With bright leather chairs and stark, futuristic walls, the Philips Lighting Application Center looks like a set from a Devo music video or the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. The construction firm E. Allen Reeves commissioned me to photograph the facility in Somerset, New Jersey.
Philips uses this space to host lighting seminars for designers and other clients. The room’s unique construction helps demonstrate how different types of light and light bulbs affect our perception of color.
Color is just an illusion.
In one demonstration, all red wavelengths of light are eliminated from the room. Without red light reflecting off them, the previously loud leather chairs appeared mud brown to my eyes and to the camera.
In another display, viewers compare two identical office mock-ups lit with different types of bulbs. You get a sense of how something as simple as lighting can alter your workspace and even your mood.
A new perspective.
The chairs sit on a revolving platform, which rotates throughout the demonstration to show different sections of the room.
New Wave meets wavelengths.
The strong colors and minimalistic setting gave the room a futuristic feel that made me think of New Wave music videos from my youth.
As an architectural photographer who is fascinated by light, I loved photographing this room.
Photo by Ezra Stoller. Design Research, a store in Cambridge, Mass., 1969,
designed by Benjamin Thompson.
Currently there is an exhibit of the work of Ezra Stoller at the Yossi Milo Gallery in New York City.
Stoller (1915-2004) was a pioneer of modern American architectural photography. He photographed for such famous architects as Frank Lloyd Wright and Erro Sarrienen.
I love how the inside merges with the outside in this twilight photo. I also love how this photograph breaks some of the “rules” of quality architectural photography. There is a dead tree, a parked car and melting puddles of snow, which are all elements that shouldn’t be in a “perfect” photo. These elements provide context and also make the image more real.
Photo by Ezra Stoller. Hirshhorn Museum, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Washington, D.C.
Stoller’s career aligned with the ascendancy of modernism in architecture. Grand and simple forms predominate in his tonally beautiful black & white work.
You can read more in this NY Times article.
Fisher Fine Arts Library, designed by Frank Furness. This photo appears on the back cover of University of Pennsylvania’s new book.
The University of Pennsylvania recently published a coffee table book. My photographs of the Fisher Fine Arts Library, an amazing red Victorian building designed by Frank Furness, were chosen for the front and back covers. This building made with red terra cotta is an endless visual treat to photograph.
Front Cover of “A Penn Portrait”
You can purchase the book online.
Spread with winter photos.
The University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia has a vibrant urban campus with a variety of old and new spaces. Thirty-nine of my photographs appear in the 130 page book, along with the work of other photographers.
Houston Hall Market.
Pennsylvania Convention Center at dusk with Philadelphia’s City Hall in the background.
The Pennsylvania Convention Center’s recent expansion brings new colors and light to Philadelphia’s Broad Street. The building’s façade is illuminated at dusk, revealing a web of colored lights, which shift throughout the night in a pattern of different colors.
This stunning addition to the city’s streetscape provides a unique challenge for the photographer: how best to capture these constantly moving lights at nightfall? As sunlight fades and the sky begins darken and change colors a longer exposure time is necessary for each photograph. So in order to photograph the buildings moving lights, Greg worked with the building’s lighting designer, who slowed the lights’ animation during the shoot. The resulting image shows the city as a palette of bright colors, giving a sense of the historic city’s constant motion.
At twilight you can see into the four story atrium.
Another challenge in photographing the center was the limited timeframe to take the perfect image. Twilight is a magical time of day for photographs, but it is a very short window of time, especially to get multiple angles of the same building. To catch the building at its best, Greg worked with assistants, stationed at cameras in two additional locations, who photographed the building during that short window of opportunity.
With the interior lights out, the colored lights jump out at night.
The image is brightened by the newest Claus Oldenburg sculpture: a “paint brush” standing in the new Lenfest Plaza, across the street from the Convention Center. It wasn’t the first time Greg had documented the Convention Center: last year he photographed the building’s massive interior expansion. Seen here.
Broad Street Facade of the Convention Center at night.
Lobby of 2100 Parkway, Philadelphia
When Tabula Creative set out to design a new corporate website for PMC Property Group, I was commissioned to produce distinctive images for the site.
Screenshot of PMC corporate website showing 201 Stanwix in Pittsburgh, PA.
PMC Property Group has a track record of taking older urban buildings, updating and converting them to apartments and other uses. My challenge was to produce compelling images of these buildings.
Screenshot showing exterior of 2100 Parkway, Philadelphia.
For the website project, I photographed buildings in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Baltimore. The website features case studies of projects.
101 Wells, formerly a factory, now apartments, in Baltimore, MD.
It’s great to see older buildings brought back to life. The life of our cities is enriched by re-using historic buildings.
201 Stanwix in Pittsburgh, PA.
In Pittsburgh, a metal-clad 1950s skyscraper, the former regional headquarters of Bell Telephone, has been remade into downtown apartments and a charter school.
The Abell in Baltimore, MD.
The Abell in Baltimore, MD.
The Sitnik Theater in the David and Carol Lackland Center at Centenary College.
Theaters are spaces where we are often in the dark. Depicting a darkened theater with enough detail to see seats, ceilings, lighting, stage, curtains was a challenge. I employed a mix of controlling the lights within the theater, adding lights, and piecing together different exposures in Photoshop.
The 485 seat Sitnik Theater is the cornerstone of the Lackland Center at Centenary College in Hackettstown, NJ.
View from the balcony of the Sitnik Theater.
The morning of the shoot was rainy. Fortunately, the weather shifted, leading to an exterior shot with blue sky, picturesque clouds and dramatic light.
Exterior of the David and Carol Lackland Center at Centenary College in Hackettstown, NJ.
I was commissioned by the construction firm, E. Allen Reeves to document this building.
Lobby in the Lackland Center.
Fisher Fine Arts Library at University of Pennsylvania, Frank Furness, architect.
This winter 2011-2012 has been unusually mild, with warmer than normal temperatures and virtually no snow. While I don’t miss shoveling snow, I do miss snow. So in that spirit I thought I would post snow photos that I have shot in the past.
Detail of gargoyle on Fisher Fine Arts Library.
Table and chairs in the snow.
"Love" Sculpture in the snow. (Robert Indiana, artist)
Statue of Dr. Pepper at Univ. of Pennsylvania. (shot at two different snowfalls)
"Field of Dreams" from Penn Gazette, Nov-Dec 2011
Recently the Penn Gazette ran a long feature on Penn Park, the University of Pennsylvania’s recently completed development of twenty-four acres for use as a public park and athletic fields.
Greg was given the assignment to photograph for the article. The assignment gave him an opportunity to capture a place and the people using it.
To illustrate the many uses of Penn Park and show it from many angles, Greg visited the park on four separate days. He also photographed it from a helicopter to show how the park sits in relationship to Penn’s campus and Center City Philadelphia.
Joggers using Penn Park.
Penn Park is a welcome addition of green space to this section of Philadelphia.
Rainwater that falls on the artificial turf of the athletic fields flows into underground cisterns that will store 2 million gallons of storm water annually. This water will help irrigate trees and grass on the site.
Penn Park offers many ways of enjoying the trees and open air.
Penn Park supports a series of athletic activities.
Spread from Pennsylvania Gazette's article on Penn Park.
Penn Park sits between the Penn Campus and Center City Philadelphia.
For Penn Gazette’s coverage of Penn Park, photographs from the ground are not able to tell the entire story. Greg hired a helicopter to gain a higher angle in order to show the size of the site and how it sits in relation to the Penn campus and Center City Philadelphia.
Penn Gazette Nov-Dec 2011 cover
Getting good images from the air is an exercise in team work between the photographer and the pilot. To photograph from a helicopter it’s best to fly with the door off. The cabin is very noisy and once in the air the only way to verbally communicate with the pilot is through a headset. The pilot also needs to stay attentive to any instructions he may receive from air traffic control, so chatty photographers need to keep their talking to a minimum for the sake of safety.
Greg getting ready to feel the wind in his hair.
Prior to hiring a helicopter, Greg shot the park from nearby high buildings, like Franklin Field. The view from there has power lines and the railroad line is prominent. The limitation of shooting this project from the ground led to using a helicopter.
View from the top of Franklin Field, Penn's football stadium.
For all the complications, costs, and considerations, aerial photographs show angles that photography from the ground cannot. Satellite images, while showing a view from above, do not have the same spatial quality.
Penn Park in relation to the rest of Center City Philadelphia.
For more on this assignment, see our post about photographing Penn Park from the ground.
New Entrance to Morristown Medical Center's Trauma Center.
The architects and construction company, who designed and built the new Trauma Center at Morristown Medical Center in Morristown, New Jersey, hired Greg Benson to photograph the new facility.
One of the challenges with this project was shooting the exterior, which is located on the north side of the building that does not get direct sunlight in August. Twilight proved to be a dramatic time to photograph the façade.
Hosing down the pavement helped add visual excitement to the photograph.
On the night of the shoot, the “Ambulance” sign was not lit up because the old Emergency Room entrance was still in operation. It would be confusing and potentially dangerous to have ambulances drop off emergency patients at a not yet functioning area. Using Photoshop, we were able to illuminate the unlit sign and made it glow red.
Treatment rooms at Morristown Medical Center's Trauma Center.
An emergency room runs on a 24/7 schedule. Scheduling the photo shoot before a busy facility opens is crucial for being able to take photographs of uncluttered spaces without people.
In a trauma center, utility and function are key, but good visual design can make a clinical place more welcoming and comfortable.