3.05.2011

I am NOT an architectural photographer but sometimes.......

This image is a PhotoShop merge of five files.  I shot on my Canon 1dmk2n with the plain vanilla 20mm f2.8 Canon lens.


I have high regard for real architectural photographers.  I'm talking about the rare ones who really understand architecture, who love good furniture, who have studied design and art history and bring something layered and nuanced to the equation.  Too many photographers out there do interiors strictly as documentation and they don't do it very well.  The latest trend it to light everything flat, shoot multiple bracketed frames and then do (auto) HDR in PhotoShop.  Yes.  You can see all the details.  No.  You have no idea what the architect's original intention was.  Having a tilt/shift lens and a Canon 5d2 or Nikon d700 and a bucket of PhotoShop doesn't make you a "real" architectural photographer.  Only passion, education and experience can do that.

I have no room to talk.  I have no interest in architecture.  No interest in interior design.  And beyond the comfort of my favorite chair I have no interest in furniture.  Sorry,  I also have no real interest in landscapes.  You just can't be into everything.....

But occasionally I'll do a project for a client and they'll want a quick shot of their lobby or the front of their building.  Our core mission might be to document doctors working or to make interesting portraits, and most times the architectural shots are an afterthought.  It doesn't make sense for my clients to bring in another photographer and I'm hardly technically handicapped when it comes to shooting straightforward stuff, so I often get pressed into doing this kind of work.

The lobby above is nice but it's tight.  I learned long ago that the best shots are usually right from the doorway.  I keep an old Canon 20mm f2.8 around for this kind of work.  It's wide on my 5D2 but not so wide on the 1D2N's cropped (1.3x) frame.  And on friday I wanted to shoot with my 1d2N.  I put the camera on top of my tripod and leveled it.  I put it in the vertical orientation and shot five shots, without changing any of the exposure or focus parameters.  I corrected on file in Lightroom and synced the other four to the same specs.  Then I tossed them in PhotoShop and hit "photo merge."  A few seconds later, out popped this pano.  Easy as pie.  The client is happy.  I'm happy and that's cool.

I spent my early years as a "jack of all trades" and shot many magazine features about historic houses and buildings.  I did "rack" brochures for hotels and resorts.  And we did it all with 4x5 view cameras. But what I've learned over the years is that everyone has stuff they love to do and then stuff they have to do.  The more you can do of the first the less you have to do of the second.  I never mind taking a few documentation shots but I try never to fool myself that just pointed a camera at something makes it art.  Or that snapping the shutter makes me an artist.

9 comments:

camerakungfu said...

Sometimes you just gotta do what the client asks. We can't all be artists all the time.

BTW - Looks like the second chair on the left has a disjointed leg.

Anonymous said...

'Looks like the second chair on the left has a disjointed leg.'

And more so on the right.

"I tossed them in PhotoShop and hit "photo merge." A few seconds later, out popped this pano."

That's probably why. Use a proper dedicated stitching program, AutopanoPro, PtGui or even the free and now rather excellent Hugin.

Great blog Kirk; illuminating writing and excellent photography - brilliant.

s

Cedric said...

Weird, I've used this technique (multi shot panos) for landscapes but never thought about using it for interiors. I wonder why that is?!? Thanks for the slap on the back of the head Kirk :)

Your shot worked out great by the way.

Steve Burns said...

Spending time as a jack of all trades is not a bad thing. Sometimes what you have to do helps immensely with what you love to do.

Environmental portraiture anyone? All of that stuff plays into doing it well. Fred Maroon comes immediately to mind.

Anonymous said...

'jack of all trades'

I think myself more as a general practitioner photographer (GP as in being a doctor) rather than a specialist (brain surgeon, Otolaryngologist, etc), though that doesn't preclude being extremely expertise in certain areas.

s

Images West Photography said...

As a wise person once said, successful architectural photography is 10% skill, and 90% moving furniture...

Dean Forbes said...

Good idea to use HDR techniques when shooting interiors like this. I've done a few at work but by combining multiple frames.

I do want to pass along one tip, something I tried when faced with photographing a break room at work that was a wall of windows shaped like a prow with a nice view. I put a graduated neutral density filter over the wide-angle lens and adjusted the transition over sky and clouds. No other lighting. Worked great to help balance the exposure and maintain details in the sky.

jj semple said...

I used your technique, wasn't sure I could duplicate it. It worked, so I wrote it up here.

Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience with the less experienced...

jj semple said...

Very interested in your LED book. Since I don't have a lot of lighting equipment, I think LED might be a good place to start from scratch. When is it coming out?

I did purchase one of the ringlights. Tested, works fine, but haven't had a chance to use it on a true subject.

Just received the Lumix 14mm f/2.5. Will try the panorama technique with this lens on my house once the weather improves. We've had three weeks of rain in NorCal. Because of its "tucked into the side of a mountain" location, the house is practically impossible to shoot. I'm thinking panorama might just do it.