Tag Archives: Architecture

The Star on Park

The Star on Park interior

Under the heading of unusual restaurant venues, Star Pizza chose to take over an old bank building in Alameda to open their latest location. Truth be told they were not the first to start a restaurant there. Before Star took it over the previous tenant embraced the bank theme by opening a restaurant called Capone’s Speakeasy which closed within a few short years. We all hope Star will have better success and if their deep dish, Chicago style pizza is any indication, they will do very well.

The building presented a few challenges for my client architect: Stephen Elbert. It is a historic building and therefore much of the exterior could not be changed without going through an extensive design review. In addition, as it was a bank with a few old-style reinforced vaults, gutting the interior would have been an enormous and immensely expensive task. In fact, they did have to cut through one of those two-foot, reinforced concrete walls to make the kitchen more usable. That task took a team of professionals from Southern California a complete day. But fortunately, the owners embraced the bank theme and even found that the vaults became a convenient place to store their impressive wine and liquor collection.

For me, the challenges were how to light a very tall, very long, open space filled with light sucking dark-wood paneling. The only way was to set up a bank of Dynalite strobes at the entrance to get a general light on the space, then take a strobe out into the space illuminating sections of the interior that were too distant to be illuminated by the Dynas (curse you inverse square law). Move the light to another area and take another frame. Eventually, I used 6 frames to create this one interior carefully painting myself and the lamp out of the shot and blending it with the others. Digital photography makes this technique not only possible but reasonably easy to do.

Stephen, in his dry sense of humor, reminded me that this technique was not new and had been used in the pre-digital age. However, it did involve the photographer dressing in a total black suit and constantly moving as to not resolve on an incredibly long shutter speed. I was happy enough to do this in my current photog uniform of a tee shirt, shorts, and white tennis shoes😉

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Video for Architecture

More and more of my clients have been asking for video on their architectural shoots. I have been shooting video for years but it was always separate from the architectural still work. Fortunately, the equipment has progressed to the point where it is reasonably affordable. As a matter of fact, I now shoot both the stills and video on the same camera.
Video offers that sense of immediacy and presences that stills just don’t convey. Not only do objects in the frame have motion but the camera movement gives an ever changing perspective on the space.
Internet broadband now easily supports large format video and having them on your site actually increases your organic Google ranking -they love video as rich media content.
Below is a sample we did on an Olson Kundig remodel of a classic Mid-Century Modern house in the Berkeley Hills.

Please contact me for more information about architectural video.

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Special Advanced Workshop: Architectural Photography in the Digital Age with DPA Instructor Eric Sahlin

Saturday April 9th  9:00am – 5:00pm

Eric will assemble the participants at his studio at 309 4th Street #108 Oakland, CA. He will begin with a brief overview of the equipment and techniques used in the digital architectural photography. Then, the group will walk a couple of blocks to Old Oakland to take some shots of this historic district. The class will return to the studio at approximately 3pm to go over the day’s results and make the digital adjustments in Lightroom and Photoshop.

©Eric Sahlin

The Old Oakland district was the “original” downtown Oakland during the 1860s after the Central Pacific Railroad constructed a terminus on 7th Street. By the 1870s, elegant brick Victorian hotels were being built in the blocks surrounding the railroad station to accommodate travelers. The ground floors of the hotels were designed as series of narrow shops so that pedestrians would pass by many of them just walking down the block. The architectural styles of the time featured tall, cast-iron columns and large plate-glass windows.

©Eric Sahlin

The downtown began its decline after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, when the shopping district began moving to the blocks north of 14th. In the 1980s, developers carefully rehabilitated and restored a block along 9th Street between Washington Street and Broadway, known as “Victorian Row”. Notable structures on Victorian Row include the 1878 Nicholl Block building.

©Eric Sahlin

This course will concentrate on exteriors only. It’s quite frequent to be given an assignment to shoot the exterior of buildings in a crowded location without shutting down the block.

It is possible in the digital age to come away with images that fulfill the client’s expectations even when conditions are not optimal – which is, of course, more often than not the norm.

Compare the image above and below…..

©Eric Sahlin

The instruction will cover architectural compositional basics, HDR for controlling the contrast ratios, digital distortion and perspective control, use of Shadow Highlight or Fill controls, White Balance, and digital dodging and burning. It will also cover other types of photography that you can get while you are waiting for that darn rotation of the planet.

©Eric Sahlin

Please bring your cameras with all the lenses you have. Please also feel free to bring your laptop to work on your images.

Eric’s studio is located at: 309 4th Street #108 Oakland, CA

This 9 hour class costs $150.00. If you would like to learn more or to register for this fun-filled workshop, please call our toll-free line at 1.877.372.2231 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1.877.372.2231 end_of_the_skype_highlighting or log on to www.DigitalPhotoAcademy.com.

Eric teaches many classes for DPA. Be sure to touch base with him or visit the DPA site to learn more about them.

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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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California Cool

“California Cool ” was a video promotion piece produced for Russell Abraham to promote his upcoming book published by Images Publishing. We interviewed some of the leading California modernist architects and included many of the images from the book. The video features top California architects: Mark Cigolle, Steven Ehrlich, Stephen Kanner, Robert Swatt, and Zoltan Pali taking about modernism and why California is such a great location for modernism.

Video Duration: 5:52 minutes


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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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