Tag Archives: kitchen

Open & Shut

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A Pair of (Custom) Kitchens

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In late June I spent a day with Custom Kitchens in Oakland, and Kensington, California shooting a pair of recently competed projects. These kitchens are typical of Custom Kitchens designs — practical, rooted in traditional materials and layout, but not “cookie-cutter”. Lead Designer Joy Wilkins and her team are great at bringing a unique vision (and often) the homeowner’s existing needs and even hardware into the equation. The results are kitchens that are both beautiful and approachable. You can easily imagine yourself wandering in here in your bathrobe, pouring some coffee, and reading the paper.

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The gorgeous center island featured here is by Bentwood Kitchens, based in Lancaster Texas. We left the louvered doors open at rear to show the washer-dryer – this sort of remodel feature matters a lot to older clients!

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Our second location was even more traditional:

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I’ve been shooting a lot of cool  projects this summer — much more to come!

Los Altos Traditional, by Brownhouse Design

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I loved this scene from the moment I first scouted this shoot. The mirrored grid pattern of the floor/ceiling, the arched doorways, and the swirling swooping sweeping curve of the staircase make for a very dynamic composition! We used blackout cloth to kill the daylight coming in from camera left, and re-lit the stairs from above with continuous light “boomed” out over the risers. Strobes in the adjoining spaces maintain good color and draw the eye into the living room.

More design happiness from Julie Brown, principal of Brownhouse Design. Here’s a Los Altos Traditional done by Julie and her team that we photographed back in May. Built by Matt Komo at MJK Homes, this place was TIGHT.

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Other than removing some electrical outlets, this is straight out of the camera. We more or less emptied the lighting cases for this shot! But the real challenge of a complex space like this is the styling.

More photos, and behind-the-scenes, click here!

(Another) Mid-Century Modern by building Lab

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Nobody “gets” mid-century modern like Stephen Shoup of building Lab. His Eichler remodel (which I shot last fall) has received acclaim and is being published in multiple venues.

So I knew that this project would be a good one — a mid-century house with the building Lab design touch. Stephen created a flowing, connected space along this ranch house’s long axis with peaked-ceiling spaces at each end and a lower, flat-ceilinged central area in between, encompassing the kitchen and eating area. This space is clearly the “heart” of the structure, where the family will spend 80% of its time.

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Looking back towards the playroom we can see the intricate architecture and the way the ceiling lines interact to help define the spaces.

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Stephen is absolutely brilliant when it comes to defining discrete spaces even within a fluid or open floorplan. Here, the kitchen is separated from the foyer and dining room by a slot skylight that channels light straight down in the wide pass-though. When you walk beneath it, you can’t help feeling that you’ve left one space behind and are entering another, despite the lack of structural boundaries.

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This project features the trademark building Lab book-matched wood paneling, although in a much more subdued way than other of Stephen’s designs.

We’ve already got the next building Lab project on the calendar, so stay tuned for more architectural happiness!

North Beach Residence by Muratore Corp

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It took quite a bit of effort to get this shot lit. Balancing the exposure for the dazzling light high above San Francisco looking out towards the Golden Gate Bridge and the Pacific Ocean, while still showcasing the dark wood cabinetry, was a challenge. We kept the illusion that everything is motivated by the windows that wrap around the living room in the background; there are multiple strobes and hotlights placed for this photo.

I’m always grateful to work with someone who is willing to be adventurous in the styling, and when it works, it works well. In this shoot of a San Francisco highrise condo (in North Beach), we purposely added some “sloppy” notes — the carelessly draped dishcloth, the slightly disheveled napkins — and implied an eat-in kitchen with the discordant radishes-and-tomato bowls. It’s a way of adding interest and meaning to a photo, without triggering the wrong response; if those had been bowls of steaming hot beef stew, you might get stuck in your reaction to beef stew (whatever that is) and never get the real point of photo, which is the design and cabinetry. But who has a pre-programmed reaction to raw radishes and tomatoes? You might well have a WTF moment, but that’s cool with me; I’ve kept your attention for an extra few seconds and hopefully made you notice a few other things along the way.

The casual elements also lend a bit of life to an interiors photo, which can all too easily be sterile. Adding a live human to the mix is even more tricky — we’re hard-wired to look at each other, so that figure is sure to be a focal point, even if it’s blurry and in the background.

We also made a more “traditional” kitchen shot, below:

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With almost all the “natural” light sources controlled, we were left with the VERY bright (and un-dimmable) under-cabinets fluorescents to contend with. We effectively dimmed them using a technique Alan calls “Dummy-Dimming” in which he flips the lights on (or off) at a precise moment during a long exposure.

The second element of this project was this stunning bath, located just off of the large entry foyer.

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This shot presented several challenges. The backlit mirror, strong downlighting on the vanity top (from the ceiling spots) and the delicate sconces all had to be controlled and brought into a balance the camera could handle. I also wanted to clarify the shapes and geometry of the space, since they’re so integral to the design. Nearly every surface visible in this shot has its own light, each tuned to create the 3-dimensionality we wanted to emphasize. The blurred figure in the mirror is actually out in the foyer; his posture echoes the the shape of the sconce, his shirt works with the color scheme, his motion brings your eye back into the center of the image. I allowed the distant foyer to go slightly bluer to create a pleasing effect that emphasizes the separateness of that space.

In this unbelievable bath, we wanted to do two things; make sure that the viewer understood what was happening in the mirror, and give the eye a focal point that kept the eye in the middle of the photo. The walls of this room are venetian plaster; but in this case it’s been hand-tooled by an artist to mimic alligator skin. I’ve never seen anything like it. The designer had two words for this: “It’s expensive.”

And worth it — this bath was really amazing. The cube & slab design elements (check out the sconce lights) go together with mathematical precision, which I tried to bring out with my composition, and the wall treatment echoes the texture of the stone. Beautiful.

The detail shot below shows the plaster even more clearly, as well as the angular sink:

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Piedmont Residence by Custom Kitchens

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A large window behind the camera had to be blacked out to preserve the left-to-right flow of light; this allows the shape of the oven doors to really “pop” (it’s also augmented a bit with added lighting). Under-cabinet lights are gelled to color-correct them from fluorescent to daylight; and fill light is added to the distant room.

Just a couple of weeks ago I photographed this killer project with Custom Kitchens, based right here in Oakland California. Joy Wilkins and her team designed this space around the homeowner’s Aga range; this is the second Aga I’ve photographed and they’re pretty cool!

Actually, the more accurate description would be “pretty hot”, because a cast-iron Aga range pours out heat 24 hours a day. It’s a bit like a brick oven: once it’s up to temperature, it stays there with minimal input.

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Again, window light behind the camera is blacked out, and a combination of strobe and continuous light is added from camera right to bring out the texture of the backsplash and the shape of the oven doors.

The thing about an Aga is its robust shape; unlike most modern cooktops, which are sleek and almost aerodynamic, the Aga retains its industrial-era look and is almost voluptuous in its curves and protrusions. Joy recognized this as well and designed a gorgeous scalloped tile backsplash (reminds me of ripples in beach sand!) that showcases the range perfectly.

I worked hard to retain that textural quality by staying conscious of where the light was coming in; and that meant imposing an iron control over the (abundant) ambient light in this kitchen, and augmenting it with strobe and continuous lighting.

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Joy and Natalie did a killer job of styling this room as a baker’s paradise, and we couldn’t resist getting a little action in the shot:

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Our last shot of the day featured the “eat-in” part of the kitchen, as well as the practical aspects of the layout (note the good-looking laundry station).

Strobe lighting is brought in (via a large V-flat) through the window to simulate diffuse daylight on this tabletop.

Thanks to the team at Custom Kitchens for another great project!

 

Kitchen by Houseworks

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Back in November I shot this nice kitchen remodel for my friends over at Houseworks, a San Francisco design/build firm. Unpretentious, low-key, livable…design that doesn’t draw attention to itself but lets you “do your thing” un-disturbed.

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What I loved, though, was the way the under-cabinet lights made the grey backsplash and neutral countertop glow — and anything you put there seems like it’s a piece in a museum display. The backdrop is so unassuming – and the lighting so plain, that you don’t realize anything is happening until you place a bowl of oranges on the counter – and then, BAM! It’s like they’re Oranges From The Garden Of Eden.

This was a combination of LED and warm fluorescent lighting, which we gelled strategically into a truly color-neutral zone that the camera liked.

First quarter of 2014 is starting to come together, with a few really cool projects lined up! But first up is next weekend’s PFRE workshop, right here in my back yard. More on that soon!

Mid-Century Modern Kitchen, Upgraded by Building Lab

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Obviously there’s a lot of natural light in play here. We bounced some of that back into the near side of the island, and added a bit to the cabinetry under the window. You can see how the backs of the stools really throw light back onto the edge of the cantilevered part of the island.

This is an example of a really beautifully designed kitchen. Stephen Shoup of Building Lab did a wonderful job of creating a modern, functional space while staying aesthetically true to the Mid-Century Modern bones of the house.

We photographed this kitchen in early October, and I was immediately struck by the cantilevered island and red cabinetry, as well as the enormous openings leading outside to the large deck.

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This is always a challenging shot, as we had to light the interior to match the sunlight exposure of the deck, but without being too obvious about it.

With the multi-paneled sliding doors fully open, along with the very large window, the deck joins the kitchen and adjacent family room in an open floor plan. It’s incredibly inviting and must be an absolute joy to live in.

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We backlit the translucent glass backsplash but made sure there was a gentle gradient from left to right for a more natural appearance.

We identified shots that would show off the features of the kitchen but which would also emphasize that indoor-outdoor aspect as much as possible.

And, just to make sure everyone understood that the rear backsplash was actually translucent glass, we shot the reverse angle:

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Cover Up – Alameda Magazine

HR AM Sept CoverGet ’em while they’re hot —  my photo made the front cover of Alameda Magazine’s annual Kitchen Issue (September). This was a Custom Kitchens project I photographed earlier this summer. That martini is looking very appropriate, today!

Nice doubletruck inside, as well, and another full-page spread featuring photos I made in a Roger Lee house on assignment for Alameda Magazine:

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Roger_LeeThanks to Debbi Murzyn at Alameda Publishing Group for showcasing this work!

Marin County Residence by Building Lab

A tremendous amount of lighting is being done to the lower stairwell in order to show the intent of the designer. The shadow pattern from the pendant lamp upstairs has been strengthened, and the stairs have been lit "from the inside out" in order to draw attention to the keyhole cutout and the strong graphic lines of the handrail and bars.

A tremendous amount of lighting is being done to this stairwell in order to show the intent of the designer. The shadow pattern from the pendant lamp upstairs has been strengthened, and the stairs have been lit “from the inside out” in order to draw attention to the keyhole cutout and the strong graphic lines of the handrail and bars.

We’ve recently completed a two-day shoot in Marin County California with Building Lab, documenting a spectacular remodel of a mid-century modern residence. Building Lab manages to create crisp, clean, graphically compelling designs using traditional materials — emphasis on wood grain, metal, and glass.  The staircase shown above is a classic example: it’s deceptively simple and clean, but further examination reveals a very careful and skilled design. Photos, write-up, and lighting notes, after the jump!

San Francisco Kitchen & Bath: Leslie Arnold, Part Two

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A few posts back, I chronicled a recent shoot with architect Leslie Arnold – a kitchen/bath remodel in San Francisco. Today, here’s another one, with a distinctly different flavor.

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Unlike the other project, which was a sort of Victorian-meets-country blend, this was Mission all the way. Arched doorways, stucco, smallish rooms….and Leslie introduced an Arts & Crafts flavor to the kitchen.

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For the lighting geeks: The shot above involved gelling all the under-cabinet lights minus green (or magenta) to bring the fluorescent tubes back to something close to daylight. We introduced some flash from the left side down near the fridge, and there’s also continuous light in the rear left corner as well as the foreground. A lot of careful positioning of cards and some white reflectors got everything under control.

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With the kitchen done, we moved into the bath, where Leslie had cast off all pretense of Mission style and gone 100% contemporary. This is the epitome of crisp! Green glass tile, white CeasarStone vanity top, and rich wood cabinets. The little scrubby was a last-minute addition to the styling that I just couldn’t resist.

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All in all this was a really satisfying project to shoot, thanks to Leslie’s great work and some excellent collaborative atmosphere.

San Francisco Kitchen & Bath: Leslie Arnold, Part Two

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A few posts back, I chronicled a recent shoot with architect Leslie Arnold – a kitchen/bath remodel in San Francisco. Today, here’s another one, with a distinctly different flavor.

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Unlike the other project, which was a sort of Victorian-meets-country blend, this was Mission all the way. Arched doorways, stucco, smallish rooms….and Leslie introduced an Arts & Crafts flavor to the kitchen.

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For the lighting geeks: The shot above involved gelling all the under-cabinet lights minus green (or magenta) to bring the fluorescent tubes back to something close to daylight. We introduced some flash from the left side down near the fridge, and there’s also continuous light in the rear left corner as well as the foreground. A lot of careful positioning of cards and some white reflectors got everything under control.

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With the kitchen done, we moved into the bath, where Leslie had cast off all pretense of Mission style and gone 100% contemporary. This is the epitome of crisp! Green glass tile, white CeasarStone vanity top, and rich wood cabinets. The little scrubby was a last-minute addition to the styling that I just couldn’t resist.

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All in all this was a really satisfying project to shoot, thanks to Leslie’s great work and some excellent collaborative atmosphere.

San Francisco Kitchen & Bath by Leslie Arnold

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I recently completed a couple of projects with architect Leslie Arnold; a pair of kitchen/bath remodels in San Francisco. Here’s the first one, and it was a real pleasure to shoot!

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Nor was it simple. The atrium-like eating area at the rear was flooded with sunlight, but the center island and “cooking” end of the space was significantly darker, and had to be lit in order for the photos to match what our eyes experienced. There’s a mixture of strobe and continuous light being applied across the entire image. Some of the strobe was via a head mounted on a light stand that was then “boomed” out the window of an adjoining room, by my assistant!

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In the bathroom, we again used a combination of flash (this time a small speedlight) and continuous light (for the cabinetry) to compress the dynamic range into something that matched what our eyes could see.

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We wrapped up the day with a few detail shots in other areas of the house where Leslie had done work, including the bedroom closets and storage.

Up next: a completely different kitchen/bath look, also by Leslie Arnold! Stay tuned….

San Francisco Kitchen & Bath by Leslie Arnold

LA_Blog_01

I recently completed a couple of projects with architect Leslie Arnold; a pair of kitchen/bath remodels in San Francisco. Here’s the first one, and it was a real pleasure to shoot!

LA_Blog_02

Nor was it simple. The atrium-like eating area at the rear was flooded with sunlight, but the center island and “cooking” end of the space was significantly darker, and had to be lit in order for the photos to match what our eyes experienced. There’s a mixture of strobe and continuous light being applied across the entire image. Some of the strobe was via a head mounted on a light stand that was then “boomed” out the window of an adjoining room, by my assistant!

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In the bathroom, we again used a combination of flash (this time a small speedlight) and continuous light (for the cabinetry) to compress the dynamic range into something that matched what our eyes could see.

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We wrapped up the day with a few detail shots in other areas of the house where Leslie had done work, including the bedroom closets and storage.

Up next: a completely different kitchen/bath look, also by Leslie Arnold! Stay tuned….

SF Kitchen by Folio Design

folio03Catching up on Fall projects, and first up is a kitchen I shot for Folio Design back on October.

Designer Erin McGilvery, with whom I’ve worked before, really nailed it with this contemporary/country design. The first thing that caught my eye was the raised panels on the end of the island and the cabinet doors. This millwork was outstanding, and we knew we had to make sure the texture showed in the photos.

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Erin is always fun to work with – and we had a good time styling this room!

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Kitchen & Bath by Building Lab

A few weeks ago I worked with Stephen Shoup of Building Lab to shoot a kitchen and bath remodel in San Francisco. Stephen and his team created a totally downtown look in this place, and so I worked to create images that held that crisp, clean look – but with the rich warm tones that seem to be a hallmark of Building Lab projects.

Enjoy!

Kitchen & Bath by Building Lab

A few weeks ago I worked with Stephen Shoup of Building Lab to shoot a kitchen and bath remodel in San Francisco. Stephen and his team created a totally downtown look in this place, and so I worked to create images that held that crisp, clean look – but with the rich warm tones that seem to be a hallmark of Building Lab projects.

Enjoy!

Remmies: Part One

The deadline for entry in this years’ Remmies competition was September 7th, which meant that I was a busy guy in early September. For two years running, projects that I photographed have walked away with the Grand Prize in this NorCal NARI event. I’m hoping for a hat trick — and some of the stuff I shot this year should certainly be contenders! See more photos, and a full write-up, after the jump!

Kitchen & Bath by Dianna V. Interiors

A few weeks ago I spent an afternoon with Dianna V. Interiors, documenting some of her past work in Piedmont, California. Dianna is gearing up to launch a new website and needed some good photography to get things started.

I really like Dianna’s clean lines and understated use of color. As we were looking around for stuff to use in styling the shot above, I spotted the homeowner’s kid’s goldfish on a table…and that became my favorite part of the photo!

With the kitchen done, we moved to the next location and got a couple of angles on this small bathroom:

….and called it a wrap!

Kitchen & Bath by Dianna V. Interiors

A few weeks ago I spent an afternoon with Dianna V. Interiors, documenting some of her past work in Piedmont, California. Dianna is gearing up to launch a new website and needed some good photography to get things started.

I really like Dianna’s clean lines and understated use of color. As we were looking around for stuff to use in styling the shot above, I spotted the homeowner’s kid’s goldfish on a table…and that became my favorite part of the photo!

With the kitchen done, we moved to the next location and got a couple of angles on this small bathroom:

….and called it a wrap!