Monday, December 19, 2011

Print sale.

I just sold one of the Piezography prints from the "Contemplative Landscape" to the New Mexico History Museum.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Lighting gear

Someone asked;
"How about just providing descriptions of all of the available equipment options that might get used for lighting control for architectural photography, and then some examples of kits that prominent APs bring for different purposes? I am not just talking about the lights themselves, but a complete description of the available tools of the trade and their uses."

I wish I had that broad of experience. But I have been using basically the same kit for 30 years-except I added Pocket Wizards a few years ago. I'm simply not qualified nor do I have the time to put together such a list. Also  the schools I teach at have basically similar equipment except different brands.

I use:
2 Norman 800w Power-packs
4 Norman 2000w Power-packs
8 heads
2 Canon Speedlights
maybe 8 light stands from floor to about 12" in height
numerous Light Disks for bouncing light
Numerous umbrellas for "throwing" the light
4 Lowell Tota Lights-halogen
2 Lowell Omni Lights-halogen
Gels to convert them to daylight
Black sheets for killing reflections and ambient light.
White sheets for filtering daylight
Full set of Pocket Wizards for slaving strobes
Traditional slaves and sync cord for back up

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Contemplative Landscape

The Contemplative Landscape exhibit in Santa Fe opens to the general public on Sunday. It includes some of my B&W architectural photography. I hope to see you there!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Going to the Miniatures show?

Going to the "Miniatures" show at the Albuquerque Museum? FWIW I can't make it this year-I have another opening same night in SF. The "Contemplative Landscape" show-

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


I've always had a very diverse photography career and sometimes it all seemed like two much. But in this economy I have really appreciated it. Versatility is demanded in this economy. This month in particular has reminded me of how diverse my career has been.

In my commercial still photography-this year I shot 6 of nine winners of the 2011 New Mexico AIA Design Awards and I just completed my first commercial architectural video.

Millenium Park in Chicago was just named one of the top 100 outdoor spaces in the US and Canada. I was one of 4 directors of videography who shot the faces for the Juame Plenza Crown Fountain. I did this as a side job while teaching photography in the summers at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

A new show of civil rights documentary photography opened in Salt Lake-I did the scans for photographer Maria Varelas contributions.

In terms of my b&w personal photography, this year I've had a one person show at a city owned gallery, a permanent installation of twelve images at a city owned conference room, a group show in San Francisco, and two more groups shows in New Mexico both opening on the 22nd, one at the Albuquerque Museum and the other at the New Mexico History Museum.

And just to top it all off, I've had two great interviews come out this month. One in El Palacio about my images in the Contemplative Landscape exhibit at the New Mexico History Museum and one on my commercial work on a popular blog.

Anyone trying to make a living out of photography? Spread your net widely.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Civil Rights exhibit in Salt Lake

This should be well worth seeing. I had a little to do with it-I did the scans for photographer Maria Varela.

Critics and Designers Pick Their Favorite Public Spaces | Planetizen

Critics and Designers Pick Their Favorite Public Spaces | Planetizen

I have not visited all these spaces. I'll have to put many of them on my Bucket List. Actually i'm prejudiced as I have some involvement in the Chicago's Millenium Park. I was one of four directors of videography who shot the nearly 1000 faces for Juame Plensa's Crown Fountain.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Isleta Project-My new architectural video..

The Isleta Project at the Pueblo of Isleta south of Albuquerque. Clients are RMKM Architecture, Jaynes Corporation and Pace Iron Works.

Why use T/S lenses for perspective correction instead of PS??

Here is the gospel from Rodenstock. It shows why you should use T/S lenses or a view camera rather than doing it in PhotoShop. It applies equally well with DSLR T/S lenses as it does with view camera movements.Perspective Correction in camera

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Article in El Palacio

The new Fall issue of El Palacio has a nice little article by Mary Anne Redding ( the curator) about the "Contemplative Landscape" exhibit in Santa Fe with a large section on me, my history and my images. Check it out if you get a chance (you have to buy it).

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Exposure on twilight shots

There are allot of methods out there on the web like relying on "civil twilight" tables. IME any method that does not take into account the actually brightness of a given building is going to run into problems.

I don't base my exposure on the sky. I base exposure on the lights in or on (or both) the building and then wait for the sky light level to dim to my target balance. The constant is the building lights so IME that is what an exposure should be based on.

The other issue is ones shooting direction at twilight. If one is shooting towards where the sun set, the sky is considerably brighter than if you are shooting away from it. The difference is about 1/2 hour for that sweet balance. Many times this allows us to do two or even three perfectly balanced twilight shots of the same building in the same night if we move fast, one looking east, one looking north or south and finally then one looking west (this assumes a building with even lighting on the sides we are photographing).

Another issue is clouds. I know from experience that when clouds are present the right balance is going to happen earlier and we need to setup earlier. Again the constant is the building lights we control that by our exposure. The sky light changes-we control that by when we shoot.

I make my living doing these shots. It is my bread and butter. I oftentimes have flown halfway acros the country and only have one night to pull these off so I can't rely on any method that is not rock solid. The biggest problem we face these days are sensored lights in offices-some are motion and some are thermally triggered. On few buildings is there a central over-ride. This means we have to have someone periodically moving through these spaces to keep the lights on. On one shoot recently in Reno we had 64 offices in two adjacent building over three floors with motion sensors. The lights would stay on from 2-3 minutes and there was no over-ride. We figured we needed 4-6 people running around just to keep these on. We couldn't do it. Our client was in Vegas and did not have personel to contribute in Reno. Fortunately it was a secondary twilight and not the important one of the front. Here is the project: DPS (I'm not happy with how tight some of these shots have been cropped but..........). Images number 1 and 6 show the problem side. You can't really see it because of the angles, but that is actually two buildings connected by a catwalk.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Solar array shoot.

Solar array at the Albuquerque Academy photographed for the manufacturer. The landscaping in the far foreground, leading up to the fence was recreated in PS. All that was there was bare dirt and a huge pile of tumble weeds against the fence. We pulled down the pile of tumbleweeds, photographed an appropriate piece of landscape nearby and painted it into the scene.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Friday, September 2, 2011

Books about lighting interiors........?

I have a list of recommended books here on this blog that glaringly is lacking in "how to" titles. To me the weakness of most books about interior lighting is that they make lighting interiors look simpler and more formulaic than it ever is. Lighting interiors is NEVER formulaic. Each interior requires a different solution and it is hard to convey a method of "creative problem solving in the field" in a book. IMO Norman McGrath's books comes closest, but I know from trying to use it a s a textbook for students that it is frustrating to newcomers who want and expect clear formulas rather than general approaches and aesthetic suggestions. In any given shoot I will shoot some interiors with natural light, some with some light strobe fill, some heavily lit with strobe, some lit with halogens, some done with exposure blending and many with combinations of the above. How do I know what to do each time. Well 30+ years of experience helps but.......the key is learning to creatively solve lighting problems in the field. But how do you convey that especially in the face of changing technology? I have been contracted twice to write such books and have given up both times.

Anyone have books that do the job?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Le Corbusier & Lucien Herve-book review

 I have been asked by Red Dog News to review a big new (and expensive! $75 at Getty-$46 street) book. Le Corbusier & Lucien Herve: A Dialogue Between Architect and Photographer. I just received it yesterday and it looks fabulous. It is about an extended collaboration between a monumentally important architect and his "official" architectural photographer. I'll post a link to RDN when the review is finished. This will be fun!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Georgia O'Keefe Elementary School

One of the recent award winning projects I shot for Jon Anderson Architecture-featured in ArchDaily

Monday, August 15, 2011

Long Beach Post: Police Chief Confirms Detaining Photographers Within Departmental Policy

AESTHETIC PROFILING? Give me a break. I too have been harassed on public streets and in National Parks for doing nothing more sinister than pointing a camera at a building or landscape. Who are they to decide what has "apparent esthetic value".

Long Beach Post: Police Chief Confirms Detaining Photographers Within Departmental Policy

One of the "offending" photographs-A photograph shot by Sander Roscoe Wolff on June 30 before he was detained by Long Beach Police. Courtesy of the Long Beach Post.

Back in my 4x5 film days I was shooting an exterior of a piano store when closed on a Sunday afternoon for the contractor. I was accosted by a security guard who said people in the nearby Starbucks had reported a man pointing a large gun at the store. Its a camera people! Give me a break.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Digital prints for HABS?

The last bastion of old school large format film commercial architectural photography-HABS/HAER. Informative discussion on revised HABS/HAER submission requirements.


Friday, August 12, 2011


Marketing is a very frustrating long term educational effort with some new and clueless clients. The other day I gave an estimate to a manufacturer for 20 images of their facilities.

Him-"how many do I get to pick from?". Me-"twenty". "No shit" he says "the other guy is going to shoot 700 (!) in half a day and let me pick 100". I say-"With all due respect, he doesn't know what he is doing. There are not anywhere close to 700 or even 100 good images of this building. He is talking snapshots. There are however about 20 good views that will show your facilities off really well and will make you website look really professional. It will take about a long day and the images will be perfect for your marketing purposes."

He picked the other guy.

I can't wait to see the updated website.

Structire of Spirit exhibit in DC

Looks interesting:
Structure of Spirit

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Fraction Magazine: Fraction Show at Rayko

Fraction Magazine: Fraction Show at Rayko:  Fraction is very proud to announce it's first photography show, Fraction Magazine : Three Years in the Mak..."

Two days till the opening!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Why an MFA?

"Out of curiosity what did your Master of Fine Arts in photography bring you?  What were you doing before you did the MFA and what kind of work were you doing in the first 4-5 years after your MFA?  I'm contemplating returning to school....." From an emailed question.
That's a big question and I don't think my path is typical. I finished undergrad and did allot of things non-photographic for a living (welding, auto mechanics, union organizing, industrial mechanic) before starting to do commercial work a couple of years before going back to grad school. All the while I continued to pursue my personal B&W photography with a vengeance. It was ten years between finishing undergrad and starting grad school. Grad school gave me the opportunity to really think about what/why I was doing what I was doing artistically. It also gave me the credentials, self confidence and legitimacy (for NEA grants and teaching at a university level for example) to subsequently have a very diverse and rewarding dual career in academia and commercial work. It was well worth the effort and expense (I had a full ride with living expenses, plus grants but it still cost me $).

For me grad school was a great experience. I was in my early thirties with two kids and a wife, but I knew what I was doing artistically and school just kind of raised that to another level and opened doors. It was not so much what I was taught as being able to concentrate on my work in a professional nurturing environment. For the first five years after school, I went back to doing commercial work but also increasingly got shows and exposure of my personal work and started teaching at UNM part-time. It also impacted my commercial work as my kind of clientele respect formal art education and my "art shows" and publications turned out to be the best advertising for my commercial endeavors. It has been a very symbiotic dual career. The commercial work also provided the financial support and equipment for allot of my personal work.

Medium Format AP camera discussion.

Interesting discussion about MF digital AP cameras at Lu La. Certainly allot more complex and risky purchase than just buying a good FF DSLR and some T/S lenses!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

New Schneider T/S Lenses

Interesting discussion on LuLa about the new 90 and 50 Schneider DSLR T/S lenses. Also see:  Schneider T/S Review. Schneider.

This comment by ASF is most illuminating:
"Interesting Schneider states the 50 "is therefore recommended mainly for architectural photography as well as for town and landscape imagery."
I ordered one when it was announced, but when they sent me the MTF's from Germany I couldn't quite believe the distortion graphs (over 2%). When I asked why they would design a modern lens with this much distortion they replied it was not intended for architecture but for table-top, and they recommended using a plate camera such as the Alpa for architecture.
That along with it not being a new optical design (basically the old mf SA in a new house), the cost of over $4k, and the shipping date being pushed back over and over led me to cancel my order.
I checked with my dealer, they have received a 90 but still no 50."
If the 90 is available I would love to see some side by side comparisons with the now long-in-the-tooth Canon 90 T/S. The Canon is an adequate lens optically but is ready for an update with Tilt lockout etc. like the new 24 and 17 wide angle T/Ss.

Schneider's response:
The truth is that a Distagon design is required in order to make space for a mirror box as well as for the complex movements that are required for a PC lens
this type of lens design is also used by Zeiss for the Hasselblad system and is known from Schneider as the premium medium format Rollei lens 50/2.8. both these lenses have very high optical performance and have an image circle that it big enough to cover medium format, as well as being large enough to allow perspective control on full
If you look at the Canon and Nikon PC lenses they also use a Distagon design for the 24 and 45mm lenses... they do this because there is no other way .
We have also to remember that all lenses distort and for this reason Nikon Canon Zeiss and indeed Schnieder list MTF charts to document the lens performance. the selling point is that the Zeiss and Schneider 50 MF lenses have an even greater image circle that the Nikon and canon equivalent, this means a large sweet spot to the lens.
In terms of price the Schneider 50/2.8 lens in a Rollei mount used to cost around £2800 + VAT new. The Zeiss 50/4 CFE lens sells for £2700 new. so given that this optical design has been mounted into such and expensive tilt shift mount and costing a little over £2000 shows great value for money.
Having said all this if you look at the 90/4.5 PC TS HM lens you will notice that it has the image circle optical layout and performance of the 90/4.5 Apo macro Digitar lens.
Due to the focal length this lens does NOT need to be a Distagon ( retrofocus ) design and so is one of the finest lenses in the World .
One very disappointing design feature that has been repoted is that the lens only shifts in one direction???? Unlike Canon and Nikon which shift both ways. Shifting both ways makes flat stitches extremely easy-single direction means you have to rotate the lens to go the other way-twice the time and a pain. Two way shifting is vey old in T/S designs going back to the Old Pentax and Nikons of the 80"s. Why would they do this?

Friday, July 29, 2011

50 Beautiful Examples of Architectural Photography

Largely a really nice group of images. Iconic images of buildings are oftentimes tight simple details. The heavy HDR images are crap and some of these are not even photos but renderings! WTF?

Monday, July 25, 2011

RMKM's Isleta Pueblo project.

Recent image from the last weeks shooting-RMKM's stunning new Isleta tribal headquarters south of Albuquerque. Shooting on the edge of storms is risky-you might do all the set up and be skunked. On the other hand sometimes you get superb images.

FWIW. This image is a flat stitch on a 5DMII and a 24 T/S. We were battling a rapidly descending storm preceded by a very angry wind. We extensively lit the interior of the building in front (tribal council chambers) with halogens and also painted the tops of the pipe structure with halogen too. AND and a fair amount of PSing to add lights on the buildings in the rear that were not working.

On the edge of storms....this is when you get great images.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Show at Rayko in San Francisco

I am very proud to be invited to participate in this upcoming group show at Rayko in San Francisco. It is curated by David Bram.

"Fraction Magazine: Three Years in the Making" at the Rayko Gallery in San Francisco CA.

My contribution is from a 4x5 Tri-X negative and a dark yellow filter, scanned then printed on Innova FibaPrint White Gloss 14x20. It is of the Cadillac Ranch in Amarrillo TX.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

NY Times-Paul Paletti Gallery, Louisville KY

One of my favorite galleries in the country. Paul and I went to school together at UNM in the early seventies.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Iwan Baan

One of the most influential architectural photographers working today.: Iwan Baan and Iwan Baan Interview and website.
While I respect the move toward APs to create more "lived in" images, I feel his work is a bit too casual. It is architectural editorial. What do you think?

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Top 250 Firms: Titans Maintain Lead While Industry Suffers - Practice Matters | Architectural Record

I've been fortunate to work with 10 of these firms in the last few years. I'm especially happy with Dekker Perich Sabatini's inclusion. They have been one of my favorite clients for the past 20+ years. ‎"D/P/S is pleased to announce that we were recently honored by Architectural Record as one of the Top 250 Architecture Firms in the nation! We would like to thank and share this honor with all of our clients and consultants. Without you our success would not be possible!"

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Photoshop charges....

An interesting discussion going on at Luminous Landscape about charging your clients for your Photoshop work. " Drawing the Line on Re-touching"

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Friday, June 24, 2011

The expense of shooting digital?

I love shooting film in view cameras and still do it for my personal work. From a subscribers post a point was made about how cheap traditional film and camera equipment is compared to digital. What got me to change? I was probably the last AP in my area to switch to digital from 4x5 and film. My camera was 50 years old and still performing fine! All my 4x5 equipment was long paid for and still very functional. Three things finally got me to switch. First we lost our only local lab. Second the scanning workflow was dreadfully long. I couldn't meet tight deadlines. A part of this was processing and scanning fees were going out the door to labs in digital this became "Capture and Processing fees" which stayed in my pocket. I was spending 30k a year on film, processing, polaroid  and scanning. Third was the development of a reasonably priced full frame DSLR-the 5D.

I am far more profitable and productive with digital. And since there is no penalty for trying things in weird light, I tend to be more creative too.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

THIS is fun work!

John Chervinsky-
An experiment in Perspective
Wow what can you do with some old odds and ends against a black board with some chalk. The link takes you to a PDF slideshow to download.

The high end equipment dilema......

IME There is a difference between "cutting corners" and making financially wise equipment purchases for your business. Can you get by with a small sensor entry level camera or do you really want to spring for a full frame DSLR and tilt/shift lenses. Cutting corners is putting short term profits over long term quality. The fact that your clients haven't complained about the images you are producing with an entry level camera doesn't mean much IMO. Its not where you are now but where do you want to go? Local realtors pay allot less than top architects for AP. Top architects are far more demanding in terms of vision and quality than local realtors. Where are you now vs. where do you want to be in 5 years? Getting by with acceptable quality or at the top of your field? If you want to be at the top of your field you want to begin producing images NOW that will impress the clients where you want to be in 5 years both in terms of vision and image quality. Your standards must exceed your clients. Then you don't have to worry about whether your images are "good enough".

And then what about a top of the line medium format camera like the Arca I mention in an earlier post? That Arca with a 45MP back and a couple of lenses can run.......what 50K? Is it overkill?

HDR what is too far....

An interesting discussion on LuLa about HDRing interiors. Although this guy did not use an HDR program perse, I think he went too far. It looks unnatural too me. What is too much? What do you think?
See this earlier blog post too about this image from a shoot in Reno.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

New Arca Video

Descriptive materials on Arcas are almost never to be found. Rod Klukas put together this video on the latest Arca MF digital technical camera. This camera is the state of the art digital camera for architecture used by leading APs all over the world. Sweet!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


I'm being interviewed today for a magazine article about my work in an upcoming group show this fall in Santa Fe. I just read the questions. It is so great when somebody actually "gets" the essence of your art work. That is depressingly rare. I'm stoked. More on this when the magazine is coming out.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

49 Brilliant Pieces of HDR Photography

If this what anyone thinks architectural photography is all are going to starve to death.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Follow up of the "Urge to Wander" opening

The opening was great, well over 100 people attended. Many old friends, family and acquaintances. Most important the Open Space staff and management, who were the subject of one component of the exhibit, were thrilled with th exhibit and want to permanently install those images in the Visitors Center.

Some pictures from the following day:

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Press Release for My Upcoming Show.


“Urge to Wander”
Photographs by Kirk Gittings
“Arid Harvest” Photographs by David Ondrik (Reception Area)

What:The photographs of Kirk Gittings: Architecture, Landscape (Main Gallery)
The photographs of David Ondrik: Arid Harvest (Reception Area)

Where: Open Space Visitor Center, Art Gallery
 6500 Coors Blvd., NW,
(Between Montaño & Paseo del Norte at Bosque Meadows Rd.)
Albuquerque, New Mexico

When: May 7th – June 28th, 2011   
OPENING RECEPTION: Saturday May 7th, 3:00 – 5:00 pm Free Admission

Contact: Joshua Willis, Parks & Recreation Dept., Open Space Division, 505-897-8856,

Kirk Gittings has worked as a professional photographer for his entire career.  His photographs document the layering of archeological history with that of modernity.  Kirk will show a collection of photographs that interpret the environments of the desert, the people who choose to live there and the structures they create past and present.  Included in the exhibit will be a portfolio of images commissioned by City of Albuquerque Public Art program on the Open Space staff at work in the landscape.
“What I love most about New Mexico and the Southwest is it's deep rich past. I have walked old Native American trails, the Chaco roads, the Camino Real and Santa Fe Trails. I sense that, wherever I walk, I step in the footprints of Pueblo Indians, Spanish Friars, Conquistadors or U.S. Cavalry. It is the lingering patina of these personae, and the gods they prayed to, that lies behind the sense of presence that I try to evoke in my images.”

Kirk Gittings, Piedra Lisa Open Space

More about Kirk on this website:

Also in the Open Space Visitor Reception area:

David Ondrik: Arid Harvest
David will display a body of work exploring the food that is being sustainability grown in the high desert of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

David Ondrik, Carrot Bundles

More about David of this website:

The Open Space Visitor Center is located at 6500 Coors Blvd. NW between Montaño Rd. and Paseo del Norte at the end of Bosque Meadows Rd.  The Center is open Tuesday through Sunday, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM and closed Mondays.  Call 897-8831 for more information or visit

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Spouse Factor

Many photographers I know have had issues with their spouses. In this crazy and demanding life of a photographer a spouse can be a tremendous support or a stumbling block. Do they understand really what we do? For a transformative experience have him/her assist you for a day on a difficult shoot. Prior to that experience (she had no clue what I do of course-but she is a "creative"-she is a professional chef) I think my wife thought I just wandered around a site snapping photos and drinking coffee. What we do is very physically and mentally challenging. Show her by example. What is all the time in front of the computer about? Show her the before and after results of your Photoshop efforts to explain the endless hours in front of the computer. My wife is my biggest fan and I can't imagine surviving this brutal business (especially in this economy) without her.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Nick Merrick again at the 2011 Santa Fe Workshops.

Nick is one of the greats. I have had the unique opportunity to be hired twice to photograph the same buildings he did. This gives one the ability to experience how another photographer actually sees and solves problems in the field. It was instructive, even humbling. His technical approach is masterful and his vision is extraordinary. The workshop should be illuminating. If you are thinking of going professional or a professional who wants to upgrade their skills, I wouldn't miss it. He will be teaching an Architectural Photography Workshop at the Santa Fe Workshops on July 3-9th. See

© Nick Merrick

"Master photographer Nick Merrick is well known for moving beyond mere documentation of buildings and interior spaces to create photographs that interpret the design intent of the architect.

In this workshop, designed for photographers with experience in architectural photography, we cover technical issues of lighting with strobes and hot lights, color balance, contrast, and their relationship to the aesthetic issues of image design. Nick shares his working philosophy and photographic techniques through digital demonstrations that utilize Capture One software, and guides participants in lens selection, composition, and styling decisions."

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


In the commercial world meeting deadlines are for me a matter of professional practice. You simply can't maintain a professional reputation by blowing deadlines. Sometimes this leads to long days processing files etc., but you have to do what you have to do. Don't take on a job with a tight deadline if you aren't willing to jump through the hoops to get it done. It is common practice to charge more for jobs on tight deadlines to compensate you for the long hours. But...........what if quality gets compromised? If at all possible you don't want this to happen, but if that is a danger be upfront with your clients. I have on occasion (with the client in sync) delivered half  processed files to meet a clients deadline-for say a job proposal-and then continued the processing and delivered the finished images a few days later.

In the arts for me it is a different story. I still try like hell to meet deadlines-but there can be no compromise in the quality. The work is done when it is done. Period. I think I have the perfection disease. I've got a show coming up this fall. It is a high profile group show at a museum and will be up for a year. My contribution is 5 16x20 Piezography prints from drum scanned 4x5 negatives. 5 measly this point I have almost 2.5 months in those 5 prints.....they need to be of them is stiiiill---not quite right......I am now a fewf weeks past the hard deadline delivering them......but that one print still bugs me a little........

I finally delivered the prints yesterday-6 weeks beyond the hard deadline! I just couldn't let them go till I was satisfied. Last night I received this note from the curaor who I greatly respect:
Thanks so much for bringing the photographs this afternoon. We looked at them when you left & they are stunningly printed – just beautiful. Thank you for taking the time & making the effort to do this work – it’s really OK that they were late – it was well worth the wait!

IMO, In the arts it pays to be your own worst critic. More on this fall show as the opening approaches.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Problems Sharpening Files?

Read through this PDF for PhotoKit Sharpener 2.0. There is allot of good info about sharpening in general. And.....if you are unsure about sharpening, try out PhotoKit Sharpener. The PKS presets can give you a good starting point for a good sharpening workflow.

Convergence and Convention

I always got the idea that Paul Strand could give a s__t for convention, but followed his visual instincts instead. And what genius those instincts those were! Because of that, IMHO he was the most interesting of the early modern architectural photographers. "Time in New England" is one of the great photo books of all time. It is out of print but available used.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Proper Exposure/File Capture and ETTR

As an old Zone System practitioner for developing and processing film, I am very aware of the what is necessary and possible in capturing light on film and translating that to a fine print. In digital we have an approach that serves the same effective purpose but is attuned to the physical realities of light sensitive chips. It is called ETTR or Expose to the Right. This is especially important in AP as we are constantly dealing with dynamic ranges of light that are a challenge for sensors to capture. In recent years with the increased dynamic range and lower noise of newer cameras, some have argued that ETTR is obsolete. In this demo Photoshop and Lightroom guru, Jeff Schewe, demonstrates the continued relevance of ETTR.

Also see this earlier article in LuLa.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Fine Art Architectural Photograhers

This thread on LuLa has some fascinating artist/architectural photographers listed. Do some surfing and have some fun.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Why Wide Angle Lenses?

Many newcomers ask why wide angle lenses are used so often in AP. My thinking is:

Question......for what purpose are the architecture photographs? My opinion is that for commercial architectural photography lenses of 24mm for full frame DSLR (a bit wider than 90MM for 4x5) and wider are the norm. The rule of thumb I have expressed and heard my whole career when we were shooting film in $x5 view cameras is that you will take 90% of your images with a 90mm lens. Why? Four reasons really, for example the 90mm gets you close to a building so you can avoid all the crap like telephone poles that surround buildings. Second your eye doesn't remain fixed when you view a large building or interior. You pan the interior or exterior and the wide lens mimics that panning. Third on interiors there is allot of need for very inclusive space in the images, Fourth the perspective distortion that a wide lens introduces creates dynamic forms in an image considered an aesthetic plus in advertising intended images.

If however your interest is art or documentary, like for my personal b&w work, I prefer less wide angle distortion, which screams "I used a wide angle lens". In that case I prefer a 120 on 4x5 (about a 35mm on FF DSLR). My favorite being the Nikkor 120 SW (on 4x5), which will cover an 8x10 offering significant movement potential and doesn't scream wide angle.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Chicago Medium Format Phase One AP workshop.

Announcement from Christopher Barret:
I'm pleased to announce that I'll be teaming up with Jeffrey Totaro this July to teach a 3-day Architectural Photography PODAS (Phase One) right in my own backyard. The event will take advantage of some great Chicago design to focus on exteriors, interiors as well as the post-production side of what Jeff and I do. I'm so looking forward to this! Details to follow.

I've been doing AP for thirty + years and teaching it for twenty. There is always something to be learned. These guys are top notch. Hell, if I was going to be in Chicago at this time I would jump on this workshop.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Discussion on shooting restaurants.

There is a good discussion on shooting restaurants going on Luminous Landscape.

One of my posts:

Seems like there is allot of confusion here between advertising photography where buildings are a secondary subject and the primary purpose is to sell some use of the building verses traditional architectural photography where the building is the sole subject and the intent is to celebrate the creativity of the building designer. Some photographers do both but few do both well as they are completely different visual languages and mind sets. Few people are that versatile. Historically the former has been much better compensated than the later, but better money doesn't mean one is superior or more meaningful than the other. Nor does how many images you make in a day.

I have always been more comfortable and stimulated by the creative motives of traditional architectural photography, because I have a heartfelt love of light on form. Commercially that led me to a focus on architecture, which is essentially and simply just light on form. I believe I understand architects and what drives them and my better architectural photographs demonstrate a profound symbiotic relationship-creative interpretations of architectural design. For me personally there is no higher purpose and I find it immensely satisfying. Personally, I don't find the same shared purpose and comfort with ad agency creatives, though to pay the bills I have waded in that market off and on. But it is just not me and when I have enough architectural photography, I don't touch it despite the money. For those starting out, I personally think it is more important to find your aesthetic passion and that will lead to success however you choose to define it.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Architecture's Modern Marvels

Who are the contemporary masters and what have they done this century that is significant?
Architecture's Modern Marvels

Some great photography too!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

David Dillon, Architecture Critic, RIP

David and I worked on a few projects together many years ago. He was very knowledgeable and a mentor of mine. He will be missed. David Dillon

Friday, January 28, 2011

Antoine Predock at the University of New Mexico Art Museum

There are two great new exhibits of Antoine Predock's work at the University of New Mexico. They are well worth seeing. Last night my wife and I were invited to a private recption there. It was great-but not what I expected. This was a special "thank you" reception by Predock and the book's author Christopher Mead to all those who contributed to the new book and exhibit. Predock was very gracious to all of us, mentioning all by name and their contributions. He is a world class talent and a real gentleman. I was honored to be there. The book is his 14th monograth.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

AP thread on LuLa

There is an interesting new thread on Architectural Photography on Luminous Landscape. Many of the usual suspects are contributing. See:
What Kit do you like and why?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Odd Jobs

"Odd Jobs" refers to jobs that have some unusual aspect to them that I have not encountered before. This is a great example. By and large in AP we avoid seasonal decorations like the plague. Why? Because a)they limit the stock use of the images to seasonally themed publications (i.e. Christmas issue of a shelter magazine); b)this kind of decor is unrelated to the structure or interior design.

This shoot is an exception. The subject IS the Christmas decor. The client was Red Shovel, the designer and installer of the decor and the location is Sandia Casino and Resort in Albuquerque.

The challenges? Making sure the XMAS lights do not blow out rendering them white rather than their intrinsic color. How? No use of HDR, but instead careful timing of the shot paying attention to the depth of the exterior color, use of the 5DII HighLight Priority setting and judicious use of the Recovery slider in Lightroom (or Adobe Camera Raw). Why no HDR? Because of registration issues. I could not control the air handling system so the the long light strands were moving as in a gentle breeze.
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