architectural photography

Bridgewater Place: The Ugliest Building in Leeds

Let me begin by saying that I’m a huge fan of modern architecture. I absolutely love and adore the work of many current architects and engineers. I think it’s amazing how they’ve been able to overcome so many previously thought impossible problems and many of the results are simply incredible. Unfortunately, Bridgewater Place in Leeds is not one of them.

Leeds is without a doubt one of my most favorite cities in the world; mostly because it’s home. I love how the city is large enough to keep things interesting but small enough that I can walk from the train station to all of the popular locations I visit regularly. I even love how terrible the loop system is in Leeds because it’s something I enjoy complaining about. When it comes to the architecture, however, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. There are some buildings that are absolutely stunning and others are ugly as sin. Bridgewater Place is probably not the ugliest building I’ve ever seen but it’s by far the ugliest building in Leeds city center.

The Architects Behind This Monstrosity

The single most disappointing thing about Bridgewater Place is that the architects are a company called Aedas. The reason why this is so disappointing is that Aedas is an incredible company full of super-talented individuals. If you go onto their website which I highly recommend you do, you’ll notice a whole portfolio of stunning work and developments. They are an award-winning firm that has designed some absolute wonders. The works produced by people like Dr Andy Wen are astoundingly good. This is the same company that designed the Dubai Metro which is a work of practical art. How is it that a company like this could have designed something as ugly and terrible as Bridgewater Place? It’s simply mind-boggling to me and I can’t understand how this could have happened with Aedas on board. You know something is bad when the people who designed the building want to distance themselves from the project.

Aedas doesn’t even list it on their site.

Aedas doesn’t even list it on their site.

Bland, Boring and Awkward

The only notable thing about this building is that it’s the tallest thing in Leeds. This the primary reason why so many photographers take pictures of it. Maybe it’s a way to test their skills and see if they can somehow produce a decent image using Bridgewater Place building as the main subject. Whatever the case, it’s pretty difficult to photograph this building and make it look good. Almost every angle of this building looks bad and it’s mostly down to the huge ugly tower. This tower sticks out in all the wrong ways and it’s mostly due to the uninspired design and shape of the building. The outer facade looks like 60s architecture meets 90s council flats. The rectangular section that sits next to the tower looks like an afterthought; it’s as though they designed the tower and then realised they had more space to build on.

It seems completely out of place on the roads that lead up to it.

It seems completely out of place on the roads that lead up to it.

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Even when you’re looking at this building with a wider perspective it doesn’t really fit in with the city. Here’s the thing I don’t actually blame the architects for this building at all. I get the feeling they developed this building based on the specifications they were given and the owners wanted something that wasn’t too “exotic”. Unfortunately, they went too far in the other direction and ended up one of the ugliest modern buildings in Leeds city center.

Even when you really try to put some effort behind producing a good quality image of the building it just doesn’t work. This is mainly due to the fact that the tower of the building which is the most prominent feature looks pretty ugly.

The tower would look a little taller if they trimmed back the bushes and trees. What does that remind you of?

The tower would look a little taller if they trimmed back the bushes and trees. What does that remind you of?

Maybe I’m the problem and it’s simply the fact that I’m not good enough as a photographer to produce a great image of this building. I can accept that and I think that could be the case, however, if you do a search online I bet you won’t find a single image where this building looks good. The image you find may look interesting from an overall perspective but it’s not because of this abomination. Whats worse are the lights on this building at night. There are so many ugly buildings that light up at night time and they end up looking pretty good; not Bridgewater Place. This building is so ugly they should build another one exactly like it and demolish both of them.

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The green lights on this building make it look uglier at night than it does during the day. It looks like an oversized chemist, I mean for the love of God… why?

In my mind the only angle that works for this building is from the south side. When you’re shooting from this angle you can photograph it in such a way that you can avoid having the tower be the most prominent part of the image. This effectively makes the building look somewhat interesting. Of course, having one angle that works doesn’t do enough to redeem this building.

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Why This Is the Ugliest Building in Leeds

Although this is one of the ugliest buildings in Leeds city center, that’s not actually the worst part. Something can be ugly and still have character or have some redeeming features, unfortunately, this building doesn’t even have that. The wind tunnel effect that it creates in the surrounding areas has caused thousands of pounds worth of damage, several injuries and even death. People are quite literally being blown over due to the gale-force winds this building has caused.

I understand that the council has put measures in place to counter some of the issues and prevent winds from reaching critical levels around the area but that doesn’t bring back any lost lives. It’s unfortunate that someone had to die in order for the council to do anything about this issue and that’s simply not good enough. This building is not only the ugliest building in Leeds but it’s a statement of inaction, terrible design and it’s a blight on the city overall.

Why You Need To Print & What to Print Your Images On

You may have already seen a number of videos or read a bunch of articles explaining why you need to print your images. This is something I wholeheartedly agree with. As a photographer whether professional or not, printing your images will undoubtedly improve your skills and perspective.

Chances are that in most cases you're probably viewing your images on a full HD screen, which is actually only about 2MP in resolution. Even if you're lucky enough to have a 4K display that's still only around 8MP. Currently, every entry-level DSLR that you can buy is at least 24MP, so you can imagine the difference in resolution is obviously impacting how you view your images. There's nothing quite like being able to see your hard work and creativity in a large print. 


There is, however, the question of what you should print your images on. There are so many options available, such as Canvas, Glass, Aluminium, Paper and so on. A company called https://zor.com/en/ recently reached out to me and were kind enough to print one of my images onto three different materials for me to compare. The images were printed on Glass, Aluminium and another material called ForEx which is similar to canvas however much better in every area. 

Leeds Cityscape 

The image above is one of my favorites of Leeds city center because I love how the architecture and colours work so well with one another.  This image was also shot with my favourite camera the Canon 5DSR and the incredible Zeiss 135mm f2 APO. The detail and clarity are stunning and I wanted to see how Zor.com could perform in rendering all of the detail and colours. 

Check out the video below to find out which print looks the best and which is my favourite. 

 

Buy your print here from https://zor.com/en/ using the discount code ZorAndUsman for 10% off

 
Shipping only in : Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and United Kingdom.

Fuji X100F vs XT-2 with 23mm F2

When it comes to APS-C cameras, Fuji may have some of the best currently available. This is one of the reasons why the X100F from Fuji is so popular. Even now months after its initial release, supply still has not caught up with the demand, the X100 series continues to be very popular. 

Like many Fuji shooters, I was interested in how the lens on the X100F compares against another similar lens, the XF23 mm F2 R WR. For this comparison, my good friend Chloé was kind enough to let me borrow her Fuji XT-2. This is quite obviously an unfair comparison and not at all meant to be used as a way of deciding which camera is better. Both cameras are meant for very different purposes, however, curiosity can be fun. 

Looking at the quick comparison above you can see how soft the X100F is when shot wide open, however, when you stop down to around F5.6 the difference is huge. The image sharpens up by a significant amount. 

When compared to the 23mm on the XT-2, the first thing is the size difference. To some, the smaller lens may be an advantage, although, the ergonomics suffer greatly on the X100F. The manual focus ring is really tricky to use and the aperture ring always seems to be a little out of reach and awkward to find. In comparison, the 23mm lens is a joy to use with its much larger focus ring and an aperture ring that's always easy to find. 

Holding the XT-2 is also much more pleasant with its better grip and button placement. I keep finding myself pressing the 'Q' button on the X100F which is a little frustrating not to mention the difficulty of holding it for long periods of time due to the lack of a proper grip. 

I didn't test the focusing speeds extensively, however, in general, they didn't seem to be very different in performance. The XT-2 did seem a little snappier and nailed focus quicker and more easily. The X100F however, is no slouch and has been vastly improved when compared to the last model. 

Also, the extra card slot on the XT-2 is extremely useful. Some may say it's not a big deal but whilst filming the video below, the SD card I was using in the X100F failed and it meant I lost all of the images that were taken on the day. It's not a huge issue for a camera like this but it's an issue nonetheless.  

Comparing image quality from both lenses up close, the 23mm on the XT-2 is noticeably sharper. The X100F is known to be quite soft wide open and has an almost glowing haze over the image. This haze also means that adding sharpening in post doesn't improvge things very much. 

As you start to stop down, around F4.5 it becomes very difficult to differentiate the two lenses. I might even go as far as to say the X100F could be a little bit sharper around F5.6. All in all both lenses perform incredibly well at most apertures although the X100F suffers quite badly wide open.
Some have suggested that when shooting at distances, the haze on the X100F isn't noticeable meaning both will perform at a similar level even wide open. 

For a more detailed comparison please check out the video below. 

 

 

iPhone 7 plus vs 100mp Hasselblad

When it comes to unfair comparisons, this one probably takes the cake. The thing is, there's something quite interesting about nonsense comparisons and that's why I decided to do this one. 

Check out the video and find out if the iPhone has any chance against the £30,000 medium format camera from Hasselblad. 

Download the images using the link below.