Only three spots left at my upcoming workshop, and I'm giving a spot away to one lucky winner!

As many of you know, I am teaching a couple of workshops at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas during the first-ever Fstoppers Workshop. At this point, there are only a few weeks left to register, and in my biggest class, 'The Complete Guide To Architecture and Interiors Photography', there are only three spots left! This is exciting news - I'm really looking forward to meeting all the participants and I have a feeling that it's going to be an incredibly fun workshop since it's been limited size-wise to be very small and intimate. 

One of the epic locations we scouted for the workshop...

One of the epic locations we scouted for the workshop...

Anyway, more to the point - I've teamed up with Fstoppers to add a hold a last minute contest to give away a slot in my two day 'Complete Guide To Architectural Photography' workshop. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment here (by clicking on the post title) or on my Facebook page telling me why you shoot architecture or why you want to shoot architecture. It can make me laugh, make me cry, or just plain 'ol be a story about how it's always something you've wanted to do but never had the opportunity. It's that simple. I'll round up all of the comments, post a few of my favorites, and notify the winner. Yes - it's that simple. Tell me why you want to learn how to photograph architecture or want to refine your skills, and you could win a free pass to the workshop.

Note that the pass doesn't include airfare or hotels - but if you're on the east coast, flights to Nassau are relatively cheap, depending on where you leave from. The rooms start at $169 a night, which is heavily discounted from their normal rates.

If you want to see some of the locations we have access to, check out the video below:

And if you're interested in finding out what an awesome time this is going to be, take a look at the video I  made with Lee, Pat, and Lauren of Fstoppers. We had a freakin' ball down there, and I know it's only going to be better during the workshop. The more the merrier, right?


Photographing Every Departure at LAX's South Complex: "Wake Turbulence"

I just spent about 16 hours shooting and putting this image together, and I've written a little blog post, below, detailing some background information and how I did it. While not specifically related to architectural photography, I still find it interesting enough to write and post about, so you'll have to tolerate the tangent this week.

PurePhoto, who sells all of my fine art works, has graciously agreed to offer prints of the shot in 18x36", 27x48", and 36x64" sizes on Hahnemuhle archival fine art paper. I have to say, the shot is truly stunning in large format and anyone who appreciates aviation, infrastructure, travel or imagination could easily spend countless hours getting lost in it. To order prints and view availability, click hereor head to my galleries on PurePhoto.

Los Angeles is a city steeped in aviation history and technology. Over the years, Los Angeles and Southern California have played host to some of the largest aviation companies and activities the world has ever seen. From designing and building Lockheed's top-secret reconnaissance planes to building some of the first large-scale passenger aircraft and having Maverick buzz the tower only a shrot drive south at Mirarmar, aviation is everywhere in this region. Our main airport, Los Angeles International (LAX) is one of the busiest airports in the world and countless airlines use it as a focus city for both international and domestic operations. 

The idea for this photo wasn't some grand thing years in the making, or planned over months. It was simply a clear day in LA and I felt like a total dork sitting inside on the computer. I had to do something. The day before, I was with my friend David Huff at LAX for lunch and some plane-watching, but the smog was out in force so nothing too special happened in terms of photography that day. Since I am generally interested in making photographs that aren't just snapshots of a single moment, I had a thought that it would be interesting if I could seem to capture more than one plane in flight at once. And from there, this idea was born.

This has been done before, yet slightly differently. Ho-Yeol Ryu created a similar piece set at Hannover airport. This showed that what I wanted to do could be done, albeit quite differently. Ryu used planes of all liveries and countries, and took a bit more of an artistic approach in his rendering. My intent was to capture only planes that flew out of LAX - highlighting and emphasizing what an incredible airport that this city has. It's really fascinating to look at all the planes heading in different directions, ferrying people all over the world, all originating from Los Angeles. In this shot alone, there are planes heading to destinations on six continents - either direct or via multi-stop routes on the same flight number. Guangzhou, Auckland, Frankfurt.

In order to capture the shot, I set up a tripod and photographed every single plane that flew across my frame anywhere from 3 to 10 times. Using sandbags to ensure that the camera didn't move and coming as close to peeing myself as I ever have in my 26 years of existence from not wanting to leave my camera unattended, this resulted in over 400 images from which the composition is built, but not all of them were used. Here are a few of the individual, completely unedited, frames that I used to put the entire thing together, so you can get an idea of how many different frames it took!

As you can see there were a number of issues to contend with. Heat haze, the changing angle of the sun, and other traffic on the ramp all had to be mitigated. The best way I found to do this was using masks and selections in photoshop to isolate every single plane in the final image and then piece them all together one by one, nudging them slightly so that they all lined up. I took some liberties with the positioning of each of the planes in order to make a more compositionally interesting photo. True aviation geeks may say this is sacrilegious, but it makes for a more interesting and easy to view shot. Everything is still somewhat accurate in terms of pitch angle and takeoff sequences, but like I said, in order to make it 'read,' I had to take some liberties. 

And that's how it was done! PurePhoto, who sells all of my fine art works, has graciously agreed to offer prints of the shot in 18x36", 27x48", and 36x64" sizes on Hahnemuhle archival fine art paper. I have to say, the shot is truly stunning in large format and anyone who appreciates aviation, infrastructure, travel or imagination could easily spend countless hours getting lost in it. To order prints and view availability, click here or head to my galleries on PurePhoto.

Still with me? Here's an interesting aside. At the time of writing this post, this image has received over 350,000 unique hits on reddit, totalling over 110gb in bandwidth. This makes it the most popular aviation-related in image in reddit history! Not bad, for a nerd like me.

Tigertail Ridge, Brentwood: Architectural Interiors With Susan Jay Design

A few weeks ago, I wrapped a great project with the renowned Susan Jay Design in Los Angeles. On a ridge in Brentwood, with views overlooking Los Angeles' famous Getty Museum and Century City, this location was truly a stunner. Expansive views over all of LA, coupled with a fun yet restrained interior made this one of my favorite shoots of the year, despite the many challenges we faced. The home featured plenty of interesting architecture and angles, and while it is quite a sight for the eye, it can be particularly difficult to photograph. Faced with tight quarters and big windows which required a lot of light, we took nearly 12 hours to create just as many images.

 

Waiting for the right time of day is crucial - as fighting the sun through those big windows is just asking for trouble. We wanted the interior to appear soft, natural, and livable, so time of day was crucial to avoid harsh light and shadows interfering with our own light.

As has been repeated ad nauseum thorughout history, architectural photography is 90% moving furniture and 10% photography - and we did plenty of moving furniture on this shoot. Endless amounts of books were moved, couches tweaked, chairs tweaked, tables pulled out, and put back in - all to try and tame the color and shape that were present everywhere. With big windows comes busy backgrounds, and making everything work together seamlessly takes a bit of patience (with some good humor thrown in, of course).

This mid-century gem was a real treat to photograph, and added a few nice shots to my portfolio. With interesting lines, incredible furnishings and one of the best views in LA, there was no going wrong with this location.

Photographing The Architecture of Los Angeles From Above (Part 2)

It would appear that I've been bitten by the aerial bug - quite hard, in fact. What began as a half baked idea to shoot real estate and architecture from a helicopter turned into a full-fledged fine art book. So that's the new goal - take 15, 20 flights, amass a huge collection of black and white photographs, and get it together in a big, heavy, thick coffee table book, as it's something I've always wanted to do. I've been keeping an eye peeled for my latest personal project and thankfully, this one is right in my own backyard. 

Los Angeles is a thing of terrible beauty; and sometimes downright misery from street level. But once you're up in the air, it transforms entirely into something else. There are endless opportunities for composition with all of the lines of intersecting freeways, surface streets, and architecture. Every time I have flown in a helicopter now, I make a loose plan to get some shots I've pre-selected with Google Earth, etc. The problem that I have is that the shots I plan on come out just okay, but the shots that I don't plan for absolutely shock me with how awesome they are. That might sound cocky, but some of this stuff is beyond what I'd ever thought I'd be capturing.

Shooting like this is definitely refreshing and a nice change of pace - it's one thing to put something together from a tripod, 10 lights and Photoshop, but it's something else entirely to be shooting something so alive. Nobody will ever recreate these images - and they exist for only a fleeting second. Trying to coax the light and mood out of them in post-processing is just eye-opening - things that you never notice from the air become simply magical once the files are worked over a bit. 

So, here's to this next project of mine. I've got a lot on my plate, as always, between my Iceland project, Pan-Am project, and now this, but these are just too cool to pass up, and I might as well strike while my iron is hot. I'm hemming and hawing over kickstarting this project or just doing it on my own, I'm not really sure yet. Time will tell!

In the meantime, I've been invited to sell these prints throughout a few select stores in LA as well as online through PurePhoto. You can check out the full gallery and order prints, if you're interested, by clicking here.

Photographing Fig House: Los Angeles' Coolest New Event Space

It's true: I get to see some seriously cool locations. One of my favorites has to be the recently completed Fig House in Los Angeles. Located in Highland Park, Fig House touts itself as a bespoke events venue, catering to a wide range of clients; they do everything from weddings to corporate parties to photoshoots and everything in between. Fig House is exciting and fresh, and a definite change of pace from what I usually shoot. With an eclectic mix of styles (everything from 1920s Hollywood to art deco with modern LA touches) it was a nice challenge to capture it all. I absolutely loved all of the color and variation throughout the space. 


I opted to shoot this in a more natural light style - this place just came alive with color owing to the huge sliding glass door windows emblazoned with stained glass by Judson Studios. Since the design was full of color and a mix of styles, adding a ton of light wasn't going to do any favors: it would only make the scene busier. I'm all about lighting to the space - and what that space calls for in terms of photography in order to make it look the best that it can.  No need to reinvent the wheel if you don't have to, right?

Next door to Fig House is Roomforty, a catering and restaurant service with a charm all it's own. While this was merely an accesory to the Fig House shoot, I absolutely loved the decoration and design of the tasting room, where potential clients can get a taste of the food made right on site or friends can gather to have a private meal of their own during a function at Fig House. 

 

And of course, what blog post would be complete without mentioning the perks of being an architectural photograhper? Roomforty's food, as expected, was absolutely jaw-droppingly delicious.

 

Aerial Photography Over Los Angeles: Shooting The City's Architecture From Above

Of course there are thousands of ways to photograph architecture from ground level, but an entirely different feel can be conveyed by photographing from the air. I've taken a few trips recently in a chartered Robinson R-44 to photograph homes in the LA area, and I've also taken some time to create images that I will sell as prints in a few interior design outlets and chains throughout California. 

Being such a huge aviation geek, shooting from the air is a total treat. Hanging out of a helicopter at a thousand feet, cruising at 80 knots with the door removed and the wind blasting by is always such a rush. There are a few things you have to keep in mind, of course, as this is an entirely different environment compared to shooting on the ground. No lens hoods, as the 80+mph wind would rip them right off if the lens poked beyond the canopy glass. You can't change lenses, because the slightest fumble would result in a very expensive drop (those cabins are TIGHT, and with all the wind and bouncing around it would be very easy to drop something and lose a lens, or kill someone below) and you have to know exactly what you want to shoot before heading up. At the low price of 10 cubic dollars per minute, loitering to get the right angle or find the right house is going to cost you. Pre-flight planning is super important! You want the right light, the right weather, the right orientation, the right elevation, and the right composition. A big ask!

Of course, it all takes a skilled pilot to get you where you want to go on the first try. It's best to work with someone who has flown a photographer before and understands their needs with regard to light, timing, altitude, and so on. None of this would have happened without the understanding and patience of my pilot, who is able to manage all of my ridiculous photographer demands (up! down! left! right! do an orbit down there!) on top of dealing with the insanity that is LA airspace. 

But what I'm most excited about aren't the photos of homes that I've been doing (which, make no mistake, are hugely enjoyable and I love the results) but the photos that result when I let my creative juices flow a bit. A few weeks ago, there was a relatively large forest fire on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Knowing that this low-lying white, diffuse smoke could make for some fleeting and ethereal shots, I decided it would be a great time to get up in the air. Luckily, the conditions didn't disappoint at all. It was an expensive gamble, but one that definitely paid off. I don't think I've ever seen photos of Los Angeles that look just like this - which is something I always strive for. Why make the same photos of the same landmarks that everyone else has done a million times? 

The conditions have to be right, but when everything comes together, the results are very unique. I'm selling prints of these images at HD Buttercup in Los Angeles, as well as on www.purephoto.com - where you can also see most of my personal work for sale.

 

Stay tuned for more - as I have a few more flights planned in the coming months, both in LA and in other areas. I'll be revamping my website shortly, too, with dedicated galleries for many of my photos which haven't seen the light of day. Lots of exciting things on the horizon here.

Photographing The Apartments of South Los Angeles

You'll have to excuse my absence over the past few weeks: things have just been immensely busy and it's all I can do to stay on top of my post work. Late nights have never been so frequent!

Over the past few weeks, I've had the pleasure of working on one of the most fun assignments ever: working with a management company to photograph some of LA's famous dingbatty, mid-century, garden, kitschy apartments. To be honest, the style of architecture is all over on some of these, so if anyone knows what they would technically be called, I would love to hear it. Anyway, these assignments are incredibly rewarding for a number of reasons. 

First, they are the complete and total opposite of what I normally shoot. I'm used to shooting homes and offices in tip-top condition; they're usually straight and true, with no cracks in walls or bars on windows. They're often in secluded, quiet parts of LA, where I don't have to put myself or my gear at risk of damage due to cars whizzing past. I usually have to coordinate with one homeowner or building tenant, which makes getting lights on easy. In many cases, there are over 20 tenants who need to get their lights on for us. There are pedestrians and cars everywhere - curious onlookers and the occasional cyclist coming inches from knocking my whole setup over.

We often close down the entire street in front of whatever property we are shooting - which gives us some room to work - but sometimes, this just isn't possible, so composition can be severly limited. Space is also deceptively tight, here, which means it really needs to be nailed with only one shot per location. The technique here is fairly standard light-duty strobist-type work, but the heavy lifting is really in the post. I'll get some before and afters up pretty soon (new website in the works) but some of these have hours upon hours of cloning, rebuilding, and, well, imagineering put into them.

Below, a few of my favorites, and soon to come, a whole new batch. When we're done with the entire lot (20-something of them at last count) I'm going to try to get these into a gallery of sorts or have a book made. It would be cool to see these printed in large format.