As part of the Queen Street Townscape Heritage Scheme, we are hosting a series of exciting training and learning opportunities in the heritage field. Last month, we delivered a fantastic Heritage Photography training session for our Queen Street volunteers. In this post, volunteer Mitch Davie shares his experience along with some of his favourite photographs from the day.
On a chilly January morning, professional photographer Dawn Jutton paid a visit to Wolverhampton Art Gallery to deliver an introductory training session on architectural heritage photography. In the first half of the session, Dawn delivered a brief presentation which covered basic camera settings and included various tips and tricks for photographing buildings and architecture.
Here are Dawn’s three top tips:
Stop, Think and Consider
Dawn’s first tip was to slow down the process of taking a photograph and really think about what you want your photograph to communicate.
Dawn advised that we take our time getting to know a building or area and to search for details and intricacies which may not be immediately evident. She also suggested looking at colour, shape and texture as evidence of age and deterioration.
Work with the Light
Dawn’s second tip was to always consider the direction of the sun. Light, or the lack of light, can make a huge difference to the quality and aesthetic of a photograph. Dawn encouraged us to explore different angles and positions to see how light altered the appearance of a particular building.
Dawn also encouraged us to experiment with reflections in water, mirrors or windows, to create multi-layered images. The Queen’s Building, which was built in 1849, was once the carriage entrance to Wolverhampton railway station. It has not functioned as the carriage entrance for many years and today it the home of popular coffee shop, Costa. Today, it sits adjacent to the new and rather modern bus station.
I wanted to capture the old with the new so I positioned my shot to catch the old building’s reflection in the new bus station’s glass doors.
Frame the Shot
Dawn’s final tip was to use our eyes and feet to frame a shot. Dawn talked about lines and discussed how to use rooftops, drainpipes, walls etc. to draw the eye to the main subject of a photograph.
After a quick lunch, we ventured out onto Queen Street equipped with our Canon compact digital cameras. Dawn devised a series of tasks which encouraged us to put our new skills into action:
Create a series of photos of the same building from left, right & centre, low angle and high viewpoints.
Look for at least 3 different details of the same building; e.g. a recognisable feature, texture & decay.
Frame a building using another part of the street; e.g. street furniture, a tree, a doorway, reflection.
Choose one building and spend some time waiting for the right moment when something (or nothing,) happens in front of you.
The last task of the day brought all of the group together to create a ‘street line-up’ image which when stitched together, would provide a panoramic view of Queen Street.
With our camera batteries depleted and memories cards almost full to capacity, we headed back to Gallery feeling very pleased with our efforts. While we warmed up with a cup of tea, we had the chance to review some of our photographs. It was a great opportunity to review our progress and fortunately, we’d all managed to get some great shots.
Personally, I found the session really interesting. I discovered that even a basic camera can produce fantastic images; the secret is to slow down and fully consider a shot before pressing the shutter. Throughout the session, Dawn encouraged us to approach heritage photography with creativity and imagination. As a result, we avoided capturing generic photographs of Queen Street and instead produced original images which will hopefully encourage others to look at the street in a new light.
For more information on professional photographer Dawn Jutton, please see her Facebook page here. For regular updates on the Queen Street Heritage project, check out our Facebook page here. For more information on upcoming training sessions, please see our webpage.