Why I Love Architecture Photography

Dear Readers,

Many years ago, i was admiring at pictures of the building that was presented vertically straight. I compared my building picture i took and it was not as impressive at all. At least is horribly wrong!

The building pictures i took, look distorted and in a converging manner. I thought, “What the hell am i doing it wrong?”  I saw how a friend who is now an architect took such awesome pictures of the buildings when he travels. He is sharing pictures of building in a straight, vertical perspective manner. I began to ponder how did he do it? I was absolutely drawn by the picture he had taken. I remembered many years ago, i was working with an agency in Vietnam, i sat down with the person in charge to do a review. He told me this particular picture was in distortion, but i just couldn’t see it, then i realize i haven’t yet to understand how perspective works on a deeper level.

Clark Quay Central was one of the first few picture i capture using a wide-angle lens and photoshop technique. Picture made in 2014

I did not ask my friend how did he take those nice architecture pictures. Instead, i went online to search for information, watched numerous videos on Youtube about architecture and interior photography. I learned to understand how perspective work. Without using the expensive tilt-shift lens, i began to experiment with my wide angle lens and doing editing work behind the scene.

Below are a few videos i used to study on how these photographers compose a scene and editing in their workflow.

  1. Jeremy Segal was my first favorite on Youtube. Do check out his Youtube channel if you want to learn more on his workflow from the start of scouting, taking picture and to the editing.

2. Serge Ramelli is a hyper energy photographer in his channel. I like the way he shared about the ‘secret’ information about editing in Lightroom, i particularly enjoy how he speaks with a passion which can be affections to me. Although he is a french, his English is very articulate. Below is one of my favorite video i used to watch repeatedly.

A common trait from these 2 photographers is they are using a full-frame DSLR camera with a wide-angle lens. This is why these 2 channels suit me perfectly that time. Strongly recommended if you want to have a grasp how architecture and interior photography work.

To continue, many months were spent on understanding, practicing on how to photograph a building – going to the particular spot at the right time to make the picture, making numerous trip to photograph to gain that experience, practicing it on Photoshop and Lightroom, study Julius Shulman’s idea. Over time, I realize my curiosity has somehow developed into a new skill set. I had unknowingly achieved an additional skillset in my arsenal, not just with people, industrial, event, and travel. This is something that i am very proud of to say as an achievement. I have truly grown as a photographer.

Bank of China Tower in Shanghai. Picture made in 2016
 

I started to put up some architecture and some interior work on my website. The first job i undertook was an interior assignment for a European company. I really appreciate the chance given because i did not have any prior experience in interior work. I got the chance to visit many places to do clinic interior photography. After the first job, i decided to invest in my first 17mm tilt-shift lens as more jobs request were coming in from the beloved client. I use the word “invest” is because i only buy what i need and the return of investment must be justified. I am not the kinda of photographer that always spent on gadgets and accessories. Basically, i don’t chase all the latest things released on the market, is a never-ending process, to be honest.

I am more focus on getting great pictures for the client, that matter.

With a much deeper understanding of how to make an architecture picture and perspective. I was able to carry these skill into my other genre of photography. My visual skill is brought to my industrial photography as well.

After more than a decade, I still enjoy making pictures to please myself, i get a lot of satisfaction out of it. Honestly, i don’t give too much time on Instagram or social media, somehow it doesn’t work for me, or i don’t understand how it works. I don’t care if you dislike my work, if you are inspired by it i will be happy to know. I do occasionally enter into photo competition for architecture work. Spider award in 2015 and 2016. Honestly, it doesn’t make me any famous or gaining more business, but that’s not the point.

Jack of all trades but master of none? I have to disagree with this statement. Today’s market is extremely competitive. Relying on one skill is not enough anymore. I need to be diversified in the service to the client. For each job, i put in 100% effort in the passion and dedication i had for your business need.

Continue to learn and grow everyone. Peace!

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Lightning Photography in Singapore

When the lightning flashes. The first thought came to me was to title it as “When the sky whisper”.

I was capturing the cityscape last week from the western part of Singapore. However, the sky wasn’t to my liking. I suddenly saw flashes of lightning among the clouds, and i quickly rotated my Manfrotto XPRO 3 way head that was mounted on a super clamp to record the scene. I made a lot of exposures and hope the best lightning moment will appear, luckily, it did.

I quickly went home to download the images from the CF card. The biggest lightning strike i liked was in a single frame, hence i don’t even need to stack up the pictures at all. Still, i don’t want to be limit by a single frame. I choose a few good frames and stack it up in Photoshop.

A new problem occurs, i actually may have accidentally shifted the camera by a few millimeter. When i stack the pictures, the frames were not aligned. This has never happened before. Ok, this is a new problem for me. I thought for 5 mins for a solution. I tried to shift one of the layers around to aligned with my main lightning picture, and it works!

Click on the picture to view high res

I stacked about 4 images to achieve this final effect, you can see the main lighting flashing across the sky. Then 2 small lightning in orange colors right in the back. There were 2 helicopters happening to be flying in the sky at that moment. I was wondering was the pilot even scare?

If you like this post support me with a ‘like’, please share my post to people who love taking pictures. Please leave a comment as well as i would love to interact with you. Do follow my blog too!


Check out another lighting post

Raise from the East, Set in the West

The weather in Singapore has not been the friendliest for many weeks since mid-Sept 2017. I am dreading to have a good day of blue sky weather. Unfortunately, each morning is almost a full cloudy condition. The afternoon duration was basically showered with light drizzle or thunderstorm for a few hours (At least our reservoir had a good supply of water).  Then came evening, the cloud was moving very slowly, covering a large portion of the skyline. The magic hour seemed less magnificent.

4th Oct 2017

This mark the day of Mid-Autumn Festival, in the lunar calendar, is Aug 15. The moon was in perfect circular shape, the light reflected from the sun is making the moon shining ever so brightly. As time ticks, the moon made its journey to raise from the thick cloud without trouble, it was a gorgeous sight, it seems so near to me – almost touching it, yet knowing how far it can be.

I witness some families bring their kids out to have a walk – kids carrying paper lanterns, father and his kid lighting up the candles to appreciate the light moment. Is nice evening for to nibble on mooncakes or have a sip of tea. Honestly, it was less rowdy and fun as compared to the old days.

I even came across the entrance of a house was beautifully decorated, but no one was at home.

5th Oct 2017

The sky was clearer, some stubborn cloud remains. Is been a more than a week since i made a night scene image. Despite knowing the weather is going to be cloudy. I knew the moon is going to be clear once it raises high above the cloud. I made a gamble to travel up to the northern part of Singapore to take some pictures in the evening. The previous night i already did my scouting and i thought the view was a stunner.

6.25pm

I reached my first location after a quick dinner. Hastily made my way up to the first location. There was no cloudy above my head, but from far there was cloud hovering. I was surprised to see the sunset setting down in the west without any obstructive view. I quickly took out my 70-200mm to make a few frames, then decide to set up the tripod for a more consistent composition.

The sun quickly disappeared into the thick cloud that was caught in-between my framing. I thought, “if only that cloud was not there.” But hey, this situation was expected, not much of disappointment. Well, this is the fun of photography, there is a hiccup in the process – is about trying to make it happen or have a go again. The picture title, “A Dark City” came up to my mind when i was capturing it. The feel was kinda of dark because everything is backlighted. An industrial factory nearby was omitting combustion gases from the industrial chimney, for a moment i felt living in an over-polluted city for a moment. The buildings below is a development from Johor Bahru, Malaysia.

6.45pm

I need to make a decision, should i stay or should i go? Because on the other block i will need time to prepare. The type of nervous moment to make an immediate answer. My final answer is to leave immediately because that sunset view is not my priority.

I quickly wrapped it up. Dashed from one block to another. Popped out of the lift to see this amazing sight, the sun finally emerged from the thick layers of clouds, blended with a mixture of red and orange colors. The mist in the foreground continues to build up in the surrounding.

 

 

 

 

Just so good………..

 

 

 

7pm

I had set up my tripod, this is the first time setting up this position as you see in the picture (right). The purpose is to have the camera extend out a little more than the usual. I was worried that it would drop, is normal to have such feeling. I double check to ensure everything is in the right order – tighten the knob, check the whole set up is very stable before i mounted up the little black digital box.

After the camera is mounted up, i did the necessary micro adjustment for the composition. I was more eager to see how the exposure turned out, this picture (left) was the first image capture.

You can see the moon in the sky is shining so brightly. It seems like the cloud is moving towards the moon’s position. You can try doing a long exposure for a min or two to get the motion effect of the moving cloud, that also depends on how fast the cloud is moving, ND filter is recommended if you want to expose a longer period.

715pm – 725pm

The sky is beginning to turn deep blue as the sun set, i wish the cloud wasn’t a hinder that evening, not complaining as it was expected. As i said earlier i went to this location is because of the full moon. The picture (below) is my selected picture among 10 frames. Honestly, this is not my favorite picture because of the big patch of cloud in the center portion of the framing. But i may never know, this may be the best picture because if i return in future the weather may be even worse.

 Exposure: F/14, ISO400, 30 seconds

730pm

I usually stayed put after the magic hour ended. From my experience, photographers usually started to pack up. There was this once i stayed back longer and i was rewarded with a great picture beyond my expectation.

I decided to wait for the moon to surface out from the cloud again. My patience yield result. I was greeted by an even brighter moon in the sky. The surrounding clouds were very soft, many areas of the night sky were visible. I love the good balance between the foreground and background from my exposure. This was the picture (below) that i like!

The entire photo shoot ended after 830pm. Landscape/cityscape photography can be rather busy because of the fun finding a good balance of exposure and micro adjustment, the 2 hours may seem like a very long time, but it was a whizzed to me.

7th Oct 2017

The sun never seems to shine lately. If i did not wake up at 4.30am for an intense workout. I may not have seen this glorious view.

Morning light passing through the foliage, if not for the low temperature and the dew in the air, this would have never been seen.

You can check out my Instagram account too! Drop me a comment or say Hi. I don’t bite at all.

If you like this post support me with a ‘like’, please share my post to people who love taking pictures. Please leave a comment as well as i would love to interact with you. Do follow my blog too!


Do check out other posts as well

Working On Corporate Photography

How do i work on Corporate Photography, my way!

Once the fee for my corporate photography service is successfully agreed upon. I will  request to do a scouting at the client’s office to understand the place am going to work at. Is also a chance to build up rapport with the client on the ground rather than only through the phone or email. Unless the point of contact is not based here, which  happened occasionally.

Each time without fail, i will introduce myself to the person i am going to work with. Shake the person’s hand, the name of the person so i can communicate better when directing for poses.

I will give instruction to the person to either stand or sit according to the client’s brief, i have pre marked a spot for the positioning. I will brief the person what is expected and also share how the picture is going to turn out, as i wanted the person to have an idea what is happening or excited about.

Usually the first few pictures serve as a warm up for my subject. Allowing the person to get used to my camera or presence. Some people i came across were nervous, scare or stiff. I think is understandable. Posing in front of the camera can be a little nerve wrecking. I always double check to make sure the person is comfortable in whatever pose i request.

If the person is not comfortable during the shoot, i can sense it immediately. That’s what i like about shooting through the viewfinder. It has a hidden power to see through a man’s thought. I have to communicate more to make sure the person is at ease.

Encouragement is very important in the process. People from the corporate are not train models. Most people won’t understand what is main light, how to pose for picture, whether to smile or not to smile. My instruction is simple. Be relax, smile. Easier said than done, trust me.

Capturing a good corporate picture for a person is not only having the best lighting set up, arm with the most expensive or the latest camera model. The key is communication with my subject. Telling the person to relax and smile may seems like a very simple thing to do. But i wouldn’t know what is going through the person’s head. The person may have a rough day, stress in work, or may have an important presentation coming up later. Whatever the reason was. The photographer need to be understanding of the situation yet getting that good picture.

A few even asked me to tell them a joke to make them laugh. Sorry to say my occupation is not to be a clown or entertainer to make you happy. I usually brushed them off politely, show them i am professionalism in my work, of course i never tell the person off, is rude.

Is not hard to make small talk to ease off my subject’s anxiety. My profession also require me to be very good in PR. I was never shy of speaking with various people of different nationalities and industries, different positions from the staff level to the head of the company.

The best compliment i can receive after the shoot was the person came up to me saying: “Thank you for the encouragement.” I feels really good to hear that, knowing i have make someone else more confident about themselves.

Email to check for my availability for your picture solution regarding corporate photography.

Get The Best Out Of Your Tool

Hello Readers.

The Tool am talking is about digital camera – compact camera, mirrorless camera, DSLR camera etc. With the rapid advancement of technology over the last 5-10 years. Camera functions have improved dramatically since the day I picked up my first Sony compact camera back in 2003 from Cathay Photo. It was a 3.2mp point and shoot, costing me about S$600 during that time.

Fast forward to the current year. The photography industry continue to evolve. Currently in my arsenal, i am using a Canon 5D Mark III for my commercial work, a spare 5D Mark II. Especially the 5D Mark III have amazing features that i did not use at all. Paying the full bucks but only utilising half of the camera capabilities.

Basically, i am using the core function in the camera for the control of aperture, shutter speed and iso. The 5D Mk III camera obviously allows me to deliver high quality resolution image for industrial and corporate client who wanted to blow up the picture for office wall paper.

Nowadays, plenty of DSLR camera in the market offer a dual function capability. Not only does the camera can capture high quality images, but it produce HD video recording for filmmaker and videographer. I have to admit videography is not my interest at all. I did some recording but i did not want to do the editing because it require a bulk of time.

Then, i recently realised how oblivious i was in not consistently using some of the ‘delicious’ tools for my convenience. Such a waste right. Knowing my money was not well spent on the camera complexity.

Just to share, Canon 5D Mk III has this live view camera function for taking still image. For example, night photography. If the camera unable to focus on the spot i want. I can switch on the live view, set my lens to manual mode, through the live view to do a focus adjustment. I can also zoom in on the live view to have a better clarity on my focus. Gone are the good old days of doing manual focus through the viewfinder, which can be quite a struggle. Still, it doesn’t mean seeing through the viewfinder is a day of the past. No, peeping through the viewfinder still offer me a different perspective of the world.

In conclusion, explore and maximise your camera functions as many as possible. Camera manufacturer always gather user’s feedback in order to improve their next generation of product. So, have fun with your very expensive toy.

Purging in progress on Facebook

What am i purging?

I am currently removing most of my pictures albums from my personal Facebook account. Why am i doing this, am i crazy or depress?

Why am i purging? 

You see the thing is, i don’t enjoy that eager feeling of waiting for someone to click that magical “Like” button for my photographs. I just realised i hate instant gratification. Honestly, a tremendous waste of time (i hate wasting time). If there are no “Likes” – what happen is self doubt creeps in, the feeling can be degrading and losing a bit of confident at time. Everyone loses confident at some point of time because of doubt or fear. Perfectly human being to say.

Posting so many pictures on social media may not truly reflect your life. That depends the type of pictures you are sharing. I used to see how people only portray the glamorous side of their lifestyle. Luckily, i barely can envied about that type of life, we all know how reality work.

Next, purging doesn’t mean i don’t like the pictures, but is less meaningful for me as i matured more. The perspective thinking between age 25 and 35, and so on, can be a lot of different.

Should i purge?

Is like cleansing; practicing a long meditation makes one more focus. Similarly, going to the spa to ease muscle tension accumulate on the weary body. Purging pictures off social media is a very personally decision for me. If you don’t want to purge doesn’t mean you are wrong because the pictures must be holding much memory for you. If you dare to purge, it means two things. First you got the guts, yes i got guts because i don’t really care if the old picture are there or not. Secondly and most importantly i see, is that there will still be much room for me as a person to grow.

Conclusion

As a photographer, the picture i took can reflect my style and personality. I want to start this journey of sharing pictures that are more meaningful to me, it would also be great if the pictures i share is able to resonate with someone else. Hope you feel release after doing it.

Eric Kim said:”Don’t care about the likes, care about the photos you like.”

Patience is reward

Life work in a funny way. Before success, you will constantly faced rejection, disappointment, agony, frustration, and maybe give up in the end. You think nobody give you a chance. Another hard truth is, this is a destined path to struggle in order to reached the peak. There is no short cut except very very hard work, fighting your way through all the difficulties.

Forget about admiring other’s people success. Don’t ever think they are lucky. Luck comes with a lot of hard work that most people don’t get to see behind the curtain. Rather, study how did they fail and become successful in their own way, ask yourself what can you learn from failure as well?

The picture above, condos at Tanjong Rhu. I went up to the spot so many times and always get much disappointment of the scene. Somehow i persists and was finally rewarded with the best weather i could possibly imagine. I would say is a personal triumph and learn how determine i was to get the picture at all effort.

Such determination will also be applicable into my commercial jobs for clients that require photography service. I want to offer valuable pictures that goes a long way.

Bless all

Travel Collection – 1 in Beijing

Travel Collection is a group of photos from various travel trip i did in Asia countries.  I decided to select my favourite pictures, open up another folder in my website and put my favourite all together. Photoshelter function allows me to seamlessly handle large number of images in a breeze. The purpose for this blog is to share why do i make this particular image and how do i approach towards the subject during travel in other countries.

Portrait of an old lady 

I was exhausted after squeezing and exploring around the Temple of Heaven, Beijing. I headed to the park within the premises. Taking my time to rest and enjoy the lush of lighted greenery that embraced me. This old lady sat beside me, one bench away. Somehow we started chatting a bit through my mandarin language and their own Chinese dialect, i always love to have a conversation with a kind and good stranger. She was all smiling and laughing, you know the sunshine personality. I thought she would make a good portrait picture for my travel documentation,

She was already unreserve and relax, i asked her permission whether can i take her photograph? She agreed, wooohoooo! I took out my trusty long lens and started shooting. While am still making minor conversation to make it even more natural. I only asked her to look at the camera, and she was smiling all the way.

There was a generous depth in the background behind her. Technically is easier to isolate the background in order for the subject to stand out in it best. When people look at the picture, the focus is immediately on her, the greenery background became an aid to the overall composition.

I thought surrounded by greenery is a natural luxury.

‘Snap, Snap, Snap’

Check my LCD and was content with the outcome.

I really love that smile reflected on her facial expression, being positive and cheerful at her age. Is like an indication that her life is much peaceful. I showed her the picture and asked whether she likes it? We continued chatting a bit more before i headed for my next destination.

Camera setting
Focal length: 94mm
ISO: 800
Aperture: F/5
Shutter Speed: 1/250

Let me know if this is helpful, as i intend to write more (to improve my writing) of my experience to share with like minded photographers so that your can gain something as well.

Same scene but different perspective

Scene #1

Scene #2

A little bit of background. The building architect is Iversen Van Sitteren & Partners. This building is name Shaw Tower. Standing along Beach road. A 35 storey tower building meant for offices and retails. Precast concrete panel fenestration allowed floor to ceiling gazing in the office units. It offer the building’s undisturbed views of the sea. Shaw Tower remains a distinguish feature in the commercial district today.

Look at the two pictures above. Am wondering which one do you prefer? Some may prefer both images. Some may not even like it at all for whatever reason. A few may choose one of the favourite from the two pictures. Sometimes it can be a headache to select the best picture out of the many. Let’s use this 2 pictures to have a quick discussion.

Scene #1 was the first picture i took. The light was great as you can see, the sky was in saturated blue which i totally love it. A bit of puffy cloud to add as an extra element on the sky. Sometimes i like to include a taxi vehicle inside my frame as my personal style of work. Common colours of taxi vehicles in Singapore are usually in red, blue and yellow. However, i dislike the tree branches on the left of the image. It seems to distract my main focus on the architecture.

Scene #2 i start to make improvement. I’ve adjusted my distance and composed in a way the tree branches is out of the frame. Now you can see the sky is completely in blue colour, the viewers can easily now focus it attention on Shaw Tower. However, there was no taxi at that point of time for my personal style of work. The flow of the traffic is hard to predict, sometimes many vehicles can come all in one time, making it hard to wait for a single taxi vehicle to appear even after a long wait.

What makes a striking image if i have to decide the best out of the two. I think a great photograph rely on line, shape, form, texture, pattern and colour. These are the basic elements of good composition. Every successful photograph rely on one or several of these elements, regardless of the subject.

As i am writing this now, i have a clearer perspective scene #2 would be my ideal choice. If you looked carefully at scene #2, 3 colours; blue, yellow and green caught my attention. And also without any distraction of the tree and vehicle on the road. The building is in a proper vertical manner for architecture photography work.

In the past

This batch of pictures has been sitting in one of my folder for god know how many months. I have no awareness how these gorgeous talent ended up there. But these images kept appearing whenever i do a batch resize to this particular folder.

The reason i did not delete or remove it is because this set of model’s pictures review who i am now, and what i am in the past. Is a self study or reflection as a photographer. Sometimes i wonder what happen to this group of people i had photographed. How is their life, doing what they are passionate about? Am clueless despite my constant curiosity. Am not sure if i have the RAW files as well! *shrugs*

Back in 2007 i was approached by a model agency to do a test shoot for their new talents. First time working with an agency as a young photographer, i was keen to shoot portrait and try to make an impression. I didn’t know what to expect and journey my way to their office to do the shoot filled with excitement. Sometimes knowing nothing can be a good thing, i can concentrate on the process of making picture, and more good pictures.

I recall using a Tamron 90mm macro lens, a cheaper version from the Canon 85mm portrait lens. This macro lens produce quality tack sharp pictures that i used it in most of my portrait shoot in the early days. The only downside is the very slow focusing, with the barrel moving in and out to get the focus in backlighting or low light condition. But i was patient in those days, slow and easy was the way to shoot, no stress, no pressure from anyone. Purely to enjoy the process – communicate and review.

I still keep this Tamron 90mm lens in my dry box and take it out to do macro shoot if needed. Think of it i haven’t used it for the last 2-3 years.

In 2007, i was using a Canon 5D, the first digital full frame camera in the market released in 2005. I was very proud to own it, the camera was very expensive that time and still beyond reach of many people, film was drastically dipping that time. i saved a long time and invested in it for my work. Unlike today. Everyone can easily afford a camera of various types such as a iPhone, mirrorless, compact camera to produce an image, storing memory in millions of pixel into a tiny memory card. The respect of an old digital DSLR camera quickly overwhelmed by the newer models many years down the road..

My holy editing application was on a Adobe Photoshop CS2, Windows version on a laptop. Way before i shifted to Mac till today, i was a PC user. Dealing with colors correction on the screen, frustration with the anti virus software, the heavy weight of the computer. Those day I had learnt a lot of editing skill through my friends and reading to polish my skill. Tutorials online are more interactive these days. There is no reason not to know nothing.

The above gorgeous model, if i recall correctly, her name is Stella. nice personality to work with and clear communication between me and her. I like her persona during the process, she was blessed with an eurasian look as well. Through my viewfinder i can sense she is genuinely enjoying the shoot. Simply nature in-front of the camera at full ease.

Some talents were new, like this lady on top. Clearly stiff and unsure what to do. I don’t blame her, everyone got their first time, the start to becoming better. It was my job to give direction and encourage her to boost confident. Ego bruise, definitely. However, everyone deserve a chance, if one close door on you, look for the next one until someone said yes.