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.