• Scott Wertz

How The Atmosphere Affects Architecture.


In the span of two hours as the sun sets you will see how the atmosphere dramatically affects the look of a building. This is the new Kempsville Recreation Center in Virginia Beach. The design is by HBA Architecture & Interiors. I am an Architectural Photographer but sometimes I am also a "meteorologist". We have so many resources now at our fingertips to be able to view and study the way the atmosphere is acting at any location. On this particular day I was tracking a large shelf stratus cloud that was traveling West to East just as the sun was setting. This was a perfect opportunity to get those fantastic colors that bounce in the atmosphere as the sun sets. I sat in the same spot with all my equipment just waiting for those moments. This first shot was photographed at 7:40 p.m. You can see the large cloud above in this picture as the sun was peeking through the trees behind me.


This next image shows that cloud passing by as the sun turns the water vapor a glowing orange and red. You can really see the Fresnel index of refraction on the glass. The glass to the right of the image has less effect than the glass just to the left. This is because of the index of refraction on a reflective surface of glass reflecting the atmosphere. The sharper the angle from the lens of the camera the more reflection you will see. Look at the glass from left to right of the image and you will see the differences. This image was shot at 8:24 p.m.


This image is just as the sun has set, but there is still a slight bit of light in the upper atmosphere. Now that there is not much light in the atmosphere to reflect and the lights are on in the inside of the building it is a much different look and feel. There is still a little ambient light, but not enough on the trees. The trees were artificially lit and the facade of the building had a little bit of light thrown on to it. This image was shot at 8:57 p.m.


Now just 10 minutes later this image was photographed and look how dramatically different the feel is. The kelvin temp is a bit cooler as just about all of the ambient light is gone and the building is lit by white led bulbs.


As Architectural Photographers it is really important to understand the weather and how that atmosphere is going to change the effect of the ambient light around the building. It is also important to understand how to shape and control light to get the absolute perfect result in the end.

#KempsvilleRecreationCenter #ArchitecturalPhotography

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