| 2010 July
chicago architectural photographer, photography, architecture, photographer, interior design, furniture
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July 2010

Its been well over a year since Apple has announced any new products that didn’t begin with “i”. Sure I dig my iPad and I can see why they focus on the cash cow that the phone has become, but hey… what about computers? You remember computers, don’t ya Steve? My anxiousness for a new Mac Pro is so well known that I got a call from Miami at 8:30 this morning to alert me to Apple’s announcement of the new machines which will be available with up to 12 cores. Oh my friggin God. Finally.
I can finally stop retouching on my laptop (which is currently my fastest machine) AND have something to crunch the video I’ve started shooting lately. Hallelujah. Thank you Cupertino!


Back before Neocon, Haworth had us up to their beautiful headquarters in Holland, Michigan to do a few shots of the latest version of their Very chair.  Great setting, great subject, great light.  Ok, I admit it, I’ve got a thing for nice chairs.


Ok.  It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Arca Swiss cameras.  Over the years I have used a 4×5 F Line, 6×9 F Metric, 6×9 F Line Compact, 6×9 M Line 2 and now… now they have this lovely little technical camera.  How, how I ask you, could I possibly resist it?  The R Line is completely different than anything else in the Arca lineup.  There’s no rail, no standards, there’s not even a bellows for cryin out loud!  Can this thing possibly make pictures of architecture?  Yes.  Definitely… and with great finesse.

Truth be told, technical cameras have been around for quite a while, with great products on the market from Alpa, Cambo and more recently Sinar.  Could Arca Swiss possibly bring something new to the table that the other manufacturers have missed?  Umm, yeah.  The Rm3d is quick, nimble, precise and retains the modularity of all Arca Swiss products.  I find that I’m using it more often than my view camera just because it sets up quicker, is lighter, more compact and has a much better focusing system.  The focusing mechanism built into the R is why I actually consider it THE camera for obtaining the sharpest possible images.  Here is, finally, a mechanical instrument that can match and exploit the high resolutions inherent in today’s high end digital backs and the new lenses from Rodenstock and Schneider.

Below is a closeup of the focusing ring.  Here is the big difference between the R and all the other tech cameras.  With other manufacturers the helical focus mount is integral to the lens and very similar to a dslr manual focus ring with very little fine adjustment available.  The focus ring on the R makes nearly 5 full rotations, that’s about 1720° of focus adjustment from infinity to closeup… much, much more adjustment than the other style or my view camera have.  The ring is indexed and all the lenses come with a cheat sheet that tells you what index number to set the focus at for a given distance.  I have tried this method using a tape measure and it is extremely accurate.  I do work tethered to the laptop most of the time, so I don’t really need to bother with this method.  Honestly, though, even with the wide lenses I get pretty good focus on the groundglass but then my eyes are still holding up nicely given their 40 years *knocks on wood*.

Also below are the control for the tilt adjustment and the scale for movements… 10mm rise, 30mm fall and 15mm to each side.

One of the great things about the system is that I can swap lenses back and forth between the R and my view cameras.  When you receive a lens in R Mount the lens itself is mounted to a board (flat or recessed depending on focal length).  The board bayonet mounts into a spacer that Arca Swiss uses to calibrate the lens to the focus mechanism on the camera and lastly there is an additional spacer to be removed for focusing on a sliding back.

Above is a shot of a Schneider mounted into the R Bayonet adapter.  The slight recess in its board allows me to use the 35mm lens on my M2 and still be able to focus onto a sliding back, very cool.

Below is a shot of the camera setup on location.  Normally their is a small mouting block that sits in the bottom of the camera that fits any Arca quick release.  Keeping up with the modularity of all their systems, this block can be replaced with the rail from my view camera which allows me to back the camera up that little bit extra, here allowing me to use a 55mm instead of a 43mm.  Yeah, I get all geeked out about this stuff.



How cool is this?  Great recent project by Gensler Chicago.

One of the designers brought their iPad out to the shoot.  I was doomed from the moment I saw it.  Really, though, it’s a very useful device.  See… I can put my portfolio on it.  And Patsy is recording our shot notes on it.  Useful.  Very, very useful…  Ok, fine, I’m a gadget junky.


A sampling of imagery from our shoot at the Grand Rapids Art Museum for Cumberland Furniture.  Most of these include pieces we shot in studio earlier this year.  The museum, a wHY Architecture design, provided a beautiful backdrop for our shoot.  Having photographed the building itself a couple years ago, it was really a pleasure to revisit the space compositionally.

The project gave me a chance to catch up with one of my favorite creatives, Michael Barile and I snuck up on our Art Director to grab a snippet of video with the 5d2.

Much, much more to come on various projects and our seminar at ProGear once things slow down a little.