Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Photographing staircases

click photo to enlarge
Photographers seem drawn to photographing staircases in the way that painters paint bowls of fruit, and perhaps for similar reasons - it is a very three-dimensional subject depicted in two dimensions. Architects put a lot of work into staircases and over the centuries have come up with many variations, some ornate, others utilitarian. The wrongly named spiral staircase (they are almost always helicoidal) must take the prize for the most photographed design, and I've taken my share of examples of both elaborate and simple construction.

Any staircase that involves a change of direction (called in this instance a "return") gives a photographer a strong set of lines and a visual route through an image, and this must lie at the centre of its attraction as a subject. Handrails, balusters, newel posts, wall stringers, lighting etc add further elements though the most important is often people using the staircase. Today's example was taken in a relatively dark staircase at Tate Modern in London. Here I liked the contrast of the flat dark areas and the subtly shaded lighter areas as well as the line created by the lighting under the handrail and the fact that the colour palette is nearly all in the area of browns and beiges.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Photo Title: Staircase, Tate Modern, London
Camera: Olympus E-M10
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 14mm (28mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/30 sec
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On