Lighting up a Building

BEautiful Club House building

A couple of weeks back, I photographed two clubhouses for DR Paint, which does a lot of fine commercial work. The building, top, at Legend Trails Golf Community, was surrounded by vegetation. While the setting sun created beautiful light on most of the building, the trees cast a shadow on the most important parts — the main entrance and the portico. My task was to balance the light so the building looked stately and welcoming, and to show the quality of the painted surfaces.

In the “old days” of film, photographers would hide lights all around the building and trigger them for the exposure. Now with a digital camera and Photoshop, there is a better way. First I made the basic exposure of the whole building. Then I walked all around the portico area, the planting area, the building wing in the background with flashgun in hand. I made 20+ exposures aiming the flash to cover each section of the building.
flashing2Above are a few images showing me at work, flash in one hand and the remote to trigger the camera in the other. When combined in Photoshop, only those portions of the building with added light from the flash come through, so you don’t see 20 versions of me.

When the night lights came on, I made another exposure and added them in for the final effect.

Portrait of an Artist — and a lighting challenge

A couple months ago I was asked by a photographer friend in Sedona, Pam Taylor, to help her make a portrait of a local artist JoHanna McNamee for JoHanna’s new web stie. JoHanna creates hand-made wisdom masks. The idea of the image was to have the artist in front of three of her masks hanging on her living room wall.

johanna posing for lighting challenge

Sounded easy–until we got there. The wall with the masks had a brick fireplace on one side and a large armoire  on the other; no way to light the masks but straight on. Additionally, the mostly gray masks were on a mostly gray wall, so little contrast to set the masks off.

My solution was to place a thicket of 3 “spot” lights, one on each mask (right, above), using an individual flash and a snoot or grid on each to focus on each mask. Left above shows the effect of making each mask stand out. We used a large softbox and a reflector to light the artist. Below is the image I made from the position Pam was using. Johanna in front of her mask art

Making Photographs, Solving Problems

Potential clients often ask what is it that I do that they can’t with their digital camera. One thing: solve problems. Here’s an example.

One requirement for the OASIS Hospital assignment was a panoramic shot of the lobby. A relatively routine technique, you shoot several individual images turning slightly after each shot — and “stitch” them together with software for an extreme wide-angle view. Yes, there’s even an iPhone app for that!

A couple of problems to be solved:

  • The bank of windows on the right side of the lobby let in so much light that it risked flair (below right). I tried blocking it with my hand, without much success.
  • The OASIS name over the reception desk was made of chrome, and it reflected the dark area by the elevator (below left). It didn’t look like a bright and shiny logo.

To put the sparkle back into the Logo, I hung a piece of WHITE cloth so the chrome would reflect white back to me. My assistant (below left) is holding a flash which is putting extra light on the sheet.

To reduce flair from the windows, we covered as much of the window as we could with black plastic (below right).

Now we were ready to make the panoramic shot. In post production, I stitched the images together, balanced the different colors of light (bluish near the front windows, yellow with a little green under the mezzanine, etc. Then I layered in the shot of the now-sparkling logo.

Panorama view of hospital lobby

Can your iPhone camera do this?

Picturing Networking in Action, Part 2

2 men and 1 woman frantically trade business cardsI mentioned in Picturing Networking Part 1 (May 2010 below) that when I am photographing business groups, I want to stress one of  their main their purposes, i.e. networking. “I want to show businesspeople in the ACT of networking,” I wrote then. “When I see business cards come out, I’m there.”

I was there when this flurry of cards came out. There’s even a card in the mouth of the man on the left (no, that is not a cigarette!).

This image was made in the April 2 meeting of Arizona International Growth group — http://www.azigg.com — which meets to help businesses source or sell internationally. This was a special meeting a little off their regular topic, featuring a panel of eight talking about the support available for non-profit groups. Below, Maryanne Weiss, Gustare Ltd., moderated the group. More information about the presentation, names of all the presenters, and more of my photos are on the AZIGG Facebook page — http://www.facebook.com/pages/Arizona-International-Growth-Group/181148451907345

March AMA Signature Luncheon

Have a strategy before you start 'cuse you can't stop. That was the message from the 4-member panel on business use of social media. They presented at Wednesday's Signature Lunch of the Phoenix American Marketing Association. In the top photo, Matt Simpson, from Bulbstorm, (left) wrangled Shane Barnhill, Honeywell, Cindy Kim, JDA Software, and Travis Unwin, Sitewire. Other photos by Laird Brown PHotography featured in the banner of the AMA Phoenix web site http://www.amaphoenix.org/

Have a strategy before you start ‘cuse you can’t stop. That was the message from the 4-member panel on business use of social media. They presented at Wednesday’s Signature Lunch of the Phoenix American Marketing Association. In the top photo, Matt Simpson, from Bulbstorm, (left) wrangled Shane Barnhill, Honeywell, Cindy Kim, JDA Software, and Travis Unwin, Sitewire. Other photos by Laird Brown PHotography featured in the banner of the AMA Phoenix web site http://www.amaphoenix.org/

Interviews on Seamless Backgrounds, Part 2

Ed Scannell as "Centerfold"

In an earlier post (Interviews on Seamless, May 31, below) I discussed making an image of professional speaker, trainer and author Ed Scannell and using my friend Fr.Glenn as a stand-in. The article featuring Ed came out in the 50k circulation T + D Magazine July 1 (and yes, I’m a little late getting it posted here). I’ve had great fun showing it in networking meetings and pointing out that this was my first “centerfold” photo and my first model printed with a staple in his navel. (Actually, he wasn’t in the exact center of the magazine, and there were no staples because the magazine uses perfect binding. But, hey!)

www.smallbusinessphoto.com

Hamburger Heaven

Recent ad in The Arcadia News features an image I made of one of the hamburgers from The Grind restaurant.  The restaurant at 40th Street and Camelback specializes in giant burgers. At www.smallbusinessphoto.com we don’t specialize in food photography, but I do know the trick: Like most other photography, it’s to get the main light above and behind the product. I used an aluminum reflector in front to add light and sparkle.

In addition to photographs of several of their wide selection of hamburgers, I made on assignment three of the five photographs of local celebrities with their hamburgers that decorate the restaurant. Each is in black and white and approximately 5′ x 5′.