Pleasing Decay in Architectural Detail Shots

It is easy to miss the photographic potential of pleasing decay. Until framed and displayed as art, it has the habit of just looking messy. Keeping an eye out for locations where a shot can depict aging, and perhaps the layers of paint, masonry, or stucco applied over time can be rewarding.

In the shot below, an arch top window long ago infilled with bricks and stones of differing sizes and colors, then plastered and painted over at various times provides an interesting story, once isolated and focused on. It would have been all to easy to pass by the alley where this deteriorating wall was located, in a town full of architectural beauty.FilledArchC. David Tobie


Macros, Details, and Texture Shots

Its not uncommon for photographers to shoot image that they don’t consider to be important images or complete compositions. Sometimes it is for series they are developing for their own portfolios, and sometimes its for images that graphic designers will purchase as stock. I shoot a wide range of such macros, architectural details, and texture shots, but do not rate them highly in my own library, so they tend to never see the light of day.


The shot this article focuses on qualifies in all three of the title categories, yet has never been printed, shown, or used on-line. Yet I find it so compelling that I am choosing to feature it in an article of it’s own. It was shot in a small Tuscan hill town, early in the morning, with low direct light hitting a wall that I had admired, but only occasionally shot, before. In the past I had always shot it when it had flowering plants growing in the cracks, that were in bloom. But on this morning the lighting made the wall look like different colored cubes of sugar, as are offered with coffee drinks in Europe. Lacking that analogy in America, I had named the image “The Candy Box”.

Processing in Lightroom was limited to assuring optimal exposure, contrast and color, and cropping to the strongest composition. A bit of weed was left at the top to give a sense of scale and reality, and to show that it is an exterior wall. In the past walls and buildings in Tuscany would have been plastered over; it is a recent aesthetic to leave them raw. The chisel marks that form much of the detail in this image would have served the original purpose of anchoring the stucco to the wall. Now the varying sizes, shapes, colors, and textures, and chisel patterns look as though they were provided specifically to add visual interest.

I would enjoy hearing from other photographers about what types of macros and texture shots they collect, and what they do with them once collected.

C. David Tobie