Archive for the ‘Architecture’ Category

Texture and More of Rick’s Creations

A while back I posted some of the HDRs that I took of designer Rick Jones’ work. Those shots were of work he had done for clients, and he is truly able to visualize exactly what should go in a space in order to make it magical and transform it into a place in which you really just want to stay. He has done the same thing with his own home, and I posted some interior shots of his bathroom and kitchen before, and as the final part to this project he has asked me to photograph his back patio, yard, and shed, along with the steps on the front of the house. I’m nowhere near done with the processing as it takes an hour or so per photo, as many of you who have tried HDR and really put your heart into it know, but here’s a shot that I really liked to the point where I finished it up first, before starting from the beginning of the shoot! There is just so much going on here, from all of the different natural textures of the trees, plants, and stones, to the shifting colors in the sky, and the great pre-sunset light setting the foliage on fire. What a fairyland!

Time stops for a bit as you enjoy life outside in Rick Jones' beautiful backyard.


I’ve been here a couple times now and I think I just made up my mind… it’s my favorite place to eat in LA. I haven’t been very many places of course, but Tart is easily my favorite. They’re famous for their amazing outdoor atmosphere on their back patio and of course their food is exceptional as well — make sure to stop by to check for coupons, they usually have them. We lived within walking distance of Tart over the summer and I happened to have my camera with me when we came over here one night. This is a questionable final product. Typically, I really love the “unghosting” process incurred when moving objects make blurry, indistinct objects in the final composite. But for a place like this, I didn’t really have to do much with the colors to get it to turn out like this… the place really is this gorgeous out on the patio. Because the HDR process exaggerates this a little, it’s nearly impossible to do a straight-faced image of Tart… the patio atmosphere just makes it such a fun place to eat. So, in the spirit of keeping Tart’s outdoor patio lively and full of action, I am leaving Karl and Krishen to be free to move around and enjoy the evening as they may see fit. Hopefully we can head back over there sometime soon.

I am allowing myself a ghosting exception in the spirit of Tart's vivacious atmosphere... Los Angeles CA

Approaching the Lincoln Memorial – Washington DC

I can’t stop raving about how awesome Photomatix 4 is with making HDR images out of single RAW files! It’s nearly magical, and no, this won’t be the last time you hear me (or any of us for that matter) say this. I’ve had a lot of fun digging through my photo library looking for some RAWs that deserve processing, and I remembered that on my trip to DC a few summers ago we had some great clouds as we visited the World War II memorial, on our way to the Lincoln Memorial. Yes, these shots fall under the category of “generic tourist shot made to look cool because of HDR” but that’s kinda the point. The HDR process turned a “boring” photo into something post-worthy, and I like that there is a new variable here beyond simply finding a good subject to photograph that can determine the quality of the photo. In this case, HDR was actually essential to these shots even being considered usable, and I’ve included links to the original RAW files (compressed, of course, but color-accurate) so you can see what I mean. They were poorly exposed to begin with.

I can't believe how much definition in the trees came through after the HDR process!

There is almost no definition in the trees!

Before the HDR process.

I rarely comment on issues of composition beyond the occasional note, but in the image below a lot of things are coming together to make this work. Obviously, symmetry is huge. 4 pillars on each side, opposing groves of trees, equal parts foreground and background, horizontal bands of clouds mirroring horizontal swaths of grass and pavement. All of the orthogonal lines converge on the single point on the horizon, the Memorial itself, but more prevalent is the layers of horizontal elements that recede back, the alternating grass and pavement, and bands of dark and light clouds. All of this is stark and obvious in the black and white; it is muted and becomes lost in the original color version.

The picture comes alive in black and white.

High Dynamic Range at the High Museum of Art

See what I did there? The pun in the title? Yeah, I thought you would be laughing. umm so anyway… I’ve been wanting to get an HDR of the exterior of the High Museum, where I’ve been spending a good portion of my time lately as an intern. Unfortunately the weather has been really nice, not too hot (which is good) but no rain, so the skies have not been that interesting… I dug back to the beginning of the summer, when Giacomo and I went there for the Allure of the Automobile exhibit and remembered that I’d taken a few exterior shots as we left. I picked out a bracket and processed it today, and it came out alright. I’d love to get a stormy-dramatic one, of course, but this is a more accurate representation of the place anyway, albeit aided by a circular polarizer. Also, I’ve recently gotten an iPhone 4 and have been messing around with its HDR capabilities. I have found a few things: 1) it works great outside, and looks awful in almost any indoor environment, 2) it only takes 2 shots, one dark, and one light, and merges them, and 3) it’s not the same as doing it with a true SLR camera. The third may seem obvious, but the images that the iPhone takes with HDR on really just look “better” than the original, not “different, weird, cool, and trippy” like HDRs from Photomatix tend to, and they don’t have the characteristic “glow,” increased saturation, or increased contrast. The iPhone HDRs look like the original with maybe 1 stop more dynamic range in each direction, causing me to think of it really as EDR or Extended Dynamic Range… but still, it’s a fun thing to be able to experiment with. I plan on attempting to actually take a decent picture with it and upload it here, but I’ve just been using it to see what it’s like and haven’t shot anything worth posting. Yesterday I was lucky enough to be asked to go to the uncrating of the Jeff Koons mustache that he made specifically for the Dalí exhibit at the High, and I got to watch them take the huge cast-iron thing out of the box and set up the chains and hang it. All in all it took them almost 6 hours to do… they are very meticulous! Unfortunately, due to a bunch of different reasons that mostly involve artist rights, I can’t post any of the shots I took there, but if you’re in Atlanta the Dalí exhibit and the accompanying mustache are not to be missed.

The original building, seen here, was designed by Richard Meyer and completed in 1995. The addition, peeking out to the left, was done by Renzo Piano and completed in 2005.

Campo from the West

Although I took all kinds of pictures of and around the Piazza del Campo, the one I always wanted to take would have been impossible to get to: a shot down on the nightlife of the city from on top of the building directly across from the tower, and with a wide enough lens to capture the people and the tower in the shot. Oh I know, I should have just brought Tucker along and had him shoot it with his camera and lens–now I have an excuse to go back and bring him along. While I was there, I couldn’t resist taking the picture that 100s of other tourists did. The large west entrance  has a great view of the whole piazza and the Torre del Mangia, and as you walk down, you can’t help but stop and stare, as I did, even the 100th time I walked through. To take this picture I had to wait a while for exactly that reason; to try to minimize the number of people in the foreground taking pictures and staring at the impressive view of the tower looming over the piazza. Turns out I got pretty lucky.

The iconic view from the west of the Torre del Mangia on the Piazza del Campo in Siena, Italy

Cityline Reflection in Centennial Olympic Park

This is another handheld from a few weeks ago when Giacomo and I wandered around downtown ended up in Centennial Olympic Park, which is essentially in the heart of Atlanta. I liked the way the Westin Hotel, one of the iconic buildings in the Atlanta skyline, is reflected in the pool of water. People have commented on this shot, telling me that it looks more surreal and processed than normal; perhaps it is because of the different vantage point on the skyline, or the reflection in the water, but I think most likely what people are reacting to is how blue it came out. This is mostly because of the time of day that we were there, right after sunset when there is no longer the warm sunlight , and that particular day was relatively cloud-free, so the remaining light was quite cool, and the blue of the water, the glass on the Westin building, and the sky all come together to be quite strong in the image. I considered reprocessing it to be more warm but honestly, I like the occasional image that screams, “ok, that is clearly not straight photography.”

I love the transition from blue to yellow on the glass on the Westin building, reflecting the sunset behind me.

Zooming In on the Cityline

I have been asked to do a few websites recently, and I had a shoot with one of these people tonight to get some portraits and usable banner shots, etc, for their site. He lives on top of one of the condos on 10th street and asked if I thought the roof would be a good place to get some shots. Roofs + night + cityline + a lucky awesome sunset = yes, I told him that would work well. After getting some shots with him (I ditched the flash/reflector setup in favor of the tripod/bracketing approach 😀 ) I stayed up there for an extra 2 hours just taking HDRs of various angles of the cityline as the sun set, changing lenses every once in a while. I have been really exploring HDR with the 70-200mm, and this is one of those. It is admittedly at 70mm; the ones taken at 200mm weren’t as compelling but I do have some 200mm ones from Paul’s apartment the other night that will make it up here at some point. There were also some fun wide shots from tonight as well, but this one stuck out as the one that needed to be processed immidiately.

It's really fun to go in close on the windows and see the same cabinents, light, and pictures in room after room...

A New Vantage Point

When Giacomo and I set out to shoot some HDRs tonight, we quickly realized the location I had in mind was not going to work. I remembered it being a lot cooler a few years ago, but the area around Arizona field by Dekalb avenue is now relatively built up and modern. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it was all rather bland, fenced in, and boring. Still wanting to get some shooting in, we drove for a bit until I remembered my goal of getting on top of the bridge that goes across Ponce de Leon, the bridge that we must have driven under thousands of times. Now that it is part of the Beltline, I knew it was possible, but wasn’t sure if there was easy access. Turns out, all we had to do was park close by, walk down an alleyway, and we were behind Paris on Ponce and the other shops there with easy access to the bridge and the Beltline in general. The huge brick building is the now-defunct City Hall East, where some government stuff used to take place. It is ugly, and it is large, so it is in the picture, but it is also part of the landscape that defines this area. I do like how there are lights on in some of the windows, despite it being technically closed. As we are still in the middle of a string of storms, we also had a great sky… the part the picture does NOT convey is the nearly unbearable humidity. It was probably upper 80’s, which by Atlanta standards is rather cool, but we were literally soaking because of the awful air. Tolerating it for a few minutes, I was able to grab some brackets while Giacomo messed around with the 70-200 looking professional as always. For those of you from Atlanta who haven’t been up to this location, it’s worth a visit; it’s really cool to look down on an area that has been a part of my life in this city for as long as I can remember.

All in all, a really cool location to watch both the traffic and the oncoming storm.

Stormy Summer Night

It had been threatening to thunderstorm for the past few days and it finally let loose today, with really cool lightning, clouds, and rain form the late afternoon on into the night. After spending far too little time at the Dalí exhibit at the High Museum (I will be back…) and a great dinner at Tierra on Piedmont, I headed over to Paul’s condo with my gear and braved the rain and humidity to get some pretty cool stuff. Yet another test of the weather sealing on the 5D Mark II, again passed with flying colors although the camera was literally dripping when I was done. Incidentally, the header image from the site is a crop from an HDR I took from this exact location, (looking out at the skyline, of course) a few months ago and during the day. I will (I promise) edit it, post it, and change the header soon… Anyway, the coolest shots from tonight were the ones that I did with the 70-200mm of the clouds passing in front of the many scyscrapers; they were also the first HDRs I’d attempted with that lens which was an experience, to say the least. I will edit those soon, but for now I have a wide one, taken with the trusty 16-35mm f/2.8 with distortion to prove it. When I first got up on the roof, I immediately began shooting out towards the skyline, but I noticed the lights from the pool out of the corner of my eye and decided I needed to get a closer look…

I love the way the HDR works together with the long exposures, bringing together the purple and red in the skies and detail in the shadows that were literally impossible to see with the naked eye.

Cafe Verona, @ La Brea and 2nd

We’ve loved Cafe Verona ever since we moved to the Park La Brea area and have tried to go there about once a week. Excellent outdoor dining experience with awesome food and a there’s-something-special-about-this-but-I’m-not-sure-what atmosphere on the patio. As far as we know, it’s owned and operated by Celestino Elice and his family and you can tell in just one visit that they love having the place. In fact, they’ll be the ones taking care of you. Elice has been there every time we’ve gone, either playing seating host, delivering entrees, uncorking wine bottles, or simply tidying up. If you’re looking to have a nice Italian meal one night and are sick of Olive Garden-level establishments, please please please go visit our friends at Cafe Verona sometime. I promise you’ll want to go back as often as we do.

Amazing outdoor dining, I love coming here to enjoy the fettucini al salmone: Los Angeles CA

The Getty: South Pavilion and Plaza

I’d never been to the Getty Museum before this past Sunday. What a place! The architecture is breathtaking and essentially offers a limitless field of things to take pictures of. I took a little over 100 pictures while I was there but will probably

only choose three maybe four to finish on the site. It will be tough deciding which angle is best on many of the amazing structures at the Getty, but there was no doubt in my mind that the fountain in front of the South Pavilion was a great place to start.

The Getty Museum is drop dead gorgeous. They've got a ton of amazing art but I like the design of the buildings even more: Beverly Hills CA

Disneyland: Downtown Disney at Night

So my dad and my sister got sick of my mom and I walking around and taking pictures of everything… they decided to bounce and head up to the room since tomorrow was going to be an early one (the character breakfast mentioned in the shot of California Adventure Entrance) leaving my mom and I to continue roving around Downtown Disney at night. I’m working on a few from within the Rainforest Cafe right now, I really like where they’re going. Anyways, we wanted a vantage point to be able to look down on as much of the area as possible and, sighting an empty-looking balcony on the second floor of a restaurant, barged in the door and up the stairs in a “we belong here, don’t ask questions” manner. It was a fun little intrusion, I really like how it turned out…

Bustling people and their humming credit cards. Makes for troublesome ghosts here and there but for the most part I like it: Anaheim CA

Piazza Giovanni Carli

I’m still in Italy. But now in Asiago, relaxing and doing almost nothing in my last weeks in Italy. I know I shouldn’t complain, but I actually want to get back to Atlanta. While I’m here, though, I figured I may as well take some pictures, so got right on it last night in downtown Asiago (although this town is hardly large enough to even have something that qualifies as a downtown). In the main piazza, there is this wonderful fountain which has several bronze casts of various animals native to the altopiano (plateau) and in the center features a faun riding a deer. I also spotted some spiders making there webs on the bronze animals, which I had to try to capture.

Fountain at the Piazza Giovanni Carli in the centro of Asiago

A spiderweb in the fountain

Poolhouse at Night

Most of the HDRs I’ve been doing recently have been for Rick, and because of that I am posting mostly from the stuff that I have shot for him. This is a shot from the Tidwell’s pool and poolhouse that Rick designed, taken a few hours later than the previous one I posted. I was there for nearly 3 hours, and witnessed a storm approach, pour rain down on us (when I shot from under the porch) and then leave, bringing night skies in its wake. Rick also had many lights installed, all timed to come on at sunset, and you can see some of them in the tress in this shot. The light shining up on the smaller trees to the right are also part of his design. It’s a really cool effect to be outside as they turn on. All in all it made for some great shots. I am in the midst of editing them; I have processed the 40-odd HDRs through Photomatix but the really time-consuming part, the Photoshop editing, has yet to be done for about half of the shots.

The Tidwell's pool and poolhouse at night, all lit up and beautiful.

A Well Designed Space

I’ve been really, really busy with photography work lately, and it’s basically all between Rick and J Young! But that is good, as they involve two areas of photography I am not as familiar with, portraiture/fashion and architecture. To top it all off, both involve even more aspects I am not familiar with; shooting J Young has involved lighting heavily, causing me to learn how to use/position a reflector to bounce my flash, while balancing that with the natural light, and Rick’s stuff has involved a lot of indoor HDR, which I have very little experience doing. Both have proven a further challenge for the same reason: my gear is set up for landscape photography, as that is what I have felt most at home doing and honestly really enjoy the most. The 16-35mm is at home doing landscapes, as it is extraordinarily wide, but when things are closer to the lens, it distorts. A ton. That makes it tough to use in both areas of work, as you don’t want people to appear stretched and you don’t want crazy weird angles and distortion in architecture. I have had to use Photoshop’s Lens Correction tool a bunch for doing Rick’s work, and I have used mostly the 70-200mm for doing J Young. However, I have had to switch to the 16 for a few of the shots of J, especially the shoot today that involved J’s friend Koleone and a Maserati. They were scheduled to shoot a video that Paul and I were supposed to shoot stills during, but that didn’t end up working out that well… hopefully soon though. Anyway, the point of all this is I have realized that the ideal lens for the work I am doing would be the 24-105mm f/4L IS. That range covers EVERYTHING I need for doing J’s stuff, as I never need wider than 16 and never honestly go in all the way to 200mm on my current telephoto, and I would therefore never need to change lenses. The 24-105 also doesn’t distort at all, and also has built in Image Stabilization, making it a truly ideal all-around lens. I am most likely going to sell my 70-200mm and pick up a 24-105 fairly soon. Anyway, here are two shots, one of Rick’s kitchen, and one of his bathroom, both designed and art directed by the man himself. I’m currently editing 3 shoots of J Young, the 60-something HDRs of the Tidwell poolhouse, the HDRs of Rick’s upstairs bathroom, and the HDRs of Rick’s kitchen… I’m really not sure when it will all get done….

Rick's kitchen in all it's glory. And distortion.

And Rick's upstairs bathroom, an equally gorgeous space. The amount of textures, light, and detail really show with HDR.