case is lo­cated on the up­per part of Caix­aFo­rum in Madrid. It’s cov­ered in a steel shell dec­o­rated with pan­els of dif­fer­ent shapes

A unique per­spec­tive of Hong Kong’s In­no­va­tion Tower by Zaha Ha­did

Al­lan looked at many pic­tures of Pierre and Marie Curie Univer­sity, Paris, be­fore com­pos­ing his own unique im­age

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