Assignment 3 – Buildings in use

Its been a while since my last assignment submission, mainly due to work issues and getting all the material put together for this assignment.

The OCA brief seems simple on first read which states ‘ Choose five or six buildings and for each produce between two and four images that describe effectively and attractively the way in which these spaces are used’. Further to this the brief requires the student to do the following ‘ You can choose to include people in the images, or not. For each building, it is important that you conduct some research beforehand, either archival or personal (or both), so that you have:

• a good understanding of how and why it was designed in the way it is

• an opinion on its effectiveness as a usable space.

Try to encompass variety in your choice of buildings, including in size and purpose. Write a short statement in your learning log demonstrating your understanding of the function of each building, the way in which it was designed to achieve that, and how well you believe it succeeds. In addition, describe briefly how you initially set about showing the important features of each building photographically, and what you learned during the course of shooting the assignment.

After whats seemed like an eternity thinking of what buildings I could use for this assignment, it became apparent that this may not be as simple as first thought. Of all the choices of buildings I could use, how am I going to break this down to five buildings and within that, submit only 4 or 5 pictures to demonstrate what the brief requires?

So after thinking of which buildings to use where I can complete the full brief, I set out to break down my final choices. My section of images will have a brief description on why I think it works for the required criteria, accompanied with brief metadata and any relevant technical details on how the image was captured.

I’m based in Dubai, and capturing a set of images with an average outside daily summer temperature of between 35-42 degrees is difficult. As not all of the images would be taken indoors I not only had the heat to deal with, but the risk of burnt out highlights as the sun rises very quickly here, so timing would play a big role in catching the right light.

The final set of five buildings (locations) Ive chosen are:

  • Masdar City (Abu Dhabi)
  • Mall of the Emirates (Dubai)
  • Arcadia Preparatory School (Dubai)
  • The Last Exit Food Truck Stop (situated between Dubai and Abu Dhabi)
  • Madinat Souk (Dubai)

All images were taken on a Sony A7MK II, with a 16-35mm Zeiss ZA OSS lens. Some artificial lighting was used were needed. Software for post processing was Lightroom CC. All references for each location are presented at the end of this blog. Relevant metadata can be found under each image.

(click on any image to enlarge)

Set 1 – MASDAR CITY – ABU DHABI, UAE.

Mazda City is based in Abu Dhabi, which is approx a 1 and a half hour drive from Dubai. All I knew of the area before deciding on this location was it was detailed as one of the most sustainable eco friendly cities in the world, and had many areas of invention and pioneering attributes which were worth exploring. What I may find to photograph before my visit wasn’t sure, but thought the journey would prove worth while.

On the website the first statement reads “Seizing The Next Decade. Our goal over the next 10 years is to strengthen the role of clean energy in the global energy mix”. Master is part of the Mubadula Group of companies, and the city was built in Abu Dhabi in 2006.Masdar is working to advance the clean energy industry in Abu Dhabi and around the world, and it is a catalyst for the economic diversification of the emirate.

Masdar is focussing on clean energy deployment, sustainable real estate and independent research. Within Masdar City are graduate university were students can reside during term, offices, shops, an underground driverless car transport system, as well as one of the largest solar panel projects in the world.

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1/640sec, F9, ISO 800

The first image above show modern buildings of varying shapes and sizes. Metal and concert structures almost touch each other in maze of curves and straight lines. I feel that the closeness of each building has a purpose, and that is to shield the residents and work people from the intense summer heat that can touch 50 degrees centigrade in this part of the world. The image shows how the buildings create shadows and shade for those that dare to venture outdoors in the summer months. Each building is designed in its own unique way to reflect the heat while giving a pleasing futuristic look without appearing boring. At the top of the building one can see the massive solar panels which trap and collect energy in this modern futuristic city.

Converted to B&W to enhance the lines and curves of the buildings so as to now allow colour to be a distraction, with leading lines of the sink drain bringing the eye to the figure crossing the street which helps give depth and a measure of size the the buildings.

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Situated in the background of this image is the Institute of Science and Technology. With its world-class faculty and top-tier students, the institute is committed to finding solutions to the challenges of clean energy and climate change through education and research. Once again the building is contracted in a way to reflect heat with specially constructed spiked tiles. The central rest area is protected again by other sand coloured buildings which are part of the residence of the students, with overhangs to give shade. Just out of view to the right of the image is a coffee shop from a famous worldwide brand, as well as a small supermarket and restaurants near by. The trees and rocks give a feeling of being in the country or park, when in fact just behind the buildings is open desert. Rich desert colours are often used on many of the buildings.

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1/30sec, F6.3, ISO 800

Within Masdar City is a prototype ‘Rapid Transport System’, also known as the Personal Rapid Transit ‘PRT’, which is a system of driverless cars, or ‘Pods’, which can transport 6-8 people at a time around a the city. At the moment the system only travels 800 meters from the central location within one of the main buildings to the car park. The system in place at the moment is fully operational, and I took ride in the pods. You simply sit in the car and press a play button on a centre console. The doors will close and take you to the destination without an tracks or electric wires connected to the car. If another car is on the track they will wait for each other to make space. The system was due to be increased in size to many more pods, but the current project has been put on hold. The pods are electric and while they sit waiting for passengers they are charging the batteries in the dock.

The image taken above is within the main building, is was fairly dark so I waited for passengers to leave the station so not to act as a distraction. I placed my camera on a bench and took a set of shots to allow a slow exposure and reduce blur. The leading lines of the floor and square tiling on the ceiling bring the view towards the pods sat waiting for the next passengers.

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1/3200sec, F9, ISO 800

This image is taken on the drive towards Masdar City, and is just on the entrance to one of the major car parking areas. One can see the many shapes of the various buildings and the attempt at the greenery on the approach with hedges and gardens which surround the city. I thought of including a shy in the image but thought it best to show how the area looks without any over post processing.

Set 2 – LAST EXIT – ABU DHABI/DUBAI BOARDER, UAE.

On my back from Abu Dhabi after taking images of Masdar City, I came across a new outlet which at first looked like a normal petrol station or some abandoned rest stop. I pulled in and drove back into the desert away from the main highway, to find this new rest stop come food outlet which I had heard nothing about. The new project turned out to be a new food truck park, complete with the american type food trailers known as ‘Airstreams’ and indoor eating centre. it opened only this summer 2016, and had multitude of caravan type food outlets. One of the comments on a review states ” This is not bland – or cheap – fast food. Last Exit is a gourmet pit stop with something to please every palate – from falafel and Mexican cuisine to seafood and burgers.”

The stop has an obvious car and motor vehicle theme, as can be seen when you first drive into the car park with old cars stacked on top of each other, and an old VW Beatle sat on top of the main building. You can drive through or take time to look around and eat indoors or outside in the winter months.

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1/3200sec, F8, ISO 800

This first image is an example of how the building interacts with people from the car park area to walking inside the food court. I noticed after a short while that all the items used are either recycled, or looked to be recycled. Look at how the bike stands are made from old barrels cut open to allow the bikes to fit. The corrugated materials used to make the main building give an industrial feel to the whole area.

The image was taken to show the separate items used for the visitors, and how everything is laid out in a spacious way while encouraging recycling. Image is closely cropped to remove the featureless sky.

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1/250sec, F6.3, ISO 800

1/250sec, F6.3, ISO 800

Once inside the truck stop food area, you are met with a multitude of car parts, metal dealing made of aluminium, door handles made from petrol pump fillers and tables made from recycled industrial cable wire barrels. This building has done a great job of supplying the customers with a place to eat using all the recycled materials available, while giving it a bright feel with colours and bright open windows. Notice how the light shades are made from recycled wheels and spokes.

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1/125sec, F4.5, ISO 800

Along the corridor which connects two of the food eating areas, is made to feel like some sort of garage. The stools are made from old wood and the foot pegs are made from cycling pedals. Old tool boxes are situated as counter tops with stainless steel road signs on the roof which point in the directions of each location. Pipes are used to hold up the wooden shelf areas and buckets are the light shades. This adds to the whole feel of being a motor theme.

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1/10sec, F4.5, ISO 800

This image of the males rest rooms was a little hard to capture, not just because of the low light, but because it had an attendant cleaning the floors and helping guests with towels etc, plus I had to wait for the area to become clear. I felt a bit strange standing outside a male toilet waiting to take a few pictures like some stalker. I asked the attendant if I could take a few pictures as I liked the theme of how they had designed the room. You can see the wheels and car tires used for the wash basins, and the car number plates use for the lamp shades. The pipes are real with water coming from underground and to make the water come out the taps (which are petrol pump handles) you stand on the accelerator pedal on the floor. The urinals (I spared you the picture on this one) just out of view on the left of frame are made from old buckets. Personally I thought this was the best example of how a room or building could be made unique and still function perfectly, that Ive ever seen. Very clever.

All three above images indoors were taken into Lightroom and given a grungy feel and deep colours with high clarity to enhance the items used in each room, and to bring out the vivid colours. They looked good in B&W but I felt the colours helped better and added separation to each item, as there were so many to see in such a small area.

SET 3 – MALL OF THE EMIRATES, DUBAI, UAE

For my next building I decided to use a shopping area, or mall, as this is a little different to some of the normal malls that are available to the public in the UK. Different as in the area is designed to give a feel of being outdoors while being inside due to the high temperatures we experience here in Dubai. But while talking of high temperatures it also boosts a Ski slope. Yes….a Ski slope! The only Ski slope in the middle east.

Mall of the Emirates was opened November 2005. The multi-level shopping mall currently features more than 630 retail outlets, 7900 parking spaces, over 100 restaurants & Cafes, 80 luxury stores and 250 flagship stores, and as mentioned has the only Ski slope in the middle east.

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1/400sec f6.3, ISO 800

I decided to take my first image of the mall from the outside, as this massive structure overhangs the car park and entrances to part of the mall. This is Ski Dubai which is situated at one end of the mall. It has a black slope for the most experienced of skiers so height and length is required while space is at a premium with over 25,000sq meters of space. Signs are posted around the parking area to located certain areas for foot traffic, as well as electronic parking meters showing what number of spaces are available in each parking lane.

This image shows how buildings can be placed around each other to accommodate people and traffic, while space is at its most premium. Parking is still available underneath the Ski structure making use of every available space.

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1/200sec, F7.1, ISO 800

1/200sec, F7.1, ISO 800

As mentioned in the opening text, Mall of the Emirates consists of more than 100 restaurants and cafes. Making use of space again in this example, we can see how natural light is able to cover the whole area which in this area is on the top floor of the mall. The visitors are able to enter down the escalator to be met with a combination of shops and eating outlets. The building has air conditioning ducts around the sides of the shops (long black grills) which keep the area cool. Just out of view in the far left corner is the worlds largest Apple store.

The image was converted to B&W to enhance the ones and steel window light structure. The escalator rails help bring the viewer into the image and act as leading lines.

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1/200sec, F7.1, ISO 800

This next image shows the central part of Mall of the Emirates. The building is designed in four different levels, each with interlacing stairs, lifts and escalators to transport visitors easily between each floor. Expensive marble is used on the flooring which reflects light back up from the natural skylight reducing the need for bright lights and thus saving power and the planet.

As per the previous picture, this image is converted to B&W white show the lines and sun rays from the above skylight. The lines of each level help take the viewer into the photograph.

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This area is near one of the main entrances to the mall. The shoppers and visitors are welcomed with a bright area, again from the massive natural skylight above, and fountain features and greenery which is detailed to give the feeling of being outdoors. Each restaurant table around the horse feature fountain has short hedges and flower arrangements to enhance the outdoor feel. The building is designed to bring the shoppers to an open area from each level. Escalators just behind the image view help to transport shoppers to each level.

This image worked best in colour due to the flooring. The image is taken from a viewpoint of creating circles within circles, from the tiling floor, fountain and the balconies.

SET 4 – SOUQ MADINAT, DUBAI, UAE

For my last set of images for buildings in use, I decided to take a trip down to Souq Madinat, which is situated next to the famous Burj Al Arab hotel. Its owned by the Jumeirah group of hotels and consists of 24 restaurants, a waterway which takes passengers from restaurant to restaurant, or restaurant to hotel and other locations within the souq area, as well as  a number of high end hotels. The Madinat souq is also home to a Turtle sanctuary and a 442 seat Theatre which is available for live shows and movies. Visitors who are not staying in the hotels can take an Abra ride around the waterways. All parking is based underground.

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1/1000sec, F14, ISO 800

One of the main entrance points of the Souq Madinat is used for pick up and drop off for visitors. Surrounding the entrance we can see the theme of the soul which is in the form of the old arabic wind tunnels, along with the sand coloured walls giving an authentic feel to the building on arrival. Palm trees greet the disembarking passengers adding to the arabic theme.

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1/100sec, F5.6, ISO 800

Once inside the souq you are transformed into a different world, as if you have been taken back in time to the early days of Arabia. The ceiling and decor are all copies of an ancient world of the Arabian markets or ‘souq’. A total of 75 shops and stalls are scattered around the interior, with more shopping areas located outside in allyways. Large high wooden beams make up the structure of the building with cold concrete pathways giving a feeling of yesteryear. Along the central walkway above is antique style lighting.

Image was shot to show the structure of the building, with a portrait frame to help highlight the high ceilings and wonderful wooden beams. Some areas of the image were lightened to bring out the shadows.

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1/2000sec, F11, ISO 800

Once outside the souq we have buildings designed in the old fashioned stone, with wind towers (or wind catchers) high above the ground. These wind towers are still used today and help reduce the temperature of buildings which have no electricity or available air conditioning. On first impression you may think you have been transported back in time, but clues that you are in the modern world are highlighted by the modern food chain sign on the door, along with the popular coffee shop chain and the menu on the right lower corner of the image. Wooden stairways are situated around to help visitors to each level.

Image was taken low to enhance height of the buildings and converted to B&W to give an old fashioned feel, with subtle composition to show the food chains. The positioning was made to bring the highlight of the sun through the palm trees.

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1/1000sec, F11, ISO 800

1/1000sec, F11, ISO 800

The final image of this set show the Abra and the waterways which surround the Souq Madinat. These Abra boats can take passengers to various restaurants, bars and hotel rooms. Visitors who are not staying in the hotels can still take a paid trip around the buildings and souq areas. The buildings are located facing each other, so we have restaurants on one side with hotel rooms on the opposite of the waterway. The water is brought in through channels from the nearby sea. The construction area also has a certain number of bridges (as can be seen in the distance) which also connect hotels to the shops and souq. All the areas outside are scattered generously with Palm trees and other flowers and landscaping.

This image was taken showing the various elements of the building and its surroundings. from the buildings on the right which encompasses the restaurants and tables to the waterways with the passing Abra, to the hotel locations on the left side, while leading the eye into the frame to the Burj Al Arab hotel in the distance.

Conclusion.

Comparison with assessment criteria.

DEMONSTRATION OF TECHNICAL AND VISUAL SKILLS.

For this third assignment I decided to include images with and without people. I have chosen to use a number of different camera angles to enhance the image when ever needed. Lighting was mainly natural as I feel most of the images didn’t require any artificial lighting given the subject matter. I have a camera with built in OSS so I was able to up the ISO and then reduce any noise in Lightroom CC.

QUALITY OF OUTCOME.

I found the final choice of buildings hard, and also the type of images required didn’t allow me to be so creative in the image. Therefore no post processing to any high degree was used like I may have used in past assignments. I feel I have covered a cross section of building that show clearly how they interact with people, even though we as the end user may not notice this in our daily lives.

DEMONSTRATION OF CREATIVITY.

I have used leading lines in certain images to take the eye into the frame and this was chosen carefully. At times I was carful and patient to wait for a person to move into a certain spot within the frame, thus helping give the image weight and to show a feeling of size. With other images I choose not to include any person or people so to concentrate on the image itself. I have used a full cross section of buildings from shopping malls, industrial and schools. Where needed I have used B&W if I thought this was relevant to the image, so colour would not be a distraction, allowing the viewer to concentrate and appreciate the lines and contours within the frame.

CONTEXT.

Research was done on each building well before the images were shot, so I had a feel of what I wanted to capture in my head. It turned out that looking back at the final selection I pretty much took images of what I had in mind prior to the visits. I had read a number of other student sites and submissions and did my best to not copy or emulate others images, as I wish my images to be personal to me with my own creativity and thought. The assignment was harder than at first thought, as I felt I couldn’t be so creative with the images and that I stood a risk of the images becoming boring. I tried to chose different viewpoints to keep the images interesting with write-ups on each which would give interesting information to complement each photograph.

References and research :

Set 1 – Masdar City:

Set 2 – Last Exit

Set 3 – Mall of the Emirates

Set 4 – Souq Madinat