Frame Works? Looming Ahead

Description: Bank of America Plaza Atlanta 

Background: This is Bank of America Plaza, at 55 stories, the tallest building in Georgia. This shot was taken looking westward down North Avenue. The building sits on a slight ridge running northward from downtown, and the land falls away from that ridge to the east and west. 

When traveling east along North Avenue from the building, one encounters two noticeable dips and rises. Standing on that second rise, about three miles away, I took the shot.

I became interested in making this image because whenever I drive down North Avenue, I get a sense of the building looming eerily over the street. Since no other structures of similar size are nearby, it stands alone peering down over its domain. The sense of looming is especially acute when North Avenue starts to dip down to go under an old railroad overpass. The movement down seems to make the build grow larger and closer. My goal was to capture that sense of the building sternly presiding, unchallenged, over the city. 

Technical: Ilford XP2, box speed, Minolta Maxxum 7000i, 28-100mm (D) lens at 100mm, aperture priority. 

Frame Works? No. Revisiting the images, I see a tourist photo, not one that conveys any sense of how the building towers above the landscape. Vantage points for shooting are few; there is an apartment complex 15 feet to the left and a residential street immediately to the right. I tried walking downhill toward the overpass, but then the building becomes obscured. Perhaps the focal length of 100mm was too short. Some foreground is needed in the frame to provide context, and getting enough foreground along with the building requires compression, which means using a longer focal length. If so, I need to return and try the shot at 250-300mm. Advice or suggestions, anyone?

4 Comments

  1. Perspective/angle plays such an important role when you are trying to achieve a specific feel for a shot. There isn’t a simple or single solution. My approach would be to first look at it over different times of the day throughout the year and see how the light impacts the scene. For me b&w requires a dominant interplay of light and shadow. Is there a time when only the building is illuminated or vice versa, how do clouds make the image feel? Would a move to the right make the street have a stronger uphill vanishing point? What if you showed a little more foreground on left but let it go dark to play up the building? Think of the visual weight of the foreground as a counterweight to the building. I like the focal length but I would also try a wider lens then analyze the results.

    A few thoughts without actually being there.

    1. Author

      Thanks so much for the advice. When I bought the first Maxxum my only goal was taking pictures of my garden. That building intrigued me, and I wanted to capture some of that presence on film. Since then, I have learned a lot, and some of the solutions I’ve come up with match your suggestions. The building is on a direct east-west axis, so I’m thinking a winter shot, when the sun is low, might create shadows from other structures nearby and help in terms of depth and mood. The starkness of winter may also help. What I find most interesting is the amount of time I spend thinking about shots that likely no one will see but me. I will try your suggestions, and thanks once more for your insights!

      1. Author

        Just added it to my reading list! Thanks!

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