research log: kaisa talo (aoa)


research log: representation 1, spoiled for choice

colour or black and white?

cropped or full frame?

stitched or single shot?

these are the standard questions you ask yourself upon selecting images in order to get started.  but none of them gets me even close to a final selection of anything like what might be called an atmograph (of an archmosphere).  these shots are standard operating procedure documentation.  getting the feel of the space and seeing how it fits in the lens.  the next question to ask is what to communicate about it and how.

research log:another library – testing the 17mm t/s

The idea here was simply to test drive this ridiculously wide-angle lens.  As expected, it is rather useful when shooting against a 2d plane parallel to the sensor but creates tunnel out of anything else.  Good for dramatic effects I suppose, but pretty useless for accurately depicting design and structure, as Shulman would have put it.

In essence I bought it in order to shoot the interiors of the 3nx Henning Larsen and SHL buildings in DK.  Hopefully the latter two will start answering my emails again.

research log: chapel nearly finished

Lucky thing this was only a test shoot, as it did not go to plan.  Sun was forecast and I was counting on strong shadows.  No such luck all day.  The pews were in which I was not aware of.  I sent an email to the architects asking for updates about that sort of thing but have received the usual silence.  The 17 ts-e is an F4, which was not really fast enough for the amount of light in there.  I had only brought a mono-pod as I’d planned on shooting wide-open with bright light.  In short, a bit of a disaster all round.  But as preliminary images these are a good test for ideas I will hopefully go back and pursue next week.

research log: new interview

1    Do Images make buildings?

1.1  Role of the photograph?

1.2  Role of publication?

1.3  Audience of each?

1.4  Visual rhetorics in relation to text?

1.5  Importance of branding architecture?


2     What is an atmosphere?

 2.1  Do you agree with Bohme that atmospheres are produced in a predictable way using a pragmatic approach in the theatre?

2.2  Do you agree with Zumthor and are there any links with his assessment of atmospheres in architecture and your own work?

2.3  How might each connect to photography?

2.3.1  Atmographs or archmospheres?

2.3.2  Do you see any potential for an expended view/understanding of architecture through a focus on atmosphere?

2.3.3  Do you feel there is any (pragmatic not idealistic) need to expand the understanding of and interest in architecture to a broader public?

2.3.4  Can the atmosphere of an image coincide with the one perceived upon visiting the actual site, and upon what would it depend?

3.    Where are we from; where are we now; where are we going?

3.1   What was the role architectural photography in the birth of modernism?

3.2   Has photography changed much since the introduction of colour photographs in architectural publications?

3.3   Has photography changed much since the development of 3d – 4d rendering?

3.4   Has photography changed much since the development digital capture and Photoshop?

3.5   How would you like to see architectural photography evolve?

3.6   Can you make any predictions about the future?

4.     Project Specific Questions

4.1    What were atmospheric intentions of (specific project)?

4.2   How well were these realised by the photography you commissioned?  In what way do the photographs succeed in transmitting your intentions (atmospheric and otherwise) and in what ways do they fall short?

4.3   What were some of the pleasant surprises from the photography you commissioned?

4.4  What do you think could be added in subsequent shoots of that work and why?  How about a wish list?

research log brief analysis of interviews

main points to focus on during shoots:


  • some key moments producing atmospheres: children eating breakfast.  taking off outdoor clothes after getting dropped off and putting them on to go out to play. children asleep.  children at play.  children doing things under skylights and in playground.
  • downstairs:  street
  • upstairs: playground
  • public place with a character of its own: public places deserve that extra effort and expense
  • photography needs to reach the other senses: touchable surfaces, acoustic surfaces; soft/hard, hot/cold
  • poetic image is sought
  • contact: connexion between humans and their environment
  • fuzzy: questions not statements
  • photos that deepen the limits and are open to multiple interpretations
  • use your skills but remain open to the unexpected
  • take a voyage through the keyhole and then into the space: primary image is the view through the door and the subsequent series can act to explain
  • atmosphere: spirit of the place, state of mind, understanding others, lived in experience
  • space is an enlargement of your state of mind
  • interest in people and what is going on in a given place as well as what is outside the frame (create frame then shoot around it)
  • tell stories through sequences
  • be prepared to kill your darlings in order to advance or change
  • photography can bring attention to the overlooked and make the invisible visible
  • built environment, context not just the building itself
  • magazines should raise the level of discussion about architecture and the built environment
  • shoot exterior and interior in diverse weather
  • as used in different ways by different people (staff, children, parents)
  • diverse functions captured in one image
  • the chaos of life and work
  • robert capa
  • keywords: existence, keyhole, icon, window, device


  • like helene binet’s photos of zumthors spa
  • don’t show the building but rather what it is like to experience it
  • dynamic angles and important moments produced by light and people
  • architect = composer; photographer = musician
  • architectural photography is limited because it comes from architectural design: architects try to control too much
  • high/low key photos; varied weather and light; high contrast graphic images
  • live action
  • photo’s job is to reduce: you can’t show everything
  • arch and photo are slow like elephants
  • series of moments
  • w/ and w/o people (contrasts, opposites)
  • contextuality and a sense of place
  • use of wood in vernacular arch
  • architecture can act as a set for life
  • use different film grains
  • don’t try to show everything
  • 24 hours of light
  • 12 months of weather
  • artificially light space like a product shot
  • vagueness and abstraction
  • the point is not to show reality but to point to something behind it


  • 13 small libraries transferred into one; idea is to create several small spaces to keep the diversity of former libraries alive to some extent
  • 3 different voids each with different atmosphere which changes on each level due to spatial relationship of floor with void and views beyond
  • 3rd floor is main floor w/ main entrance from fabianinkatu
  • 3rd floor looks down on 2nd floor cafeteria and out onto road.  this is vesa oiva’s favourite space
  • 3rd & 7th floors have largest lounge areas
  • purple floor and open terrace make the 7th floor different from the rest
  • reading tables next to windows: hypnotic effect created by views without sound
  • despite “chill out” zones, the main purpose of the library remains study, books, investigation, scholarship
  • fabianinkatu side: old empire, silent no traffic
  • kaisajniemi side: busy, urban, trafficky
  • interested in using photographs to convince builders and investors that it is worth spending more on good design
  • also useful to raise public awareness for the importance of good design (if the public wants it the builders will pay for it)
  • important to shoot series of pictures of key spaces to explain them through more than just one shot
  • goal to create the best atmosphere possible for learning: several atmospheres employed to hedge their bets