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.