In late summer of 2019 Future Energy of Sterling Heights, Michigan contacted me to discuss an interesting architectural & drone photography project in the Metro Detroit area.

Located in Clinton Township, Michigan and part of the Henry Ford Health System, Henry Ford Macomb Hospital is a 361-bed hospital that serves the east side of the metropolitan Detroit area.

Henry Ford Health had decided to upgrade the lighting in the parking lots at Henry Ford Macomb Hospital and they turned to Future Energy of Troy, Michigan. Future Energy’s solution was to replace the old low pressure sodium lights with state-of-the-art LED fixtures.

Typical of low-pressure sodium lighting, the parking lots at Henry Ford Macomb Hospital were filled with areas of dark shadow, especially at the outer perimeter of the parking lots. Parking spots directly beneath the light standards were pools of sickly yellow light. These bright spots beneath the lights were coveted by the hospital’s night staff who tried to avoid parking in the dark shadows of the lots at night.

The increased illumination and directional control offered by state-of-the-art LED fixtures meant that Future Energy’s solution would provide bright, even, daylight balanced illumination throughout the entire outdoor area and parking lots without the addition of new light standards (poles).

The upgrade to LED lighting would not only provide the hospital with a safer more secure outdoor area, the reduced energy consumption of the LED fixtures would allow the lighting upgrade to pay for itself over time.

Future Energy hired me to produce before & after photographs of the lighting upgrade. We decided that a combination of aerial (drone) photography and ground based photography would provide the best documentation of the project. Because I would be doing drone photography (and drone video), both the before and after photo shoots would need to be done when winds were calm and there was no precipitation. It was also important that the pavement was completely dry to avoid any glare caused by the lights reflecting in puddles of water.

I began the “before” photography shortly after dark on a calm evening in late September 2019. I spent about 4 hours producing 14 ground level photos, 19 drone photos and 6 “drone flyover” video clips of the hospital exterior and surrounding parking lots. From these photographs Future Energy selected 6 ground level and 6 aerial photographs that I would replicate after the new LED lighting was installed.

I returned to Henry Ford Macomb Hospital on March 3, 2020 to begin the “after” photography. These photographs would be matched together with the “before” images to produce pairs of “before & after” comparison photos. To be most effective it was important that the before & after photos be as close to identical as possible with the only difference being the lighting. To help accomplish this I printed out the selected “before” photographs and used these as guides to match the camera angles as closely as possible. I began with the ground level photographs and then proceeded to the drone still photos and shortly before midnight I finished the last of the flyover video clips. For both the before and after photos the camera white balance was set to 5000k daylight and ISO was set to 800. Ground level photos with the Nikon D800 were captured at f14 and Inspire 1X5R drone photographs at f5.6. With before and after photos I shot plus & minus 3 stop brackets to allow correct exposure matching when selecting the images for the final pairs.

To provide an accurate representation of the difference in lighting before & after the LED upgrade I selected before & after pairs that had identical shutter speeds. The resulting pairs of before & after photographs dramatically illustrate the difference in illumination with the new LED lighting fixtures.