Architectural Assignment, Number 2

Every assignment has it's challenges but this one was a bit different than most. It was late in the day on a Wednesday, well beyond 5 p.m., when I received a phone call from a very good client. I answered the call and immediately was asked if I would like to photograph a project I watched take shape over three years, Cincinnati's newest skyscraper, the Great American Tower at Queen City Square. By Cincinnati standards this was a landmark project and one I didn't want to turn down, the answer was yes, I would love to photograph the project. I asked what the time line was for creating the images and a very quick reply from my client, tomorrow.

There was no time for meetings or planning the shoot, just wing it and get the best shots you can. This is a 41 story building and the job was to photograph the top two floors which are the corporate offices and conference rooms. Why tomorrow? We didn't know we were going to get permission to photograph these floors and all the photography had to be completed before the CEO's moved in on Friday morning. The challenge was about to begin.

I arrived early Thursday morning and there was already a whole lot of activity, carpenters, electricians, heating and air-conditioning, furniture, flooring people, interior designers and yes, another photographer working for another client involved in the project. Everyone on edge, putting their finishing touches on the newly constructed building, was an experience in itself. There was no shortage of activity and I had to create photographs to show off this beautiful project amongst all the chaos. I forgot to mention one other obstacle, the entire two floors were enclosed completely of glass windows and it was a miserable gray rainy day outside. The photograph to the right illustrates the outside conditions, not very pretty.

After photographing a few conference rooms I realized these photos were not going to look good with the situation at hand. I knew in order to pull this shoot off I needed to think more creatively. Moving on to another room I was forced into taking a break while workers completed last minute fixes on some AV equipment. I noticed movers coming in and out of a stairwell. I was curious as to where they were coming and going to. I followed them up a flight of stairs which lead to the last floor of the building housing more offices which I still had to photograph. On my way back down I noticed the stairs continued up another another flight. I followed them, opened a heavy aluminum door and opened it finding the solution to the crap conditions I was dealing with. I was on the roof top and it gave me excess to the whole perimeter of the building. I knew there was no way of getting access to the office any other day, but could I get on to the roof? I took a quick look at the weather forecast and saw the following day was calling for clear sunny conditions. I was working for the building contractor and knew if anybody could help they would. I checked with the construction supervisor and the next day I had excess to the roof top.

I continued on with the photo shoot working around people and obstacles throughout the day, but with renewed excitement, knowing I had the fix for my window views. I took careful notes of what views of the surrounding city and landscapes were outside each window. 

When I returned back to my office that evening, I studied my raw files and compared them to my notes. I wanted to cover myself if any special needs were going to play into the time of day I would be photographing on the roof top, shadows or bright highlights reflected on table tops, etc... Even with the flat light I was shooting under, these conditions can sometimes come into play. My overall goal was to make sure the exterior views played well into the interior views and everything looked realistic. I don't like a shot that looks fake. To cover myself I photographed around the rooftop at three different times of the day, morning, late morning, and early afternoon. This gave the sun time to move around the building and gave me options to choose from when placing them into position.

The magic took place in post production. After blending and manipulating the photos to perfect the interior views, it was time to place the exterior views I photographed from the rooftop. The windows were the last piece to the puzzle. I duplicated the background layer and placed the exterior view in-between these two layers. I used the pen tool to cut the windows out and deleted the over exposed windows and got the results I needed. I finished the project with excellent results and ended with a nice portfolio to hand over to my client. Going the extra mile pays off.

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