My goal for this project was to produce winter scenes of this house in southern Ontario. The stone and block on this beautiful home are manufactured by Arriscraft, the Stone Products Division of General Shale. I was hired by ad agency Creative Energy to to produce photographs that would be used in General Shale’s calendar and in marketing material for Arriscraft and General Shale. Aerial drone photography allowed me to produce overall views of house, property and surrounding area. The ability to produce photographs that are just few feet above tripod height as well as detail photos of the upper levels of a building make drones invaluable for architectural photography.
Exterior photography in the winter can have it’s challenges but this day was quite nice with temps just below freezing and almost no wind. The only challenge was the icy crust on top of 10 inches of snow made walking with a camera and tripod a slow process.
The aerial drone photographs were done with a DJI Inspire 1RAW drone. Aerial drone photography is perfect for a project like this. To shoot overall views of the house in the surrounding area I may take the UAV up to an altitude of 100 to 150 feet (30-50 meters), but for most of the drone photographs I like to shoot from very low altitudes. I find that the range between 15 and 50 feet is the altitude I use for the majority of my drone photographs of buildings.
Because the house was so well lit with soffit pot lights, the twilight photographs were pretty straight forward. I combined separate captures of the sky, soffit lights, porch lights and interior lights. These were all balanced in post production to produce the final images. All of the proofs from this project an be seen here: https://claytonstudio.com/escarpmentdr/
One of the benefits of shooting in the winter is the short day. Shooting from sunrise to twilight in mid summer can mean a 15 hour day while in late December that can be as short as 9 hours.
In the spring of 2015 I was commissioned to photograph the new world headquarters of La-Z-Boy in Monroe, Michigan. The six companies participating in the photo shoot (The Collaborative, Rudolph Libby, Armstrong, NBS, JDRM and La-Z-Boy) worked together to compile at shot list of 45 photographs. With six companies participating, the per photo licensing cost to each company was significantly reduced.
The shot list called for a mix of interior photographs with people and without people. Because the landscaping was new we decided to do the interior photography and one or two tight exteriors of the front entrance in the spring and then return in the fall to complete the exterior photography after the landscaping had a chance to grow in.
I love twilight and night photography so of course I did a sunrise view of the main entrance during the first round of photography in the spring. Being on site and ready to shoot at 5:00am is not always easy, but I love the results!
The Atrium view was taken just before noon as people were beginning to come in for lunch. By using walkie-talkies we were able to position people on the stairs and in the glass walled second floor workspaces. I did numerous captures and post production compositing to improve the positioning of people in the final image.
La-Z-Boy CEO Kurt Darrow happened to be having lunch in the Atrium while we were shooting and I didn’t think that he would mind if I kept him in the final image. Mr. Darrow is at the far right behind the young man in the right foreground. Appropriately, the La-Z-Boy logo is directly above him on the flat screen monitor. The proofs from this project can be seen here: https://claytonstudio.com/lazboyfinal/
These images from the Agree Realty photography project that I did for Biddison Architecture are two of the more complicated interiors images that I produced as part of the overall project. This very stylish kitchen and dining space presented a couple of technical challenges. Number 1 was the blue LED lighting strip that runs the length of the far wall. When exposures were made based on the ambient light level of the room, the LEDs were well beyond the dynamic range of any camera sensor or film. Also, the intensity of the LEDs cast blue spill light throughout the room. While this looks very natural in person, in photographs this blue spill is exaggerated and becomes overwhelming, filling the space with blue light. The second challenge was to maintain detail in the dark wood on the refrigerator, lower cabinets, island and stools.
In order to properly expose the LEDs and avoid blue spill light from contaminating the neutral colors of the space I used multiple captures. First the room lights were turned off and captures were made for the blue LEDs. Next, the blue LEDs were turned off and captures were made with the room lights turned on. The final captures were made using flash to light the dark wood paneling and stools. A Gossen ColorPro 3F color meter and a color checker were used during image capture to insure accurate color rendering. All captures were color balanced in Adobe Lightroom before final compositing in Photoshop. In post production we restored just enough of the blue reflections and spill light to provide a realistic look.
Biddison Architecture did a great job in transforming a tired and dated building into a beautiful and comfortable headquarters for Agree Realty. Biddison Architecture received an AIA Detroit Honor Award for the Agree Realty headquarters project.
Dillon Hall at the University of Windsor is a landmark building on the Windsor, Ontario campus. Founded in 1857 as Assumption College the school became the University of Windsor in 1963. Dillon Hall was designed by architect Albert Lothian and when built in 1927 Dillon Hall was known as the Assumption Building.
This photograph was shot on one of my favorite films, 4×5 Kodak High Speed Infrared. The glowing highlights produced by this film were caused by the lack of an anti-halation layer on the film. Kodak discontinued production of High Speed Infrared in 2007. There are a few companies producing Black & White infrared film today but none have the same look as Kodak High Speed Infrared.
I’ve photographed Dillon Hall many times. In the mid 1980’s I photographed a Chrysler “K car” in front of Dillon Hall for the Chrysler new car catalog. This photograph is my personal favorite of Dillon Hall and was shot shortly before a restoration project that included removal of the ivy.
I photographed the Ann Street Parking Deck in Ann Arbor, Michigan in early November for Walker Parking Consultants and the SLAM Collaborative. This parking deck sits on the north side of Ann Street with the entrance/exits on the south side of the building. Across from the parking deck on the south side of Ann Street is the A. Alfred Taubman Biomedical Science Research Building.
My clients needed the photographs as soon as possible and could not wait until summer. In November there is never a time when the entire south face of the parking deck illuminated by the sun; there is always some shadow from the Taubman Biomedical Science Research Building.
This made the twilight photographs even more important than usual.
Had there not been a rush for the photography I would have scheduled the shoot for a sunny day in June or July. Arriving 45 minutes before sunrise to do the morning twilight photographs, I would then shoot throughout the day as the sun moved across the sky. My 18-hour day would end with the evening twilight photographs.
Architectural photographers are often called on to produce photographs under less than ideal conditions. Being able to do this is what separates a professional architectural photographer from the amateurs.
The Natural Birthing Center at Beaumont Hospital looks more like a high-end hotel than a hospital. Located 15 miles north of Detroit in Royal Oak, Michigan the center was built to accommodate a growing trend in natural childbirth.
Harley Ellis Devereaux Architects hired me to photograph the new birthing center. Because their interior designers put as much thought into the lighting as they do the materials and design of the space, I chose to use available light with only minimal flash in a few small areas that would otherwise loose detail. This avoided over-lighting that would destroy the feel that the interior designer created. By shooting in layers and combining in post I was able to control the mixed colors of fluorescent, LED, daylight and flash.
It’s great to work with talented designers and this interior design photography project was a pleasure to work on.
Two interior photographs of the of the reception area at One Haworth Center in Holland, Michigan. Both of these photographs were shot on the same evening during a three-day interior and exterior photography shoot. The 2 photographs were taken about an hour apart during a period when I was exploring the reception area for interesting images. This was a great project for an interior photographer! It is a beautiful and interesting building and I was given full, unrestricted 24-hour access to the space during the three days that I was shooting there.
Because Haworth is know for the quality and design of their office furniture, it was only natural that the design of their new facility reflect that same sense of high quality and cutting edge design. Turner Construction and Perkins+Will Architects worked together to produce and incredible workspace that is as beautiful as it is functional. Photography by architectural photographer Curt Clayton. ClaytonStudio.com
Interior designer Anne Rue (HGTV) hired me to photograph a home that she designed for a family in Bloomfield Hill, Michigan. When we first discussed the project over the phone, Anne described this bedroom as “a fun, colorful space for a little girl”. I’d say that was a bit of an understatement! It would be difficult to find a more colorful, fun and yet sophisticated bedroom for a little girl.
The interior design photography of this room consisted of two detail photographs and the main photograph shown here. The green walls and vibrant colors of the room made color balance a bit tricky, and the tungsten light from the ceiling lamp and daylight from the window only added to the mix. I used a 1/2 CTO on a flash head bounced into a large soft silver umbrella to camera right for fill. This brought my fill light to about 3800k, which worked pretty well with the existing mix of daylight and tungsten.
The Chene Park Amphitheater photography project was part of a multi-building architectural photography project for along time client. I was given a list of seven buildings that had been completed years before but that, for some reason, they had never commissioned photography. Any architectural photographer in Detroit is familiar with Chene Park and the Chene Park Amphitheater. Built in the late 90’s, the Chene Park Amphitheater is a popular concert venue and is also used for graduation ceremonies by many Detroit High Schools. I wanted to provide my client with an architectural photograph that was visually arresting. I scouted the site to determine the best vantage points and then returned on a sunny Saturday morning to do the sunlit photographs. While I felt that these would be nice I knew that night photographs would capture the true feel of the amphitheater. I checked the Chene Park theater schedule of concert dates and then watched the weather. The forecast looked good for the evening of June 25 when Marcus Miller & Jose James would be performing. With sunset at 9:15 I arrived at 9:00pm to set and wait for the best light. About 30 minutes after sunset the sky took on a purplish hue and I watched while the stage lighting cycled through reds, oranges and blue. The blue looked best and contrasted well with the green grass and the orange sodium vapor lamps at the far left and right of the scene. Just before the sky lost its color I made the final digital captures. I think that that my Night Photography of Detroit’s Chene Park Amphitheater project was a success.