An Architectural photographers take on Living with Light. by Gabe Border

I came across this video recently and found it very interesting. The way architects use light in design, informs the way I photograph a space.

Naturally as an architectural photographer, we constantly think about light...shadow, and how it can add texture, mood and depth. Architects and designers too have to think about light. Windows are not unlike an aperture into the built environment. Controlling how light interacts with a space.

Photographers carefully craft light to compliment the design. We use tools like scrim fabric, black flag and studio lights. They help the camera see as we see, so that the three dimensions and 5 senses of experiencing an environment can captivate someone in two dimensions. 

This video also relays the message of how important the design of our environments are. When editing in my studio, I greatly value the crisp white walls and natural light of the studio. 



Architectural photography: A gift guide by Gabe Border

We architectural photographers work on location, which requires every piece of gear to perform at its best time and time again. Anything that makes life easier, allows for us to concentrate on more important things. For the photographer on your list, these items are sure to please.

Hint-Buy the first item on the list and stuff any other fragile gifts inside. Santa is notorious for breaking things while going down the chimney...

Think Tank production manager-

 Keeping everything secure and organized is a no-brainer. Think Tank engineers their products for professionals. 

Color correction light Gels-

Placed over strobes or flashes to warm up the light. These are a must have!

The Arca Swiss Cube-

  The cats meow for precisely leveling your camera. While expensive, the time you will save in the field and in post will more than make up for it. It is just a pleasure to use this thing!

Nikon 19mm PC-E-

  Nikon' answer to the Canon 17mm ts-e. While not as wide, Nikon is pushing lens capability for high resolution sensors that are coming down the pipe. The best part is that, when placed on a crop body camera or paired with a 1.4x teleconverter, this lens covers the fantastic 28mm focal range. 

Profoto B1-

  This strobe needs no introduction. The ease of use and reliability are make this one of the most used lights in the industry. Hopefully other companies will bring their own battery powered options out soon and push the abilities of these units.

Cam Ranger-

  While some photographers prefer to tether their cameras to a laptop. I love the speed, ease of use, and freedom of this wireless setup. Walking back and forth to the camera while lighting and adjusting furniture is a royal pain. Cam Ranger to the rescue.

Gaffer Tape-

 This stuff is indispensable, just like socks and underwear, everyone needs this.

Book: Passive Houses-

 Good books on architecture feed the soul. And they look good on the coffee table.

Lowel GL-1-

  This light is fantastic at twilight for interiors and exteriors. Top tip- use your gaf tape to secure the battery in place. This light likes to just eject the battery on its own. The light quality is fantastic. The light build quality...not so much.

Evil Insurgent-

  Don't forget to have fun outside of work!

Happy Holidays and keep shooting!


Architectural photography in Boise Idaho and beyond by Gabe Border

2016 has been a whirlwind. I have traveled the globe more since February, than I have in my 32 years on globage earth. I will be chronically some of the happenings to catch up. Fist up...Dubai!

Shot with the Canon 5DSR and a 17mm TSE. Such a good example of when to use this wide of a lens.

Shot with the Canon 5DSR and a 17mm TSE. Such a good example of when to use this wide of a lens.

Goggle man guarding the spirits at a restaurant in Duabi. 

Goggle man guarding the spirits at a restaurant in Duabi. 

I decided to make my first international flight one of the longest flights possible. Having never spent more than 4 hours on a plane, prepping for a 14.5 hour flight was interesting. Luckily I flew Emirates air, their on board entertainment was great, and I was fortunate to have an entire row to myself. Being able to lay down was almost more comfortable than first class.

The Burj Khalifa- Tallest Building in the world.

The Burj Khalifa- Tallest Building in the world.

We had two locations to shoot in Duabi. A restaurant inside a hotel. and a private villa. There was also a group involved, part of a workshop with Mike Kelley. It was great to meet other architectural photographers from around the world. 

Beautiful Arabic architecture. 

Beautiful Arabic architecture. 

I ate Indian food every day...

I ate Indian food every day...

Moving furniture to better composition by Gabe Border

I am often asked, what is a critical part to creating an image that will better invite the viewer in? Often it is not just the camera position, but how the furniture is in relation to the camera. 

For example:

The composition fulfills the duty of showing the room. But the furniture looks out of place, busy, and uninviting. Funny enough, the furniture has to be moved in a way that would make it seem off if left after taking the photo. 

Here is the completed photo:

As you can see. The final image has much better context. A little light from a flash outside brings texture to the pillow. Next time you are frustrated with a composition. Slow down and think how the room could be adjusted to fit your vision.

Tech Tip Tuesday- Architectural photography in tough situations. by Gabe Border

A little behind the scenes of an interiors shoot.

Ideal in Architectural photography is not always the case. Sometimes, a client will call last minute and request images of an empty space, with little or no time available on location. The challenge is to create unique images that convey livability in a space, without making it look like some empty foreclosure(in this case the client is a home builder). Normally when shooting with architects and interior designers, time is taken to plan and prep before a shoot begins. Often a shot list is made into a treatment with examples, so that everyone is clear on how the images will look. 

So for this project, I chose to shoot more detail, by implying a space. The last thing I want to do is park the tripod in a corner, with a 17mm lens, and take some warped image of an empty room. Here I will explain how I shot the shower and used lighting techniques to create mood. Light manipulation is an architectural photographers best friend. Without it, images will lack depth.  

Final retouched image-


Alright, here we go- 

First image. Getting the composition sorted.

As you can see...Ambient light and the overhead can light are creating a pretty lousy scene. Rather ugly orange cast on the right, and the window light is going blue.

   Second image. Kill the can light and add a flash with gel(flash is bouncing off the ceiling camera right). The first image is dark but gives a good sense of the mood we are creating.


Second image. Kill the can light and add a flash with gel(flash is bouncing off the ceiling camera right). The first image is dark but gives a good sense of the mood we are creating.





Third image. Add light on the towel. At this point it is pretty clear that we need to flag the window behind the camera, to kill that blue light cast.

Fourth Image. Now we are getting somewhere. The Towel is still a little flat, a little more gelled flash can fix that.

Fifth image. On location I would call this done. I have everything I need and can easily finish the image in photoshop.

Final retouched image. Vertical lines checked, and some dusts spost cloned out. 


 Even in a day when we have jaw dropping 5K monitors, the tactile heft of a wood and paper captivates the viewer in a way no fancy LED backlight can. I had a blast putting this book together, and can't wait to see how it will look in the coming future. Oh ya, new branding and business cards!

I started out with a 11"x17" post binder from Pina Zangaro. I loved the look and expandability. Plus it is super easy to change pages out as you go.

After looking over the blog of No Plastic Sleeves, I noticed that many portfolios, especially home grown efforts, were printed on Moab Lasal Matte 235. This fantastic double sided paper is worth every penny. I made a custom icc profile for the Moab paper, this ensures that every time I vision is met from the screen. Some of the pages are separated with 11"x17" velum paper.

Gabe Border-Boise-Architecture

I was able to pick up the Canon Pixima-Pro 100 a couple months back thanks to the great guys over at Fstoppers. They clued me in on a rebate deal from Canon, that basically made the printer $50. 

So far I have had the best results printing straight from the print media pro plug in on Lightroom, I choose Platinum N for paper and my own icc matte profile.

The prints are fantastic and I find that clients connect much better than on an ipad. To finish, I will have my logo etched on the front cover. I am also building print mailers for my next marketing campaign. 

Commercial Architectural shoot in Boise Idaho by Gabe Border

I recently had the pleasure of working with Glancey Rockwell and Associates Architecture firm in Boise. They had recently completed a project for Aviation Specialties Unlimited, ASU need to expand their hanger for research and production of night vision for aircraft. This resulted in a 27,000 sq. ft. Facility, including office space and a hanger solution. 

I knew this project would be a challenge. The building itself is basically a large barn. While scouting the location, I noted the subtle parts that stood out to me...the aluminum around the entry, the large bay door. Additionally there were some really cool aircraft available to fill in the hanger space for context. I concentrated on adding mood to the spaces and highlighting the unique features with depth and clarity.