Creative Edit #14 – Architectural Image of The Leeds Broadcasting Tower

leeds broadcasting tower

The Leeds Broadcasting Tower

Teacher, policeman and architect.

These were my answers when my primary school teacher asked us what we wanted to become when we grow up.

I didn’t become any of those, but I still have an interest in architecture.

That’s probably because I like to design and build things. When I was a kid, my dad would buy Lego for me from time to time. One day, he bought a jumbo box of Lego and that was one of the happiest day in my life.

Lego back then was much simpler. It was just building blocks and you can build anything you want. There were no electronic parts and it didn’t need a battery.

Since I started doing photography, architecture has always been on my list to shoot. Although my primary interest is landscape, I also enjoy shooting beautiful, elegant buildings when I see one.

The Leeds Broadcasting Tower

One thing we don’t have a lot here in the UK are skyscrapers. When there’s a building that is taller than the others, it attracts attention.

The Leeds Broadcasting Tower may not be a skyscraper, but the architecture is unique and beautiful. You would think this is an office building belongs to a giant corporate, but it’s actually a student accommodation!

I see the tower everyday in the morning and I couldn’t help but lean forward on my steering wheel to take a good look at it every time.

Architectural Long Exposure

I had the idea of shooting architectural long exposure when I came across Joel Tjintjelaar’s ultimate guide to long exposure photography.

The timing couldn’t be more perfect. I had just bought the Formatt-Hitech Firecrest 16 and I’ve been wanting to try it out.

It was a Saturday when I visited the Leeds Broadcasting Tower. The weather was windy (about 40-50 mph wind speed) and there was about 60-70% clouds in the sky.

To get the smooth and silky effect in the sky, apart from the ND filter, you also need a favorable weather condition. You need clouds and some blue sky to provide the contrast, and you certainly need wind to make the clouds move!

Setting Up

I picked a spot near the entrance of the tower. I mounted my camera on the tripod and pointed it upwards at the sky.

Because the wind was strong, I kept my tripod low enough for me to look through the viewfinder. I also hung my camera bag to provide some extra stability.

After several shots, I still didn’t like what I’ve got but time has flew past quickly. Each long exposure took about 4-5 minutes (sometimes longer depending on the lighting condition). I only took four shots after lying there for almost half an hour.

I used the in-camera spot meter to take a reading of the sky’s exposure. Because of my position, the building turned out to be slightly underexposed on the long exposure shots. To get a better exposure of the building, I took three bracketed exposures so I can blend the building in during post-processing.

Post-Processing

The post-production of this image was pretty straightforward. After blending the sky and the building, I applied some basic tonal and color adjustments. I also added clarity to boost the midtones contrast on the surface of the building.

I was contemplating to keep the image as it is or convert it into black and white. After seeing how it looked both ways, I decided black and white is the way to go.

Why?

The main subject of the image is the architecture. The leading lines created by the edge of the building draws viewers towards the centre of the image. The fluffy sky moving diagonally acts as a contrasty background for the building itself.

That is all I wanted viewers to see. I thought if I keep the image in color, it could distract them from appreciating the beauty of the architecture.

To convert it to black and white, I used Nik Silver Efex. A quick and easy way to convert color images to monochrome with great result.