Photo of the Week 21 May 2013
Congratulations to John Dolan, a native New Yorker currently living in Astoria, NY, for his stunning still photo of an upper east side apartment. We had the opportunity to speak with John about how he became involved with still photography, what architects and photographers inspire him and what type of photography he enjoys for both personal and professional projects.
What type of camera, gear, and equipment did you use to capture the shot? Do you have a title for this image?
For this shot I used my Canon 5D Mark II with a 45mm tilt shift lens. The tilt shift lens is great for controlling perspective but I also use shift to take two exposures and stitch them together effectively doubling the sensor area. I used two 750 watt Calumet Travelites behind 4′x6′ diffusion panels to light the interior and offset the strong natural sunlight as well as a 4′x6′ reflector to help fill in the scene.
Where was the image taken? Is this your apartment or for a client?
This photo was taken in a three bedroom condo belonging to a family on the upper east side for the interior designer and stylist who worked on the project.
How did you get involved with shooting interiors? What is the best advice you’ve learned or equipment that you’ve found helpful for shooting interiors?
I’ve always loved architecture and initially planned on pursing that as a career. After being accepted to the Pratt Institute’s undergrad architecture program I realized photography was more than just an interest and instead attended the Art Institute of Boston where I received my BFA in photography.
A tilt shift lens is helpful for shooting architecture and interiors but I still found a DSLR limiting as I was used to photographing with a 4×5 field camera. While 4×5 chromes produce stunning results, it is no longer practical for this type of work as I can not check my lighting since the discontinuation of Polariods. The amount of time required to scan and retouch negatives was also not realistic. I have since switched to an Arca-Swiss M-Line 2 with a Phase One back, I’ve regained the technical movements of large format while retaining the advantages of digital capture. The level of detail and dynamic range captured on a medium format sensor rivals 4×5, which was something I was reluctant to believe until I saw the results.
What kind of photography do you enjoy shooting most both for professional and personal photography projects? On your portfolio it seems that your personal photography projects are all in black and white, and your interior shots are in color. Is there a particular reason for that?
My professional work consists almost exclusively of interior and architectural photography, I honestly enjoy working with subjects that don’t move and the level of detail that goes into composing and lighting spaces. Each shot can take upwards of an hour to get just right. Every space is different and poses a new challenge to light and capture. It’s also a way for me to stay connected to my interests in architecture.
My personal work has focused on landscape, while I’ve switched to digital capture for my commercial work, I will always continue to work with film for my landscapes. I never particularly enjoyed digital editing, but I can spend a whole day in my darkroom. I’m still fascinated with film, it really makes you slow down, carefully compose and expose each shot without knowing how it will look until it has been developed and printed. I enjoy having a finite amount of shots available as opposed to the near limitless capacity of shooting tethered.
Who are some of your favorite photographers and architects that you draw inspiration from?
Burtynsky has always been a great inspiration. I worked in an office where several of his original prints were hanging on the wall. It was the best part of the job being able to see them everyday. I think my original interest in architecture came from seeing the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and his concept of organic architecture, as well as style of most mid 20th century architecture. Frederick Law Olmsted was also a huge influence on my personal work.
Feeling inspired to submit your own image?
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