Monthly Archives: April 2010


The past two weeks have been an absolute blur. In addition to a steady, calendar-clogging flow of “average” gigs, I’ve seen a string of “trophy” projects coming my way. As one of my favorite clients likes to say, “They’re stacked up like airplanes at JFK!” Bringing them all in for smooth landings has meant working 14 days straight, and a lot of late nights and early mornings (as in, go to bed at midnight, get up at 4:30).

But, they’ve been pretty cool projects, representing some of the top residential properties in San Francisco and the East Bay, including a $12.9 million bit of kick-ass architecture. That one, a turn of the (last) century knockout, had just been remodeled and was staged by Green Couch to within an inch of it’s life — this place looked GREAT. Photos should be un-embargoed soon, I’m sure a couple will make their way to this blog, along with some highlights from the other projects I’ve been shooting.

I’ll leave you with this little story, that occurred while shooting in the Berkeley Hills:

HOMEOWNER: “Do you ever shoot, uh, Nature?”

SCOTT: (mumbling) “Uh, sure, sometimes, personal stuff, umm…”

HOMEOWNER: “Because there’s something interesting happening outside right now.”

SCOTT: “Uh, Ok.” (follows homeowner outside.) The backyard is literally filled with the homeowner’s honeybees, which have chosen this moment to swarm. The air is thick with bees, the poor dog is cowering by the back door, whimpering. Many years ago I was a professional beekeeper (it’s true) so I knew there was no danger, but I decided maybe it would be best to shoot the back yard a little later….

Afterwards, I did get a shot of the bees, once the queen had landed and the workers had formed a protective ball around her.

Later that night, the homeowner captured them in a new hive, and no doubt they’re now busily making honey!

IPhone Photo of the Day

Scott Hargis Photo

Inside Out

Here’s an image that’s a good example of a technique I’ve been working on. I had both interior and exterior issues to deal with here. The outside areas ranged from blindingly bright concrete in the foreground (about f/3 billion) to the deep shadows in front of the rear structure. The interior was a good one and a half stops below my darkest exposure for the outside.

While this might have been a good candidate for a hand blend, I opted instead to shoot it as a 3-exposure Photomatix blend (I prefer Blends over HDR), and flash the interiors. Two lights were used, both of them SB-80s triggered by Pocket Wizards. One is directly behind the nearest vertical windowframe (those little video-tripod lightstands have tiny profiles) and is aimed straight into the room, with the Wide Angle Diffuser (WAD) lens down. The second light is bounced in from the right side. My exposures were -2, 0, +2, and the lights fired on all three.

After Photomatix did the blend, I layered in the darkest exposure to gain more detail in the foreground. I’m going to continue working on this technique, as it can really rescue a shot when there’s a serious time-of-day problem!

Miller-Warnecke Staircase is good when two of my favorite things combine: a great architect and a great staircase! In this case the architecture is Miller Warnecke, the duo responsible for a lot of the handsome commercial art-deco buildings in my own neighborhood. They also designed many, many fabulous residences around Oakland. This house was very well kept up, and the renovations were in keeping with the overall feel of the place. All in all, a great house. This staircase is original, of course, and the woodwork had been carefully re-furbished. When I walked in the door, I knew this was the photo I wanted to make for myself!

iPhone Photo of the Day

Scott Hargis Photo