Unexpected fortune | Sandton Architectural Photography

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Yesterday I went out to Sandton to continue with one of my latest projects on minimalist, long exposure architectural photography. Long exposure architectural photography depends on finding a good balance between blue skies and white clouds. Typically, you need about 65% blue skies and 35% white clouds with fair winds. The stronger the wind blows, the more impressive the white streaks are. Leaving home early afternoon, the clouds were just perfect and I looked forward to creating some really long exposure shots of specific Sandton buildings. My bad, as the weather changed completely within a half an hour! As I was still driving towards Sandton, I saw how the blue skies made way for mostly flat, white skies. 


I met with Graige, one of my students, who has since become a photography buddy, at the Capital Hill building, just off Grayston Avenue. I contemplated, or rather complained that it wasn’t the perfect day I hoped for! We nevertheless decided to give it a try after I briefly instructed Graig on long exposure photography. After making just a few long exposures, I realised the bright overcast conditions weren’t working. The skies were just too drab and grey for minimalist architectural photography.


In spite of this, our fortunes changed. By around 16:00 the skies turned quite dramatic. I decided to leave my Neutral Density Filters off, and capture some of those dramatic clouds instead. It wasn’t what I planned, but I often speak in class about not getting hung-up on your own expectations.  By 17:30, the cloud formations turned really aggressive. It was like mini Armageddon. I expected an Alien spaceship coming through the swirls and curls in the sky!


I would like to share some of the images I created. For post editing, I used my usual HDR Workflow and then converted the images to black and white in Photoshop, using a preset I created in Nik Silver Efex Pro II.


I think you would agree that the dark, broody skies served as fantastic backdrops for some of the buildings we photographed. Let me know what you think! 


  • Featured Buildings: Capital Hill, IBM Building, Investec Building, China Construction Bank
  • Location: Sandton, South Africa

Comments: 1

  1. Susan van Wyk 5 Jan 2016 Reply

    I like the brooding skies and the contrast between the light and dark. I like the angles of the buildings and how the light reflects of them. Very powerfull

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