March 10th, 2014

I Hate Daylight Savings Time

Posted in blogging, technology by Greg Benson
clock-montage

Some of the 17 clocks I changed for Daylight Savings Time.

Changing 17 clocks is a drag. Twice a year when daylight savings time starts or ends, I’ve got to adjust numerous clocks.

And I need to re-adjust my internal clock. I don’t understand why we still have this system. If I were king, I would keep the clocks the same all year long.

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March 7th, 2014

Shimmer Wall

Posted in architectural photography, artists, technology, weather by Greg Benson

A new addition to Philadelphia’s streetscape is the Shimmer Wall at the Franklin Institute.

Last week I shot and put together this video. Thanks to my son, Paul Benson for his editing chops.

 
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November 15th, 2013

A Temple for Modern Science

Posted in architectural photography, technology by Greg Benson
Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology at University of Pennsylvania.

Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology at University of Pennsylvania.

The building is littered with brightly-colored terraces for meetings and studying.

The building is littered with brightly-colored terraces for meetings and studying.

The Singh Center is not your grandmother’s research lab. The $80-million nanotechnology center, located on the University of Pennsylvania campus, will appeal to science geeks and architecture fans alike. During the design stage, architects consulted with engineers to measure the precise specifications for the labs inside. During construction, the Dean of Engineering was often seen standing outside with a stopwatch, measuring the length of time that pedestrians spent admiring the exterior.

Nanotechnology is the process of manipulating matter on an atomic and molecular scale. Researchers have used nanotechnology to improve everything from medicine to tennis balls, and the potential applications are endless.

An electron microscope housed in the building’s basement.

An electron microscope housed in the building’s basement.

The Singh Center houses laboratories for studying and engineering these very small structures. It is one of a few buildings in the country that boasts multiple electron microscopes, each performing a different and complementary function – an all-in-one nanotechnology wonderland.

The nucleus of the building is a small room that houses an extremely sensitive electron microscope, where engineers can study the movements of individual atoms under water. The entire structure was designed around the room’s precise coordinates. University Architect David Hollenberg told the Pennsylvania Gazette that the room is  “the core out of which everything else spirals… if this were a Gothic cathedral, this is where the saint’s bones would be.”

The Singh Center distinguishes itself from other engineering buildings with its stunning and ultramodern design. The public face of the building is a transparent glass structure that allows passersby to peer inside. A cantilevered section that juts out the side creates an illusion of weightlessness that makes pedestrians below catch their breath.

The open corridors encourage interaction.

The open corridors encourage interaction.

Inside the building, extensive public spaces provide a place for scientists and students to study, relax or exchange notes. The Philadelphia Inquirer referred to the open terraces as “nightclub-like lounges.”

Overall, the Singh Center has an exuberant atmosphere, bringing the light from outdoors inside and displaying a glowing interior at night.

It was a pleasure to finally get an up-close view of this architectural marvel, and to learn about the daily miracles that occur inside. The Singh Center will change our idea of what a laboratory can look like, fitting for a field of study that is changing the way we interact with the world we live in.

The SingCenter sits on the former site of a windowless engineering building and a parking lot.

The SingCenter sits on the former site of a windowless engineering building and a parking lot.

Resources:

 

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February 11th, 2013

Set for a Devo Music Video?

Posted in architectural photography, featured, technology by Greg Benson

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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.

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.

Mood lighting.

Mood lighting.

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.

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.

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.

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December 31st, 2011

2011 Favorite Tool

Posted in technology by Greg Benson
Using the iPad preview photos while shooting the Philadelphia skyline.

Using the iPad preview photos while shooting the Philadelphia skyline.

It’s New Year’s Eve 2011, a time for looking back and looking forward. Photography has always been a technological medium. Digital has made photography both simpler and more complicated.

I use an Apple iPad with Shutter Snitch software to preview images from my Canon DSLR. Being able to see the images on its large 9 inch screen helps clients and me see and select images on a shoot.

The small size and weight of an iPad along with its day-long battery life make it a great choice for previewing images on location.

The best explanation of how to see up a Canon Wifi transmitter, a battery powered router and Shuttersnitch on the iPad is on Rob Galbraith’s web site.

This combination has been my favorite tool of 2011. I look forward to new and undiscovered tools in 2012.

Happy New Year.

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March 29th, 2011

Lightroom to WordPress Plugin

Posted in blogging, technology by Fernando Gaglianese

It has been barely more than a full year since we migrated our blog from Blogger to WordPress. The experience has been overall positive (with the expected growing pains and hiccups in between). I think it is appropriate to celebrate with a quick tip about how to streamline the workflow of adding images to your own blog entries.

Luc Renambot’s plugin Dossier de Presse works by giving Lightroom the ability to automatically upload exported images to your WordPress blog. Lightroom has an excellent Export function that allows for saving presets and the real power comes in combining the power of these presets with the Dossier de Presse plugin.

Lightroom Export dialogue using Dossier de Presse plugin

Lightroom Export dialogue using Dossier de Presse plugin

Once Dossier de Presse is installed in Lightroom you can create a new Export Preset using the plugin. First set the “Export To” dropdown to “Dossier de Presse” and then fill out the rest of the export parameters to set the size, compression, and sharpening of the image to export. The final panel requires entering the address of the blog and then a valid login and password.

Selecting multiple=

Selecting multiple images in Lightroom for WordPress Export

Selecting multiple images and then choosing the correct Export Preset makes very quick work of uploading images directly to the WordPress Media Library. You can skip the steps of exporting the images to some temporary folder, navigating through the WordPress web interface to the Media Library, finding the export folder through the upload dialogue, etc. With Dossier de Presse the images will be comfortably waiting in the Media Library ready to be inserted into your next blog entry.

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March 27th, 2011

Tintype, Lots of History for Five Dollars

Posted in history, technology by Greg Benson

At Renninger’s Antiques Market in Adamstown, Pennsylvania, I purchased some old photographs from a vendor. I paid five dollars for this tintype. Once I started examining it, I wanted to know: When was this photograph taken? Who are the people in the photograph?

Tintype of Henry Stehman and John Stehman, Lancaster, PA circa 1870s

Tintype of Henry Stehman and John Stehman, Lancaster, PA circa 1870s

Using the internet I have discovered the following. Gill’s City Gallery was a photo studio run by William L. Gill from 1859 to 1882.

Reverse side of paper holder for tintype from Gill's City Gallery, Lancaster, PA

Reverse side of paper holder for tintype from Gill's City Gallery, Lancaster, PA

The names Henry Stehman and John Stehman are written on the paper holder. The two men in the photograph certainly look like brothers. Having asked several people, the consensus is that these men are somewhere between twenty-four and twenty-eight years old.

There was a Henry B. Stehman who was born in 1852 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania who went on to become a famous doctor who treated lung diseases and who founded a sanatorium in Pasadena, California. While I don’t have definitive proof that the man on the left is this Henry Stehman, the other evidence supports this possibility. If Henry was twenty-five when the photo was taken, then the photo was taken in 1877, a date that is consistent with the years of operation of Gill’s City Gallery and the use of the tintype process.

Tintype circa 1870s

Tintype circa 1870s

Unlike many photo processes, which have a negative and can easily produce multiple copies, tintypes are one-of-a-kind. Often a multiple lens camera was used to simultaneously take four images onto one metal plate. The developed image was then cut with tinsnips into four separate photos, hence the name “tintype”. With a black border on the left and top, the Stehman portrait looks like the upper left corner of a larger plate that was imprecisely snipped from the larger sheet.

A photograph has an uncanny ability to capture personality and detail whether it’s a tintype from the 1870s or a digital image from 2011.

Four lens tintype camera cira 1860s, image courtesy of The National Museum of American History, creative commons license.

Four lens tintype camera cira 1860s, image courtesy of The National Museum of American History, creative commons license.

Image from flickr.

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December 1st, 2010

Leslie Neilsen RIP

Posted in portraits, technology by Greg Benson

Leslie Neilsen speaking at Penn Law School about Clarence Darrow in 1999 © Greg Benson

Actor Leslie Nielsen died at age 84, on November 28, 2010,  of complications from pneumonia. He was a late bloomer. His comedic roles in the movies, Airplane and the Naked Gun series gave him fame and fortune in his later years.

In 1999, I had an opportunity to photograph him when he spoke at the Penn Law School. Nielsen had a serious side and used his Hollywood earnings to present a one man show on the early twentieth century lawyer, Clarence Darrow. Darrow is famous for defending a teacher on trial for teaching evolution in the 1920s Scopes Monkey trial in Tennessee. Darrow was also against the death penalty and defended many people in capital cases including Leopold and Loeb, wealthy Chicago teenagers who kidnapped and killed a younger boy.

Retrieving the 1999 image of Nielsen from my archive is illustrative of how much the technology of image making has changed in eleven years. The original is a color negative that was in a job jacket in my studio attic. Once I found the negative, I scanned it, a process that took me around fifteen minutes. A digital original would have been much quicker to find, view and post.

At the end of the day, technology only matters so much, Nielsen’s deadpan comedic delivery brings laughs or groans, whether on film, DVD or youtube.

Neilsen in spoof of Vanity Fair photo of Demi Moore

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September 3rd, 2010

Going Platinum

Posted in architectural photography, technology by Greg Benson
Exterior view of Girl Scouts' Science & Technology Lodge. Hockessin, DE

Exterior view of Girl Scouts' Science & Technology Lodge. Hockessin, DE

In 2009 we photographed the Girl Scouts’ Science and Technology Lodge in Hockessin, Delaware for Re:Vision Architecture and S C & A Construction. This building was the first to qualify for Platinum LEED certification in the state of Delaware. LEED or “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design” is a certification process for green buildings, with Platinum being the highest ranking.

In this time of rising energy costs and stress on the environment, LEED certified buildings are a way to create more sustainable structures.

Science Classroom, Girl Scouts' Science & Technology Lodge. Hockessin, DE

Part of a larger camp, this building is used for programs that instruct Girl Scouts in science.

Multipurpose Room, Girl Scouts' Science & Technology Lodge. Hockessin, DE

Natural daylight supplies much of the building’s lighting, reducing the amount of electricity needed.

View from deck of Girl Scouts' Science & Technology Lodge. Hockessin, DE

View of the deck and green roof of Girl Scouts' Science & Technology Lodge. Hockessin, DE

View from deck of Girl Scouts' Science & Technology Lodge. Hockessin, DE

Having a green building is a hands-on way for the Scouts to experience environmentally friendly architecture.

Bathroom, Girl Scouts' Science & Technology Lodge. Hockessin, DE

A rainwater harvesting system collects water that is used to flush toilets.

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May 8th, 2010

No Spam with Google Apps

Posted in blogging, technology by Greg Benson

I love my iPhone that I started using in July 2009. As a location photographer, having email and the web in my pocket is a big plus. However, checking email on an iPhone and a desktop meant weeding through as many as 50 spams per day on each device.

Email I don't Miss

Enter Google Apps for domain names. I was able to configure my email with Google’s gmail servers and still keep my gregbenson.com domain name in my email. I set up my iPhone, my desktop and laptop computers for IMAP email. Now I see virtually no spam and if I read an email on my desktop, my mobile phone shows it as already being read. Not having to scroll and delete interminable spam emails saves me time and aggravation.

To use Google Apps you can sign up here.

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