The first step to success in digital platform marketing is attractive photography.Read More
Have you heard of Houzz?
Houzz.com is an interesting website. It is used by members for making "Idea books" from photographs collected on their site. The general public (Members) collect their ideas of beauty in digital form, which become virtual scrapbooks. These are presented to a creative professional (Pro), who in turn helps the member turn their ideas into reality. Interior Designers and Architects probably get the most business from it, followed by specialty Contractors, custom Builders and yours truly.
While I may not benefit directly, my customers have the branding images that get noticed, and that brings them business. It helps when one of the Houzz editors picks up a photograph and gives it a wide distribution in a story. As a result, some of my photographs are in tens of thousands of Houzz Idea books. When one of my customers mentions me as the photographer of one of our projects, it is posted to my Houzz site, which is good for both of us.
I invite you to visit my Houzz site, see the projects posted there and perhaps dream up your own Idea book.
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Advertising photography is a matter of making the most of what is available.Read More
The project is always very challenging for the builder. They face the task of trying to complete a large and unique project in a limited time with some unfamiliar subcontractors and changes that come along the way. I need to be present during final completion of the project to help coordinate when we can start, what can be photographed and what remaining details of construction might need to be completed during photography.
Of course, one would like to think it is all very glamorous, but in truth, I am a project manager as much as I am a creative photographer. This time, the first day of photography was spent making the front elevations and preparing for the marathon of photography that would follow. Here is a photograph of me at the end of the driveway at the position for the twilight elevation.
|2014 Design Home dusk elevation preparation|
You might be curious. Why here? These are the factors that directed my choice:
• Several interior rooms and rear exterior areas were not yet finished. The front elevation was doable if the vehicles, painter's ladders, construction debris, etc, etc, was removed from view.
• I always try to do the most challenging and important things first.
• We wanted to make a dramatic twilight photograph for the magazine that shows off the work of the builder, architect, lighting sponsor, landscape sponsor, ironwork sponsor, interior designer, etc.
• It was not raining and the timed exterior lights were functioning.
• I needed to be about 8 feet high to see over the stone gate post. This was to essentially make it appear smaller. At eye level, it would be a huge object in the foreground if I wanted to show the light fixture on it. The extra height also allows you to see more of the landscaping and the shape of the driveway, etc.
• I don't carry an 8 foot tripod, the bed of a dump truck was too limiting and the roof of a car is too unstable. I have used scaffolding, but the wood spans were so flexible that the camera bounced with the rhythm of my heartbeat. This time we lashed the tripod to step ladders and stabilized it with a camera bag. A CamRanger was used to operate the camera remotely.
• The house was designed to have a pergola attached to the left side that would act as a cover over the parking space and visually complete the massing and roof pitches on the main part of the house. Without it, I wanted to avoid showing the truncated left side, mostly by highlighting other things that I would prefer that you look at. For example, I allowed that side to go dark and then highlighted branches on a tree in the foreground to mimic the missing shape of the pergola and create lead-in lines past it. We also lit areas of the back yard so that you would look beyond it. We wet the driveway to bring areas of interest and contrast to the front. We lit the gate in a way that its vertical lines lead your eyes back to the focal point, which is the front door.
This year, the 2014 Design Home is in Wyndmoor PA. If you are local, it is worth a visit. You will want to dream about all that is possible in your current or your next home. I can't show you the finished photograph yet, but you can go here to see it and find out more about the project.
It had been a year and a half in planning and 3 months in execution, but our shared coIN Loft office renovation is finished. Credit goes to the Start-it-up Delaware founders Wes Garnet, Steve Roettger and Mona Parikh for the foresight and execution of the project. Katie O'Hara was the Interior Designer and Mona was the project manager.
Now the space is available for additional tenants. Helping attract them is where I come in. High quality architectural photographs on websites, tweets and blogs will let viewers know that this is an entrepreneur's ideal office space. Its look rivals that of any Soho, LA or Frisco coop workspace.
We decided that the blue window twilight look would be the most dramatic way to illustrate our space. Blue windows, white walls, black furniture and red accents were the major colors that would harmonize and contrast. The project owner would want the space to look open, inviting and vibrant. Every detail, texture and color used to achieve that end would be in the interest of the Interior Designer.
We did 4 photographs on the upper level with one camera and 2 on the lower level with a second. Since the Blue Hour that we are interested in lasts only about 15 to 20 minutes, timing and planning is essential. For this blog, I will discuss how we managed to make the all views in time. In another I can demonstrate the layering techniques that make the finished view.
We all know that it gets dark when the sun sets. There is a great little site called suncalc.net that even predicts exactly when that occurs. Easy and simple right? Now factor in cloud cover, exterior lighting levels, interior light intensity and color, direction of the window relative to the sunset and the time exact time is quite nebulous. It is not so obvious as to exactly when the camera will record the sky as blue and the wall as white in a single exposure.
Of the 6 views, 2 were made before the optimum time, 3 were made during and 1 was made after. Here are the 6 views with the time stamp:
In this case, it took good planning, 2 cameras, 7 halogen lights on light stands, 2 assistants and 4 hours from beginning to end to make the raw photographs. It would take another 6 hours to process and finish these images.
Now, if the sun is setting into the lens through the window, reflections of the sun on the glossy surfaces like the floor or polished granite will be even more overexposed. A hazy summer sky with the sun behind it might be 10 stops or more overexposed! That is much more than can be layered and look good. Fortunately, we are talking about the end of the day, so a solution is near at hand, if you can adapt.
|Sun setting through door lites and upper windows|
Wait for the sun to set beyond the horizon and expose at tungsten white balance! I use halogen hot lights but you can also put tungsten gels on your flash units. (We should try that experiment together some time).
|Dusk interior version of photo above-Final|
Here is a case where your brain sees neutral colors but the camera chooses one color balance and the neutral colors shift based on the light source. Objects closer to the windows are bluer and those further away are influenced by the incandescent lights and are recorded as more orange. The same happens when compact florescent lights are in use, but there is extreme yellow saturation near the lights.
Below is a photograph of the kitchen as photographed with tungsten gels modifying the daylight output of the flash units. In these conditions, 1/2 or 1/3 of the flash unit is covered with an orange tungsten correction gel. I have spent many years looking and identifying these colors, so don't be surprised if you don't see much difference. My high quality photography is the sum of a dozen or more factors (timing, composition, camera, lighting, etc.), and this is just one. I have provided a second image that super saturates everything so you can better see the areas that are too blue.
|Kitchen as captured in one exposure|
|Same image super saturated to illustrate blue areas|
|Image adjusted for daylight balance|
|Final kitchen image|
We had a roller coaster of winter weather here in Delaware during the first week of 2014. The examples below show the difference between amateur and professional work and that even with weather extremes, high quality professional exterior photography is available year round.
The snow started falling on Thursday evening and we had about six inches fall overnight. I made the top photo using my pro-sumer Nikon D-40. I am leaning against a light post to minimize the vibration of the relatively long exposure on Program mode. I would consider this typical of amateur night photography. There are no added lights, the color balance is off, the shadows are too deep and the highlights are blown out. Snow shots can look great but they are limited to seasonal uses.
|Candid style nite view January 3rd|
|Professional twilight view January 6th|
In one day, it warmed from 25 to about 40 degrees and rained all day, removing all traces of snow. The skies cleared as the temperatures dropped again, allowing us to make this night shot for Nobles Pond in Dover.
We added landscape lighting, greened up the grass and made the final photograph from several exposures to keep shadows and highlights under control.
Our builder and architect customers complete their projects year round regardless of the weather. our job is to make their project look pristine in time for their marketing and award entry needs.
We have landed in a great place as we begin a new phase in the growth of Jay Greene Photography. Our large Co-op office space in the LOMA renovation district in downtown Wilmington is ideal for this next phase. It gives us easier access to all our customers plus we have access to a large pool of creative professionals.
Our specialty, architectural advertising photography for builders and architects, depends on my ability to bring my skills to bear on each assignment. I have developed leadership skills so that we can now develop shooters with additional capabilities matched to a spectrum of customer needs and budgets.