| 2009 November
chicago architectural photographer, photography, architecture, photographer, interior design, furniture
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November 2009

For years, Gensler has been at the top of the game for interior architecture but not really known for buildings and exteriors… and you know, I can totally relate.  When you become really successful at one thing, that’s all people tend to think of you for.  Breaking out of that proverbial mold can often be harder than starting from scratch.  I’ve been  pushing to develop my own exteriors portfolio for the last year and I hope I can be as successful working outside as this long-time client has.

I had the pleasure of hearing about the recladding of this 36-story building in Indianapolis from Sasha Zeljic, an architect who spends his time between Chicago and Shanghai, as we discussed how to best capture the essence of the building.  Its overall character is immediately apparent, but the details of its interesting second skin only become visible close up.

In 2006, the building’s façade was damaged when a severe wind storm came through downtown Indianapolis and Gensler came up with the scheme to create a new glass and metal exterior which would extend 18 inches off of the original structure and update the esthetics of a building that has seen a few less successful transformations in years past.


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Here’s a nice way to wake up on Sunday morning…

Stroll downstairs and put the coffee on.

Wake up the laptop.

Pour the coffee.

Go Here:   Arch Daily Flickr Pool

ArchDaily Flickr Pool

Click “Slideshow” on the upper right side of the page.

Drink Coffee.

I don’t really care about identifying the projects shown or the quality of the imagery, but just recording textures and perspectives into my visual library is a lovely way to start the day!


We’ve finally had a chance to return to the offices of VSA, a Brininstool + Lynch project to do some additional images now that the space is occupied.  I frequently shoot interiors with and without people, but being able to handle this assignment in both fashions has taught me a lot about the process.  It was no surprise to me that I loved the fully refined images from the pre-move-in shoot.  I find them to be clean, uncluttered and lit in a way that renders spatial relations just not possible with an occupied space.

When we returned, though, I found it really stimulating to allow myself to interact more spontaneously with the staff as well as the architecture.  We lit much less, I composed the shots around the people, allowing the design to serve as context with an approach that strove to show how the architecture enabled collaboration, communication and creativity rather than standing in the way of them.

I’m really happy with both approaches to the project, and while I find them distinctly different, I believe that they both have immense value for the client.

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I’ve been working with Arca Swiss’ newest camera for about three months now and I’ve got to say, I’m pretty damn enamored with this thing!  I’ve gotten a chance to use most of the major manufacturer’s cameras over the years… Sinar, Horseman, Linhoff, and Toyo but when I decided to buy my first 4×5 some 15 years ago, it was the Arca Swiss F Line that I settled on.  The F Line is a lightweight, perfectly ergonomic camera and it served me quite well for most of my career.  When it came time to dispense with film and move over to shooting with a digital back, though, it became clear that my well worn F Line was not going to be ideal.

A high end digital back is a very demanding mistress.  Any slop in the camera’s movements will make achieving sharp images a most frustrating endeavor.  While tilts and swings can still be helpful in getting the most out of the new digital lenses, you definitely want to start from a base that is as true and square as possible.  Also, the diminutive size of the medium format sensors (compared to 4×5 film) creates a need for geared movements, if one seeks exacting composition.  The sensor size also means that architectural shooters are having to employ far wider lenses than they ever carried to accomplish the same fields of view.  This last point is a killer.  Very few existing view cameras can actually get the standards close enough together to focus anything wider than a 47mm.  With all of these requirements, it’s little wonder that a lot of shooters have turned to the “plate” cameras offered by Cambo, Alpa, Sinar and Arca.  Personally, I’ll always be a view camera kind of guy and the plate cameras just don’t offer the same versatility or long lens capability.

It looked like I was going to have to wait for one of the manufacturers to step up and design a ground up digital view camera from scratch.  As it turns out, Arca Swiss didn’t have to.  Their exisiting M Line 69 already solved most of the problems with digital shooting with it’s decades old design.  The thing was rock solid, fully geared and any lens you put on the front could actually be racked far enough back to touch the ground glass, focusing wide lenses was NOT going to be a problem.  The price for having fully geared movements on both standards, though, was weight.  At 9 1/4 pounds, this was not going to be a viable location camera.  It turns out though, that the Arca designers were busy last year redesigning the M Line to become THE digital view camera… even more precise, lighter in weight and a good amount less expensive.  When the M Line Two was announced I became very excited. (more…)