Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Terrorism and architectural photography

click photo to enlarge
I photograph quite a bit of archit- ecture, though less than I used to do. My move from a coast near a cluster of urban centres to a more rural setting means fewer buildings, and a narrower range of building types at which to point my camera.

Of all the types of photography that you can engage in architectural photography should be one of the least stressful. Photographing wildlife requires planning, stealth, and then frustration when your subject "legs it". Motorsports and aviation photography must be pretty fraught too - all that noise and a subject that is frequently moving very fast. People, of course, present problems too many to enumerate, which is why I don't often point my camera their way. But architectural photography? The subject stands perfectly still for you, you can travel a long way to your chosen building knowing that it's invariably going to be there when you arrrive, and it doesn't complain or sulk if it has to be shot during inclement weather. Yes, buildings have a lot going for them as subjects for the camera.

Or so I thought until I read of the Austrian tourists who were made to stop photographing Vauxhall bus station in London, and compelled to erase their memory cards, by officious police over-stepping the bounds of their authority. But what made me wonder even more was reading this tale about an architectural photographer plying his trade in London a couple of weeks ago, and his brush with police hyped up on anti-terrorism legislation and training (or the lack of it). It made me recall the photography that I've done over the years in the capital city, and that which I'll be undertaking there again quite soon. Will I eventually come up against an authority figure who takes exception to me snapping shots of architecture? I've only been queried once about why I was doing photography of this sort - it was outside Queen's Terrace, Fleetwood - and my interrogator was an elderly inhabitant of one of the flats in the building. She was satisfied by my response that I wanted an image of this architecturally significant building, and she was interested to discover that in the UK anyone has the right to photograph virtually anything from a public place.

Today's photograph presented no such problems. To photograph inside Peterborough Cathedral requires the payment of a small fee (a mere £2.00), and it can then be done with the blessing (!) of its owners. On my recent visit I wanted to capture something of the mystery of the building so I took several shots of the darker sanctuary - a contrast to the other images that I've posted of this building (here, here and here).

NOTE: Any UK photographer concerned about restrictions being placed on photography in our country should sign this petition.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 11mm (22mm/44mm equiv.)
F No: f2.8
Shutter Speed: 1/50 seconds
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -1.0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On