• Buying a camera for Architectural photography PART 1

    Buying a Camera for Architectural Photography

    Sometimes I’m asked what would be a good camera for architectural photography.

    How will you use the camera? is the first question to ask when you are thinking about buying. Most people have diverse interests. They will what a camera that matches those interests. For many it is pictures of friends, family, landscapes, travel, a bit of architecture and occasional sunset. Portability is a bonus, and expense a concern.

    My personal belief is that the best type of camera is one that you can pop in a pocket and bring with you everywhere.  The old joke is : ” The best camera is the camera you have with you”. For this reason smart phone cameras have much to offer. I have listed the types of suitable camera and their advantages and disadvantages.

    My recommendations  :

    1. 1. Smart phone
    2. 2. Compact digital camera
    3. 3. Micro 4/3 ( Four Thirds)
    4. 4. Cropped frame Digital SLR
    5. 5. Full Frame Digital SLR

    For most photography I would recommend getting the most portable camera that you feel comfortable with. The reason is that many people leave their “good” camera behind on day trips because of the weight of the camera. A heavy camera and a bag of lens with a tripod can weight up to 10kg. Photography should be about creative image making not weight lifting.

    1. Smart Phone

    Smart phones bring high resolution, high quality images to everyone. They make sharing images and editing images a pleasure. They do have some limitations:

    • Smart phones use a very small image chip, because of this they will always have a very long depth of field ( this can be a good thing for some photography).
    • The user interface on smart phones can be a bit difficult to use, a dedicated camera functions better as a camera.
    • The camera function on smart phones can be very slow also, not so good for candid pictures.
    • The optics on smart phones are never as good as a dedicated camera.
    • Smart phones can be expensive costing from 200 to 1000 euro/ dollars.
    • Smart phones have to be charged every day, most dedicated cameras will have a good battery life.

    They do have some advantages over traditional cameras:

    • All images will have GPS data embedded in the images, this is an advantage if you are trying to find images or locations at a later date
    • Many smart phones will provide automatic backup to the cloud for all your images
    • The remote cloud access means that you can access your images from any location
    • Many people bring their phone everywhere
    • The ability to share and edit images is a very attractive feature that allows social engagement
    • The small chip will give a very long depth of field, this can be great if you are photographing an architectural model ( its not so good for portraiture)


    2. Compact Digital Camera

    Most digital compact cameras produce amazing images. Compact digital cameras present a huge advantage of portability. Personally I feel this is of huge importance, how many times have I left my “good” camera at home because I didn’t want to carry it with a bag of lens around all day. Many of the top line compact cameras will offer comparable image quality to a digital SLR. A summary of compact camera advantages:

    • Compact, this means that you’re more likely to bring it with you
    • Sealed chip and lens unit, this means that dust will not get into the chip
    • Many cameras offer a zoom that will give a good range of focal lengths from wide angle to telephoto .
    • The best brands offer fantastic image quality, Olympus, Nikon, Fuji, Sony, Canon
    • Many offer built in “effects” modes, producing convincing black and white, retro or positive film effects.
    • Many will have a built in flash

    The disadvantages of a compact camera are:

    • Many compact cameras don’t offer a zoom that is sufficiently wide angle lens to be of use to those interested architecture ( but many will have a panorama function)
    • The zoom lens in a compact camera tend to be mechanically powered which can sometimes be very slow to operate
    • Optically the lenses tend to be very good, however the chip size on a compact camera is not the best for portraiture
    • The mental connection between photography and cameras and photography has been replaced by a connection between a mental photography and the smart phone. Nowadays when we want to remember that we want to take ” good” photography we have to actively compel ourselves to bring the “good” camera. As a result the good camera is frequently left behind.
    • At present compact cameras don’t tend to have the social, cloud backup features of smart phones, but that is changing

    3,4,5 Micro 4/3 rds cameras, Cropped and Full frame Digital camera

    All of these types of cameras offer better camera and optical performance, but the big trade-off is portability, weight and convenience. Personally I feel that the trade-off can be too high. DSLR’s are sometimes so expensive/heavy/complicated that they discourage use.
    The big advantages of DSLR’s are:

    • Superior optics ( but only if you invest in good lenses).
    • Bigger chip, is better for portrait photography.
    • Higher resolution.
    • A full system of accessories etc.
    • They are a serious camera, if you’re using one there is a tenacity to dedicate more time and concentration to the photography.

    The disadvantages are:

    • Expense.
    • Not portable.
    • To get the best out of the camera they frequently require a tripod.
    • Generally no flash on the higher end models.
    • To get the very best out of the image they require a considered and methodical approach to image making.
    • If the lens is detachable the chip can get covered in dust.

    In summary of the above, if you want to upgrade your architectural photography I would recommend a good compact camera over a DSLR. Others will disagree no doubt. If you have about 30000 euro to burn you could also opt for someone from this company.

  • Rooms Declan O'Donnell Architectural photography

    Rooms / Room

    Rooms by Declan O’Donnell is on sale now.

    This book is full of ideas renovating or improving your home. The format catalogues each room in the house. It gives a selection of realistic but imaginative ideas for all the rooms in the house. Some of the design inspiration comes from projects I have photographed over the years. One particularly impressive project is by Michael DeSuin of DeSuin Sullion Architects , the project can be seen here on there website. Or more images can be seen on my site here

    You can even buy it with Room by Emma Donoghue on Easons.


  • R.I.A.I. Architecture Awards

    The R.I.A.I. Architectural Awards has announced the awards deadline. Mark Thursday April the 7th in your diary for the awards submission date.

    If you’re thinking of entering the awards you should plan to have your presentation prepared one week in advance.

    Enter Now to the 2016 RIAI Irish Architecture Awards.

    Now in their 27th year, the RIAI Irish Architecture Awards celebrate the best architecture in Ireland and around the world. Winning projects reflect quality and advances in architecture, and show the value that architecture adds to society across a range of typologies. 

    Why Should I Enter?

    Why Should I Enter?

    The RIAI Awards are judged by an expert jury of award-winning architects and renowned assessors.

    The RIAI Irish Architecture Awards are accompanied by an effective and far-reaching national media campaign. Traditionally, the winner of the Public Choice Award has been announced on RTE Radio One Morning Ireland while RTE Six One News has covered the awards for television. In addition, there has been substantial media coverage in national and regional newspapers as well as regional radio. The audience reach in 2015 has been over 2 million.

    The RIAI Awards are accompanied by a Digital Marketing and Social Media campaign.

    The RIAI Awards are accompanied by in-depth publication in Architecture Ireland and The RIAI Annual Review.

    The RIAI Awards are accompanied by a public engagement programme – our Walks + Talks of award-winning buildings, led by the architects.

    What’s New in 2016?

    In 2016 we are developing the RIAI Awards further to enhance their role and impact, including with a new venue and format.  We are also introducing new two award categories:

    • Best Fit-out Award
    • A Student Award for Sustainable Design in partnership with the RIAI Sustainability Task Force

    Key Dates for 2016

    February –  Call for Entries RIAI Awards 2016

    April 7  –  Submission date for RIAI Awards 2016 (post Easter)

    May –  Jury Assessment and Public Choice Award

    June 24 –  Awards Ceremony Date 2016

  • image of architecture ireland magazine showing the Glen Regeration Architectural Photography Cork Ireland

    Architecture Ireland Housing Edition

    Architecture Ireland recently published an edition on housing. The Glen Regeneration project completed by Cork City Council is featured in the edition. Photographs of the project were completed last summer on a glorious day. The project is a great example of housing in the landscape. Cork’s steep slopes are made use of by the Architects to create a patterned landscape of housing across the hills cape. The slope enables courtyards at the front of some houses that have bridges into the main accommodation.


    image of architecture ireland magazine showing the Glen Regeration Architectural Photography Cork Ireland

    image of architecture ireland magazine showing the Glen Regeration Architectural Photography Cork Ireland


  • Bord Gais Denis Byrne Architects Bord Gais Networks Services Centre

    Denis Byrne Architects wins AR Work Award 2016

    Congratulations to Denis Byrne Architects, an award-winning Dublin architecture practice, has won the Architecture Review‘s prestigious 2016 Work Award for its Gas Networks Ireland Services Centre in Finglas, Dublin. Established in London in 1896, the Architecture Review is considered to be the leading authority on contemporary architecture in the world. The judges of the AR Work Award 2016 shortlisted four international projects from over a hundred entries and visited each of the shortlisted projects- in Mexico, the USA, Sweden and Ireland- prior to reaching its decision.http://architectureireland.ie/ar_2016_work_award

  • Image of award for Cooney Architects Architectural Photography

    Cooney Architects win Gold

    Cooney Architects win gold at international green apple awards for Leitrim Innovation & Growth Centre, in Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim.  This was a project that we had photographed for the Architects. The project was a nice project and an example of what the best in Irish design can achieve the designers used furniture from Leo Scarff

    Cooney Architects also won a Highly Commended in the Sustainability Category of the 2014 RIAI Irish Architecture Awards. More information on the centre here Leitrim Innovation Centre Cooney Architects


  • Taming tasks with Python

    How would I even start! Where would I find the time! What about all the mistakes I’d make.

    I had been asked to insert and edit over 204 images into 459 page word document, all images had to be the exact same size in the exact same place.

    Manually it would take forever. There had to be a better way.

    Many office tasks are boring and repetitive. If only there was a way to automate the boring stuff. In this example adding the images manually would have been time-consuming, error prone, and just plain boring. In a departure from my usually blog posts on Architectural photography, I though I would include a post on some of the technical solutions I’ve worked on in the office.

    “Talk Python to me” podcast episode #19 featured Al Sweigart.   His goal is to teach the python programming language to students, office workers , admin staff  to improve their work. His method teaches the python to automate common tasks. The site www.automatetheboringstuff.com is open source allowing any to delve in and learn the python programming language at your ease.

    Python is a simple, easy to learn and its syntax emphasizes readability. The language is very close to english and is very easy to learn. Python is used by many of the worlds biggest software companies. It is also gained popularity as a first language for University students.
    Python can be used to open, edit, save and delete files,it can find text and add images to document. This is just what I needed.

    For my project the task was to, open the document, search for the mention of a .jpg file, then insert that image file in the paragraph text.

    To open the .docx file we use PyDocx , the searching uses a Regular Expression Library: Regex. Then the script simply loops through all runs within all paragraphs and inserts the relavant image from a folder.

    Is there anything more?

    Only one thing, the add_picture function uses a “try/ except” flow so that any failures can be captured in a list.

    Simple, its so simple. Overall it took about 30 minutes to write and test the script. Heres the code.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    #The .docx element of the script is an adapation of code from https://automatetheboringstuff.com/chapter18/
    #The regex element of the script is an adapation of code from https://automatetheboringstuff.com/chapter7/
    import docx
    #Imports pyton-docx
    import re
    #Imprts Regex
    # The testword.docx is stored in the same folder as the script.
    #This initialises the faillist as a list
    print len(doc.paragraphs)
    #This prints to the console the lenght of paragraphs in the text
    for i in range(len(doc.paragraphs)):
    #This loops over the paragraphs
    for j in range(len(doc.paragraphs[i].runs)):
    #This loops over the runs ( blocks of text) in each paragraph
    imgname= re.compile(r’\d\d\d\d\d\d_00.jpg’)
    #Matches all filenames with a 6 digit prefix followed by _00.jpg
    # This searchs for a pattern match
    if imgret!=None:
    #If there is a pattern match in the run ( text block) search for a file that matches that name
    # Insert matching name form a local folder called ” image_folder”, sets the size to be 6cm high
    # If there is no match, add that to a list. This is so i can see if there are any problems
    print faillist
    # print ” This is awesome”
    # This is a optional print statement if you wish to celebrate your awesomeness.
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    In python all this can be completed with relative ease. There is a library for opening .docx files, and a library for matching text. Fortunately the file-name of each image is mentioned on each page.

  • Nowhere

    Retail Photography retail design blog

    Nowhere store design by ABGC was launched at the beginning of 2015 . Retail Design Blog have writing a blog piece on the design and installation.


    screen shot of retail design blog

    screen shot of retail design blog

  • Horse with house in tipperary

    Linking the past to the present

    Some architectural photography of Puckan Tipperary was recently republished by the Journal.ie Gary Mongey of Box Architecture designed the extension for a 1940’s cottages. The result is a comptempory clean architectural design and creates a harmonious modern space. The full article is here hhttp://paultierney.com/portfolios/box-architecture-tipperary-private-house/ the journal article is here http://www.thejournal.ie/glass-box-link-extension-2137370-Jun2015/

    Screenshot of the journal

    Screenshot of the journal

  • Architectural Photograph of Mater Hosipital

    Best Healthcare Project in the R.I.A.I Irish Architecture Awards 2014

    Scott Tallon Walker Architects have been awards best Healthcare project in the 2014 Irish Architecture awards for the Mater Hospital. The mater hospital is located in central Dublin. The building is a modern addition to the city that sensitively aligns the tone of local materials and grain with the demands of a functioning health building. The building creates a positive impact in the area by creating a new urban space on the North Circular Road. The modelling of the 3 dimensional form blends the low density surroundings to a high density modern hospital.
    The main photograph presented in the awards was photographed recently by our company. Photographing the building was a difficult task due to the alignment of the building and parking issues in the area.