Have a look at the building below. Dreadful isn’t it? I posted this photo on my Flickr account a long time ago and described it as looking like something from a Soviet nuclear missile base rather than an office block. For some reason this photo is one of the most interesting (according to Flickr’s algorithm) in my photostream but in reality it is a poor photo – the light is flat, there are trees and other buildings distracting you from the main focal point, basically it is just a snap of a horrible building.
Since so many people viewed the above photo on my Flickr photostream I thought that there must be something interesting about the building so I decided to go back to try and find a better angle. The light was still fairly flat and it was difficult to find a vantage point to get the whole building in without getting other distractions in the frame too so I decided the only thing to do was to get up close.
From standing right next to it and looking up this building suddenly becomes really interesting! The stark lines in the grey concrete lead your eye up the building. From this angle you can appreciate the repeated patterns and the symmetry. A drab concrete monstrosity is transformed into something of beauty (well, almost). Since the concrete was so drab and the light so flat I decided that the shots worked much better when converted to black and white, any colour in the shot is not what is of interest to the viewer, it is the lines and patterns that make the shots.
So what lesson did I learn from this experience? Don’t just take a shot from the most convenient position, walk around, get different perspectives, take your time. Even the most unappealing of subjects can yield great shots – you just need to find the right angle.