Cool Photos of Iconic San Diego Highrise- New Renovation

Here are some fine photos we shot recently of the newly-renovated, iconic San Diego high-rise, 1 Columbia Place, (aka, Columbia Center!) an instantly recognizable, downtown-skyline building, especially seen from the harbor. A gallery of  images is here and below are a few images from the shoot-

Dusk exterior of 1 Columbia Place

Dusk exterior of 1 Columbia Place

Our client, Emmes Realty Services of California hired Harrison Photographic to photograph the new main entrance, lobby, newly-designed offices, outdoor terraces, restaurant, views, exterior and to essentially provide new photography from all the key aspects of the remodel. Ideaworks, a premier San Diego design shop used our images in a series of ads as well as other marketing uses for the Client. Ideaworks also created the great back-lit graphics in the lobby you see here (and in the gallery.)

1 Columbia Lobby

1 Columbia Lobby

One of the main goals of our Client’s renovation was to re-do the existing street-level entrance on Columbia Street. This image shows off the result nicely I think. Difficult color-balance, camera-placement and traffic issues for us but we solved them.

New main entrance, shot from from Columbia Street

New main entrance, shot from from Columbia Street

For the interior views we staged the lobby scenes, placing people in just the right positions.

The exterior image (at very top) was a challenge due to the brightly lit 2nd and 3rd floor outdoor terraces combined with capturing the reflectiveness of the glass exterior and surrounding. We shot from an adjacent building and we had to shoot through the glass, (the only vantage point available.) We shot over the course of an hour or more; the final image was composited from several captures to hold detail in the upper floor, balcony lighting, the sunset glow, surroundings, the terraces and the flag of course!

Thanks for viewing and leave a comment if you are moved to,


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Using the Camranger for our Architectural and Corporate photography workflow

We’ve been using the Camranger wireless remote device recently and I must say its been a great tool! While on a recent architectural shoot for California West Community’s Ravello project we shot beautiful dusk photos of some of the models while remotely firing the Nikon D800 via an iPad Mini while varying the lighting setup between captures. Here’s the rig on top of my truck (complete with sandbag.) Maybe 100′ away from the subject. Nice auto shot too!

camranger in action

Camranger in action

And here’s the finished product-


Ravello at Cielo

Using the Camranger allowed my Assistants and I to walk around, selectively lighting areas of the model home as we saw fit plus, via the iPad and Camranger software I could alter the exposures to gather up as many files as I needed for post-production composites.

Camranger support has been great- we had a little glitch (maybe my fault!) that they fixed immediately.

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Whole Foods Market shoot in Northern California

shot for Robson Home, in San Jose, CA

Had to be up early for this one! Shooting for Robson Homes in San Jose they were the developer for this really nice Whole Foods Market in Fremont. I flew to San Jose, scouted the job during midday, shot that evening, shot again (with water truck and client, Jasmine) well before sunrise and again off and on through the day into evening capturing unique architectural elements of the project since it was being submitted to a national awards competition . (I edited the files in my hotel room during the day to make sure we were on track.) It rained the last day at sunrise so I’m sure glad we pressed ahead to get the shoot happening right at the start.

Jasmine, Robson’s Marketing person was a pleasure to work with, very clear on what she wanted but also open to my input. We had full access to the site although we had to retouch out a lot of early morning, (5am!) Whole Foods activity and remove, in Photoshop, two big banners hanging over the entrances.

As a nice bonus, flying up and back, I was “selected” by Southwest Airlines to be TSA, Pre-Screened, since I’ve flown a lot I guess, so: no laptop out, no shoes off, no belt off, camera case whizzed through the x-ray. Just had to pay the excess baggage fees (as usual) for all my photo gear. Nice!


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A client I enjoy shooting for, American Concrete asked me to photograph a large concrete pour of theirs at the new Sabre Springs Transit Center as part of an ongoing shoot for new website images. As a long- time commercial photographer specializing in architectural and industrial shoots (but with lots of experience working in the construction industry and pouring concrete in my younger years!) I always look forward to shoots such as this, getting in the middle of things, trying to get images that tell the story. Like this shot, nice back-lighting on the freshly poured concrete, kind of attractive actually! Got my Nikon camera and lens splashed but they can be cleaned off for sure.

Other projects I’m photo-graphing for American  are the new Mid City Bus Line, the Trolley System’s Orange Line platforms, Palomar Medical Center and Scripps Proton Therapy Center.

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A Closer Look at Bencotto Restaurant in Little Italy

While grabbing a morning coffee at Influx I was reminded about the really nice photography we did a while ago for Bencotto, the Italian restaurant in the same Little Italy, Q building as Influx.

Don Hollis recommended me for the shoot (thanks Don!) which we did in one session from around 10am to dark. The restaurant, now a big Little Italy hit was only a few days from opening so the window for photography was very narrow! On the shoot day we photographed first in the kitchen where Chef Fabrizio makes his pasta from scratch every day. A very tight shooting space but the shots turned out great, mostly strobe-lit, back-lighting for the close-ups of the pasta.fresh pasta at Bencotto Italian Kitchen We shot a variety of pastas but really love this one of fresh gnocchi.

After capturing other details shots around the restaurant we then photographed architectural angles, upstairs and downstairs off and on throughout the rest of the day culminating in some very nice dusk, interior views as you can see below.

bencotto italian kitchen, little italy

We were very happy to photograph one of the cool new additions to our Little Italy neighborhood. San Diego Magazine said “Voted Best Italian in SD: The new kid in Little Italy is in a class by itself.”

Thanks for reading,










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In-Your-Face Firearms!

Here’s a very different (for me) and interesting project I shot recently for Fine Firearms of La Mesa, a gun shop owned by a friend of mine. Behold the finished, slightly cropped image:

My friend approached me about photographing an array of vintage rifles, shotguns and pistols he owns for the home page of his website. The result is, I think, very striking. We’ve made prints up to five feet wide on the Lightjet printer that look awesome on my studio wall and in his shop.

To me, the biggest technical issue was how make all the different sized weapons lie in a straight, horizontal line. I considered resting them on a thin steel bar that I would retouch out later but that seemed like a lot of work! Then I occurred to me in a burst of inspiration around 3am one morning to position them upside down on the table and flip the image in Photoshop later. It worked like a charm. We did have to gaffer-tape the handles some of the pistols so they didn’t topple off but that was the main styling hurdle. Here’s a shot of the original setup and then the final, un-cropped image. Note roll of gaffer on the table.

I shot this with a Nikon D3 and a 17-35mm zoom at 17mm. One small strip light and one silver card were the only lighting gizmos. (Fyi, no crazy Photoshop work went into this.) Of course since the shot was upside down I had to place the box on the floor and the fill on the top. Or stand on my head. Anyway, I think it turned out to be a really cool shot.

Thanks for reading,



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Photography of Mt. Helix Modern Home

View from Pool to Living Room

Here’s a really cool shoot I just completed for my good friends, Mark and Loretta. As long-time modernists they have completed restoring their 1960’s home on Mt. Helix in La Mesa, CA. As a modernista myself I was delighted when they asked me to produce a library of images of their project. A favorite of mine is this one to the left, shot on day one. (I lit the interior with a single strobe, fired remotely.) The house, designed by architect John Mock, has many, many beautiful interior sight-lines and views to the outdoors. See a gallery of images here. Fyi, I photographed the first three color images of the Hindman residence on the Modern San Diego, John Mock page.

Below is a shot in the morning from the master bedroom looking east out to the pool illustrating the early morning light streaming through the eucalyptus trees into the room.

View from Master Bedroom to Pool

In almost all photographs I used very simple lighting in order to maintain the feel of the home’s natural light. In any architectural shoot my mantra, always is to enhance and build upon the mood of the natural light. That isn’t to say that my team and I wouldn’t hesitate to use multiple strobe units if we had too. I just don’t like to overpower the natural lighting unless it’s needed and sometimes it is necessary.

The owners added the pool during the project, had the kitchen cabinets restored, landscaped, added new flooring, painted inside and out and furnished the house with period pieces, most of which they already owned!

On a photography note I shot all images with a Nikon D3, a couple lenses and a case of monolights and light modifiers. I spent time in Photoshop doing minor cleanup, contrast adjustments and in some cases, layer-masking.

Thanks for reading,














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Photography for Public Architecture wins Home of the Year

A Del Mar residence I recently photographed for Public Architecture won San Diego Home/Garden magazine’s Home of the Year competition for “Best New Single Family Residence.” The home is featured in the February 2011 edition, starting on page 40.

Check out a web gallery of some of my favorite views here. One favorite, the image below right was shot with me standing on top of a narrow wall with one of the tripod legs resting on the top of the recycle trash can lid to achieve the four second exposure!  Another shot I really dig is this one (left) of the open, downstairs area. To the beautiful ambient light bouncing in the room I added one flash unit with a grid spot to highlight the chair. I let the light spill a bit on the board-formed concrete wall behind to accent it. A photography note: All images were taken with a Nikon D3, a variety of Nikon lenses and a kit of studio flash units.

The contractor was RGB Group Inc from San Diego. Public Architecture’s team included James Brown and James Gates,  Principals and Michael Paluso, Project Manager.

There were so many great angles and vignettes to shoot I could have spent a few days shooting. I feel we produced a nice library of images for Public that features this striking design very nicely and I was very happy to see this project published in SDH/G.

Thanks for reading,


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A Trip to Big Sur

Recently we were invited to travel up to Big Sur for a long weekend. Dawn’s friends, Jessie and Vic (owners of Zaudhaus Design in San Francisco) were staying a couple nights at Hill of the Hawk, an amazing private residence at the top of the hill next door to the Post Ranch Inn overlooking the Pacific Ocean. And a few days down the hill at the Big Sur Campgrounds & Cabins.

View to the north from Hill of the Hawk

Musicians on Saturday night at the Fiddle Camp

Our road-trip took us through Santa Barbara to spend the night and up the US 1 the next day to Big Sur. Even if you had no interest in taking photos you’d be doing it here! The weather was awesome,  accommodations perfect and our friends great  fun. Here are some snaps .  One evening we hiked over the hill to hear performances at the Big Sur Fiddle Camp ( not only fiddles, other stringed instruments too.) After a hike back, where we forgot our flashlight and had to find our way around in the dark we made it back to the house. The next day, on to the campground. Check out my photos in the link above. An inspiring vacation!

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Modernism Magazine featuring 1962 Mount Helix home

Modernism Magazine’s Summer 2010 issue, just out is featuring a very cool 1962 modern home I photographed some time ago.  As you can see the house is spectacular at dusk.

Modern home on Mt Helix

The home was completely restored by the owners, guided in part by using photos from a 1966 Sunset Magazine photo shoot. San Diego Home/Garden magazine also chose this residence as Home of the Year in their February 2009 issue. It looks like you’ll have to buy this issue (or subscribe on-line)  to view the whole article (It starts on page 78.) There’s not a direct link.

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