Shanghai Photo Walk

Photos by J. Klofft

By Kathy Klofft

A recent trip to Shanghai allowed Jeff to capture the architecture and atmosphere in Shanghai in advance of the celebration of Chinese New Year on Jan 28th. Happy New Year!

Pearl Tower

Pearl Tower

Street Worker

Shanghai World Fiancial Center

Shanghai World Financial Center, Shanghai Tower (the world's 2nd tallest building) & Jin Mao Tower

Evening Walk

Puxi (the historic center of Shanghai) from Pudong

Shangai Tower (in rear)

Shanghai Pearl at Night

Shanghai Pearl at Night

Signs

Preparations for the New Year- Year of the Rooster

Photo Walk in Albany, New York

Albany New York

The New York State Capitol building. Architects were Thomas Fuller and Henry Hobson Richardson

The New York State Capitol building. Architects were Thomas Fuller and Henry Hobson Richardson

I'll try avoid making the joke that it's a "capitol" idea! (But then I just did, didn't I?!) But Albany had more to offer than I was expecting!  Albany is the capitol of New York, but of course New York City is the largest city by a huge margin.  Albany, with it's population of less than 100,000 people (according to the 2013 census) is really a small town with big architecture.  In the 19th century and the turn of the 20th century, when it was popular for capitol cities to show off with architecture and hold expos, some of the country's best architects came to Albany flex their muscles.  With the city was growing, banks and other industry booming, beautiful buildings went up trying to mimic iconic avenues of NYC.  Of course the city suffered in the middle and end of the 20th century, and buildings sat empty.  The advantage of this stall in Albany's fortunes was that the old wasn't cleared away for the new and now that things are on an upswing again, the gorgeous architecture remains, waiting for a responsible hand to return them to their former glory.

Although more than a few gorgeous buildings sport "available" signs, many developers have renovated buildings with respect for the original architecture. These renovations have married some modern "cool" (in particular with lighting and interiors; there seems to be a lot of neon lighting accents) with the traditional. The over all effect is that State Street is a delightful place to see some incredible architecture,  in just over an hour, we did a short photo walk up and down State Street and the area. It would also be a good place to spend a relatively inexpensive weekend. (To see our Trip Report for Albany click here

Note: As is often the case, Jeff decided to share architectural photos in black and white to better highlight the architecture

A view down State St Albany to the SUNY Administration Buildings

A view down State St Albany to the SUNY Administration Buildings

View up Washington St towards the Albany City Hall

View up Washington St towards the Albany City Hall

This little building on State St is available, with incredible details, it sits all alone!

This little building on State St is available, with incredible details, it sits all alone!

This Philip Hooker building houses the Bank of America today

This Philip Hooker building houses the Bank of America today

A beautiful trio of organ pipe buildings on Eagle St housing shops and an Irish pub our concierge recommended. 

A beautiful trio of organ pipe buildings on Eagle St housing shops and an Irish pub our concierge recommended. 

At the far end of State Street, the SUNY Administration building dominates, it was a former railroad building opened in 1913.

At the far end of State Street, the SUNY Administration building dominates, it was a former railroad building opened in 1913.

Our experience during our short visit is that Albany is full of architecture that lives larger than the size of the city.  As such, it's a fun architectural museum to take a photo walk. Here are some of Jeff's tips for an architectural photo walk.

Some  photography tips for shooting buildings:

-Shoot (or process) architecture in black and white to highlight the architectural details. On an overcast day the sky isn't an interesting color in any case.

-Get low, and shoot up; it cleans up the clutter on the street (cars, parking meters) and the sky gives creates a clean background. 

-Be patient, wait for cars or pedestrians to walk by- although this is a rule to be broken if you see an interesting pedestrian walking by, it can give the photo a sense of place.

-Take some close ups of interesting details in the architecture. 

-Take the "post card" picture first, you can't move the building, but if you move YOU, you might get a better shot! "Work" the building by moving around it for other interesting angles or frames and to remove distracting details like poles and wires. 

-With all urban photography its a good idea to have a partner to watch your back for traffic or street thieves (we encountered very little of the first and none of the latter on our weekend trip in Albany!)
 

What camera gear am I bringing?

Jeff here, for the non-photo types this post may be a bit techie.  No offense taken if you bailout now. 

So while I can select and pack my clothes in a few hours, selecting which camera gear to bring on a trip is a much longer process.  A few months before the trip, I’ll go on photo outings to see if I’ll be happy with what I plan to bring.  Now here’s the deal, you need to bring only “exactly” what you’ll need.  Too little and you’ll curse yourself on the trip for not taking what you needed, too much and you’ll curse yourself after the trip for hauling around all that extra weight.  In an effort to reduce the size and weight, I've tried smaller mirrorless systems, but frankly I've never warmed to them and have gone back to taking a DSLR (guess I’m just old-school).

The Kit

The Kit

Here’s what I selected for this trip.  Given the location, I needed a camera body that didn’t look too professional, but at the same time, I also needed one that worked well in low light conditions as I’ll shooting during the evening hours in the cities and inside building.  With that in mind, I’ve selected the Nikon Df.  While the Df is a high-end camera, the retro looks (lots of dials) and two tone silver/black look make it appear older.  Now while the experienced camera thief will know the difference, the grab and run types are more likely to snatch a soccer moms entry level DSLR before mine.  The Df is excellent travel camera.  The images are fantastic, it’s great in low light and the file size is reasonable (which makes processing later much faster).

The Df

The Df

 

For lenses I’ll be taking the Nikon 16-35 f/4 VR and the Nikon 24-120 f/4 VR.  The latter will be the workhorse lens, while the former (wide angle) lens will come in handy for architecture and interior shots.  Both lenses are fairly fast (meaning they have a larger apertures which will let in more light in any given situation) and both have Vibration Reduction (or VR) which stabilizes the lens when handholding the camera (which I’ll be doing all the time as I’m not bringing a tripod) at slower shutter speeds.

Unfortunately I couldn't leave well enough alone, and at the last minute I added two other lenses that will stay behind most days.  First is a Nikon 50 f/1.8.  This is a very small, very fast lens that I’ll use mostly in the evenings.  Next is the Nikon 28-300 VR.  This is a “do-it-all” lens that will mostly be for backup, but I see using it while we cruise during the day, as it’s a much longer telephoto lens.

Now I know what I said above about mirrorless cameras, but I am taking a specialty one along – my Nikon 1 AW1.  The AW1 is a waterproof, crushproof camera.  If something happens to the Df, the AW1 is the understudy.  If there’s ever a day that a total washout, the AW1 will be there for me and if we visit one of the public bathes, the AW1 is all over that too. 

While for some this may seem like a lot, you can trust me when I tell you I took far, far more to Africa and the Galapagos J, and since photography is part of the travel fun for me, I tend to bring more that you really need for documenting your trip.  An iPhone can do that just fine.  I’ll report how things worked out after the trip.