Wednesday 31 January 2024

The Reichstag by Norman Foster: Research

 In this piece of research, I intend to explore the transformation of The Reichstag by Norman Foster.  I am writing about the is as it will inform my own architectural design which is a transformation of The Palais de Dance in Leicester.

Norman Foster states of the Reichstag architectural design;  “Our transformation of the Reichstag is rooted in four related issues: the Bundestag’s significance as a democratic forum, an understanding of history, a commitment to public accessibility and a vigorous environmental agenda.” (Douglass-Jaimes 2018).  I have chosen the transformation of the Reichstag as my own building design is also a transformation and has a history in Leicester and as Foster in his design, I want this to be publicly accessible and to have excellent sustainable credentials. 

Foster in his redesign chose to leave the outer shell of building untouched and wanted the weight of history that was etched into its walls still be seen and felt by this coming into imposing structure. Foster had many obstacles when designing this precious monument and had to work with the German parliament to ensure that there was an agreement on how the redesign would work so every part of the transformation had to be agreed right down to final colour scheme of the interior, Arch Daily states; 'Although he initially refused to consider adding a dome, a separate proposal from a German architect to add a reconstruction of the historic dome threatened Foster's vision for the building's interior spaces, and he began exploring ideas for what he came to call the “cupola.” And it was not just the dome that was subject to the whims of the politicians. Then-Chancellor Helmut Kohl insisted on a brighter color scheme for the interiors than the neutral palette of whites and greys that Foster had originally proposed' (Douglass-Jaimes 2018).  In my own redesign of the Palais de Dance I will need to check the building's status as it is probably now listed which will mean I will need to retain many of the original features just as Foster needed to do in The Reichstag. 

The redesign of the Reichstag involved the construction of a dome that illuminated the space and dominated the transformation.  The construction of the dome or cupola became a symbol of renewal  and Foster and Partners states; 'The cupola is now an established Berlin landmark. Symbolic of rebirth, it also drives the building’s natural lighting and ventilation strategies. At its core is a ‘light sculptor’ that reflects horizon light down into the chamber, while a sun-shield tracks the path of the sun to block solar gain and glare.' (Foster & Partners:2024)  This was also intended to be a highly sustainable design so the electricity is powered through using bio-fuel which is refined vegetable oil which would reduce the carbon footprint by 94% (Foster and Partners: 2024).  Also, the building actually produces more power than it uses and therefore it is also a mini power station.  The dome construction was built by Austrian steel and glass specialist Waagner Biro.  They created a technically complex design that; 'consists of 24 major steel ribs, which are supported on a lower ring beam and tapered to an upper ring beam. The horizontal bracing is secured using 17 steel rings. They are an essential part of the design: they also bear the scale-like 3,000m2 of glazing, constructed from 24 panes of glass per row, and the observation deck. This observation deck is accessible over two interlocked, co-rotating spiral ramps made from spatially shaped steel plates.' (Waagner Biro: 2024)  There are also rows of mirrors and a computer-controlled shading element made of aluminum panels which means that the sunlight entering the building is controlled. 

Dome structures are complex and expensive and when looking at the Palais de Dance a dome actually would be an addition to this building that would once again make this a real landmark in Leicester City Centre and attract a new clientelle.  This would certainly not be on the scale of  The Reichstag but a steel and glass dome with mirrors and shading on a much smaller scale would certainly be a possibility in my own redesign. 

The nightclub now is in a dilapidated state inside and its last owner Soshi ripped out much of the interiors.  Therefore, it would be better to begin again and completely strip the interior retaining any original features remaining, and then it would need a consultation on the exterior over features that need to be retained and restored back to it's former glory.  

This could be a very exciting project, I have been able, as yet to obtain, the site/floor plan however this would be my next step to begin my own transformation for this architectural project.


Douglass-Jaimes, David. “AD Classics: New German Parliament, Reichstag / Foster + Partners.” ArchDaily, 25 Oct. 2018, Accessed 26 Jan. 2024.

Foster and Partners (2024). Foster + Partners. [online] Available at: [Accessed 31 Jan. 2024].

Waagner Biro (2024). Reichstag Dome. [online] Waagner Biro steel and glass. Available at: [Accessed 31 Jan. 2024].

Goldie87 (2014). Report - - Palais de Danse (Sosho), Leicester - May 2014 | Leisure Sites. [online] Available at: [Accessed 31 Jan. 2024].

Sunday 28 January 2024

Photography Research: Paul + A

 Paul Jeff is a professor, experimental artist, and photographer who has worked under various pseudonyms for the last 30 years.  The project that I will be exploring here is Paul + A which was a series of collaborations with a different female artist for each project.  The project was named Life is Perfect and it involved the artist being locked in a hotel room for 24 hours and a series of 'ambitious, repetitive scenarios based on theatrical directions...where they acted out fifty passionate love scenes, all of which ended in a brutal murder' (Bright, 2010)

Man & Woman in a Hotel Room (2004) Paul + A, Life is Perfect

In this image above the metal coat hanger in her hands is wired to the mains plug.  I chose these pieces as they are performative and each image ends in a death.  As stated I am interested in the photographic disappearance and this could also be photographic death, the moment of death, people used to make death masks of the dead which captured their last 'face' now amongst the prolific images it would be good to focus on the final moments, Walter Schels did this and photographed the subjects before and after death (with their express permission)  

However, going back to the staged image, I was interested in these as they all take place in a hotel room and the environment itself is artificiality, there is no connection between the participants to their surroundings which is perhaps why the images are cold and a murder taking place does not seem out of place.  In my own images, I am very much connected to the rooms in my images, I am in all my images, without being in them as my presence is everywhere.  In the top image here, the participants only are present as the characters they have chosen to play. Jeff in his practice here; 'The sublime moment of death and sexual congress are collapsed metaphorically into the photographic instant, which constitutes both testimony and fiction' (Bright, 2010:192)  Two murders were committed every hour and it was unknown how the images would come out, as Bright states the chances of failure were high.  I enjoy the thought that there may be failure and every shoot I do I know there is always the risk of failure.  This is why it's always interesting, as failure is often so much more useful than success if I want to develop a piece of work.  Jeff's pictures do end up looking like a crime scene but in these images, the perpetrator is still in the image.

Man & Woman in a Hotel Room (2004) Paul + A, Life is Perfect

In the image above the couple have drank a glass of champagne for every cut they have made on their bodies and now they hold a scalpel to each other's throat. So here the setup environment, and the play-acting make these images a compelling read as the participants may not know each other, but maybe they do, the impersonal here becomes deeply intimate as we the viewer (voyeur) stare into the abyss of these frames. In both these images you can see the photographer has a remote trigger in his hands and the wire leading out of the frame of the image to capture the moment that he chooses us to see.  We as a view are now also complicit in this scene, we are the witnesses.  In my own images, the question would be why bother to photograph disappearance, why not just disappear?  I think the answer is that my images are a warning of my disappearance a premonition, perhaps.  Just like the before and after death images - perhaps this is a last look ...

I leave you with a further image from Walter Schels as these really do have sublime beauty and we are privileged to be allowed to view these images of the most private moment.

References (n.d.). Dr Paul Jeff - Research at York St John. [online] Available at: [Accessed 28 Jan. 2024].

Bright, S. (2010). Auto focus: The self-portrait in contemporary photography. London: Thames & Hudson.

Another, J. (n.d.). Paul Jeff. [online] morebeautifulthangod. Available at: [Accessed 28 Jan. 2024].

Rosenberg, D. (2014). How One Photographer Overcame His Fear of Death by Photographing It. [online] Slate. Available at: [Accessed 28 Jan. 2024].

Photographic Project Disappearance: First Shoot

 As I had planned I shot these images on Sunday morning in my home, I wanted the morning light coming through and I was blessed with the sunlight.  I chose to use my Olympus E-2 as I have a remote trigger for this and a screen that I can see whilst shooting self-portraits. I began with F3.5 and I was expecting to adjust exposure compensation as the light changed continually throughout the shoot as the sun went in and out of cloud cover. I shot in both RAW and High-Quality Jpeg and I shot in both black and white and colour so I could decide which would work best for these shots in the finished work.  I used a tripod for the majority of shots however I took some hand-held test shots while testing the framing and light.  

After the shoot,  I then created contact sheets and began examining the shots. Please see contact sheets here; 

After looking through I much preferred the colour shots and I do think that these will work better for what I have in my in terms of my disapppearance, I actually didn't really want me in the shots at all as my presence is everywhere with the shots of the room s of my home however in the spirit of this project (perhaps spirit, is the word, as I intend to become one) I will use these shots and see what works - this is my first shoot and I liked the living room and bedroom shots but the office shots did not work well there were issues with space and too much in the background - I will rethink this one and I will also shoot further shots in the kitchen.

One shot I thought would work quite well is this one on the bed..

F5, 1/200, ISO 400, +3, 14mm

This shot I experimented and first edited as per the Cohen shots I discussed in my earlier post - deleting myself entirely

I did this on Photoshop simply by selecting myself and then deleting me from it.  Next, I tried using a lens flare and opacity 

This one I preferred as I disappeared into a flash of light, I may experiment with this one further.

The second image I liked from the shoot was by the window 

F3.5, 1/100, +1, ISO 400, 14mm

Using the lens flare does look I am dsappearing or being eliminated it seems harsher that the bedshot so I will continue to work on this and I will also output these images to consider them more fully.

I will complete another shoot as I have further ideas about the shot now around the house. My personal favourite shots are the empty rooms 

Thursday 25 January 2024

SMART Objective: Major Photographic Project

 This term I will be creating a photography project based on portraits, the concept will be my own disappearance.  I am aiming to create a collection of 10 images, these will be created using an Olympus OMD Mark II and I may also use a polaroid camera, I will also use Photoshop as I may create my disappearance through post-production as well as in-camera in the portrait images.  On the polaroid I can use different film and camera techniques that will affect a partial disappearance in the image and on the Olympus I can use overexposure, flash and other methods such as slow shutter speed. The final portfolio will be completed the beginning of March and will be a photographic gallery on my website.

Tuesday 23 January 2024

Studio Portraits Practice

 We spent yesterday completing studio and natural light portrait practice.  I stayed in the studio as I was directing the model and tutoring the students in settings. I took some test shots and created contact sheets

We began this shoot using ISO 100, Aperture priority and then we adjusted setting as we took different set ups.  I will now discuss some of the shots, the set up, composition and settings for each shot.

We have arranged the different poses through visual research and the model had the poses in front of her so we could change these quickly in the pre-planned set ups.  This is the model pose that we used 

F5.6, 1/8 ISO 100. 0 exposure bias

This is the final result, my shutter was a little slow here but the pose and the high key set up worked well here in colour with the bright clothes.

Another set up was on a low key background and using over the shoulder poses so that there was a good contrast with the light skin and dark clothes and a more moody set up 

F5.6, 1/6, ISO 200, -1.3, FL 42mm

In this shot the expression of the model and the framing work really well low key light - the shutter speed is a little too slow here and if I was doing a longer session I would have used a tripod to ensure a higher level of sharpness to this shot.

F5.6, 1/8, ISO 200, -1.7, 34mm

Again good framing and composition and the light work really well here but the shutter still too slow and this is a little soft, the use of exposure compensation heightens the low key set up. 

F5.6, 1/13, ISO 100, O step, FL39mm

This is  a good clear,, high shot that I took just at the beginning of the set up to test light as can be seen I used a low ISO of 100 and there was no expsure compensation as the skin colour and brightness was correct here. 

F5.6, 1/13, ISO 100, O step, FL46mm

A closer-up shot using the over-the-shoulder pose but in high key again really highlights the model's face and this brings the viewers' attention to her eyes, this shot does have some good impact. 

This was a good shoot, obviously, I have only the test shots here as I was setting these up for students but it was a good introduction to studio work and some good use of camera settings and I'm hoping it will assist students in the use of the lighting set up in the studio. 

Milanote: Exploring Research Ideas

 For my major project I want explore absence and my own in disappearance in the photographic.  I created a milanote with my ideas of what I am intending to research.

Milanote: Absence in Photography

Monday 22 January 2024

Photography Project: Initial Ideas & Plan

 This term I am working on a project that I can use in both Digital Arts and Creative Media Production, specifically this must include photography.  At the beginning of the term I was thinking about disappearance and absence in the image and this is what I want to include in this project.  As in Creative Media it has to be portraits, I will need to create a set of photographic portraits.  Previously I had written about Charles Cohen and and Absence in the Image and I really wanted to expand on this as I really enjoyed this idea. 

Cohen's images in the Buff collection are a series of porn stars on set and then the body removed just leaving a white silhouette.  The absence of the subject gives these images a new meaning and as a viewer we respond differently, the images no longer really induce any erotic desire - they are a shadow almost of something that has happened.  

Moving forward from these images, The article 'What Photography has in common with an empty vase?'

'In What Photography Has in Common With an Empty Vase is suffused with piercing loneliness and the sense that something is missing. At times, this absence is marked directly' (LensCulture n.d.) The above image really shows that absence, perhaps the outline, which reminds me of a police outline when someone is murdered is drawn around their body.  Perhaps this man was once here and now he is gone forever, his absence here is a presence as a idea of a man in the outline. 

The images I looked at next have a total removal of the sitters, the following images were old cabinet photographs taken in a studio and the sitters have all been digitally removed. The Independent Photographer States; 'By digitally removing the person from old cabinet card portraits, Rivera reveals an artificial environment created by the photographer to heighten the perception of the subject. Bereft of the individual, only a stage remains. The tension between presence and absence is heightened by the placement of objects' (“Lissa Rivera | Absence Portraits”)

I really like the absence of the sitter here with just the remains of the set, it is a remembrance almost of a person in the image.  I also watched 'Delete' a Thai drama from 2024 where the protagonists found a mobile phone that deleted the person when their image is taken I enjoyed this very much as it was played on the idea of the prolific nature of 'selfies' and images on social media and the idea that now so many images of a person exist - but what if you were 'deleted' or that your image was never seen again - this seems to be a question that might strike fear into the hearts of younger people who online keep stating they exist through their presence in images - I would like to disappear and never be seen again and it is this absence of image that I would like to work on. 

I was thinking this morning about Kirlian photography and I remembered some images form a David Bowie exhibition that used this method; 'In 1975, Thelma Ross of UCLA's parapsychology lab gifted David Bowie a Kirlian photography machine to capture images of peoples' "auras." This machine generates a high-voltage field to a photographic plate resulting in a glowing corona discharge image of whatever is positioned on the plate.' (Pescovitz 17/10/2017)

My Plan is to photograph my rooms in my house with and without me and perhaps just leave my aura which I can create through post-production.  The images will then just have my imprint.  I will use my olympus OMD Mark II and I will experiment with both colour and Black and white and then decide which will work best for post-production work on this idea. 


LensCulture, Edgar Martins |. “What Photography Has in Common with an Empty Vase - Essay by Coralie Kraft.” LensCulture, Accessed 22 Jan. 2024.

“Lissa Rivera | Absence Portraits.” The Independent Photographer, 2024, Accessed 23 Jan. 2024.

Pescovitz, D. (2017) The time David Bowie photographed his aura before and after using cocaine, Boing Boing. Available at: (Accessed: 26 January 2024). 

Monday 15 January 2024

Above & Below: Class Practice

 Today we completed a class practice task called 'Above and Below' this was to practice taking high and low angle portraits and to practice the setting on the camera.  The settings we practiced were aperture, ISO and exposure compensation.

In class we looked at the images of Corrine Day and Terry O'Neill, here is another example.  In this low angle shot the faces of the Stones look down upon the viewer into the photographer's lens.  The shot works as there are triangles that interlock perfectly within the image and the faces fill the frame so the rooftop above does not dominant and the faces looking at you engage the viewer directly.  

The Rolling Stones (1964) By Terry O'Neill

We went out on campus and with a partner took portrait images, I did not have a partner so I just practiced low and high-angle images. 

When we returned we created contact sheets o Photoshop, to do this we Clicked on File - automate and then contact sheet and then we chose the file that we had created on the desktop with our images.

I then looked at the EXIF details of my images and I will go through a few of my shots here and explain how the functions and setting worked to create the shot along with the framing and composition

F5.6, ISO 200, 1/125 shutter speed, No Exposure Compensation, Focal length 55mm

In this high-angle image I have used a wide aperture of F5.6 so that there was lots of light coming in, the ISO was on 200 as it was a sunny bright day so the camera only needed to be low sensitivity to light and there was no exposure compensation so I did not under or overexpose the image.  The light works well in this image as it hits the side of the head and back of the coat and this is a rule of thirds image and there are no distractions in the background.  it is not a particularly engaging shot as you cannot see the woman's face however compositionally and technically this works well.

F5.5, 1/250, ISO 200, Focal Length 49mm, no exposure compensation

I picked this next low-angle image as it looks a little like one of those stock photos you get on brochures for universities with happy students and the student union in the background! here the three men are sharing something amusing on the phone and the light in this image is bright and comes from the right-hand side  There is the busy air of a university with people behind entering the DSU and above the students and interesting play on light is created with the sun hitting the windows above them.  the students are standing slightly to the side giving a pleasing use of the rule of thirds and are framed slightly by the window frame behind them.  This shot works quite well both technically and compositionally, in an ideal situation I would have photographed the students closer up so I could more clearly convey the expressions on their faces. here the shutter speed is faster as the image was brighter so the camera used less time to let light in otherwise this would have overexposed on a faster shutter speed.

F5.6, 1/1250, ISO 200, FL 55mm, no exposure compensation

What are these pair up to above?  One looks like he is angry at the other as he is close to his face or he could have just been particularly excited about something he is explaining.  The shot here the two are in the middle of the shot, the shutter speed is very fast as the sun is very bright.  The relationship of the two men in the image makes the viewer want to know what they might be saying.  The sign above them with the big woman's face looms and is balanced by the road name 'Mill Lane'.  The shadows cast in the foreground are jagged and are lines that lead to the men, which works well on a composition.  I like the curved metalwork on the left-hand side of the images this makes the framing more interesting visually.  Overall I do like this shot as has something interesting going on and I want to know more..  This was a practice and I think I would choose the last shot as my low angled shot

F5.5, ISO 200, 1/125, FL 50mm, no exposure compensation

The above shot I think I would choose as my best high-angled shot.  I really like here the balance of the girl in the foreground with the headphones and the girl walking the other way and looking across the road.  The eye is drawn to the girl's face and she has a slightly bemused expression with a Mona Lisa smile.  The signs on the road with the Bike and the arrow lead us to her position in the shot and I love the cracks in the road that she is about to step upon, there is a strip of bright light in the background but most of the shot is in shadow and the shutter speed is slower her to compensate for this.  this frame does really work and I am happy that I have two shots that I think are interesting from this short shoot.

I created a final piece but used another image as this juxtaposed better and the balance works here.  i call this Don't Look Now

I am looking forward to creating a more in-depth portrait project in the coming couple of weeks but this was a fun and interesting practice and made me consider more compositional techniques and framing.