Saturday, August 10, 2013

How to take original photos of the Salk Institute

bradley_LJ_77
Yes, even me... Photo ©Darren Bradley
OK, that title is meant as a bit of a joke (photographer humor?), because there's probably no such thing as an original photo of this building - and certainly not the one above. In fact, it's the most obvious shot and the one everyone takes. C'mon... if you've been there, you've taken this shot, too. You can't help yourself. And since no series on the Salk Institute is complete without this shot, I thought I'd get it out of the way first thing.

Salk Institute
Deliberately NOT standing on the center line of the courtyard. Photo ©Darren Bradley
Having the good fortune to live just a few miles away from one of the greatest icons of modern architecture in the world is a lucky break. It gives me a ready-made place to practice my photography whenever I like, and I never get tired of watching how the light plays off the various textures and creates shadows from the different angles. 
Salk Institute
Photo ©Darren Bradley
But it's also a challenging place to shoot, because it's so well known and everyone already has their own fixed ideas about the place and what it looks like. It's hard to challenge those ideas but it's worth a try. 
Salk Institute
Photo ©Darren Bradley
Usually (but not always), I try to avoid using my tripod and shoot more spontaneously here. I just wander around and shoot what I see, from the hip. And I try to show parts of this building that are not often photographed, since I'm lucky enough to be familiar with it. 
Salk Institute
Nobody ever photographs the exterior for some reason. Photo ©Darren Bradley
I won't get into the history of this place or its significance, except to remind everyone that it was designed by the architect Louis Kahn and built in 1965. You can read all about from more informed people than me in plenty of other places. 

So instead, I'm just going to shut up and show you some of my photos (originality not guaranteed, but I tried). 
Salk Institute
I've never actually seen anyone sit in those travertine seats. Photo ©Darren Bradley
Salk Institute
Nice of him to walk into my frame like that. Photo ©Darren Bradley
Salk Institute
This girl was there photographing the building, as well. She had her little tripod and a point & shoot. She kept looking at me warily. When she realized that I was behind her here taking a photo of her taking a photo, she ran away. Photo ©Darren Bradley



Salk Institute
This place takes on a darker mood on a cloudy day. The processing may have helped that, too.
Photo ©Darren Bradley
Salk Institute
Photo ©Darren Bradley
Salk Institute
Photo ©Darren Bradley
Salk Institute
A parting shot of the exterior elevations... The famous courtyard is on the other side. Photo ©Darren Bradley


4 comments:

SiArtist said...

Very nicely done, Darren. I like the way you frame the pedestrians within those iconic archways. The cloudy day shots are wonderfully bone-chilling (Dr. Evil's lair???).

Darren Bradley said...

Thanks! Glad you liked the post. It's always a bit of a game of cat and mouse, waiting for people to move into the right position but it's worth it in the end to get the right photo. The people are essential to the feel and scale of the place.

Helk said...

Superbe cette série. je ne savais pas que tu harcelais les filles photographe :)

Darren Bradley said...

Merci Helk! A mon age, il faut faire ce qu'on peut...