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Architecture in Photography

Shadows

When the light falls on an opaque – non-transparent – body, shadows are cast, and are manifested either in chiaroscuro contrasts or as silhouettes on an adjacent surface. Shadows determine our spatial perception; they create depth and form surfaces. Shadows generated by sunlight however are not fixed, but subject to permanent alterations – they ‘wander’ during the course of the day and give rise to different shapes at different times. Such ephemeral phenomena can be discovered time and again in photographs of outside views. They often have an aesthetic charm, but they also provide information to the observer both about the urban context of the reproduced object and about the photograph itself. The albumen print of the Piazza del Popolo in Rome thus shows on its lower edge the shadows cast by the Fontana del Nettuno, which is not visible in the photo. Since the fountain is located on the west side of the piazza and the shadow of its silhouette is reproduced almost entirely, the photo must have been taken in the second half of the day.
In architectural photography with documentary claims, areas of shadow and the shadows cast by objects or persons are mainly considered a disturbance. What photographers strive to achieve is as even an illumination of buildings as possible. This is easier to achieve with an overcast sky. Winter months are particularly suitable for architectural photo shoots, also outside Italy, since the light intensity is lower; but even then an overcast sky is an advantage. For instance, the photo of the Palazzo Grifoni Budini Gattai in Florence was taken in December 2010 on a day of bright sunshine, which has left its traces in the cast shadows under the window gables in the black-and-white photo, though on the plus side this helps to underlined the three-dimensionality of the façade.


Konstantin Guttschow: Piazza del Campo, Siena, before 1942, print on barytpaper, 17,1 x 23,1 cm (KHI, inv. no. 134660)

Unidentified photographer: Piazza del Campo, Siena, before 1931, gelatine-silver print, 7,4 x 10,6 cm (KHI, inv. no. 76107)

Unidentified photographer: Piazza San Pietro, Rome, 1880/1890, albumin print, 25,2 x 37,4 cm (KHI, inv. no. 13872)

Unidentified photographer: Piazza San Pietro, Rome, 1880/1890, albumin print, 25,2 x 37,4 cm (KHI, inv. no. 13872)

Romualdo Moscioni: Atri, Santa Maria Assunta, 1891/92, albumin print, 25,6 x 19,6 cm (KHI, inv. no. 3338)

Romualdo Moscioni: Caprarola, Palazzo Farnese, before 1903, albumin print, 19,5 x 25,4 cm (KHI, inv. no. 186503)

Francesco Arese Visconti: Siena, Piazza del Campo, 2010, print on R-C Paper, 20,7 x 28, 6 cm (KHI, inv. no. 604898)

Francesco Arese Visconti: Florence, Piazza della Signoria, 2009, print on R-C Paper, 19,3 x 28,9 cm (KHI, inv. no. 606857)

Hilde Lotz-Bauer: San Filippo Neri, Florence, before 1940, barytpaper, 18,1 x 23,9 cm (KHI, inv. no. 382390)

Rabatti & Domingie Photography: Palazzo Grifoni Budini Gattai, Florence, 2010, digital photography (KHI, inv. no. 602249)

Roberto Sigismondi: Palazzo dell'Abbondanza, Massa Marittima, 2003, print on R-C Paper, 18,1 x 23,7 cm (KHI, inv. no. 585634)

Roberto Sigismondi: Palazzo Comunale, Massa Marittima, 2003, print on R-C Paper, 23,9 x 18 cm (KHI, inv. no. 585609)




© KHI in Florence | 10.08.2020 22:54:41