Bridges are more interesting than walls .... don't you agree?

As an unusually acrimonious election cycle which definitely will be one for the record books, draws to a close, the talk about walls has been a dominant theme. Yet, regardless of who wins, I think it will take a lot of bridge building - figuratively speaking, both across and within, to get our country whole again or great again (or whichever other slogan you believe in)

As far as architecture goes, I think it's a whole lot more interesting and fun to design and build, or for that matter photograph, bridges than walls. Bridges have spanned countries and continents (and yes, there can be bridges to nowhere too - Alaska's cancelled Gravina project anyone?). In terms of an architectural structure that can have the most impact on humanity and progress, can't think of anything else that comes even close to touching that many lives in a more significant way.

As a photographer, bridges have always fascinated me with their lines, shapes, spans, heights and the variety of angles to photograph them from. Two cities that are close to my heart - Boston on the east coast and San Francisco on the west, both have some iconic bridges.

Here are a few of my favorite recent bridge images from Boston and San Francisco.

 Zakim Bridge, Boston

Zakim Bridge, Boston

 Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

 Tobin Bridge and skyline at sunset, Boston

Tobin Bridge and skyline at sunset, Boston

 Western span of Bay Bridge, San Francisco

Western span of Bay Bridge, San Francisco

 Zakim Bridge, Boston

Zakim Bridge, Boston

 Eastern span of Bay Bridge, San Francisco

Eastern span of Bay Bridge, San Francisco

 Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

 Tobin Bridge and skyline, Boston

Tobin Bridge and skyline, Boston

Simply put, walls divide whereas bridges unite. Let's build more bridges in our minds, in our hearts, in our country, in this world.

Architectural Photography for a PRISM Gold Award Winning Project

Got some wonderful news last night from David Schraff Architects that a residential restoration project I had photographed for them had won the 2016 PRISM Gold Award in the Best Remodeling/Restoration over $1M - Over 5000 sq.ft. I'm very honored and proud to be part of this award winning team and want to extend my thanks to architects David Schraff and Jill Breed, builder and owner Charles Bosworth, and Sabrina Baloun, for the styling for the photo shoot.

 Snapshot of Award announcement from the 2016 PRISM Book of Winners

Snapshot of Award announcement from the 2016 PRISM Book of Winners

The photographs I made which were part of the PRISM award entry are below

 Main facade and entrance of the residence

Main facade and entrance of the residence

 Mud room and view into outdoor patio and kitchen area

Mud room and view into outdoor patio and kitchen area

 A view of the kitchen

A view of the kitchen

 Another view of the new kitchen area and outdoor patio

Another view of the new kitchen area and outdoor patio

 Formal dining room

Formal dining room

 Main entrance and staircase and a view into the newer section of the residence

Main entrance and staircase and a view into the newer section of the residence

 Formal living room

Formal living room

 New master bathroom

New master bathroom

 Side view of the residence and property

Side view of the residence and property

 View of the side entrance and a section of the garage

View of the side entrance and a section of the garage

 Pool side view of the residence at dusk

Pool side view of the residence at dusk

 Another pool side view at dusk

Another pool side view at dusk

A newly renovated Pacific Northwest residence

Even though one can find different architectural styles of homes in neighborhoods across the US, each region of our country has a specific style that helps define its dominant residential character. For example in the New England area we see a lot of houses in the Colonial revival and Greek revival styles. The Puebla revival is common to the Southwest. The Northwest regional or Northwest modern style is mostly seen in the Pacific Northwest areas of Oregon and Washington. A lot of regional factors like history, weather, natural landscape, availability of material etc. have a big impact on the architecture common to each part of our country.

I have always liked the Northwest regional style of modern houses with open floor plans, clean lines, and minimal to no ornamentation. They also have high ceilings with lots of natural light.  And with exposed beams and use of natural, unaltered materials in both exteriors and interiors they often tend towards an industrial feel.

 Dusk settles over Seattle as the last rays of the setting sun kiss the peak of Mt. Rainier

Dusk settles over Seattle as the last rays of the setting sun kiss the peak of Mt. Rainier

During a recent visit to Seattle, I photographed the interiors of my friends Bharat and Sonal's house in Mercer Island, Washington. They just renovated their place with a beautiful new kitchen and dining area which Sonal did the interior design for.

 The whites of the cabinets and counter tops go very well with the brown and wood tones of the floor and ceiling in the newly renovated kitchen.

The whites of the cabinets and counter tops go very well with the brown and wood tones of the floor and ceiling in the newly renovated kitchen.

 A view of the dining area and kitchen as the warm late afternoon sunlight streams in.

A view of the dining area and kitchen as the warm late afternoon sunlight streams in.

 A view into the kitchen from the living room area

A view into the kitchen from the living room area

 A view of the living space, dining and kitchen area and the outdoor front patio. The fireplace and center column separates the living from the dining space while preserving the flow and openness.

A view of the living space, dining and kitchen area and the outdoor front patio. The fireplace and center column separates the living from the dining space while preserving the flow and openness.

 The living area

The living area

I had a lot of fun styling and photographing this beautiful space for Sonal and Bharat. Sonal was a big help with the styling, as well as in being the model in a few of the images.

Hope you enjoy the images.

Hot-air Balloons in Hudson, MA

It was Fri Aug 19th, World Photography Day (the day on which the patent for the daguerreotype, an early form of analog photography was released to the public - August 19, 1839, and starting in 2010 the day began serving as a celebration for all photography). So when the opportunity came to attend the Media Day for the Hudson Balloon Festival, I jumped at it even though it meant waking up at 4am. Together with a couple of photographer friends, we drove over to the field where the balloons would fly at dawn from, and reached there at 5am, well before sunrise.

That morning, sunrise and moonset were about an hour of each other, sunrise at 5:55AM and moonset, that too with an almost full moon, at 7:12AM. Hot-air balloons, sunrise, moonset - great photo opportunities overall.

This was the first hot-air balloon event I had ever been to. I was offered the opportunity to go on one of the balloons, but the recent fatal accident in Dallas crossed my mind. And since I had a client photo shoot that evening, and didn't want to risk any injury, I decided to pass. Yes, I know these rides are pretty safe, and it was probably foolish of me to decline and give up on the amazing photo opportunities I might have gotten had I gone on the ride. Oh well, another time.

It was a great morning overall and I had a lot of fun talking to the pilots and crew, and making some photographs.

 

 A flock of geese fly across the early morning skies as the moon continues it's descent behind the trees

A flock of geese fly across the early morning skies as the moon continues it's descent behind the trees

 The first balloon ascends as the early rays of the morning sun kiss the sides

The first balloon ascends as the early rays of the morning sun kiss the sides

 As the balloon is inflated, a crew member peers in through the vents near the crown

As the balloon is inflated, a crew member peers in through the vents near the crown

 The view through one of the vents as the hot air fills up inside

The view through one of the vents as the hot air fills up inside

 A crew member holds on to the lines as the balloon is inflated

A crew member holds on to the lines as the balloon is inflated

 This pilot's shirt leaves no doubt as to which balloon is his

This pilot's shirt leaves no doubt as to which balloon is his

 Balloons in different stages of being inflated

Balloons in different stages of being inflated

 Another balloon sails away

Another balloon sails away

 A balloon inflated with cold air is ready to have the burner turned on

A balloon inflated with cold air is ready to have the burner turned on

 The pilot turns on the burner to heat up the air in the envelope

The pilot turns on the burner to heat up the air in the envelope

 Pilot makes final checks to the lines before take off

Pilot makes final checks to the lines before take off

 Time to take off and go with the other balloon

Time to take off and go with the other balloon

 Balloons sail away as a dramatic sunrise fills the skies

Balloons sail away as a dramatic sunrise fills the skies

 View through the vents near the crown of another balloon as it is being inflated

View through the vents near the crown of another balloon as it is being inflated

 Pilots and crew check on the crown lines as the balloons get inflated

Pilots and crew check on the crown lines as the balloons get inflated

 Getting ready for take-off

Getting ready for take-off

 And off they go

And off they go

 And up and away

And up and away

 And away ...

And away ...

 The retrieve crew will head out and wait for the radio from the pilot to get to where the balloon will land

The retrieve crew will head out and wait for the radio from the pilot to get to where the balloon will land

Photographs in a billboard for TreeTop Adventures along I-93 in Braintree, MA

A billboard for TreeTop Adventures in Canton, MA went up on I-93 South, Exit 6 in Braintree featuring two photographs I made.

 Closeup of the billboard on I-93N Exit 6 in Braintree, MA

Closeup of the billboard on I-93N Exit 6 in Braintree, MA

 View of the billboard while driving on I-93N Exit 6 in Braintree, MA

View of the billboard while driving on I-93N Exit 6 in Braintree, MA

Outfront Media who owns the billboard space had three sample layouts of the design they had put together initially using stock imagery.

 Initial design layout #1 - © Copyright Outfront Media

Initial design layout #1 - © Copyright Outfront Media

 Initial design layout #2 - © Copyright Outfront Media

Initial design layout #2 - © Copyright Outfront Media

 Initial design layout #3 - © Copyright Outfront Media

Initial design layout #3 - © Copyright Outfront Media

The final design is what finally came about below, after a few iterations with the graphic designer from Outfront Media, and it used two of the images I had photographed for TreeTop Adventures.

 Final design of billboard - © Copyright Outfront Media

Final design of billboard - © Copyright Outfront Media

 Original full image of an adult on a zip line that's on the left of the billboard

Original full image of an adult on a zip line that's on the left of the billboard

 Original full image of kids on a challenge bridge that's on the right of the billboard

Original full image of kids on a challenge bridge that's on the right of the billboard

A summer morning in Crane Beach, Ipswich, MA

One way of relaxation for me is to be out in nature photographing birds, animals and landscapes. So whenever I can squeeze some time for myself, I venture out to some of my favorite spots around Boston. Crane Beach in Ipswich on the North Shore is definitely one that's on the top of my list. It's a Trustees of Reservations property that has miles of well maintained trails and pristine beaches. It is also home to several species of birds like the endangered piping plover during the summer months, and the snowy owl during the winter. I visit there all year round and have always been rewarded with great photo opportunities, whether it's 90°F out there, or -10°F with the wind chill.

 Early morning sunlight reflecting off the ocean waters along Crane Beach

Early morning sunlight reflecting off the ocean waters along Crane Beach

 A view of the beach and Ipswich Bay

A view of the beach and Ipswich Bay

 A pair of early morning walkers on the beach

A pair of early morning walkers on the beach

 Early morning light and shadows on the patterns left in the sand by the receding tide

Early morning light and shadows on the patterns left in the sand by the receding tide

 Breakfast time for a piping plover chick

Breakfast time for a piping plover chick

 A juvenile common tern makes its way across the dunes

A juvenile common tern makes its way across the dunes

 An adult common tern as it flies towards the waves for small fish to bring back to the young

An adult common tern as it flies towards the waves for small fish to bring back to the young

 As the tide recedes, a piping plover chick looks for small insects and worms along the shoreline

As the tide recedes, a piping plover chick looks for small insects and worms along the shoreline

 A piping plover chick runs back towards the mother

A piping plover chick runs back towards the mother

 A flock of sanderlings fly over the waves looking for a place to stop and feed

A flock of sanderlings fly over the waves looking for a place to stop and feed

Improper Bostonian magazine July 6-26, 2016 issue: Tearsheet of real estate advertisement

Photographs I made for high-end real estate company Heath Properties in Boston, of two of their properties - one in 755 Boylston Street, and the other at the Harbor Towers in 65 East India Row, are featured in a full page advertisement (on page #49) in the July 6-26, 2016 issue of the Improper Bostonian magazine. Below is the scan of the page from the magazine.

 Full page advertisement in Page 49 of Improper Bostonian, July 6-26, 2016 Issue

Full page advertisement in Page 49 of Improper Bostonian, July 6-26, 2016 Issue

Three of the images used in the advertisement are below

 View of kitchen, hallway and living room at the Harbor Towers property

View of kitchen, hallway and living room at the Harbor Towers property

 Living room of the 755 Boylston Street property

Living room of the 755 Boylston Street property

 One of the bathrooms in the 755 Boylston Street property

One of the bathrooms in the 755 Boylston Street property

Boston Magazine article featuring TreeTop Adventures Park, Canton, MA, includes three of my images

Boston Magazine did an article on TreeTop Adventures Park in Canton, MA which opened on July 2nd, 2016.

Three of my photographs are featured in that article.

 The TreeTop Adventures Park has three layers of courses of different heights and difficulty levels

The TreeTop Adventures Park has three layers of courses of different heights and difficulty levels

 Both kids and adults can find ropes and zip-line trails to suit their difficulty levels

Both kids and adults can find ropes and zip-line trails to suit their difficulty levels

 Zip-lining through the tree-tops is a fun and exhilarating experience

Zip-lining through the tree-tops is a fun and exhilarating experience

A PDF version of the article is available.

Tearsheet of real estate ad of 755 Boylston in Improper Bostonian magazine

Some photographs I made for a real estate advertisement for 755Boylston are featured in a full page advertisement (on page #5) in the April 27-May 10 issue of the Improper Bostonian magazine. Below is the scan of the page from the magazine.

 Scan of full page advertisement from Improper Bostonian, which includes the main image at the top and a few other images from the shoot at the bottom.

Scan of full page advertisement from Improper Bostonian, which includes the main image at the top and a few other images from the shoot at the bottom.

In the ad the main image was cropped slightly to fit the layout. And below is the actual full un-cropped and un-retouched version of the horizontal image.

 Original horizontal version of the image that was featured in the ad.

Original horizontal version of the image that was featured in the ad.

The residence was empty with no furniture, so I used a few simple props to style and add some pops of color to lead the eye through the space.

Making composite images with digital photography

As a photographer, what I enjoy most is creating photographs in-camera. Yes, I still have to do some post-processing to the raw digital image captured by the camera sensor to get the final photograph. This isn't very different from the techniques of the analog days.

Digital photography, however, allows me more flexibility. I find it more forgiving than the development and dark-room techniques of analog photography. It also opens up a lot more creative possibilities for me.

I can place my subjects in different backgrounds and create images that couldn't have been photographed in real life. You can argue that similar images were created through multiple exposures and darkroom techniques in analog photography by Jerry Uelsmann and others. But then, not everyone is as skilled in the dark-room as Jerry Uelsmann—least of all me.

Last week, I photographed my friend Jason, an avid mountain biker, with his riding gear and bike in a studio against a white background. I then layered his photo on top of a photo that I took of the Ammonoosuc trail in the White Mountains of NH. It's not a trail that you can mountain bike on. So my goal was to create a believable image, but one that I can't actually photograph in real life (unless Jason and I physically haul the bike up the trail just to make this photograph).

View from Ammonoosuc Trail, White Mountains, NH

To create a believable composite image, I had to match the lighting, perspective, and focal length of the lens in each photo. I had photographed the White Mountains scene with a wide angle lens at about 24mm and at a low angle. So I photographed Jason in the studio with a 24mm lens from a low angle to match the perspective. To match the light of the late morning sun, I used a single Profoto Magnum reflector to provide intense but even light on Jason.

Other factors like white balance, noise, and depth of field also play a role, but to a lesser degree. They can generally be fixed during post processing.

In the studio, it wasn't possible to get a photograph of Jason with both his feet on his bike pedals. So I took two separate photographs: one with his right foot on the pedal while he balanced himself on a milk crate, and then one with his left foot on the pedal.

Jason on his bike in the studio with right foot on pedal

Jason on his bike in the studio with left foot on pedal

I combined the two images in Photoshop to create a single composite image with both of Jason's feet on the pedals. Next came the final stage where I digitally selected and placed Jason and his bike on the background image and masked and blended the two images to look like one.

Composite image of Jason biking the White Mountains, NH

Making this image was a lot of fun and I hope the result looks realistic to you.


Photographing the interiors of the Boston Public Library

The Boston Public Library is recognized as the second largest Public Library in the US, behind only the Library of Congress. The main building, also known as the McKim Building, at the corner of Dartmouth and Boylston Streets in Copley Square, opened in 1895 and was designed by Charles Follen McKim in the Italian renaissance style to resemble a classic Roman palace including a central courtyard. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986 for its architectural and historical significance.

It's a daunting endeavor to try and capture the grandeur and beauty of the interiors of this magnificent building in the two-dimensional format of photography. Here are a few of the photographs I made during a recent visit. My awe and curiosity for this space have not been sated, and I'm sure to be back there soon with my camera and tripod.

The main entrance staircase to the McKim Building with the twin statues of lions, sculpted by artist Louis Saint-Gaudens.

Another view of the marble main staircase and the lions. The lions are a memorial to the 2nd and 20th Massachusetts Regiments of the Civil War.

A view of the main staircase and hallway from the second floor of the McKim Building.

Bates Hall, the great reading room of the Boston Public Library, was named after Joshua Bates, the library's first great benefactor.

Sargent Gallery is named for the great American painter John Singer Sargent, who spent years decorating its walls with his powerful and original mural sequence, Triumph of Religion.

Unit stills photography for a Meineke TV commercial

During the first week of August I was fortunate enough to be on assignment as the unit stills photographer on set for the filming of several TV commercials for Meineke Car Care Centers. It was a 4-day assignment and the filming was taking place in and around the Boston area. Behind the creation of the campaign and concept was an award winning boutique advertising agency Mythic, based out of Charlotte, NC. The filming and production were being handled by leading Boston based production house, Element. I was hired by Mythic.

This being my first ever gig as a unit stills photographer, I was a little apprehensive. For my research I read up on articles by UK-based unit stills photographer Andrew Young. He has a very informative and well written website - http://www.production-stills.co.uk/tech-talk/. It's a must-read if you're thinking about unit stills photography. My NESOP teacher Shawn Read, who has had several stints as a unit stills photographer under his belt, was kind enough to give me some tips and advice as well. All of this proved very helpful in knowing what to do, and most importantly what not to do, while on set.

It was amazing to see first hand what it takes to make a film/commercial. The entire crew was very friendly and made me feel at home day one. They made it a very fun and enjoyable experience overall. I would do it again.

Meineke's humorous "On With Life" TV ad campaign was launched on Aug 31st. One of the commercials has been airing nationally for the past couple of weeks.

It shows a wife sending her husband off with a backpack and enough supplies to last what looks like a major journey.
He's just about to take their car to get the oil changed, then to the tire store to get the tires replaced and then to the brake shop to get the brakes fixed.
Instead he should've gone to Meineke Car Care Centers and gotten everything done in one stop.

If you haven't seen that commercial yet, here's the link

Below are some of my photographs during the filming of that particular commercial.

 Off goes the clapper for Take #1

Off goes the clapper for Take #1

 Emotional moment before the husband heads off

Emotional moment before the husband heads off

 Yet another emotional moment

Yet another emotional moment

 Time to go

Time to go

 Husband reiterating the 3 things he needs to get done for the car

Husband reiterating the 3 things he needs to get done for the car

 Ready to go

Ready to go

 The Director of Photography framing the shot

The Director of Photography framing the shot

 The film and sound are rolling

The film and sound are rolling

 Crew behind the scenes

Crew behind the scenes

Colors of the "As If It Were Already Here" hanging sculpture

When I went there with a friend last Saturday evening to photograph the "As If It Were Already Here" hanging sculpture by Janet Echelman at the Greenway, Boston, my goal was to capture all it's different colors. It takes a while for the lights pointed at the sculpture to cycle through all the different colors. So a time lapse or a straight video doesn't do it justice. A time lapse goes by too quick and a video is just too long. Therefore I decided to try an animated GIF instead using individual photographs that I took of the sculpture with each of it's different colored lights. This was put together using 16 different images.

 As If It Were Already Here by Janet Echelman

As If It Were Already Here by Janet Echelman

What I did this summer (Yes, yes, I know it's not over yet)

Fortunately we're still enjoying some warm 80+ degree weather, but the longer and cooler nights seem to keep reminding that summer is almost over.
It goes by quick. Doesn't it always.
With classes, several freelance assignments, and my first ever trip to Seattle to visit friends, it was a fun and very busy summer so far.

Was fortunate enough to get into a few juried group shows as well.
Listed in reverse chronological order are the shows and my selected photographs.

Think Small - Panopticon Gallery, Boston, MA
Jurors - Jason Landry, Corrine DiPietro
Sept 10th - Nov 30th, 2015
http://www.panopticongallery.com/events/entries/index.html

 Adorned

Adorned

Annual Juried Exhibition - Amazing Things Arts Center, Framingham, MA
Jurors - Nikolay Cherny, Linda Hirsch and Willard Traub
Aug 4th - Sept 19th, 2015
http://amazingthings.org/event/juried-show-reception/

 Remains of the Day

Remains of the Day

Red Sox Photography Night Gallery Show - Hunt's Photo and Video, Melrose, MA
Aug-Sept 2015
https://www.facebook.com/events/1442784086049628/

 Peanuts Before the Ballgame

Peanuts Before the Ballgame

 Kolkata Yellow Taxi

Kolkata Yellow Taxi

The National - Cape Cod Art Association, Barnstable, MA
Jurors - Jenny Kelley, David Weinberg, Ginny Zanger
Jul 16th - Aug 24th, 2015

 Brooklyn Shuffle

Brooklyn Shuffle

Annual Juried Exhibition - Off The Wall, Danforth Art Museum, Framingham, MA
Juror - Catherine French
http://www.danforthart.org/assets/forms/exhibtion_OTW_2015_catalog_WEB_V2.pdf
Jun 7th - Aug 2nd, 2015

 Silence of Snow #1

Silence of Snow #1

 Silence of Snow #2

Silence of Snow #2

Bringing life to still lifes

The Wikipedia definition of still life photography is the depiction of inanimate subject matter, most typically a small grouping of objects. Still life photography more so than other types of photography, such as landscape or portraiture, gives the photographer more leeway in the arrangement of design elements within a composition.

Creating a compelling still life image is demanding in a lot of different ways for us photographers. We need to be able to light the scene in a way that creates the mood and brings out the detail, textures or character of the object or objects. We also need superior composition and styling skills to bring the viewer into the scene and create the sense that the viewer is part of that scene.

That latter part can be very hard. I still continue to make my share of still life images that look still - no life in them. I have been experimenting with adding some small human element to some of my images lately. And I find them to work quite well when done in a subtle way.

Below are two images of the "Bag shot" which recreates the scene of a bicycle accident with a bag of groceries spilled on the pavement. The first image is without any human element and the next with the human element of the bicyclist's foot in the scene.

                                  Bicycle Accident #1

                                 Bicycle Accident #1

                                  Bicycle Accident #2

                                 Bicycle Accident #2

Below is another recent example of a food shot where I think the additional of the human element adds some life to the scene.

   Spicy dumplings and noodles #1

  Spicy dumplings and noodles #1

    Spicy dumplings and noodles #2

   Spicy dumplings and noodles #2

Curious to hear what you all think. Does this work for you or not?

Recent Photo Competition Awards

I'm sure everyone who lives in the Greater Boston area will agree with me when I say I'm so glad to see the month of Feb behind us. It has been by far the nastiest month I have ever experienced in terms of the cold and snow. On the photo competitions front however, this past Feb has been good to me. I was fortunate enough to win a few awards.

My image of a snowy owl titled "Snowy on the Prowl" won Best of Show in the "Animals in Action" photo contest organized by the Cape Cod Art Association/Photography Center of Cape Cod. Please checkout the online gallery of all the winning and accepted images.

 Snowy on the Prowl

Snowy on the Prowl

 Cape Cod Nocturne

Cape Cod Nocturne

Received my medal for the Judge's Choice award at the Ocean State International Photo Competition which is organized every year by the Photographic Society of Rhode Island. It was for my image of the Milky Way at the Highland Light in Truro, MA titled "Cape Cod Nocturne". There were 2244 images from 566 photographers from across 35 countries. Here's a list of all the winning images with links.

Also won a Merit Award for the same "Cape Cod Nocturne" image at the Greater Lynn International Exhibition. There were a total of 4400 images from 1103 photographers.