Case Studies

VLOG: Aerial and Exterior Photography of Vista Pearl by BORA Architects

Video Transcript

Hi, this is Lincoln Barbour of Lincoln Barbour Studio. Today I want to go over a shoot I did this summer and just give you a little overview of what we do here and how we get a job and how we deliver it and all the fun stuff that goes along with it. So this shoot was of the Vista Pearl building for BORA Architects, a firm based out of Portland Oregon. This building is located in the Pearl District of Portland.  BORA wanted me to capture some aerial photos of this building as well as retake some of the exteriors since the landscape has grown in after it’s been completed for a year or so.

They reached out to me and I’m an FAA licensed drone pilot so I can legally and safely fly a drone for commercial purposes. And the biggest difference between me, an FAA licensed pilot flying a drone, and anybody else is that I can get insurance. You can’t get insurance to fly your drone commercially unless you are licensed by the FAA. So safety and insurance are the main reasons why you want to hire an FAA pilot.

 This building in particular has a really interesting design feature on the east and west facades. There are these fins that change shape as they move down the building and we wanted the light to hit the fins to accentuate those different shadow lines that the building creates.  It’s a very exciting exterior and time of day was super critical for the shot. So we plan the shoot around getting this one shot in particular.

On the other side of the building we photographed the west exterior in the same kind of way.  We wanted to showcase the different shapes that were going on with the fins and the way the light affects them. This shot was actually taken from another building across the block. We were able to get access and go up to the fifth floor and shoot across. You can see there’s another building down here that we shot over. So pre scouting and coordinating with other building owners to get access is critical to these kind of shoots.

An unedited drone shot.

So now I want to show some of the drone shots that we got. This is the raw drone file and I wanted to show a before and after. So you can see what we get and then what we end up delivering to the client. This building was a beautiful building and it’s in a great setting. Unfortunately there’s a couple of things going on down in here.  There is some grass being grown and some water pipes and all this yellow fencing. It’s also early summer and the park here is starting to show some threadbare.  The green roof that they installed hasn’t quite matured. It’s supposed to look like this over here but it’s just still early plantings and so it wasn’t quite green yet although it is very much alive. So we were shooting this for their portfolio and as well as for a presentation. So we worked on the color and did some retouching. So you can see we sort of emphasize the sky. We richen up the sky. We retouched out the pipes and the orange fence. We made the grass down here green. And we made the roof look like a proper green roof. We also took down a sign that was here.  There was a blue leasing sign that was right here and we took that out.

The same drone shot as above after retouching.

So now we have a really beautiful, nice composition of the building. Again this is a drone shot, but it’s also architectural.  So the verticals have been kept all nice and straight and it has a very three dimensional feel.  It doesn’t look wonky and skewed.

Another angle of the Vista Pearl, this was purposefully shot underexposed to keep the highlights in check.

Here’s another angle. This was shot early in the morning and I wanted to save the highlights so I underexposed this photograph. And so I wanted to keep the highlight values in here to show that. But overall the photo looks kind of muddy and flat. We went in and worked up the color and brought it back to life.

The shot is edited to make the scene more interesting and still keep the highlights under control.

So now it’s a little bit more interesting. That’s got some nice drama. It’s got some great contrast. We also did the roof fix here and then the grass in the park has been retouched.  Going back, you can really see that the difference between the two.  So big change.   Some subtle adjustments and a bit of retouching as well.

An unedited drone shot highlighting several buildings designed by BORA.

Now here is this overview shot.  And this is really cool.  Several of these buildings are all done by BORA Architects and they really wanted to showcase this block that they’ve been working on over the last couple of years in Portland.  The only way to get this shot is with a drone.  Fortunately, the Pearl District is outside of the airspace of the Portland Airport, so I could actually get my drone back far enough to capture all these buildings. The day that I shot these drone exteriors was a little bit cloudier. I actually went twice to this project to photograph it and to shoot drone aerials. So on this day we have more drama in the sky. Again you can see the problems that we have. The grass is barren here. The roof isn’t green. This is looking a little rough and new.

The shot is now fully edited and being used by BORA for their own marketing and presentation needs.

So we went in and did some retouching and some color and contrast adjustments. Now we have a beautiful photograph. So this photo is now being used on their website, presentation and marketing materials.  It really does a good job showcasing the work that they do as a firm.

This patio image is a composite of two different photos.

This last shot is the patio area of Vista Pearl. I love the final composition but this is not a single photograph.  We got a composition of two different photographs.

This shot was used for the couple on the right and the overall lighting conditions.

The first one is the people on the right here.  We liked what they were doing, how they’re engaged with the people over here. With this shot there was a couple issues; we had some water spills and we had these kids which don’t really fit the building.  The building is designed more for people without children.

This shot was used for the couple on the left and the fire.

So we ended up using a frame later where we brought on this couple to sit with this couple. But the lighting wasn’t as good at this point. So what we did is we took these people and we added here to get this final composition.  So this is the final shot and the client was super happy and so am I.

It took us two days of shooting and about a half day of retouching to get everything done and we’re all very happy with these results.

If you have any questions and if you want to know more about how we photograph architecture please reach out to us. We would love to work for you and help you out with your photography needs. Thanks so much.

Blackout the Glass House

If you’re a fan of architecture, you’ve probably heard of Philip Johnson’s Glass House in New Canaan, CT. This famous modern architectural home has been photographed repeatedly over the past 50 years by the best photographers in the world. And just recently, it was my turn!

About five months ago, Hunter Douglas’ Creative Director Don Montgomery reached out to me with a uniquely challenging project. Hunter Douglas was releasing a new total-blackout shade system, which their creative team decided to promote by installing in the least likely of places: a famous all-glass house.

Because we only had 7 hours to document this entire project, I decided to shoot it on my Canon 5D Mk IV. It’s a very nimble camera with a lot of dynamic range. I also used Canon’s architectural lenses for their excellent sharpness and shift capabilities, both of which are necessary to properly shoot architecture. As for the lighting, it consisted of a mix of natural light, available lamps, and a set of Arri tungsten fresnels.

So how do you shoot something intended to eliminate light? Very carefully and thoughtfully! I employed every lighting technique I could think of to capture shots that favorably exhibit the product and its effect while still respecting the historical architecture. After all, this product really is amazing; when it’s entirely down, no light comes in whatsoever. Even when we opened certain shades, the room remained incredibly dark.

Alongside me were my digital tech Esteban Aladro and 1st assistant Mike Grippi. These guys worked extra hard due to some heavy late-morning rain and a lack of electricity in the house. We rented a gas-powered generator which Mike rigged up so it could function outside and be protected from the rain. Right before we’d shoot, Mike would run out and squeegee the windows clean. Overall, we had to work extremely diligently to get through each shot while proofing everything to art director Anna Yumul in Adobe Lightroom.

The final shots are some of my absolute favorites, and I feel tremendously honored that Hunter Douglas entrusted me to capture them. I don’t think we’ll ever see the Glass House look quite like this ever again. As such, it truly was a special shoot for me.

Let’s Get Cozy with Virginia Living

Back in September, I photographed a holiday feature story for Virginia Living in Hot Springs, VA.
Much to my pleasant surprise, they selected this Christmas-themed shot of an outdoor fireplace for the cover!

I always try to get a cover option when shooting a feature, but you never know if it’ll actually be used. After all, a magazine will shoot two or three features per issue, and only one is picked for the cover. Lucky me 😉

Fun fact: The shot below was taken at the same time as the feature opener. Since it still looked a lot like summer, we shot the scene at dusk to ensure that the foliage wouldn’t be too noticeable. We weren’t going to get two days of dusk shots, so instead, I set up a second camera to the right of the main one. As I directed Margaret Valentine and her husband Massie in the shot, my assistant fired off the second camera. We initially matched exposure settings on both cameras, and I shouted out exposure shifts as the night got darker. Eventually we pulled the people and took a shot with the chairs empty. As it turns out, the final shot eventually used on the cover is actually a composite of three different shots: the fireplace, the view, and the flames.

With Ann Harvey directing the art, the rest of the shots in the story came out extremely well. Margaret Valentine and Nan McVey (McVey Valentine Interior Design), who are featured in the story, arranged all of the excellent decorations; their attention to detail was an absolute pleasure to shoot. Overall, this was an amazing effort on all parts, especially considering it was shot in September and had to be entirely put away after the shoot.

Lincoln was a great collaborator, bringing a refined and experienced sensibility to this shelter shoot. In addition, he’s got serious technical chops, so we got beautiful, consistent, natural light for interiors, exteriors, candle light, fire light and all combinations. Bonus: he’s great with people . . .  and dogs, too.” – Ann Harvey

The issue is still out, so make sure to pick up a copy today! If you don’t live in Virginia, reach out to me and I’ll send you a copy while I still can.

Merry Everything!!!Lincoln

Case Study: Gallaudet Deaf Residence Hall for Dangermond Keane Architects

One of my greatest joys as a photographer is seeing my pictures help clients succeed. Just last week, I learned that my clients at Dangermond Keane Architects (DKa) were recognized by the AIA DC with the 2018 Presidential Citation in Universal Design for their work on the Gallaudet University Model Secondary School for the Deaf Residence Hall.

I shot this project for DKa during an icy cold snap in January of 2017. When we started with the dusk exteriors, it was a frigid 10° outside and – to add insult to injury – my laptop battery died within 20 minutes of shooting. Thankfully, we managed to have just enough juice to capture the shots we needed.

I actually set up two cameras to capture simultaneous dusk exposures from distinct angles. Bringing two cameras to shoots is a staple of mine, particularly beneficial during timely shots like these. After all, we only have a few minutes to get the perfect dusk shot and there’s never enough time to reset the camera. With two cameras going at once, I can easily double the effort.

The most interesting thing we needed to capture on this shoot was the DeafSpace principles used in the hall’s design. In essence, the spaces are tailor-made for visual conversation. From Gallaudet’s website:

“When deaf people congregate the group customarily works together to rearrange furnishings into a ‘conversation circle’ to allow clear sightlines so everyone can participate in the visual conversation.  Gatherings often begin with participants adjusting window shades, lighting and seating to optimize conditions for visual communication that minimize eyestrain. Deaf homeowners often cut new openings in walls, place mirrors and lights in strategic locations to extend their sensory awareness and maintain visual connection between family members.

These practical acts of making a DeafSpace are long-held cultural traditions that, while never-before formally recognized, are the basic elements of an architectural expression unique to deaf experiences. The study of DeafSpace offers valuable insights about the interrelationship between the senses, the ways we construct the built environment and cultural identity from which society at large has much to learn.”

DKa designed the common areas with clear lines of sight for visual communication (i.e. sign language). I worked with Chris Keane on the shoot to carefully set up the shots so that they would illustrate their technical understanding of DeafSpace. In addition, we had real students participating so there was an added challenge of communicating through an interpreter. I couldn’t just yell, “Hey – move over to left!” Instead, I was constantly running around set, doing my best to explain where I wanted them to be and what actions I wanted them to take. Through it all, the students were extremely cooperative, and working with them was a genuinely incredible experience.

Together, we produced some impressive work that I’m extremely proud of, and I’m elated to hear that DKa is (deservedly!) getting noticed for their efforts. Kudos to all!

Case Study: Making Magic with Rejuvenation

After shooting photography of architecture and interior design for over a decade and a half, it seems I’ve actually learned a thing or two. When I hired former Martin Agency art buyer Suzanne Sease to edit my portfolio a while back, she pointed it out to me: Above all else, I excel at shooting products on location.

We then tweaked my portfolio to highlight this strength, opening the door for home product shoots to become the focal point of my business. In addition to architecture and design firms, I also shoot for brands like Hunter Douglas, Oreck, and Rejuvenation.

Speaking of, Rejuvenation is one of my favorite home product brands to shoot for. Based in Portland, Oregon, many Rejuvenation shoots play to my specialty as they’re done on site. For each book, we’d shoot for multiple days – 5 at the minimum. My longest shoot with them even lasted 23 days in one location.

What’s particular about these location shoots is the logistics of shooting their product in places that may not actually exist. In fact, in many of the shots you see here, the product wasn’t actually installed. We rigged it in and then photoshopped the rigging out later. This is a brilliant strategy since it allows you to frame a perfect shot anywhere and then simply add the chandelier, sconce, or other product to optimize its aesthetic. Once the rigging is digitally removed, the shot becomes magical!

Here are a few more before and after shots:

Need help getting your product shot on location?

Though I can’t share all my tricks on my blog, I am more than happy to help you on your next shoot to make your products look amazing and magical.

Click here to contact me today!

Hunter Douglas “Beauty Awakens” Ad Campaign

Okay, I’ve been excited to share things before, but this takes the cake. It’s the feather in my cap. It’s the bees knees to Nth degree. It’s the biggest ad campaign my work has been featured in… ever… or least in my 16 year career so far.

I’ve loved this shot ever since I took it for Hunter Douglas. It’s really me all summed up in one picture: architectural, great styling, people naturally placed, beautiful light, and technically superb. It’s flawless, yet relaxed… timeless, yet real.

And now, Hunter Douglas is using it as an iconic hero photograph in a massive fall print ad campaign. Over the next three months, you will see this double-page ad featured in the following magazines:

That’s a lot of ink! I just picked up some of the September issues. Guess what’s in all these magazines?




Now, that’s how you do a brand awareness campaign.

When asked why they decided to go with this shot for the campaign, Hunter Douglas’ VP Creative Director, Donald Montgomery, simply said, “It’s the best shot we have.”

And I’m done. Drop the mic, exit stage left. Thank you to everyone helped me out on this shoot. I couldn’t have done it without you. Big hugs and high fives all around.

Stylist: Bergren Rameson
Photography Art Direction: Nicole Stowe – Ramey
Producer: Heather Smith – Smith X Union
Model: Nicole Herold
Location Scout: Lisa Rothmuller – San Diego Locations
Camera: Alpa XY with PhaseOne Digital Back from Capture Integration

Are you ready to make an iconic photograph for your brand?

Contact me today about your vision and I will make it happen for you.