Commissioning Architectural Photography
Chaplo, M.F.A. Architectural Photographer,
Graduate: R.I.T. School of Photographic Arts & Sciences, College
of Graphic Arts & Photography
AIA, TSA, DAIA
and Construction Documentation
HAVE A NEED
OTHER THAN ARCHITECTURAL PHOTOGRAPHY?
Architect's Guide to Architectural Photography Terminology"
by Paul Chaplo, M.F.A, B.F.A., B.A. ©2006 Chaplo
Graduate: R.I.T. School of Photographic Arts & Sciences
College of Graphic Arts and Photography
Rochester Institute of Technology
HOW TO COMMUNICATE WITH AN ARCHITECTURAL PHOTOGRAPHER:
at least know what the heck they are saying ...)
Sometimes, as architectural photographers, we excitedly spout a
paragraph of technical jargon to a client who is an architect, interior
designer, marketing director, etc. We know it's a great idea that we just
had, as in "we'll shoot large format with chrome film using a 58mm XL
and do multi-pop!!!!" Needless to say, we are met with an expression
that makes it clear that a translation is needed. We hope that this page
Sanger High School,
PHOTO ©2006 Paul Chaplo
WHAT IS IT?
A high school?
Your CMU product?
24 gauge steel?
Clear and sunny?
To an architectural
photographer, it is:
A large format vertical view of the facade, shot with a view camera on
"4 by 5"
transparency film, then drum-scanned and color-corrected, retouched,
enhanced in Photoshop. The color temperature is low, so it looks
"warm," and the lens is
normal focal length, with camera movements to control the perspective.
Formats are based on the size of the film
Large Format: any SHEET film size 4x5 inches or larger
If you want the best, world-class of architectural photography, large
format , a.k.a. 4x5" film format is the winner, hands down. You
can enlarge to mural size, and the
control of the camera is unequalled. For example, to keep buildings
with perspective, so they don't look like they are tilting backwards ;-)
4x5 views take much more time to set-up, and the 4x5 inch sheets of film
cost more. Even if you print small, the photographs have a sharp crispness
of detail and resolution like no other format!
What to look for: Quality
lenses like Schneider XL, the photographer should use center filters in
all their work.
Medium Format: ROLL FILM 6x6, 6X7cm, 6x9, and 6X12 cm formats
Also called 120 and 220 depending on roll length. Medium format bridges
the gap between large format and 35mm. You can get great prints up to
16x20" and we can shoot roll film rather than sheet film, so prices
are affordable for materials.
What to look for:
lenses pr cameras with architectural movements like shift to control
perspective. If the photographer cannot provide this, your buildings will
35 mm: ROLL FILM
(no one calls it small format ;-)
If you want 8x10" prints for sales people, and presentations, and
websites, 35mm will do (and be much less expensive in terms of time and
film). Also, the small. mobile camera can allow the photographer to work
more spontaneously, perhaps creating photographs that are fresh,
"looser" in style (as in less contrived), more sketchbook-like,
etc. 35mm is not a substitute for the larger film formats, it is a tool
that fits specific applications. Also, if there is construction in progress, a
photographer may choose 35mm to shoot quickly, and navigate a busy space
without bulky equipment.
What to look for: lenses with architectural movements like shift to
control perspective. If the photographer cannot provide this, your
buildings will look distorted.
Note: APS: real pros
don't use APS, the film original is too small.
Slide film, a film positive (also called "trans," "tranny,"
and "chrome"). Typical transparency films: Fujichrome, Ektachrome.
This film scans the best and can have the finest grain (virtually
grainless these days). If you want big prints, you want color transparency
film, if conditions permit.
FACT: Transparencies have finer grain than negatives, and scan better.
Print film, negative image (dark areas appear light on the film original),
also called "neg," "color neg" Typical negative films:
"NPS" NPL" "Portra" This film is forgiving --
your photographer should not use it as a crutch for all photography as the
grain size is larger than transparency film. Some people call this
"multi-layered" film, which is misleading -- all color film is
multi-layered. However, some color negative films have an extra layer!
FACT: Although this is traditionally called "print film," the
highest quality prints are now made from drum scans of transparency
(slide) film. But more photographers are starting to use color negative
because it is more forgiving. It is NOT always the best choice for you as
an end-user of the image.
Drum scans :
the best high res scans
available. Files of almost any size
available. Typically 150 MB for big prints, then we resize for smaller
applications to make multiple uses of the same scan file. Note: a 51 MB
costs the same, so we go with the 150 MB to get the most for the dollar.
That way if you want a large display print for office or trade show, we
FACT: Drum scans still rule for highest quality. They are also the most
Kodak Photo-CD scans:
the professional version of
the photo-cd with
commercial level scans. Files up to 72 MB. Photo CD scans are decent but
they are bulk scans and require more enhancing than others.
There are other options....
FACT: Photo-CD scans are bulk scans that need Photoshop before printing.
Image processing done after the film is processed.
For a quality project like this, plan on taking advantage of digital
post-production to color-correct and optimize the scans, remove unwanted
items, fine tune the exposure, contrast, etc. for output. Every scan will
need at least a bit of digital time to optimize.
TIFF: best for all-around use, including publications. When in
doubt, get a .tiff
PSD: Photoshop (TM) format, you need an image-processing software to open
PCD: Kodak Photo-CD (TM) Format
JPEG: a compressed file, use these for posting on the web and Powerpoint
PDF: Adobe Acrobat (TM) file that works great for documents.
FACT: Opening and re-saving a JPEG degrades quality as the image is
recompressed. PDF files are used widely in color pre-press.
Digital retouching, color correction, and enhancement
File prep for offset printing, websites, trade shows, etc.
File conversion to fit your needs to a 'pixel.'
Complete corporate identity
Publication design: color brochures
Design Competition entries
Trade show graphics, giant prints, and collateral.
Amon Carter Museum expansion,
Fort Worth, Texas
Philip Johnson & Alan Ritchie, Architects
Paul Chaplo, Photographer
Original print: 24x30
inches from 4x5
inch film, digital scan/conversion/retouching by the author.
Paul Chaplo, M.F.A., B.F.A.,
(Based near Dallas, TX)
Consider reading my white paper:
Architect's Guide to Selecting an Architectural Photographer."