interior photography

100mp Phase One vs Canon 5DSR and A7RII: Architectural photography

What is the absolute best camera you can buy for Architectural photography? Many professional photographers would immediately say "medium format technical camera". For the longest time, I believed this to be true and assumed that for the absolute best image quality for the kind of work I do I would eventually need to upgrade to a medium format system. I believed this until I actually tried the system and made some objective comparisons.

In the video linked below, I demonstrate how medium format and Rodenstock lenses actually perform against full frame cameras and dispel some widely known "truths".  
 

Link to images  

Fstoppers tutorial

Interior Design and Photography

These days, professional photography is pretty much a requirement for many industries. With more and more people on social media and even better, higher resolution screens on mobile devices, it's illogical to have sub par images demonstrating your service/product. Fortunately for us, our clients only demand the best photography, which not only keeps us on our toes, but also adds allot of value to the work we do. 

The framing stand of the bedside cabinet brings a really unique look. 

We recently had the pleasure of working with interior designers, Tareen and Tareen. Sisters, Nadia and Ayisha Tareen, produce some amazing results together and we were lucky enough, to be able to photograph their latest work.  Their passion and flair is clearly visible in what they do, from the smallest details to the bigger picture of creating whole room sets. 

Many people don't consider the benefits of hiring an interior designer and allot of the times, it's based on assumptions relating to price. The value of working with an interior designer, is to essentially create something that couldn't have ordinarily been created by one's self. In many cases interior designers have benefited clients by preventing costly mistakes and even helped increase property values, thus negating the initial apprehensions relating to price. Not to mention the fact that, a good interior designer will have a significant number of contacts which can again, help reduce the overall cost. This is similar to the photography industry, clients hire professionals because they understand the importance and value it brings. The initial cost is effectively an investment rather than a sunk cost and therefore has a return associated with it. On occasions those returns may be intangible, however, not hiring a professional poses a higher risk factor. 

There are allot of great reasons why you should hire an interior designer for your projects. Picking the best one for you depends on your project and vision. Having said that, a good designer can also provide much needed help when devising primary plans. We highly recommend Tareen and Tareen, because we firmly believe in their customer service and more importantly, their ability as designers. It's an absolute pleasure working with them and we look forward to continuing with them. 

 

New Year... New You? :P

I know the title is cheesy, but I think a new year does somewhat represent a bit of a reset. It allows for a little perspective on what has been achieved so far and what could have been done better. I find myself being over critical of what I could have done in 2015. Looking back, I think overall I'm quite pleased. 

Matt Granger is a professional photographer who's also developing a popular Youtube channel, and I feel he really hit the nail on the head in his last video. I speak to allot of people who say they want to own a business but there are always some obstacles or something preventing from doing what they want.  It does frustrate me because I honestly believe the people making the excuses could also be the people who achieve so much, if they were to only change their perspective. 

Anyway enough of the mini rant, I hope watching this video helps. 

Just to quickly add a few points of my own: 

  • Don't procrastinate. It's so easy to suddenly get lost on Facebook or YouTube and several hours have been lost on doing absolutely nothing. 
  • Believe in yourself. I'm aware this is cliché, but it is for a reason. Doubting yourself really kills any dreams or ambitions you could have had, find a way past your doubts.
  • Just Do It. Seriously just do it. 

 

Thank you so much for all the support over last year it means allot to me and I want to sincerely wish you a wonderful new year. 

  

Travel and photography in Qatar

I probably should have posted this a while ago but better late than never right? 

I'm huge fan of the middle eastern architecture and the new modern buildings are beautiful. I've been fortunate enough to have travelled to a number of countries and I think Qatar is now one of my favourite places to visit. Firstly, the airport, dear god the airport is beautiful. I only wish I wasn't half out of it due to lack of sleep and took some proper pictures of it. 

For this trip I stayed at the Oryx Rotana Hotel, I managed to get a pretty good deal. The hotel interior was amazing and the room I had was stunning. I definitely tip the proverbial hat to the hotel and the staff, to say they were helpful is a severe understatement. 

The reason for my trip was architecture and the country does not disappoint. The Corniche was by far my favourite place to relax in the evening. The view of the city skyline and the National Museum really make this place extraordinary. 

Overall I think the country is beautiful, the buildings are unique and awe inspiring and really make Doha stand out. There are still various under developed areas in the country however I think with the world cup coming in 6 years they have plenty of time to really bring Qatar onto the world stage. 

Anyway that's enough from me, here are some images. 

 

Creams British Luxury Leeds

I'm always looking for an excuse to indulge a little and a new tearoom in Leeds is just too difficult to resist.

Creams British Luxury, recently opened their doors in Leeds city centre and wow is it something. Although I haven't visited their original location in Huddersfield, the new location is very impressive. Upon entering, you can immediately see the attention to detail and how much effort and investment has gone into the place.  A single chandelier costs £20,000, and the piano... well, let's just not get into that, it's safe to say the interior is pretty awesome.

Now considering the fact this is a tearoom/restaurant, let's get down to brass tacks and talk about the food. I've had the pleasure of dining there a number of times and in my humble opinion, it's very good. The presentation has been thought out properly and the cutlery feels premium. There are a number of dishes available from sandwiches to believe it or not, Fish and Chips. The food is reasonably priced and also the portions are far from pretentious. Lastly the tea and desserts are where Creams really excel. They haven't made the classic mistake of making the desserts overly sweet, instead there is a great deal of discernible flavour. My favourite has to be the strawberry scone. They have a large selection of teas available and depending on your mood, I'm confident there's something for mostly everyone. 

There a few things I think could be improved, for instance the physical menu, it feels and looks tacky and not at all like the brand. The food selection also feels a little scattered and lacking identity, some of what's offered seems out of place. Also the location they have in Leeds is almost hidden away and took us a bit of time to find it the first time. Lastly being the photography nerd that I am I think the images they currently have could be improved. As you may be able to tell, I am nitpicking and the negatives I have pointed out, are insignificant when considering the overall experience. 

Even the view compliments the interior. 

My favourite thing about Creams is the fact that the staff are so amazing. I've visited both as a customer and a photographer and on every occasion they've gone above and beyond. I have allot of admiration for the team at Creams and I think with them managing the tearoom, it's in safe hands. 

Overall I definitely recommend Creams, I think they've done a fantastic job. There aren't allot of places like this and it's a very welcomed addition. I understand they're expanding quite rapidly and new locations will be coming soon all across the country and in Dubai too. 

In the meantime click here to check out some of the other images we've taken for Creams. 

Why Canon is failing

In 2013 you may have heard that Nokia sold their mobile division to Microsoft at a price considerably lower than what it was once worth. One of the main reasons behind this is because they failed to keep up with the market and customer demands. Canon seems to be facing similar issues and has recently had to cut it's profit forecast for 2015. 
Now admittedly the profit cut was due to several issues and not just a Canon problem, however there are a number of underlining problems at Canon.

A good number of our sources agree that Canon is facing some internal problems and it's preventing them from operating effectively. There are internal conflicts and due to this they seem to be reacting extremely slowly to the market and customer demands. Canon seem to be more interested in maintaining their faltering position as opposed to innovating, or executing their innovations. Customers are very quick to notice when companies drip feed features and it's frustrating and alienating. Their latest DSLR the Canon 5DS and 5DS R has a 50mp sensor which at a glance seems amazing, however when you dig deeper you find 2010 technology repackaged with a premium price.  Compare this to the Sony A7R II and you'll see why this is not innovating. 

The main reason why Canon is failing to innovate is because of how they manage their two divisions. Essentially their Cinema and their DSLR divisions are constantly looking to ensure they don't step on each others toes. Basically they don't want to make any cameras that could affect the sales of another camera. Now if this was done by two separate market leading companies then it could work, similar to price fixing (which is illegal of course). However when this is done internally, it's illogical and benefits no one but your competition. The most frustrating aspect about this is that Canon is aware of this huge problem, but has failed to come up with a solution. 

Companies like Nikon and Sony have been making significantly better cameras for a good number of years capitalizing on Canons unwillingness to keep up. A quick look at sensor technology on DXOmark shows how Canon has remained behind for quite some time now. They also seem to believe 4k is still some elusive feature that can only be added to the most expensive high end cameras, even though it's been available for 12 years now. 

Lastly their latest camera The ME20F-SH boasts 4 million ISO and can pretty much see in the dark. Again this sounds pretty cool but then when you break it down, it's a 2mp camera with a 30k price tag, simply ridiculous in my view. 

Ultimately Canon are facing some tough issues moving forward and it doesn't seem like they're doing enough to fix things. Internally their departments are not working together effectively and it's creating a negative loop. Should this continue which I'm guessing it will, there could be some really difficult times ahead for Canon as their market share inevitably shrinks. 

I'm a fan of Canon and would love to see them continue as the market leader. I hope Fujio Mitarai has a plan for the future which does not involve doing the same thing and hoping for a different result. 

A week with Leica..... and $50,000 worth of equipment

Yesterday I must have spent more than 6 hours looking at different Leica cameras trying to figure out which body and lens is best for me. My wife has heard nothing but Leica this and Leica that and after using and reviewing the Leica SE for a week I might be a little smitten. The Leica S 007 is soon to be released and in preparation for that we decided to review the currently available model.  

Cambridge has to be my favourite city for street photography and the Leica does not disappoint. Even handheld the image quality is jaw dropping, especially when you consider how heavy a lens and body combination really is. 

As this is a medium format camera the sensor, the body and the lenses are bigger. My 5D mark III looks small in comparison.  So what's the actual camera like, well its big, its clunky, its slow at focussing, I'm used to having multiple focus points and medium format cameras only have one in the middle of the frame. The camera has no image stabilization which makes handheld even more difficult especially with let's say the 180mm F3.5. The Leica SE has a CCD sensor which means low light performance is pretty bad  and ISO can only be boosted up to 1600 (you'd be wise to stay below 800). There is no live view, no video mode and the top part of the camera is made of plastic, possibly due to the GPS node being there, but who uses GPS anyway?  Lastly although its considered to be a medium format camera, the sensor is only 20% bigger, its less medium format and more "Full-Frame Plus". 

HOWEVER...

We used Dylan Patricks technique for the above headshot, for more information and to learn this technique, please click here.

When you attach one of those behemoth sized lenses onto the camera, all of the above issues seem to magically disappear. The image quality is simply astounding, even with just 37.5MP (for medium format) it feels like the lenses are making use of every single one and maybe a few more just to be safe. I don't profess to be a great headshot photographer but even my shots are looking pretty good. The way the Leica renders fine details, skin texture and contrast really make an image pop. The lack of noise at its base ISO (100) is really impressive and the amount of detail that can be brought back from the shadows still surprises me. Although we talked about this camera having a CCD sensor and it's low light performance, this camera wasn't built for those environments. When you give this camera enough light and use it for what it's been built for, it truly excels beyond expectations. 

Being an interior and architectural photographer my favourite Leica lens is of course the 24mm F3.5. This is a beautifully made lens with fantastic build quality, the front element is big and gives off a slight reddish reflection. Leica are known for their lenses and I could be wrong but to my eye this lens has absolutely no distortions. The 24mm lens isn't a tilt shift making some architectural photography a little difficult, however, I've been told Schneider are currently developing a wide angle tilt shift lens which will be compatible with Leica, this is definitely great news for us :). I had the opportunity to take some images of the The Midland Hotel in Bradford whilst using the 24mm lens and the results speak for them self. 

FB Before FB After

 In conclusion I think the Leica S system is amazing to work with. The camera has been built for settings where the light can be controlled. It's probably not the best camera for events and wedding considering the ISO performance but then it would be pretty overkill for that too. When this camera has enough light it really comes into it's own. The Leica SE may not be the best medium format camera considering it's smaller sensor size and the fact that you can't upgrade "the back", however it has a really well built DSLR form factor making it very straight forward to use. All I needed were two dials and a shutter button, and because of it's form factor even street photography was easy. This camera is a true photographers camera, it doesn't need all of the other fancy features when it produces such amazing images, The lenses are simply wow, I really can't say enough about how great they are. Some of the people at Leica tell me that relative to the other medium format brands, they make the best lenses, and honestly I don't have any reason to disagree.  

Ultimately I'm very pleased with the Leica S system and would definitely consider upgrading to it, however as the Leica S 007 has been announced I think I'll wait till I've seen what that can do before making a decision.