Pete Sieger

Architectural Photographer, Owner & Founder:
Peter J. Sieger Architectural Photography

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Architectural Photography: More on the Question “View Camera or DSLR?”

It occurred to me that, in my recent post titled “View Camera or DSLR”, I neglected two considerations of critical importance to architectural photographers.

1.) I neglected to mention that the Canon 5D Mark II, it’s successor the Mark III, the Nikon D800, the Lumix GH4, and a wide variety of other DSLR’s are capable of producing Full HD (High Definition) 1080/30p video. The Lumix GH4 now leads the pack with 4K 24p cinematic video capability. The view camera, of course produces only still images - very high quality stills, at that.

2.) I quoted the retail price of approximately $48,000 for the Phase One IQ180 digital back, the 645DF camera body, and a single lens, sold as a package. What I didn’t say (and should have) was that this system has no perspective correction capabilities - whether camera or lens shifts (and will not produce high definition video) - something of critical

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Architectural Photography: View Camera or DSLR?

For decades the view camera has been the architectural photographer’s tool of choice. But things have changed. Advancing technology has seen to that.

In a previous post, I mentioned that most of my architectural photography in recent years has been done in color by direct digital capture, using a DSLR - i.e. a Digital Single Lens Reflex camera. My workhorse has been a Canon 5D Mark II, shown here with a 45mm Canon tilt-shift lens.

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I’ve mentioned also that my 4" x 5" large format view camera - a Sinar F-1, shown here with a 120mm Schneider Super Angulon lens - has been mostly out of service, but certainly not out of favor.

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So that begs the question: When, if ever anymore, does my view camera come out of its case?

For commissioned work, I generally use my 5D Mark II, which will produce high quality 21 megapixel direct digital images. A 21 megapixel image will yield a high quality

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Architectural Photography: More on Black & White

In recent posts, I’ve outlined my thoughts on the application of black & white imagery in architectural photography. I suggested that black & white images, though seldom considered for publication or interpretive purposes, can be especially useful as abstractions, depicting in a superior way, the architectural design essentials of light, form, structure, space, texture, and repetition.

Following are some additional thoughts, and some case studies drawing from diverse building types, which illustrate the conundrum - black & white vs. color in architectural imagery.

A Clear Case for Black & White:

I shot the following two images several years ago at a view camera workshop that I conducted at the University of Minnesota College of Design. The images, flatbed scans from 4" x 5" Kodak 100 T-MAX, represent two views of the stair from the lobby to the lower level in Rapson Hall. The

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Architectural Photography: Point of View

In recent posts, I’ve discussed the importance of “light” and “perspective” in architectural imaging. A third consideration, “point-of-view”, is every bit as important in the making of an architectural composition.

Point-of-view, of course, is a function of camera position relative to a scene, but also fundamental to point-of-view is the choice of lens, which will affect the coverage of the scene, and expansion or compression of perspective.

In addition to composition and perspective considerations, an understanding of the movement of light across the subject is critical to proper placement of the camera and timing of the image capture. This is especially true of exterior work, but also of interior work wherever daylighting is a part of the equation.

The following images shot in and near the elevator lobby at Valspar’s corporate headquarters in Minneapolis will serve to illustrate

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Architectural Photography: Tilt-Shift

I’ll admit it. How shall I say it? I’m obsessed with the notion that perspective must be accurately rendered in architectural photography.

For years I watched the architectural magazines featuring the work of my heroes: Balthazar Korab, Ezra Stoller, and others. They consistently produced beautiful architectural images with precisely rendered perspective - never a vertical out of true vertical, often with horizontals rendered purely horizontal, except by deliberate design in circumstances dictating a departure from the orthodox.

These “architects of photography” produced much of their work utilizing the architectural photographer’s tool of choice for managing perspective, the large format view camera - Sinar F-1 shown here.

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Much of their work was shot in black & white, but that’s another story. I began using a view camera in 1972 - a 4" x 5" Kodak Masterview. That most

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Architectural Photography: Is There a Case for Collaboration?

It was my perception, as I was launching my own architectural photography business several years ago, that most architectural photographers - at least those working from a base in Minneapolis - were performing mostly as soloists, with little or no interaction with other architectural photographers.

It seemed to me that everyone had their own methods, their own voices, and their own formulas for the capture and delivery of architectural images. Moreover, it seemed that most architectural photographers were guarded, unwilling to share what might be construed as trade secrets, out of a fear that someone might develop a competitive advantage. I may have been wrong, but they say perception is reality.

This all changed in 2010, as I met Christian Korab, and as the two of us with four other local photographers - three of them his students - began meeting and working together. Initially

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Architectural Photography: More About the Light

Further to my post on the “Light”, this afternoon, I’m recalling a thought that came to mind recently as I was waiting for the “decisive moment” on a shoot location:

…amazing how slow the light moves when you want it to move fast, and how fast it moves when you want it to move slow…

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Detail, Lakewood Garden Mausoleum | Minneapolis, MN | HGA

For more on the Lakewood Garden Mausoleum, see:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/peterjsieger/sets/72157630356995274/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/peterjsieger/sets/72157632818089176/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/peterjsieger/sets/72157632818237554/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/peterjsieger/sets/72157636443608103/

My Website can be found here: http://siegerarchphoto.com

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Architectural Photography: It’s All About the Light!

In 1972 I purchased a used view camera from a friend - a 4" x 5" Kodak Masterview - in part as a favor to my friend, Don King - to lighten his load (he was moving to California), and in part because I’d been reading about Ansel Adams, and had taken a new fascination for large format photography.

It came with a wide angle lens, a 90mm Schneider Angulon - perfect for the photography of architecture, I thought. This lens preceeded the Super Angulons, and little did I know at the time that the image circle was too small for any significant lens shifts or camera movements. But that’s another story.

As I began using this camera, my expectations heightened. Now that I was shooting on large film, my images would improve substantially over those that I was getting on my 35mm Nikon FTN.

After a succession of failures, I began to realize that it’s not at all about the camera, or the lens, or

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Architectural Photography: More on Deere

…just a quick thought on one of the images I shot recently at the John Deere and Company World Headquarters - further to the previous post - this also on the subject of Black & White architectural imaging.

I am particularly fond of this image in black & white. It’s a view of the northeast corner of the exhibit pavilion at the Deere headquarters. It was shot with a 45mm tilt-shift lens on my 5D Mark II, with a shift up to capture the ceiling while maintaining the integrity of the perspective. The use of this “normal” focal length results in the slight compression of perspective, yielding a more tightly framed view than would obtain from the use of a wide angle lens.

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In black & white, this becomes more an abstraction which speaks to the design of the curtainwall and ceiling. In color, though, this image is equally effective, though much more literal in rendering.

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Personally, I

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Architectural Photography: Black & White - Another Way of Seeing Things?

Most of my architectural photography in recent years has been done in color by direct digital capture. I’d attribute this to almost universal demand in the marketplace, dating first to the time when color film came to use, and reinforced more recently when digital capture all but replaced film.

Most architects and designers have a preference for the literal representation and interpretation of their work in photography. Most architectural magazines - even the electronic web versions - would appear to be a part of this consensus, if only because architects and designers provide much of the visual content.

Nonetheless, I maintain a strong personal attachment to black & white imagery of the sort Balthazar Korab and Ezra Stoller - two architectural photographers of vastly different sensibilities - produced with large format cameras at the heights of their exceptional careers.

Though I’m

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