In the last couple of weeks I've been out to Alges, a superb of Lisbon right next to the river that I wouldn't really associate with shooting landscapes, but there are a couple of interesting locations there, the Champalimaud Foundation for the Unknown and the Lisbon Port Authority building, which I was really interested in photographing.
The Champalimaud Foundation, or "Centre for the Unkown" is a beautiful building next to the river on the outskirts of Lisbon. I've passed by it on the train hundreds of times but only recently got around to shooting it. It's a fascinating structure with some interesting architectural aspects and water features.
I always think architectural shots work well with long exposures against and fast moving clouds, and I as we've had a lot of rain recently I liked the idea of being able to include reflections made by the wet stone in the images.
For the first shot, I set up to shoot the two stone monoliths against the sky with their form reflected by the wet stones. This meant getting the camera as close to the floor as my tripod would allow and using the pattern of the stones as a foreground and lead in lines. After I had taken the first exposure I realised that I needed something to give some scale to the image, so I decided to shoot it as a self portrait with a ten second timer on the camera. This meant clicking the shutter then running into position before the shutter fired at the end of the ten second countdown.
As I was doing this I noticed that colour was starting to bleed into the clouds, so I quickly set the camera up for a long exposure by attaching a 6 stop neutral density filter to the camera and dialing in 6 stops more of exposure by extending the shutter time. As it was quite windy the clouds were moving quite quickly, which added a nice amount of blur to their movement. Again, I shot it as a self portrait to add scale, which this time meant standing like a statue for the length of the exposure.
While standing in position for these exposures I noticed a small pool infront of me overlooking the river. The water in it was perfectly still creating wonderful reflections of the sky, so for the next couple of shots I set the tripod up for close to the edge of the water and did a couple of long exposures of the clouds moving across the sky and their reflections in the water. Sadly, by then the colour and light had passed so I tried to create something moody and a little abstract.
By the time I'd finished it was getting darker and the lights that illuminated the foundation were starting to come on. I hadn't yet done any shots which showed the buildings in context, so I walked back between the two main buildings and set up to shoot a wider scene with the illuminations in the wall and floor highlighted and once again made use of the wet stones to provide a reflection and foreground interest.
Before I left though I decided I had to find some way of capturing the glass bridge that links the two buildings together. It's a beautiful structure, like something from a science fiction film set, and I wanted to try to find a way of capturing it that really highlighted that quality. Again, I decided that something a little more abstract would work better so I stood directly underneath it and shot straight up cutting most of the buildings out of the shot to remove the context. I then played around with the angle trying to find something that changed the whole perspective of the structure and forced you to think a little about what the structure might actually be.
The Lisbon Port Authority building is close by, and its located on a narrow strip of land that projects in to the river. Nearby a pier of large rocks curves towards it making great leading lines, and at high tide with a long exposure, it's possible to get some dramatic images.