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Photographing Industrial Landscapes

Landscapes don't always have to be of rolling hills, forests and waterfalls.

|  Landscape and Travel
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Evil Potions
Photo by ade_mcfade.


Gear:

  • Wide-angle lens
  • Tele-photo zoom lens
  • Tripod
  • Filters – Polarisier and ND


Technique:


If you're aiming to capture chimneys bellowing around strong, bold structures such as power plants, you won't be able to get anywhere near them so you need to find a safe spot where you can use your tele-photo zoom to pull the buildings to you. See if there are any public right of ways around your chosen structure. An ordnance survey map will tell you where they are and take a quick look online to see if anyone else has photographed the same building before to see if they know any good vantage points.


Lighting/Weather

Flat, boring light won't work with these strong structures and rarely does a completely black sky at night as even though the lights around the structure will completely contrast against it, the skies not at all interesting and you may want to rethink how much of it you include in your shot. Earlier in the day, just after the sun's set will leave a nice glow in the sky and it can also give any smoke coming from chimneys an unusual, warm tint. Just be wary of people wondering what someone's doing photographing a large, industrial site at night as we do live in a world now where everyone is suspicious of everyone else and we don't want anyone to be labelled a terrorist! If you do get questioned, be polite and explain what you're doing as getting angry or annoyed will never solve anything.

The distinctive shapes of cooling towers and chimneys make them interesting studies for silhouettes. You just need to tell your camera to expose for the lighter background and not your subject. Make sure the structures aren't too close together either as you'll just end up with an indistinct, dark block.

As with other tall structures such as piers, mist and fog looks great swirling around the base of pylons and chimneys. This does mean getting out of bed early as fog begins to form in the evening and lingers until the following morning. If you can, get higher up and you'll need to find a spot where the buildings are hit by side light so their shape can be emphasised. If it's really foggy your camera may struggle to exposure correctly but this is easily rectified with + exposure compensation.


Subject ideas

  • Power stations
  • Wind farms
  • Harbours
  • Cement works
  • Quarries
  • Pylons
  • Industrial estates

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