The bold architecture and design of the Lucas, Boston by Finegold Alexander Architects and of the luxe interiors by Wolf in Sheep Design have been featured in a few local and national magazines and publications over the past few months - the Architectural Record in March 2018, in the Boston Home Magazine Spring 2018 issue, in the Special Advertising section of the Oprah Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine May 2018 issues, and in the Architect's Newspaper on May 31st 2018. I'm glad the articles include some of the photographs I made for the project's architects and builders.
It's only once in a blue moon there's an opportunity to photograph a full moon on two different occasions within the same month. There's no pun here.
When there are two full moons in the same calendar month it's actually called a blue moon. Due to the moon's 28-day cycle it only happens once in a while – therefore as the saying goes, once in a blue moon.
I was able to get an even rarer opportunity to photograph the blue moon from opposite corners of the country - first in the south west, at the White Sands National Monument in New Mexico on Jan 1st 2018, and then again in the north east, in Boston, this past Wed Jan 31st 2018.
The full moon this past Wed, Jan 31st was extra special - a super blue blood moon. A rare trifecta of lunar events happening all at once that was last seen in the US in 1866.
This moon is considered super being especially close to the Earth due to it's elliptical orbit, appearing larger and brighter than usual. We also had a lunar eclipse happening, so it's passing through the Earth's shadow caused the moon to appear a deep red color. And hence the blood moon.
This first set of images below are from the full moon during moon rise at the White Sands, NM on Jan 1st.
The second set of images are of the moon during moon set and the Boston skyline with the Prudential tower and dome of the First Church of Christ, Scientist. The partial eclipse is visible on the top left of the moon.
According to NASA we'll get another opportunity to see a super blue blood moon in the US in another 19 years on Jan 31st 2037.
Happy New 2018! Hope your year is off to a great start.
I feel fortunate I was able to start off my new year with a visit to the Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in the state of New Mexico. As one of the top rated destinations in the US for bird photographers, it has been on my must visit list for a while now.
When a good friend of mine who is on a RV trip across the US South West mentioned that he'd be in New Mexico in Dec-Jan, I jumped at the opportunity and met up with him to spend a week in early January visiting the White Sands National Monument and the Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge.
The 57,000 plus acre refuge which means "Forests of the Apache" in Spanish, is located in San Antonio, New Mexico in the Rio Grande valley at the northern edge of the Chihuahuan Desert. It is a system of wetlands and agricultural lands along the Rio that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service does a fantastic job of managing as a refuge for migratory birds and other wildlife. Surrounded by desert habitat with the dramatic backdrops of the Chupadera Mountains to the west and San Pascual Mountains to the south and east, the reserve is a refuge for greater sandhill cranes, snow geese and other migratory birds during the winter. It is one of North America’s top bird-photography hotspots, home to as many as 50,000 snow geese and 15,000 greater sandhill cranes some winters.
With sunny weather most of the year, and oriented along a north-south axis, the refuge is known for it's beautiful light in the mornings and evenings. Mornings and evenings are also the times when the geese and cranes fly out and then come back to the refuge to roost for the night. I was inspired by the beautiful golden light, the graceful movements of the birds in flight, and the backgrounds of colorful foliage and mountains at Bosque to make some evocative, painterly images, and not just the usual crisp, sharply-focused images.
Using a telephoto lens, slow shutter speeds ranging from 1/8th to 1/30th of a second, and panning techniques, I created some images that look like oil pastel paintings and color pencil drawings. All of these images were photographed hand-held and made in camera.
This Bosque trip was a wonderful - something I'll remember and cherish for a long time to come. I can't wait to get back there again, hopefully sometime soon.
If you're a nature lover or a birder/bird photographer, Bosque Del Apache in New Mexico should be a must-visit destination for a fall or winter getaway.
Boston, like every major city in the US, has seen its share of the luxury residential construction boom. From the new skyscrapers in the Seaport district to the Millennium Towers downtown, we've seen quite a few spectacular projects. Much of it has been new construction replacing the old.
The Lucas, a recently completed 33-unit luxury condo complex, however, is unlike anything Boston has seen before. This elegant South End residential project transforms the former 1874 Holy Trinity German Church into a boutique, eight story condo building.
Located at 136 Shawmut Avenue, the project is a joint venture between New Boston Ventures and Metric Corporation. It was designed by the award-winning Boston architecture firm Finegold Alexander Architects.
The beautiful new design marries the original design of 19th century Irish-American architect Patrick Keely. It preserves the historical church's pudding-stone exteriors and adds a contemporary eight story steel and glass structure shooting through the original building.
The Lucas is a testament to balancing preservation with vibrant new uses of historical structures in an urban setting. I am thankful and honored to have had the opportunity to photograph and document this new gem in the South End for it's architects and developers.
If you happen to visit Mooncusser Fish House restaurant or the Moon Bar in the Boston back bay area, you might notice two 24"x30" framed prints from my Cape Cod Lighthouses series.
Mooncusser Fish House and the Moon Bar which opened in August this year have quickly made a name in the Boston restaurant scene and is rated among the top 25. Ian Calhoun, who owns the restaurant recently purchased and put up the two framed prints - the one of the Long Point Light in Provincetown and the milkyway is in the upstairs dining room, and the one of the Highland Light in Truro in the late afternoon light is in the wine bar downstairs.
The name of the restaurant and Ian's choice of the lighthouse themed photographs from Cape Cod have a direct connection. The restaurant's name is inspired by Ian’s childhood summers on Mooncusser Lane in East Dennis in Cape Cod.
Mooncussers were land-based pirates who, on dark moonless nights along dangerous coasts would demolish any legitimate lighthouses or beacons, erect a decoy light or fire in a rocky, deliberately misleading location, and then, after having caused a shipwreck would subdue any survivors and plunder the wreckage. This strategy wouldn't work on a moonlit night and so the pirate might be expected to curse at the moon - hence their name mooncussers.
The sea food inspired dishes there are all thoughtfully and impeccably prepared. I have dined at the Moon Bar a couple of times already and can't wait to go back.
My heartfelt gratitude to David Sharff Architect, P.C. and Jill Breed for the opportunity to be the photographer for another BRAGB (Builders and Re-modelers Association of Greater Boston) PRISM Award winning project. This kitchen remodel project was awarded PRISM 2017 Silver for kitchen remodels in the $125K-150K category. I'm very honored to be part of this award winning team.
More images from the project are below
I'm thrilled and honored that one of the images of the Mass Audubon Broad Meadow Brook's new Barbara Elliot Fargo Education Center, that I made for my client Maple Hill Architects will be among the very select few to be displayed at the ABX 2017 Photo Exhibit by the Boston Society of Architects. The annual ABX international exhibition, which is the largest building industry conference and trade show in the northeastern US will be held from Nov 8-10 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.
Maple Hill Architects redesigned and renovated the Barbara Elliot Fargo Education Center in Worcester, MA with a green environmentally friendly design that harnesses solar power, natural light and rain water in innovative ways.
A few additional images from that project are below.
Another summer officially comes to an end today, and phew, did this one fly by. Is it just me or does it really seem to go by faster every year?
To me, summer is a time, for humid days and balmy nights,
To feel the grass beneath your feet and the sand between your toes,
Of curtains dancing in the breeze and afternoon naps on the hammock,
Bike rides around town, hikes along fields, and meadows of wild flowers,
For morning swims in the lake and peering over a book to watch a evening thunderstorm pass by.
It's a time to reconnect and rejuvenate, but at summer's end, you regret the missed opportunities and things you meant to get done. Then you wait for the next one ...
I'm fortunate to have access to locations in our beautiful New England region where I can observe and photograph birds and animals in their natural habitat. In May, I was lucky enough to capture this female red fox and her kit as they went about their day on the Cape Cod National Seashore.
Watching the fondness, tenderness, and bond between the mother fox and her kit was magical. In many ways, it symbolizes the bond between any mother and child. It shows how these animals aren't very different from us humans.
The potters and clay artisans of Kumartuli - the neighborhood in North Kolkata where the community of traditional potters and artisans live and work, have been toiling for the past several weeks to build and decorate the Durga idols (or "protima" which means image or likeness of a deity in Sanskrit) in time for Durga Puja which is just a few weeks away beginning on Sept 26th this year. This annual 5-day festival, a celebration of the 10-armed mother goddess Durga, and her victory over the shape-shifting buffalo demon - Mahisasura, symbolizes the triumph of good over evil. It's the most popular religious and social festival in Bengal and parts of eastern India, especially Kolkata. Life size and larger idols of Durga made of clay are worshiped in elaborately decorated stages called pandals in a public space in every locality and neighborhood of the city.
This was my first ever visit to Kumartuli. The best time to visit is in the weeks just before Durga Puja when the hum of activity here is at its peak. The artisans here are renowned for their traditional craft and art in idol making and have been supplying the idols for Durga Puja not just across Kolkata and Bengal, but also exporting idols used in Pujas in Bengali communities all across the world.
Strapped for time, I was only able to go to Kumartuli once on this trip. One visit is just not enough to get a sense of the tradition, artistry and rhythm of this place. I hope to make it back there again during this time of the year on another visit to Kolkata.
While in Kolkata, India to visit my parents, I was able to take some time to photograph a residential project that my youngest brother's firm Internal Affairs, a leading interior design organization in the region, just recently completed. The two-level residence occupies the top 22nd and 23rd floors of one of the five towers of Tata Housing's Eden Court luxury complex in New-Town, Kolkata. Though my brother is an interior designer and I a photographer specializing in architectural interiors and exteriors, we never had an opportunity to collaborate on a photo shoot for one his designed spaces. The timing of my short India visits and the completion of one of his projects never seemed to align well. So when this opportunity came about we both knew we had to make it happen.
It was fun to photograph this space my brother designed where he combined elements of traditional Indian with a modern flair to create an airy, naturally lit, open and a functionally elegant space.
Hope this is the first of many more such sibling collaborations to come.
Recreational shellfishing is a very integral part of the Cape Cod way of life. There is a very rich tradition of shellfishing in the estuaries, coves and bays of Cape Cod as a leisure activity for both residents and visitors alike.
On a recent late afternoon hike along the marsh trails close to Hemenway Landing in Eastham, I came across James and Allison harvesting shellfish in the estuary as the tide was going out.
The late afternoon light was gorgeous. After exchanging a few pleasantries, I asked if I could photograph them while they harvested shellfish. Allison and James very graciously agreed. I ran to my car, put on my rubber boots, grabbed my camera, ran back and got into the mud to photograph. Moving around in the soft sinking mud with my camera gear was much harder than I had anticipated. I was amazed at how easily the two of them moved around. After a while my rubber boots got stuck and James had to lend a hand and help me get out. Allison mentioned that having the rake helps in situations like that. Will keep that in mind the next time.
We soon got back on solid ground and marveled at the bounty they had just harvested. Their 10-quart wire basket (that's the weekly limit) was full to the brim with little necks, quahogs, mussels, razor clams and scallops.
James and Allison are both from the Cape, who grew up in Eastham and now live in Brewster. James was ready to go back and put some of the shellfish on the grill for supper. I thanked my new friends for letting me photograph them and bid good bye as they headed back to their vehicle with their harvest from the ocean. They will be back here again next week.
Recreational shellfishing in the Cape is regulated. Permits are available to residents and nonresidents alike in the area towns at the local Natural Resources office or Town Hall. Permits can be annual, seasonal and weekly and can range anywhere from $10 for residents, to $200 for non-residents. Permits generally allow the holder to harvest up to ten quarts of shellfish per week. There is no limit to the number of helpers but the person whose name is on the permit must be present. Also, the permit must be carried while shellfishing. There are also size restrictions for shellfish that can be harvested so it's useful to have a shellfish gauge handy. Shellfish that are too small should be dumped back into the water for another season's harvesting.
The local towns have shellfishing maps to indicate which areas are open for shellfishing. Here's the one for the town of Eastham. It's always a good idea to check since some areas can be closed due to pollution like red tide.
Two residential interior images I made for David Sharff Architect PC are featured in pages 24 and 25 of the 2017 Homeowner’s Project Handbook, which is an annual publication of the BSA that enjoys a circulation of 12,500 and is mailed with the Boston Home magazine.
Thrilled and honored that an architectural project I photographed on 445 Main Street, Medfield, MA, for my client David Sharff Architects, won the Grand Prize in the 2017 James Hardie Design Contest.
In March we were announced as one of the five finalists. The Grand Prize winner was then decided by public voting that ran till March 24th on James Hardie's website, and the winner was announced at the end of April at the AIA 2017 Conference in Orlando, FL.
James Hardie, a leading international building materials company and the world leader in fiber cement siding, held the contest for architects from across the U.S. and Canada for multi-family and commercial projects showing off the design versatility of their products. The contest gave architectural firms the opportunity to showcase their top multi-family and commercial projects featuring James Hardie® products. More than 170 entries were submitted for a chance to receive a grand prize package, including a full-page ad in Dwell magazine and a custom video shoot.
I photographed this building, known as James Ord's Block, which was originally built in 1891. My architect client completely renovated and restored it for commercial and residential use and utilized HardiePlank® lap siding with ColorPlus® Technology.
In order to show case and photograph the building in the best possible light I went there on three different occasions. On the first visit, I photographed it early in the morning with the warm morning light hitting the front and right sides of the building.
On the next visit I photographed in the late afternoon sunlight and stayed on until dusk to photograph as well.
For one of the dusk photographs I wanted a higher vantage point. So I went back again on a Thursday, which is the one day each week that the Medfield Town Hall next door stays open until later in the evening. I requested and was granted access to a third floor office and photographed from an open window. That gave me the higher vantage point of the building at dusk I wanted and was able to make a more compelling image .
For my architectural work my goal is to always photograph and showcase the buildings in the best possible light that brings out the building's character and tells a story. Like in this case, that often requires me to visit the site at different times of day and photograph from different angles and vantage points.
In my architectural photography work, I often make images where I use techniques and styles that occupy opposite ends of the spectrum. Some images are made hand-held with fast shutter speeds and in bright sunlight. Others are shot at dusk and require a tripod and a neutral density filter to further reduce the amount of light to allow for very long exposures and shutter speeds of 60 seconds or more.
Below are two architectural photographs from some recent personal work that cover the two extremes of the kind of images I like to make. One is an interior shot in bright daylight with a mother and child in the image to provide a sense of place and scale. Since I was hand holding the camera and there was movement of people all around, I had to make the image quickly with a shutter speed of 1/500th of a second. I framed the image such that only the mother and child are visible within the frame.
The other image is a long exposure dusk shot with vehicle trails but no people in sight. To get multiple vehicle trails I needed a long exposure of 60 seconds or more. To be able to expose for that long without blowing out the details in the lit portions of the building I had to use a neutral density filter to cut down the amount of light hitting my camera's sensor.
Vehicles create trails as they whiz past the Christa McAuliffe Branch of the Framingham Library at dusk. The new building designed by Finegold Alexander Architects opened in 2016
The great gray owl hunts rodents by sound and can plunge and locate prey in snow up to a foot deep. Their feet and toes are also densely feathered allowing them to hunt even when there is snow on the ground and temperatures are below freezing.
Great gray owls, the largest birds in the owl family, are rarely seen, if at all, in New England. This is one of those rare years when several of them have wandered south from their normal habitat in the northern boreal forests of Canada and Alaska to southern Canada and the northern U.S. in search of food.
The great gray owl diet consists mostly of small rodents. Those winters when prey is scarce, they move further south. There were numerous sightings in southern Canada this winter, and a few moved further south to Maine and New Hampshire.
I enjoy photographing birds of prey especially owls. And a great gray owl is a rare celebrity. A few Sundays ago, when a friend mentioned a great gray being sighted in Searsmont, ME, we made the 3.5 hour drive, braving the 12°F temps and 25 mph winds.
After driving around and locating the place of its most recent sighting, we unfortunately didn't get to see the bird. It was just too windy for it to come out. I would have been happy with just seeing one in the wild let alone photographing one. So after waking up at 4am to get there and driving around all day, it was a little disappointing.
For the past couple of weeks, I have been monitoring the online chatter on another sighting in Newport, NH, which is closer to my home at 2.5 hours away. Together with a couple of friends, we drove there last Sunday. Temps were 9°F with 15 mph wind gusts. Not too bad.
We got there around 9:30am and quickly found the area where the bird was last seen the day before. Very soon, more people who were also there to see the bird found it perched on a low branch next to a hedgerow, blending in with the background and sheltered from the winds under a tree on the edge of a large field.
The bird spent the next 6 hours in that same spot, alternating between napping, grooming and looking around at the increasing number of birders and photographers coming to see this visiting celebrity. There were at least 50 photographers and birders. Everyone kept their distance at a safe 80-90 feet from the bird.
Around 4pm, as the sun got closer to the horizon, the owl flew from its perch to a fence post on the other side of the field. The low sun lit the bird in a beautiful warm glow. The performance had begun.
A great gray owl usually hunts at night, dusk, and dawn by flying low over open areas, listening and watching from a perch, and swooping down when it locates prey. They locate rodents by sound and can plunge into snow up to a foot deep to catch them.
For the next hour and half, the bird flew around the field from perch to perch, looking for voles. We all watched in rapt attention as it swooped down, caught, and gulped down three of them.
I'm not sure if our celebrity owl was a female or a male. Like in all owls, the females are larger than males, and unless they are in a pair, it's almost impossible to tell a male from a female.
At 27 inches or more in length with a wing span of up to 60 inches, great gray owls are very impressive birds—larger than the great horned owl at 22 inches or even the snowy owl at 23 inches.
Their size, however, is deceiving and partly an illusion due to their very thick, fluffy plumage. At 2.4 pounds, their body size is smaller than the great horned owl (3.1 pounds) and the snowy owl (4 pounds). The feathers that make a great gray owl look so massive are also what keep it warm during winters in the cold northern latitudes.
According to the Audubon, the magnificent great gray owls are a climate endangered species. It was an amazing and humbling experience to be in the presence of one in the wild for those few hours and watch it hunt and feed. Not sure if I'll get another opportunity like this.
For our sake and theirs, it's more important now than ever before that we protect and preserve the boreal forests and make efforts to curb climate change.
During this recent visit to Washington DC, I was able to photograph the newly opened National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). As the 19th and newest member of the Smithsonian Institution and its fabulous family of museums, this new museum is also jokingly referred to as the "Blacksonian". New York Times art critic Holland Cotter, picked the museum as his #1 choice for the Best Art of 2016
Thirteen years in the making, after being established by an Act of Congress in 2003, (or a century if you consider the 1916 congressional bill proposing “a monument or memorial to the memory of the negro soldiers and sailors”) the Museum opened to the public on Sept 24th 2016. It serves as an amazing reminder of the influence that African American culture has had not just on the US but also on how the rest of the world sings, dances, speaks, dresses, eats, plays and works. Built on the National Mall in Washington DC, it's right next to the Washington Monument and a short distance from the White House.
The design and construction of the Museum was one of the largest and most complex architectural projects completed in 2016 in large part because of the challenges of constructing 60% of the structure below ground within the DC tidal basin.
The resulting design team of four architectural firms, Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroup (FAB/S), was one of six finalists selected to present design proposals to the Smithsonian, ultimately winning the design competition in April of 2009, beating out other big name architects such as Moshe Safdie, I.M. Pei, and Norman Foster for the coveted $540 million government commission partly funded by countless small, and large private donations
The Museum which houses 36,000 artifacts throughout its 400,000 square foot space is more than just a museum - it is also a monument to African American history, community and culture.
According to the lead designer, the British Ghanaian architect David Adjaye, his team got the job by keeping those three aspects of the project in mind—history, community, and culture. It's an integral design aspect of the building's distinctive tripartite corona form which draws inspiration from the Yoruban Caryatid, a traditional wooden column which features a crown or corona at its top. The concept came from research into the beginnings of slavery in Central and West Africa and study of Yoruban culture. The below image of carved wood sculpture by the Nigerian artist Olowe of Ise shows the tripartite crown on the two figures on either side of the central column.
The bronze-colored corona panels draw inspiration from the ornate ironwork found in Charleston, Savannah and New Orleans. The design team studied this historic iron lattice work, in many cases created by enslaved Africans, and created the light-permeable façade of the museum by digitizing the traditional shapes and transposing them into a modern interpretation, scaled to the size and shape of the building.
The exterior design is successfully able to draw upon and beautifully meld familiar imagery from both African and American history.
In one of his interviews discussing the Museum, Mr. Adjaye says that the best way to experience the museum is by starting at the basement level. There, from the galleries portraying the origins of slavery, one climbs up to the upper levels to ultimately view a display about president Obama. He refers to this progression from the museum’s dark subterranean chambers to the bright and joyful galleries on the top floors evoking the African American “journey into the light”. “That’s the emotional power of architecture, to bring you into a journey and to give you uplift,” Adjaye said. “The greatest cathedrals, temples and shrines give you uplift, and I think architecture is best when it supports the narrative through the articulation of space.”
The Entrepreneur magazine Dec 2016 issue has an article in pages 34-35 about the growing popularity of co-working spaces and features my client Business District. Catering to a high-end clientele, Business District occupies the entire 17th floor of the I.M. Pei designed building on 177 Huntington Avenue, with a very swanky space and sweeping views of Boston.
I'm very happy that Entrepreneur chose to use one of the photographs I had made for Business District as the main image for that feature article.
Below are some of the other images from the set of photographs for Business District.
One of my clients, Austin Architects, was featured in the American School & University magazine's November 2016 issue for an Outstanding Design Award in the Middle School category for the Buckingham Brown and Nichols (BB&N) Middle School renovation project.
The majority of my architectural exterior and interior photography work is to usually photograph a project after it's completion. It's not very often that I get an opportunity such as the BB&N Middle School project on 80 Sparks Street, Cambridge, MA, to photograph and document the progress of a construction or renovation project from inception to completion. I was able to see how this well thought out and complex design emerged from the plans and renderings to become a beautifully constructed school building.
I first photographed it in August 2015, right after the construction had started. I photographed it periodically until the completion in June 2016 and then again most recently in October 2016. There are two defining architectural and design elements of this project that I primarily tried to showcase in the photographs I made - the new terrace that can be reached via a carefully inserted boardwalk beneath the canopy of two giant beech trees, and the two new student foyers that interconnect the buildings from different time periods to create a more open and modern common space.