Recent Work… Wheaton 121 Luxury Apartments

Wheaton 121 Luxury Apartments- InteriorsRecently I was asked to photograph interiors for a new, $60-million dollar luxury apartment development going up in my town. The six story building is hard to miss– three hundred 1, 2 and 3-bedroom apartments surrounding a large outdoor patio and pool area. The pictures will be used in promotional materials– in print, on the web, and in their social media sites.

We had to shoot everything all in one day, and also work around the construction crews working feverishly to get the first units done before their deadline. Added to that, there were only two model units open, so we had to shoot those in between showings to prospective renters. It made for a full, but very productive day of shooting.

I started by arriving early and shooting the lobby (main pic above), which is the centerpiece of the development. I don’t like to use supplemental lighting any more than I have to, but I needed to light some of the furniture, which was looking too dark. I didn’t just want to shoot in HDR (high dynamic range) and leave it at that, though in the end, it became a mixture of an HDR image combined with specifically lit elements.

Wheaton 121 Luxury Apartments- Interiors

The actual view out the windows- cars, piles of rubble, advertising banner, etc. Note the strobe lighting the furniture on the right. This was retouched out of the final image.

Because construction was still underway, there was all kinds of garbage out the lobby windows- mounds of gravel, tractors and other construction related items. In the end, I had to return a couple days later and shoot some trees and sidewalks from around the complex, then replace the views out the windows with those.

Wheaton 121 Luxury Apartments- Interiors

Model apartment, with computer-generated apartments added to the courtyard view

It got even harder when I needed to add some better views out the windows of the apartments themselves. I couldn’t just add trees because the units were two or three stories up. In the end, I got computer renderings from the architects, of what the view was going to be like, and pasted those in the windows.

I think I spent about two full days after the shoot to get all the high resolution images done. The client has since used them on their website and is getting great feedback from their Facebook page.

Since then, I’ve gone back two or three times to shoot exteriors as the outside of the building nears completion.

Wheaton 121 Luxury Apartments- Interiors

Common area lounge

Wheaton 121 Luxury Apartments- Interiors

Common area lounge

Wheaton 121 Luxury Apartments- Interiors

Common area lounge panorama

Wheaton 121 Luxury Apartments- Interiors

Theater

Wheaton 121 Luxury Apartments- Interiors

Fitness room

Wheaton 121 Luxury Apartments- Interiors

Sales area

 

The Adventures of Mike’s Camera is the blog of freelance photographer, Mike Hudson. He is available for commercial photography assignments– marketing, corporate, editorial, annual reports, lifestyle, web page photography, and events. His clients have included many regional and national magazines and newspapers, several healthcare providers, colleges, hotels, architectural firms, small businesses and more. Visit MichaelHudsonPhotography.com to check out his portfolio or contact him via email.

 

 

Photo Class- the best thing you can do to improve your pictures

© Michael Hudson, All Rights Reserved

Is all that bland sky necessary?

As a professional photographer, I get asked by a lot of people what they can do to make their pictures better. There’s a wide range of answers for that– bad exposure (pictures coming out too light or dark) is a big one, using a low quality camera and getting pixellated pictures is another, but there’s one thing that I see wrong more than any other, and that’s poor composition. Composition is simply a matter of how you frame your pictures- what you decide will be in the shot. Will it be more sky or less sky, closeup portraits or full body shots. The single biggest mistake I see is putting the subject right in the dead center of the picture. I know this from experience– every time I ask someone to take a family photo for me with my camera, I always get back a shot of our heads in the middle of the frame, with too much boring sky above us.

Waaaayyy too much of the road, the sky and trees, and not enough of my family.

Waaaayyy too much of the road, the sky and trees, and not enough of my family.

What can you do to avoid this? You’ve got two choices- either move in closer to fill the frame with your subjects, or aim the camera down a little to avoid all that sky behind them. Honestly, a more ground is more interesting than blank sky. Of course, if there’re some cool clouds, or an interesting sunset behind them, by all means, include that in the shot, but don’t waste valuable space with bland-ness. Think first- what’s your picture really about, and concentrate on that. Is it the family, is it the location they’re in? Include those things.

One of the most helpful books I’ve ever read on the subject of photography, was The Making of Landscape Photographs, by well known English landscape photographer, Charlie Waite. The lesson I learned most from reading the book, was to search the viewfinder of your camera before you push the shutter button. Is there anything extraneous in the shot? Move so you avoid it. (I took a picture of my car several years ago- it’s still one of my favorite pictures, but what bothers me is there is a flattened soda can on the ground in front of the car. I know I could just delete it in Photoshop, but that’s not the way I like to work- get it right in camera!). Sometimes it’s only a matter of moving a couple inches to get a better composition. Also, ask yourself if you want everything in the picture- would your shot be better if you avoided all that empty sky, or waited until there were no cars in the background?

It takes some practice to start seeing composition intuitively, but it might help to look at the pictures you’ve already taken. How could you have framed them better? Study them, and be diligent in composing your pictures better. It might be the most common thing that sets amateurs apart from professionals, but with a bit of practice, your pictures will begin to look more professional.

Much better......

Much better……

 

The Adventures of Mike’s Camera is the blog of freelance photographer, Mike Hudson. He is available for commercial photography assignments– marketing, corporate, editorial, annual reports, lifestyle, web page photography, and events. His clients have included many regional and national magazines and newspapers, several healthcare providers, colleges, hotels, architectural firms, small businesses and more. Visit MichaelHudsonPhotography.com to check out his portfolio or contact him via email.

 

 

Personal Work: The Wheaton Grand Theater, Part One

The Wheaton Grand Theater (original plaster work), September 26, 2013

Chunk of the original, 1926 hand painted plaster from one of the walls

For decades, the Wheaton Grand Theater, built in 1926,  showed live entertainment and movies in Chicago’s western suburbs. In the 1970’s the theater was divided into two screens, then later four, as it became a second-run movie theater. Finally, the theater closed in the late 1990’s in a state of disrepair. After years of neglect, there’s now a campaign to raise the money needed to bring it back to being a full theater of the arts, showing movies and live shows.

The Wheaton Grand Theater, September 5, 2013

Interior of the theater, with the dome that lights up with red, blue or yellow lights

Working pro bono as a photographer/ videographer for the theater, I spent a day shooting interiors before the main renovation work begins, hopefully some time soon. As someone who used to see a lot of films here in the 1980’s and 1990’s, it was a revelation how beautiful the place once was, with ornate plasterwork on the walls and ceilings, hand painted stenciling bordering the stage, and a large lighted dome above the main auditorium, with colored lights that still worked.

The Wheaton Grand Theater, September 5, 2013

Left side of stage, with most of the original plasterwork removed. Actually, most of the plasterwork has been found and sits in boxes around the auditorium. For years, this wall and exit were covered over.

The Wheaton Grand Theater, September 5, 2013

Original hand painted plasterwork by the stage. At some point, most of this area was painted over in a dull blue paint.

The Wheaton Grand Theater, September 5, 2013

Original light from along the walls of the theater.

The Wheaton Grand Theater, September 5, 2013

For me, the most beautiful part of the interior is the dome, which, if you stand underneath it, has the most amazing acoustics. This is my favorite picture, where you can see the beauty of the iron scroll work, and the years of cobwebs clinging to it. Taken looking directly up from the center of the auditorium.

The Wheaton Grand Theater, September 5, 2013

The full dome, with some of the stars still intact. In its heyday, the theater operators could turn on blue light to simulate the night sky, with points of lights coming from each of the stars. Now most of the stars are gone and holes and wiring are left in their place.

The Wheaton Grand Theater, September 5, 2013

A lot of restoration work is needed by the stage.

 

The Adventures of Mike’s Camera is the blog of freelance photographer, Mike Hudson. He is available for commercial photography assignments– marketing, corporate, editorial, annual reports, lifestyle, web page photography, and events. His clients have included many regional and national magazines and newspapers, several healthcare providers, colleges, hotels, architectural firms, small businesses and more. Visit MichaelHudsonPhotography.com to check out his portfolio or contact him via email.

 

Behind the Scenes: Airport CEO Shoot

Joe DePaulo, CEO of Clow Bolingbrook International Airport, for Naperville MagazineI’ve been fortunate to have Naperville Magazine as one of my clients for the past six or seven years. The city of Naperville is one of the most vibrant communities in the Chicago suburbs and the upscale magazine runs features on area restaurants, beautiful homes, fashion, and movers and shakers in the local area, including some of the CEO’s of large and small companies. I’ve been the CEO photographer for the past couple years.

At the end of the summer, I was asked to get some pictures of Joe DePaulo, the CEO of  Bolingbrook International Airport, a small municipal airport located in a neighborhood of homes and shops. I’m always given carte blanche when it comes to these pictures. My only instructions are to shoot it vertically to cover a full page, and to leave some space for type. It often takes some research on the internet to find out who the CEO’s are, and what their company does, so that I can shoot their picture with a bit of context to them. (If at all possible, I avoid taking their picture in their office, unless there are items in the room that will give me that context.) In this case, we were shooting at an airport, so it was a no-brainer. He needed to be with a plane, or in the control tower, or somewhere that said “airport”.

Joe DePaulo, CEO of Clow Bolingbrook International Airport, for Naperville Magazine

the headphones version

Well, there is no control tower at this airport, so Joe took me out to his private plane. It was perfect. It took some thought to figure out what to have him hold, where to put his hands, and what I wanted in the background behind him, but after moving the plane, I had the composition I was looking for. I had Joe holding his headphones in several of the pictures, but in the end, it looked too staged, so we lost the headphones.

The sun was out and the sky was blue– beautiful weather, and great as a backdrop for a picture of a plane, but the shadows were too harsh, so I rigged up a small flash to fill in the shadows. The only thing I was concerned about was that a breeze would knock over my light stand and flash, maybe even onto Joe’s expensive plane. Fortunately that didn’t happen!

The final picture shows a relaxed CEO proudly standing with his airplane.

Joe DePaulo, CEO of Clow Bolingbrook International Airport, for Naperville Magazine

final version chosen for a full page in Naperville Magazine

 

The Adventures of Mike’s Camera is the blog of freelance photographer, Mike Hudson. He is available for commercial photography assignments– marketing, corporate, editorial, annual reports, lifestyle, web page photography, and events. His clients have included many regional and national magazines and newspapers, several healthcare providers, colleges, hotels, architectural firms, small businesses and more. Visit MichaelHudsonPhotography.com to check out his portfolio or contact him via email.