X4 – Professional Practices

By: EJ Olson

Architecture, Tilt Shift Photography and an Ever-Changing Industry

     On Thursday, November 13th, at Lane CC, I attended a lecture by Erik Bishoff, a professional photographer residing in here in Eugene. As a former architect, Bishoff has a particular affinity for architectural photography (although he specializes in a variety of forms). The main focus of the lecture was Tilt Shift photography, and how using one of these lenses is not only effective but essential for architectural and landscape photography. However, Bishoff started off the lecture by showing us his portfolio and talking about his journey to becoming a professional.

     Bishoff received his BFA in photography in 2005, and a Masters of Architecture in 2008. After bouncing around and working for multiple firms in his first few years, he decided to turn his passion into a full time gig: his love of photography and his knowledge of and expertise in the field of architecture made it an easy transition. He emphasized, though, that even though he’s able to make a living taking pictures, he’s unable to specialize specifically in architectural photography. The industry is always changing, and clients needs are always evolving. He’s worked with dozens of companies, and even more individuals. He made sure to stress that, if one wants to make it in the industry, you must be versatile. Not only must your skill set match what it is you want to do, but you must expand that to include things such as wedding and portrait photography. In this industry, in this economy, it’s almost impossible to narrow your focus and spend all your time with one format—it’s imperative that you are a jack of all trades if you want to ensure a steady stream of work for yourself.

As for the gear itself, he went in depth on the use of tilt shift lenses. He showed multiple examples of how he has personally used and applied the tilt-shift principle in a professional setting. First, its a crucial tool when shooting architecture and landscape photos. The camera is unable to do precisely what our eyes do, so this lens helps by both tilting and shifting up and down to compensate for the angle of the camera and depth of the subject to maintain a realistic perspective. Tilt-shift lenses also have a much wider FOV, so you’re able to capture more of the scene without vignetting and without losing pixel integrity. One intriguing utility was when using the lens to catch multiple shots, stitching them together and creating a panorama shot, whether vertical or horizontal.

Bishoff went on to give us a few examples of when he had to use Photoshop to edit photos in a crucial manner. He emphasized that, while it’s imperative that a photographer must master his craft so that you’re always able to capture the best shot possible, one must also be proficient with tools like Photoshop and Lightroom. He showed us a few instances where he had to edit out a vehicle or some other inadvertent item in the frame. It was also interesting to hear that it’s important to have a nice backlog of stock photo shots, in case you’ve got to replace the sky in a particular scene.

Some interesting gear he showcased included a bubble level that mounts on top of your camera, helping you to get your camera straight. The CamRanger is a tool used to wirelessly transmit what your camera sees directly to an ipad or HDTV. This can be particularly useful when working with clients on-site.

Overall, this was an interesting and informative presentation. Not only did I discover and learn about a some new technology and gear, I also got some insight on what it is to work in the field of photography and media arts.

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