Category Archives: Photography

Iconic shot of Berkeley


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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Fooling around with Infrared

Ever since the day I switched over to digital, I’ve been jonesing to do some IR photography. For the longest time I relied upon external filters to help block out the visible light leaving me with very long and noisy exposures. Disappointed with the results and hassle I pretty much gave it up. Then there were small, enterprising companies that made cameras specific to IR and/or modified existing cameras to read the full spectrum -but these cameras were either too expensive or the megapixels were far too low to make it worth while.  Last Christmas, on a lark, I decided to take another look at the array of IR cameras on eBay. Much to my surprise, there were a plethora of makes and models out there for under $200.

After doing some research I settled upon a modified Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH27 by Kolari Vision.  It is a 16 megapixel camera with a Zeiss lens and is small enough to fit into the side pocket of my camera bag. Kolari Vision specializes in IR camera conversions. They have cameras in 590nm, 665nm, 720nm, 800nm, 850nm, and full spectrum filters. They take used but good condition cameras and remove the Hot Mirror and replace it with an IR pass filter. I chose a 720nm filter for the widest range of results. Because you not putting a huge light block on the front end of the camera you can shoot many shots without a tripod. You do however have to make sure you set your white balance before shooting -they recommend a grass field as it’s closest to an 18% grey card.

Kolari Vision does a great job and provides a CD with tips about IR photography as well as some great false color Photoshop actions. This has become one of the more satisfying additions to the kit in quite a while. I can hardly wait until spring time!

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The Art of the Twilight Shot

Nothing quite sells a set of photographs like a twilight shot. It is often referred to as the money shot because most clients swoon over it. On a recent shoot for Jackson Dean Construction, I was given the instruction to get many angles of the exterior. But when I got there, I realized that there were few angles and they would all have to include the front facade to hold any interest. Therefore, with a limited number of angles, I decided to shoot a couple of times throughout the afternoon and ending with the twilight shot above.

The prime objective of the twilight shot is to balance the exterior and interior luminance. This can occur anywhere between 1 hour before sunset to one hour after. It is also dependent upon the Sun’s setting direction and the geographic features in it’s path. I  recommend disabling the auto focus because it can get dark enough to throw it off. Rather than resetting your color balance to 3200° (tungsten) I recommend leaving the setting on daylight (5000°) to warm up the building. Then you can desaturate the red/yellow from the tungsten sources in post. Finally, make sure you are set on a tripod, in place, before this time occurs because, depending upon the time of year, it may only last for about 5 minutes.


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1000 Broadway Ave.

I was recently hired to shoot the Trans Pacific Center at 1000 Broadway. Of course it had to be done on a very busy intersection and during the winter. In the northern hemisphere the sun is about 23° further south than in the summer and unless you have a south facing building, at least half will be in shadow. In addition, this was a block size building and the sun rose right above it. I solved this problem by shooting an additional sky and striping it in.

The backlit shot of the building with a custom lens shade -my hand.

I liked the original sky with the sun flare


After blending the two images with a coupe of others and after a little more work on perspective and lighting, I arrived at the final image. Customers today won’t accept an average shot which requires Photoshop work to make it acceptable.


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Brazil Building

East Bay Regional Park District

East Bay Regional Park District – Brazil Building

The Brazil Building was the last of four sites shot for the East Bay Regional Park District. It is located in area of the park where the sun strikes the front fully only for a short period of time. In addition, it is a very busy facility so we had the additional challenge of working in between functions. The interior also presented some challenges: the side panels we covered in a dark Brazilian mahogany which sucked up quite a bit of light.

East Bay Regional Park District

Brazil Room – Tilden Regional Park


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Sage Electrochromics, Inc.

Sage Electrochromics, Inc. is a glass manufacturer that specializes in glass that can be electronically tinted to control the temperatures in the building. I was contacted through their PR agency: Gallagher Group Communications who needed the shots on a tight timeline. The tinting takes about 20 minutes and is pretty dramatic.

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Temescal Beach House


The Temescal Beach House was the third of four facilities shot for the East Bay Regional Park District. It’s a beautiful stone and timber building. The main reason for the shoot was to augment the web pages promoting the facility rental.




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Shoreline Center

Shoreline Center

This was the first of four facilities I shot for the East Bay Regional Park District.  Located at the shore of San Leandro Bay it has quite a view from the inside.

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Fern Cottage

Fern Cottage was the second of four facilities I shot for the East Bay Regional Park District. I posed a few challenges with it’s layout and the fact that the building was nestled in a grove of tall redwoods.

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409 & 499 Illinois St.

Shorenstein hired me to shoot this massive, full city block, set of buildings. It was hard to get a good angle on it as there were no building close enough to get a reasonable elevated shot. All that I was able to work with was a 10′ dirt mound directly across the street which gave me wild distortion. I was able to overcome some of the distortions in my stitch together, but not completely.

The rear had the additional challenge that no landscaping had been completed. I did a quick job of entourage for the foreground. One of the other challenges was that I had to shoot two exterior sculptures -both covered in chrome.

You can see those images and more at the gallery for 409 & 499 Illinois St.

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