A roofing client needed to show off his prowess with a project right on the waterfront. I was a perfect project for a quadcopter as you can see by these shots on a great day.
Category Archives: Photography
Parc Telegraph, San Francisco – Shot for Sun Valley Solar
Late last August the FAA finally came out with rules and an exam solely focused on the UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) otherwise called drones. This is called the Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate that allows non-pilots to legally fly for commercial work if you pass the exam and register the aircraft.
Parc Telegraph, San Francisco – Shot for Sun Valley Solar
I am proud to say that I have passed the exam, registered my quad copter and am now offering aerial services to my clients. This really expands the photographer’s toolbox. The quad copter offers angles that are impossible to get any other way. They are more cost effective than a helicopter and can fly from 1′ to 400′ to get the right perspective on your buildings and property. The quad copter features an integrated camera offering a live view while flying and can shoot camera-raw stills and 4k video.
My longest lasting architectural client Stephen Elbert, AIA had a wine bar remodel out in the West Portal neighborhood called Vin Debut. As per usual, it was a dark location with plenty of glass, mirrors and shiny stainless steel for those uncontrollable specular highlights. And just to make it extra special; it’s open 7/365 forcing an after-hours shoot.
However, Stephen did a wonderful job in designing the interior! Although it presents challenges, it’s quite a beautiful venue and I was honored to shoot it. Besides if it wasn’t a challenge he could just get anybody to shoot it. Stephen is a renowned photographer in his own right so he was familiar with the challenges. Fortunately for me Stephen acted as art director and did all the thankless work of staging the site which was no small feat.
These days I shoot with a number of speedlights for the additional lighting. They are light, battery powered and allow me to move through a space quickly. That turned out to be very helpful because there was a slight hiccup in the shoot; the owner couldn’t make it back that night to lock up. So we went from a 5-hour shoot to a 2-hour shoot. Fortunately, we were able to get the core shots we needed within that time frame with just a little sweat.
In the end I think, and more importantly, Stephen felt, we got it done.
Occasionally, I’ll get the odd call to shoot a still life in my studio in Jack London Square. Although it’s small it’s surprisingly versatile. We’ve shot as large as a 3-piece furniture set there.
I got an unusual call from a local voice over talent; Michael Saunders. He is redesigning his website and wanted some photographs to act as wall paper (the page background). We kicked around a couple of ideas until we alighted upon a desktop motif. He brought over some of his gear and we set up a mock VO desk set up.
We wanted an overhead as if the talent was looking down upon the table. In order to make the background as unobtrusive as possible we went with a dark, muted tones and very softly lit approach. We took some of his gear, script, cell phone, pencils, etc. and artfully formed a fulcrum in the center.
We spent quite a bit of time rearranging the objects with micro-movements but eventually we got it to where we both said “Yeah, that’s it”.
It was a fun shoot and Michael was great to work with.
Early this year I was contacted by Robert Becker Visualization and asked if I could get photos of a parking lot where a new potential building may be erected. He contacted me because of my architectural photography background and would need the images to be perspective corrected with focal length data in the metadata. He would then take the photos, insert his rendering and various other items to give it perspective. These images are then used by developers to get approval from the cities and communities to build in these locations.
Since then, Rob and I became fast friends and I have shot a half dozen or so locations since then. He’s found it helps the renders when the locations are professionally shot and they have more verisimilitude with the people making the decisions.
My client bought out another multi-family residential company and as a result needed an image refresh for their site. Fremont has long been a haven for many of Silicon Valley’s engineers especially those from South Asian descent. It is a well designed mega complex spanning over two full city blocks. As most of the units followed similar floor plans I was only required to shoot the amenities and a one bedroom model. Although the units themselves were a bit generically boxy the amenities and exteriors were well designed and appointed.
The San Francisco’s ever insatiable need for more high-end housing seemingly knows no limits. As a result, housing is selling out before construction is even completed. I am often required to get imagery of what they have finished at the time with the hope of returning to complete the shoot. The Mosso was one such project. With the enviable address of Folsom and 5th, it was selling like hot cakes even before it broke ground on the adjacent building. I was called in to shoot a one bedroom and the amenities and then called back to get some roof shots. Hopefully, the Mosso will require more and more images and the building process continues.
There are many reasons to rent a penthouse in Mission Bay: its great location for downtown, its great amenities and a permanent parking spot in the city. But the main reason, the selling reason, is for the view. Channel Mission Bay hired me to shoot specifically for that.
They had two units that had this high value view: the penthouse and the Sky Vue lounge. They both have remarkable views of downtown and the ballpark. Although they are naturally gifted with this view it’s a bit difficult to capture it photographically. For one thing, windows have a reflectivity problem. Any lighting used in the space will be reflected back in the glass obscuring the view. Often times, the glass is tinted which renders the view both darker and with a weird color balance. There are essentially two techniques to render the view photographically.
As a through back to the film days, the first is a multiple exposure. With the camera sitting on a tripod take one exposure for the foreground and turn out all the lighting within the space and take another exposure for the external view. Then load then as layers and do a mask for pass through of the windows. The second is to take a separate photo of the view from one of the widows or outside and again at approximately the same angle and again loading them as layers, Again, do the masking of the windows and bring the background view in and change the perspective to fit the original view to look natural in size and perspective. This second technique gives you the ability to have a completely clear view and modify the perspective a bit for best impact. Of course there is the issue of verisimilitude but I’ve rarely run into anybody in marketing that wasn’t willing to sacrifice that for a little more pizzazz
For those of you who don’t live in San Francisco, the extent of the housing boom magnitude is probably not fully grasped. I was hired to do some pick ups by a new client who has one of the more finished buildings in Mission Bay. It was a real challenge to get shots of and from their building without the massive construction projects becoming the focus -in some cases, it was just impossible. Fortunately, I’ll be returning there when more of the surrounding construction is completed.
I had a client at the beginning of the year who required an iconic shot of Berkeley for the header banner on his website. Initially, I thought that wouldn’t be so difficult but as I began to run through the mental images of having gone to school there and having lived in the area, I was pretty stumped on one that would look good and iconic on such a thin ribbon that he was proposing. Berkeley doesn’t have a remarkable or distinctive skyline. In fact the only image that leaped to mind was of Sather tower with perhaps an overview of Berkeley in the background. I had in mind a shot with the tower to the left from the Tilden Park region but in scouting the area, I found a construction crane just to the right of the tower and just about the same height. After driving the Berkeley hills to about an hour I found a great spot to capture this image just above the Greek Theatre and managed to pull the Golden Gate in as well.
Canon 5D Mk III, EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM, 120mm at f/10 at 15 seconds
It worked out rather well for his banner:
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