I had a morning meeting with a client in downtown Nashville a couple of weeks ago. Rather than fight traffic up from Spring Hill during rush hour, I arrived early and spent a couple of hours photographing architecture along Broadway.
There is something uniquely magical about photographing architecture in the early morning. The sun is casting a vastly different quality of light than evening twilight. Also, there is far less vehicle and pedestrian traffic, which can be good depending on the end goal of the images.
Below are a few of the images I captured, along with a critique of each one. Just a note, these are NOT fully retouched.
The first building I experimented with was the Grand Hyatt. I settled on this drone shot with the Union Station hotel across the street, contrasting the old and the new sides of Nashville.
At this time of day, Broadway is almost unrecognizably empty, so this is one image that would probably be better at sunset. A hotel like the Grand Hyatt that is purposely built right on Broadway, is better photographed in the evening when pedestrian traffic and the music scene are at their peak, but it still looks spectacular at this early morning hour.
Moving farther down Broadway, I ran across the new Apple store at 5th and Broadway.
The ambient light was too bright for the perfect shot, and retail stores look a little odd when empty. But less vehicle traffic certainly helped get the shot, and the store looks right at home in its surroundings.
Just southeast of Broadway is the almost-finished Four Seasons Hotel, set to become one of Nashville’s premier hotels. It looked spectacular in its environmental context just two blocks down from the Hard Rock Café and Broadway.
If I had more time I would have messed around with getting a bit more dimensionality in the shot, but I was moving fast and had a lot of trees to my left that complicated the other angles.
The Four Seasons hotel would require being across the river for a good drone shot, but the Bank of America building presented itself well with its incredible mural.
The only problem here is the distracting sunspot right in the center. This would be better photographed at sunrise an hour earlier, but I couldn't rewind time today! Still, I am a big fan of low-level drone photography, as it presents the building without the powerlines or wide-angle distortion the way a street-level shot would.
Right across the street, we find Ascend Amphitheater. I have captured detail shots of Ascend before, but this time I wanted to capture it in the context of the Korean War Veterans Memorial Bridge. This was my favorite shot, though it needs a person walking down the aisle to clarify the subject and provide scale.
In the world of architectural photography, a lot of time goes into finding the right composition and waiting for the right lighting conditions. Today was about being creative and not getting stuck in traffic on the way to Nashville, so I didn’t spend as much time as I would during a real photoshoot to find the perfect compositions for each building. Still, it was a good reminder of how flexible golden hour light is.
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