Tips and Tricks

Selective Color Correction - A Before and After

Remember back in college, when your professor didn't care that you also had 3 other assignments due the same week as their 10pg paper and how they weren't thrilled to hear of your hard drive failing at the last minute. Well in Architectural Photography, your client doesn't always have the luxury of waiting for the best time of year to document their project and unless your a demi-god, it's not likely that you control the weather. So what do you do if say... it is the middle of a drought, in a southern state, that has dry grass?

Enter Selective Color Correction as part of the equation of post-production. This can be a lengthy or short process depending on the retouch artist and the complexity of the image. That's why a client's input on their final angles is critical to saving both time and money.

While this isn't a tutorial, it is a demonstration of three steps I used for a recent project.

Step 1: Initial Post production Develop the photo as far as possible before special retouching.

Not a bad image, but we don't want to distract our audience with dead grass.

Step 2: Color correct only the area you want to affect. This can be in Photoshop or other software, but it really depends on the complexity of the image.

Now that's better, but there's a little overgrowth that we can help

Step 3: Clean up and final retouch. This is where you take the areas that were affected by the selective color correction and you blend un even areas of blotchy color, eliminate unwanted elements, and generally make the image look like it was never retouched in the first place. (Unless your a pixel peeper, and if you're looking that hard, the I didn't do a great job of making a compelling image to begin with.)

We've blended the grass, eliminated the traffic cone by the doors, and weeded the path. You may notice some areas that can be cleaned up further, but this will be used as a draft for client review.

HDR and Tonemapping for reality: Pt 1

I'm still recovering from a serious hard drive fail this week, pushing many things back. But as I am finally back up and running, I've run across a perfect example of when to use HDR to re-create the reality of a place. Many have already experienced "HDR" as an option for creating unique highly artistic images of places, people, and things.

An Example of Artistic HDR-Tonemapping.

However in Architecture, authenticity is king. That's where a good eye and memory for a place becomes irreplaceable as you edit your work.

I'm presently working on a series of photos for my favorite Architectural Glass Manufacturer and Client, Jockimo. They have a beautiful installation of their product as a bridge inside the Oklahoma City Federal Building. The challenge however is that while daylighting was pretty balanced compared to other spaces, the interior lighting just can't match the same intensity of the exterior. Even on an overcast day, like the one I  worked with.

Why is this a problem? In a simplified explanation, the human eye, in concert with the brain, has a terrific ability to process a high dynamic range of light. However cameras have a much harder time mixing the range of light and color that we perceive. In many places you'll have a small range of light (or low contrast), either it's dark or it's bright. However for many interior spaces, the range differs greatly between interior lights and sunlight.

Essentially the camera has to choose to capture a set range of light. Say on a scale of 1-24 stops, the human eye can see about 14 stops of light. The BEST digital Cameras will be able to see about 11 of that 24 (depending on if it's film, digital, or the actual size of the medium it's capturing the image on). That's why when you photograph someone inside you don't want them to stand in front of a window. (if you're not using a flash). Click here For some great educational material that really goes in depth on both dynamic range and the perception of color.

Interior ExposureIntermediate ExposureExterior Exposure





Traditionally a photographer has to "compromise" to photograph for the darker range (let the outdoors be blown out), or the lighter range (things inside get uncharacteristically muddy and dark). With the advent of brilliant software like Photomatix and HDR EFEX Pro you can bring the light back into range.

Final Processed HDR-Tonemapped Image

Many artistic images can create stunning and beautiful image by going to extremes. However, when telling the story of Architecture and Commercial Products, it doesn’t help your client sell their product when you can't tell how a final product actually looks and feels. Your image still deserves the attention it deserves to make it beautiful, things like, punch color or contrast a tad, but you don’t want to give a false sense of the product.

By the way, I have to say that working with the kind folks there was a particular treat. I know they've been through a lot and I appreciate their kindness and trust in allowing me to document such a fantastic place.

Lens Correction in Minneapolis

I just saw a friend post an image of downtown Minneapolis and it had me remembering this shot I did last fall during a beautiful day.

I was heading back from an AIA-MN convention and I ran into the site of one of my proposed projects for a highrise. It was a great day to play around with a little HDR and my wide angle lens. However it's not a Tilt-Shift lens leaving me with fiew options to deal with converging vertical lines, if I wanted the focus of my photo to be of the gap that still exists in this location of downtown.

These two images are a side by side comparison of a before and after of basic correcting for vertical distortion (called parallax) caused by a fixed lens.




Die-Bar Chandelier at Tramonto's

I believe in pushing the limits of what I produce when I collaborate on a project. Jockimo was thrilled with my exploration of video for their project @ ING-Direct.

Here we are using a dolly rig to use motion around the Glass Chandelier to give detail to it's form and depth to it's setting at Tramonto's Steak and Seafood.

As with all things technical, the more experience built, the more innovation. In this case I have already identified a few additional methods to improve the quality of the motion for future projects.

No Flash Support?? Check it out here.

Let me know what you think. 

If any photographers are interested in learning more, please leave a comment or question.

6 Elements of Architectural Photography

While there are many technical aspects to producing high quality Architectural Photos, there are a few soft skills that are important to develop in conjunction.

Understanding Architecture is the first key to approaching Architectural Photography and what an Architect looks for in capturing their design intent. Here are 6 Elements I look for on every Architectural project. 

1 - Form

Massing and materiality of archtiecture identifies unique opportunities to capture the various qualities that give meaning to how it’s built. How a project reacts to various environmental conditions, and how a user defines approach


Finding meaning in moments that define your space or place with users engaged in the environment generates a personal relationship to scale and usability that is otherwise less tangible. 


Sometimes what tells the whole story extends beyond the 1 block radius of the site. Other times, it may be defined solely by the form of the land it sits on. Identifying how the project either complements, challenges, or blends with context tells the broader story of how you approach the whole of a project.


The combination of all the elements above provide relative relationships to scale. In addition, understanding that sometimes even the most intimate details like hardware and handrails create a complete user experience.

5 - TIME

Architecture is something that is dynamically affected by time of day, season, & weather. Just knowing how light approaching from one side of your project will dramatically change its character from another is just one example.


To capture a place or space, one must be able to experience it beyond a single 2 dimensional image. Movement through a space provides a deeper sense of the relationships between form, function, context, and scale.

Free Marketing Telesummit!

Master Photographers' Marketing Series is having a lecture series produced by Sarah Petty's The Joy of marketing. 

Heres the deal. Click the link or the banner and register for the telesummit. They'll send you a telephone number and access code and you attend as you please on Sept 28th and 29th. 

Why is it Free? Well after the summit they know that there will be a ton of people who are willing to pay for what these folks have to say. That's how they plan on paying for their costs. They plan on selling all 16 Hours for ~$100. But if you just want to catch what you can from them Live, its NO COST TO YOU. 

If you're like me and will probably want to access this great information on a piece by piece basis or you simply can't dedicate 16 straight hours to these two days, you can preorder the recordings for half off.

Training for lighting


First and foremost. If you are into photography and you aren't aware for this show. You're in for a treat. This podcast is produced by some brilliant talent. 

This Week In Photography or TWIP picks apart current developments, news, and equipment releases in the photography world. One of the best features of the show in my opinion is their discussions also include techniques and tools (tech and software) they've found useful.  

I've been listening for about a year now and I'm still catching up on back episodes. However check them out on iTunes and you'll see in the early shows they have some video podcasts mixed in. 

I highly recommend watching the episodes on studio lighting. If this is a direction your are interested in. This is a perfect primer.


Recently I picked up an Expodisc, which is a tool that will be very handy for setting the white balance (WB) on my camera. This is crucial for getting accurate color,straight from the camera, which should help tremendously withone step of my post production work flow.

How does the expodisc work? To boil it down into a nutshell. It turns your camera into an incedent light meter. (IE instead of your camera reading light as it bounces off your subject, you read the light directly hitting your subject). 

If you want to learn more about the expodisc, this website by Ken Rockwell lays out exactly what type of results you get from an expodisc and how to set up the WB on Nikon Equipment. 

Sekonic L358

Speaking of measuring light. If you're interested in working with Monolights or getting into the strobist movement. One crucial piece of equipment is the light meter. 

This little gadget helps you determine the shutter speed and aperture of your camera based on amount of light produced by your equipment.

While intimidating at first. Walking through your equipment with someone else, can really make the difference with getting up to speed. 

This site by is a great tutorial for understanding exactly how to get up to speed quickly and with as  little pain possible. 

Color Correction


A good example of standard color profile created by the JPEG processing can be seen in this original image.

While not bad for a straight Jpeg file I wasn't happy with how flat the color is throughout the entire composition. (This is an example of the need for setting the white balance in the field).


In the below image, I've adjusted the overall white balance to feel warmer. This correction alone helps separate the foreground subjects from the house in the background. Additionally tweaking the curves to add a little contrast and pull out some of the details helps to sharpen some of the features in the skin tones.