Robert Moss is a Chesterfield photographer specialising in building and industrial photography. His inspiration derives from his background as a Chartered Structural Engineer where is use of strength in shape and form of structures transposes into his photographs. He projects elements of building that are important from the aspect of the success of the building to resist the forces of nature.
Robert's interest in photography was first sparked at a young age when his parents bought him a Cosmic Symbol camera, progressing to an Olympus OM10, which he used during his time at Sheffield Polytechnic studying engineering and taking journalistic photographs for the Student Union newspaper. Later, Robert went on to formally study A-level and City and Guilds photography under Dave White at Chesterfield College.
In more recent years he prefers to to use medium format camera's, preferring his Bronica ETRSi. “ There is something about the precision engineering in the Broni that just help you connect with the engineering in the building you are photographing ”. Using the large format camera produces a quality that just cannot be reproduced any other way. Preferred film is Ilford PanF Plus which with an ISO of 50 is untouchable for quality fine detail and lack of grain. “ I try to capture the fine elements of the building that most people would miss as important. The grain in timber determines its strength, the direction of the sedimentary layers in stone will determine whether a historic building will stand for a thousand years or erode away to the natural elements in a lifetime. This film brings out these most important aspects of the images. Most times you see Roberts images they are printed out to a large size where every nuance can be appreciated.
Inspiration comes from the greats of architectural photographers. In Roberts' images you can see the influences of Bernd and Hilla Becher and Francis Frith. However, you will also see Edward Weston and Imogen Cunningham in the use of light to extenuate the forms of the building that he is trying to convey as importance to the viewer.
Using such fine grain, slow speed film can cause the photographer problems such as camera shake. “ The building isn't going anyway, its not like you have to worry about trees moving in the wind or people blinking. The most important piece of equipment I have is my Manfrotto #075 tripod. This is a tall, three section tripod that extends to about 8-feet. However, movements in tripods usually occur at the joints, so I tend to only use this extended once, so there is only one joint being used. It's heavy, but solid as a rock.” Other essential equipment includes a lens hood (“ never take a photograph without a lens hood” ) and a Sekonic L-508 light-meter (won in all things a fashion photography competition). Estimating exposure can be very challenging when photographing buildings so a good light-meter is essential. Using a light-meter can tell you how much light is falling on the building, and this will give you the correct exposure rather than the reflected light. This is where camera meters are easily fooled because of the large areas on building fa ç ade's bouncing to much light back. Using light exposure creatively is accommodated by using the Sekonic's spot meter functions.
Rob cringes when you ask why he hasn't gone digital yet? “ Well, last year I did buy a Canon EOS 5D, so I am currently experimenting with digital. I went for the 5D as Canon have always had a good reputation for quality optics, and the 5D has a full frame sensor. This means the sensor is 24mm x 36mm rather than the smaller sensors used in other cameras so the quality is better for the same number of pixels and the noise is reduced across the full range of ISO's. It is amazing how digital camera have come along, and even though the quality of the image isn't a good as my medium format kit, it is now hard to tell for most images up to 8x10. The convenience is the biggest attraction. Digital gives you instant feedback on your images so I have become slightly more experimental in my images and that must be a good thing.”
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