Where Architectural Photography meets Real Estate Photography - A full sunrise to sunset shoot of a multimillion dollar Brooklyn brownstone from 2018Read More
By: Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Gensler
Sometimes I hunt around online or in books for beautiful buildings to photograph.
On one such hunt I came across Columbia University’s Medical Center and found some really beautiful pictures of it.
I wanted to give it my own shot, so one day after some client work on the upper west side, I decided to drive up and see if I could catch it at twilight. Benny Crown was with me, as he had assisted me with my shoot for UEG. We got lucky with a parking spot nearby, and then scouted around the building trying to get onto neighboring rooftops - to no avail.
So I found the best spot I could right in the driveway, looking straight at the building.
I kind of like the way the garage driveway looks. I keep thinking about the X-Men jet launching out of it.
I made the image out of just a few bracketed shots - in order to get detail in some of the darker areas of the image, I had to take a few where that light in the garage was incredibly bright.
By fusing them together in Photoshop, I was able to make this image, which I’m pretty happy with. I would have preferred that the lights be on in that one section that’s dark, but you don’t always get lucky with lights when you’re just popping by a building at night on chance.
Here’s a basic outline of steps:
Part 1 - In the field
Find the composition, which involved backing up in some bushes next to a sheer drop into an alley that I’m sure would have hurt a lot if I slipped.
Raise the camera as high as possible on the tripod.
Shift the lens up to get as much of the building as possible.
Shoot brackets from deepest darkness to brightest blinding lights.
Pack it up and get outta there.
Part 2 - Post
Combine the images in photoshop, from the darkest images used for the brightest lights - the garage, to the brightest images used for the darkest areas - concrete in the building facade and the bushes.
Replace the sky
Adjust color and tones, add a vignette, color cast, and other creative touches.
Fix the perspective
Part 3 - Share on the blog
Oh, that’s this part! Look, we’re here already. Hooray!
Got any burning questions about this photo, or any photography related questions? E-mail me.
More posts on Architecture Photography:
Have you heard of Googie architecture?
You have if you ever watched The Jetsons, whose imaginary architecture borrowed heavily from real life Googie buildings just outside the animators’ studio. You might also have encountered while driving around Los Angeles, California, New Jersey (where I first discovered it in the form of the Caribbean Motel in Wildwood, among other examples), or, in the case of these images, Austin, Texas.
The style came to bear from post World War 2 futurism in the 50’s and 60’s. Americans has fresh optimism about the future and fantastic new technologies, along with money to burn.
Automobiles became common and everyone wanted to travel.
And what does the traveling soul need, but somewhere to stop, rest, and get a bite to eat?
In the east you’ll find toll roads and parkways aplenty with intentionally placed rest stops, which are wonderful all in their own right. Since moving to the Hudson Valley and exploring northern and western New York I’ve discovered some really amazing ones.
Way out west in California is the land of the freeway, where one is not on a guided tour but has the freedom to stop wherever they please. So if they can go anywhere, how do you get them to stop at your restaurant?
What if you made your building look CRAZY? Like NOTHING they’d ever seen before.
So that’s what they did. The result was wild, super futuristic architecture and signage.
Architectural Historian Alan Hess said “Googie made the future accessible to everyone… it wasn’t custom houses for wealthy people - it was for coffee shops, gas stations… the average buildings of everyday life”.
That last line got me thinking. I’m a big fan of residential architecture and really gorgeous homes, but a home like that really only exists for the person that owns it and their social circle they invite over. These other structures, though, coffee shops, gas stations, the other places of business and leisure - those are the places we all experience together that may go even further to define our lives than our own homes.
There’s something really special about so much thought and intention being put into making our communal spaces, our spaces that everyone lives in.
Sure, we don’t get as many buildings that look quite as crazy as this anymore, but there are still some marvels out there to discover, and wonderful new things being made every day.
Found this really cool house in Austin with organic shapes and leaf motifs on the walls.Read More
I flew to Mississippi to photograph the Model Home and grounds of the beautiful new Splinter Creek lakeside community. I spent 3 days there producing images and in this video I’ll detail what images I made and how I made them to showcase the incredible work by Lang Architecture and all their partners on the project.Read More
A rainy day at 1 Hotel.Read More
My retainer ends and I become a completely independent photographer.Read More
In the previous post I showed you the images I created for Cebu of the restaurant's interior. To dive deeper into how that project came to be and how the images went from concept to finished project, I produced this video!
It's funny how one thing leads to another. I photographed the Mid-Century Residence for my cabinet client Imperia. Around the same time the homeowner was in the middle of planning to take photos of his restaurant. He saw my images and said "we need this guy." So we talked through everything that they needed and it was a full shoot of both the space and the menu. The partners have owned this restaurant for 16 years and it's their baby, and they'd never had professional pictures made of it. It was exciting to be entrusted with showing off the place they'd put so many years into. The shoot took place over three days:
3. Cocktails, Interior Details, and an exterior twilight. We added on some brunch dishes, too.
Here are the images produced from day one, along with some of the details and the exterior from day three.
Cebu Bar & Bistro, Architecture / Interiors
Client: Cebu Bar & Bistro
Bay Ridge, Brooklyn
Project Date: May 8th, 2017
There are few things that make for a more exciting photo project than showing up on location to find that the place is already beautifully decorated and filled with sunlight. They had so much nice stuff here that I was really struggling with deciding what to remove to simplify the images. There we so many cool items and SO MANY PLANTS! Every house needs so many more plants. I need more plants. But these homeowners have it down. You should also also know that they found, I said FOUND, the massive cacti in the living room and stairwell. There was so much more of this beautiful mid-century modern house that I wish we could have gotten to, but our shoot focused on the kitchen and took most of the day. But trust me, the rest of it is just as gorgeous.
Client: Imperia Cabinet, Purekitchen
Silver Lake, Staten Island, New York
Project Date: March 23rd, 2017
The first major client project of 2017 was this $14,000,000 townhouse on the Upper West Side. Pretty exciting way to start the year!Read More
This townhouse in Boerum Hill had a lot of nice character thanks to the homeowner's items. This was a project Imerpia Cabinet did a few years ago and we photographed as part of a project to catalog all of their work and modernise their website (still under construction at this time).
Townhouse on the upper west side for Purekitchen / Imperia Cabinet. Construction had just finished and we went in quick to get the photos before it sold. Client wanted to keep it simple so we didn't do any staging, just saw the space raw. My favorite is the one point perspective (the first image below) because without the context it could be anywhere. You can imagine your whole dream house around it. The other angles show off the details of the kitchen.
Imperia also made the vanities in the bathrooms, the minibar, and the fireplace chimney surface you see in the background of the final image. I really love the bathtub here, it caught the light so peacefully.
This photo project was the day after the Brooklyn Condo, a 1-2 combo of Park Slope condo photography for Imperia. From this set came one of my favorite photos of the year. I use direct flash to create this very poppy, high fashion, high contrast look. It's very bright and has these great strong shadows and specular highlights that shout "mid-century perfection" to me. I also produced images with several different looks in this set, including some with softer light and some with the night-time look, so that the client can use them to market in different ways. There were several condos in the building and I photographed all of the kitchens and vanities. These are my favorites from the set.
Union Street Condos
Client: Cabinet Manufacturer Imperia Cabinet
Park Slope, Brooklyn
Project Date: May 17th, 2017
This is another favorite architecture shoot from this year. This place completely blew me away when I stepped inside. I couldn't believe how nice it was. I was here to photograph the kitchen and cabinetry for my client, but I couldn't help to explore the house and take a few extra images after I wrapped up in the kitchen. I'll save those photos from share with you another time. For now, the focus is on the work of Imperia Cabinet on this gorgeous kitchen I wish I could have myself. Sergei (of Imperia) and I really like moody, sexy lighting, so here's another spot where I experimented with making some moody night shots in the middle of the day (because we didn't have access in the evening). It required a lot of black cloth and creative editing, and I'm very happy with the results. I also put small lights inside the cabinets to show off their interior details with some sexy light. The objective is to capture the love a homeowner feels for the kitchen of their dreams.
Also: That corner cabinet swing out arm is fkn brilliant.
Client: Imperia Cabinet
Architect: Shuji Suzumori, Idan Naor
Builder: Madsen Consulting, Concord Consulting
Project Date: May 16th, 2017
This is one of my favorite projects for Imperia Cabinet / Purekitchen. I was absolutely in love with this house the second we walked in. The matte black kitchen is gorgeous and the marble was so beautiful. I also love that the homeowner outfitted the kitchen with matte black pots and pans, too. Really love their style. The whole house was gorgeous, but my focus was on the kitchen and vanities since that's what my client brought me there to photograph. I also experimented with producing day and night photos in a single daytime shoot. So have a peek below at the photos I produced for him of this lovely place.
Frost Street Residence: Cabinets & Vanities
Client: Cabinet Manufacturer Imperia Cabinet
Project Date: June 23rd, 2017
The below photos were a little of a gag. We were talking about how messy the backyard was outside the window next to the kitchen since it was still under construction. Sergei jokingly told the homeowner "Oh don't worry, Nicholas can put just put the mediterranean out there." So I did. And I actually love it.
And since I had the window masked out, I decided to do something a little more plausible and put one of my NYC skyline images in there.
I'm hoping to go make some more images of this beautiful place once all the construction is done. Looking forward to that in 2018.
My second project with United Elite Group was this private residence in Manhattan. I created several images of the apartment interior for the client to use to promote their business and bring in more customers.
Builder: United Elite Group
Upper West Side, New York
Project Date: Oct 9th, 2017
Alisher of United Elite Group reached out to me via Houzz and requested that I photograph a renovation they were just finishing up. They wanted photographs to document their work and to help sell their services to prospective customers. It was a fun and relaxed shoot in which one of the firm partners, Guzal, helped me with the staging of each shot. We did a variety of shots with lights on and off to show off both the look in natural light as well as the lighting design.
Client: Builder United Elite Group
Upper East Side, New York
Project Date: June 21st, 2017
I first met LPC when I toured this building with them several years ago when they just bought it. It was right next door to the Nooklyn Bushwick office and I came along as part of Nooklyn to take some 'before' pictures of the space. Two years later all the renovations were nearing completion and they were ready for full-scale professional photography, so they reached out to me.
LPC had a vision for what businesses would most benefit from these spaces, so rather than just photographing the space vacant, we collaborated on making the spaces appear fully functional and lived in. We staged each space with a compliment of desks and I brought in interior stylist Katherine Hammond to bring some unique life to each space we'd be capturing.
This is the biggest project I've worked on to date, and it was also the most exciting, the most fun, and without a doubt the most challenging. It was a great experience and I'm looking forward to doing several more like it.
Expect to see more posts detailing how the shoot was done, with breakdowns of how several of the photos were made.
For now, enjoy the finished product below, and check out the implementation at: 455jefferson.com
Owner: Lincoln Property Company
Bushwick, Brooklyn, New York
Project Date: Sept 13th & 14th, Oct 12th, 2017