Random 008: JMD Builders

I shoot most of my architectural work using a full frame Sony A850 and a 20mm Minolta prime lens.  I also usually will revisit some compositions with a Sony A700 and an 11mm Sony lens for spaces where I need just a little extra room for a proper composition. 

While preparing to pack up my camera bag, I was standing here just looking out that at the beautiful cobalt sky, and thought I would shoot this one last shot.  I am really glad I did.


This exquisite space built was built by JMD Builders and will most likely be included in our Creative Spotlight in the near future.  This image was photographed using a Sony A700 camera with a Sony 11mm lens.

Creative Spotlight: Gleason Architects, P.C.

I received a call last August from Gleason Architects.  They were looking to photograph a historic building in Maywood, Illinois.  I met with Thad Gleason and Mike Koehl at their offices.  During our meeting, Thad and Mike outlined precisely what shots they were looking for.  As seasoned architects, they understand composition perfectly and it really made my workflow easy.


When I got to the space, I was very impressed with layout and final finish of the project.  Remodeling an historic building is no easy feat.  When I mentioned to Thad that I wanted to feature the work on my blog, I asked if he had any before photos.  You will be floored as I was, when I saw what they had to work with.  So, ‘what can you do with a good architect?’  Apparently, anything you want!  Below are some of the before photos from the Gleason Architects archives and some of our favorite after photos.


I have also included the entire summary from Gleason Architects.  Grab a cup of coffee.  It is an excellent read.  

If you are looking to work a miracle with your challenging project, don’t hesitate to give the team at Gleason Architects a call.   

Great Lenses: Minolta AF APO Tele-Zoom 80-200 1.2.8

Continuing in my list of Great Lenses is this gem from Minolta, the AF APO Tele Zoom 80-200mm 1:2.8

This particular lens was on loan to me from fellow photographer Ronny Robinson.  He was assisting me in an outdoor shoot a couple of years ago and while I was using my favorite 24-80 zoom lens, Ronny was using this amazing Minolta Tele Zoom.  


It really worked out well as Ronny was shooting candid shots from a distance while Mary Beth was directing poses and I was shooting the formal portraits.  (Nothing like having a good team to work with.)  While I do own really nice 80-200 f4 Minolta Zoom, the high speed of this lens intrigued me.


When we were finished, Ronny handed me the lens and said to try it out for a while.  Despite its size, the lens handles well.  Lens construction and build was top drawer, certainly among the best I've ever seen.  Focusing is super-fast and the extra speed really allows one to capture amazing available light shots.  Truthfully, I didn’t want to give it back.  This lens has just the right balance of sharpness and character that delivers beautiful vibrant images.  Suffice it to say, I’m looking for one to add to our arsenal of lenes.  I highly recommend this one!

Creative Spotlight: Level Construction

I received a call from Mitesh Patel, the Managing Partner who heads up the Chicago office of Level Construction.  He needed some shots of an old hotel that they had recently remodeled.  It was the Holiday Inn located in the Central Loop here in Chicago.  Built in 1964, the hotel displaces more that 65,000 square feet.  The building needed serious updates and improvements and no one is better at this than Level.  For those familiar with the hotel, the transformation is tremendous.

The new space, which is centrally located in the heart of the Chicago financial district, now stands out as a polished gem among the other buildings.  Below are a few highlights.


Great Lenses: Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 50mm f2

I really enjoy using vintage lenses and this one might just be my favorite.   Vintage lenses truly have character to them.   They give your images a look that is very appealing especially when shooting portraits.  There is no question they are not as sharp as a modern lens, but that is really okay.  They weren’t meant to be.  

These lenses were made by true craftsman, often times poured, ground and polished by hand.
   This particular lens was manufactured during the beginning of World War Two.  The barrel appears to be made from nickel instead of brass, but the build quality is still first rate.  Everything works perfectly and is very smooth.  I almost always shoot this one wide open.  


The serial number places its build date to 1939.  To think that just a few years later the Zeiss works tooling and inventory along with most of the Zeiss craftsman would be shipped off to Russia where they would begin building cameras and lenses for the Russian market under the Juniper brand name.


At one time, these could be had for just a few dollars, but original Zeiss lenses are now gaining in popularity, causing their prices to inflate.


My example appears to have never been serviced.  The screws, mounts and retaining rings look as though they have never been touched.  The glass is clear, the blades are clean and it is a joy to use.  I have used this on my Lecia CL, Leica M6, Bessa R with great success.


Below are a couple shots of my daughter from 2008.

Shot on Film: Petit bateau cassé (Broken little boat)

In the spring of 2003, I was in East Texas on the bank of the Lake O’ Pines near my father in laws home when I spotted this neglected little boat that appears to have been abandoned for years.  You can’t see it from this image, but someone had deliberately punctured the hull from inside the boat, ensuring its demise.  And so when the water is low as in this photo the boat is exposed for all to see.  When the spring rains comes it and the lake water levels, it will be submersed.   It is still tied up to this day, spending most of the time under water.

This was shot using a Voightlander Bessa R camera fitted with a wartime era Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 50mm f2 lens using Fuji Astia 100F color reversal film.  The slide was scanned using a Minotla DiMage 5400 film scanner full frame.  No adjustments were made.

Creative Spotlight: Benvenuit & Stein

We had the opportunity to shoot a condo remodel in the city for Geno Benvenuti.  The space featured contemporary custom built-ins with the fit and finish that wouldn’t be out of place on a Steinway.  The space included a home office, also equipped with custom cabinetry and transparent glass walls, which allowed the homeowner to enjoy the magnificent views of the Chicago skyline, and Lake Michigan when at work.   If you're looking for unmatched craftsmanship for your next project, call Geno Benvenuti.  You'll be happy you did.

Below are just a few highlights.