Looking up my photos, my words

I’ve learned through many years of photography that it is important to always keep my eyes moving when I’m walking through an area with my camera.

Whether I’m in a city or a forest, I’m always scanning for possible photographs. I’m analyzing how light and shadows work with buildings or landscapes, how foreground elements fit into a broader composition, how shapes and colors and textures combine to form an eye-catching scene.

I’ve also learned that it is important to look up.

Looking up at the Texas Capitol dome from rotunda floor, Austin, Texas.

I have hundreds of photographs in my files that I took either lying flat on my back or bending backwards so the camera is pointing straight up. And I have hundreds of others where I used an extreme wide-angle lens to get interior shots showing ceiling detail above a floor, sometimes tilting up slightly to create perspective distortion.

Looking up at the skylight in the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

I’ve learned that the older the building, the more likely that common areas — lobbies, entrances, etc. — will have interesting ceiling detail.

The central saloon, or formal state dining room, is the most highly decorated room in Blenheim Palace, in Blenheim, Oxfordshire, England. The room features walls and a domed ceiling painted around 1713 by artist Louis Laguerre representing Peace.

That’s obviously the case with a number of European buildings I’ve visited. Centuries-old churches or palaces are often more interesting when looking straight up than they are at eye level.

But I’ve also found the same to be true in some American buildings.

At times the upward view is a primary feature of the architecture. That’s the case with the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, where a visitor’s eye is drawn straight up to the spiral walkway and skylight immediately upon entering the building.

Looking up toward skylight from under a spiral staircase, Hotel Monaco, Washington, D.C.

Staring straight up from the center of the rotunda floor in the Texas Capitol in Austin feels like a visitor is looking into the bottom of a space craft, like a scene from “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” come alive.

Skylights, paintings or architectural detail all provide interesting above-the-head indoor photography subjects.

Looking up at the dome above the statue of Thomas Jefferson in the Jefferson Memorial, Washington, D.C.

When outdoors, I’m always checking “looking up” opportunities that show size, scale and relationships of buildings or other structures in large cities, or size, colors and patterns of trees when I’m in the wild.

That’s one of the things I really enjoy about photography — I never know what will catch my eye.

Click on a photo to see a larger version.
Created By
Pat Hemlepp


All photos and text © Copyright - Pat D. Hemlepp. All rights reserved.