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A website dedicated to photography showcasing articles, interviews, reviews and Photography Insights podcast.

Interview with architecture photographer – Oscar Lopez

Tell us a little about yourself

My Name is Oscar Lopez and I am 42 years old. I was born and raised in Mexico. With 22 I decided to come to Germany to pursue my studies in engineering where I graduated in 2002. I work in the aeronautical industry in Hamburg as an engineer. I am a lucky father of 2 little girls and that is where I spend most of my time. As a little balance I started doing photography some 5 years ago, first trying all different kinds of styles and subject matters but I finally decided to stay at architecture and some landscapes. These are the most common situations I find for photography as I live in a city and I love visiting cities and interesting places from an architecture perspective, and I also enjoy being outside.

long exposure by oscar lopez
by Oscar Lopez

How did you get in architecture photography?

I guess my passion for architecture and architecture photography comes from my obsession for order, symmetry and clean and straightforward situations. I still find it difficult to compose images on landscapes or anything else that does not contain lines, straight or curved ones. This passion was confirmed to me when I discovered the works of Jula Anna Gospodarou and Joel Tjintjelaar. Their influence is clearly visible in all of my work. By studying their work and after doing a 6 months mentorship with Julia Anna, I have found in photography a way to express my self, my need for order and balance in my life.

oscar lopez
by Oscar Lopez

How do you find subject matter?

I usually select my locations in different ways: Whether it is a location I happen to pass by from time to time and there is something that attracts my attention, so I decide to go there with my camera and try to find out and capture what it is that attracts me.

Or there is a place or city I will or want to visit soon for holiday and I start researching if there is some interesting architecture, where exactly it is and then with help of google maps and google earth I look for a good angle and a spot to place my tripod.

Before going to the spot and after having done my research, I use the app “Photo Transit” which helps me decide what focal length to use from the spot I chose. All this is very helpful for me as I am mostly travelling with my family (wife and two little kids) so I rarely have the time to quietly work the scene. This I know is very restrictive but it is what works

For me for the moment. In any case, I carry all my lenses with me in case of surprise  (closed roads, multitudes, etc). So when it comes to it I am prepared and can change my plan and adapt to the circumstances as much as possible. Nowadays there is also the possibility through the internet to see other people’s works of the locations I am interested in and from there I try to find the angles that I would like to approach. Then while doing the shot I would surprisingly say I am very methodical. I always do the same things in the same order and that I learned by getting many exposures wrong.

oscar lopez - long exposure
by Oscar Lopez

Tell us about the technology in your work

I usually shoot with a Nikon D750, a full-frame camera. And I am always carrying a 24mm PC lens or better known as tilt-shift in order to correct pounding lines (obsession!!). I have a set of firecrest ND filters from format Hitech with 3, 6 and 10 stops which I stack on each other depending on my need on how long I want to do my exposure and the light conditions. I like shooting on cast cloudy days because this way it is easier for me to work on the images afterwards in photoshop. You get an image as neutral as possible rather than on a sunny day when the sun creates lots of shadows and enhances the textures and reflections of light on buildings.

For the camera settings, I normally shoot at f/8 and the shutter speed is about 4 to 10 minutes depending on whether is a windy day, if there is water in the front or if there is a multitude of people I want to “erase” from the image.

mono pictures by oscar
by Oscar Lopez

How to do achieve the end result?

What works for me to achieve the results I want is working on the details and not being lazy about working on an image as much as it is required. When I try to skip or simplify some processing steps I find out at the end that I missed a lot of the details so I start from the beginning. Being very precise on my selections (and I talk about creating selections for almost every single element, plane or surface on the image) is what works for me. Even if it’s a pain work step that can take even a week, it is really necessary. 

And after that, I think it is necessary to be inspired. This is something more “esoteric” and hard to explain as everyone has its own ways to be inspired. I have a big interest in architecture and am always looking for locations of buildings that attract me due to their importance or esthetic. I read about the buildings, how and why they were built, about their architect’s life and intentions and also about the place.

long exposure building
By Oscar Lopez

Conclusion

I can’t thank Oscar enough for taking part in this interview. He is another person who has little time and it may have taken some time, but we got there in the end.

Oscar’s work is some of the best I have seen in the black & white world. Being very interested in architecture myself I was so excited to talk to someone in this field. You can tell Oscar puts so much preparation into his images which reflects in the high-quality end product.

Please do check out Oscar’s feed and website shown in the link selection below.

Links

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/lopezsoscar/

Website – http://lopezo.1x.com/


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