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  • Writer's pictureEllen Fisch

The Art of Architectural Photography

There is something compelling about texture. Texture creates dynamic interplay in a composition. Architecture of the past depended on the juxtaposition of texture to add to the beauty, purpose and aesthetic to the structure. Carved moldings, brick work, smooth marble and rough sandstone all contributed to the architectural appeal and drew the eye to all parts of the overall design. Statuary and relief-work told the people who saw the building things about it. For example, many places of worship etch symbols onto their facades to entice and/or inform worshipers. Forts and palaces also used elaborate detail to make statements about power, worth and community. The textures and designs of these buildings proclaimed meanings to the societies they rose above as well as to the populations they conquered. Further, textures underlie motifs to bring them to life. Texture also weaves patterns and concepts into fluent design.

In India, I saw extraordinary pairings of textures and patterns. What I thought was elaborate and ornate in Western architecture pales by Indian standards. The textures and designs are so layered and intricate that just when you think you have seen the height of embellishment, a new design augments an already astonishing amount of detail. Looking at architecture in India is as breathtaking as it is inspiring. The use of texture and pattern melds into wondrous compositions that perhaps would not work in one's imagination, but are perfectly appropriate in reality. At once India's architectural detailing that is so much a part of Indian architecture is as practical as it is mystical: marvelous to behold.

On the drive to Khajuraho, I stopped at the city of Orchha, which dates from the 1500's. There I saw the Jahangir Mahal, a stunning example of Mughal architecture. It is entered through wonderfully textured and huge wooden doors with iron fittings. Layer upon layer of stone carved design frames these doors in both smooth and rough materials all in proximity with flat and coarse slate flooring. The intricately interlocking carvings and the aging of the 400+ year old palace urge the eye to continuously roam around the structure, seeking new visual delights. Visiting Orchha, a place that has lovingly preserved the magnificence of a once established empire, remains a highlight of and insight to the fabulous Indian architecture I saw in India.

Black and White Architectural Photography: Orchha, India

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