photos, tips, tricks, and thoughts from an avid amateur photographer


Posts tagged Auburn University

studio shoot


My industrial design class just completed their semester-long power equipment design project culminating with the building of full-scale appearance models. I set up a make-shift photo studio in a lightly used classroom and over the past 24 hours shot over 600 images. All were taken in RAW format (DNG) with my Pentax K10D and my 18-55mm kit lens and FA 35mm f/2 AL and processed in Adobe Lightroom. By shooting in RAW I was able to set the white balance for all the shots with one click by selecting an underexposed portion of the white backdrop with the eye dropper tool in Lightroom and then copying and pasting that setting to all images.

Most of the shots required a heavy dose of positive exposure compensation while shooting to keep the white backdrop white and not grey. I was pretty diligent with the use of the histogram while shooting so there wasn’t much need for exposure adjustment. I just made sure there was a good spike on the right hand side of the graph without going very far into the mid tones. Here’s a shot of the “studio” set-up:


I positioned the white paper backdrop centered under a row of fluorescent lights so that there was a row flanking the backdrop on either side. This provided nice even lighting front to back and reduced shadows to a minimum.

For each of the 14 students I took anywhere from 40-70 shots (all hand-held @ ISO 400). I started with low-angle orthographic views at a medium focal length (35-45mm) followed by eye-level perspective shots at a wider angle (35-24mm), short depth of field detail shots (to hide any imperfections), and specialty shots as required (use, high angle, ultra-wide low angle perspective, etc.). All in all I was really pleased with the results right out of the camera and I think the students ended up with great shots for their portfolios.

Unfortunately, the confidentiality agreement I signed prevents me from showing most of the shots or even revealing the client or other interesting project details, but here are a few ambiguous detail shots of the final models to show what I was able to achieve with this make shift DIY studio set-up:




Oh, and I have over 2,000 photos that I have taken of the students working on their projects this semester that I need to burn off onto DVDs within the next week!

Designing Green 2009

Designing Green trophy

Pentax K10D, SMC PENTAX-DA f/3.5-5.6 18-55mm AL @ 18mm, ISO 160, f/4, 1/30 sec, +1 EV, IS on

Read all about Auburn University’s Department of Industrial and Graphic Design’s annual Designing Green competition on my personal blog.

Designed by Aran Mun, the hand-made laser cut cardboard trophy above was shot in a simple whitespace studio with a single incandescent bulb behind a white umbrella diffuser (reversed from the set-up shown below):

RAW file processed in Adobe Lightroom to correct white balance and tweak the exposure slightly. I shot another version at f/8…


…but I preferred the way the vignetting and shallower DoF in the f/4 shot really adds depth to the photograph and focuses your attention on the logo. Best thing about having access to a studio like this is that the total time to set up for this shot and snap the four frames I took was less than 2 minutes!

Click here if you’re just interrested in seeing all the photos I took during the event.



Pentax K10D, Pentax SMC-A 50mm f/1.7 (manual focus), ISO 100, f/8, 1/400 sec, +/- 0 EV, IS off

Water sealant application on the new Auburn University student dining hall. Wide shot:

wide shot

Vacant school building photo shoot

Wallace Center hallway

I had to make a run to the recycling center today and decided to stop by Wallace Center (the building on Auburn University’s campus that houses the Industrial and Graphic Design programs). I thought the place might be deserted on a Saturday during Christmas break. I was right and got some very cool photos with my Pentax K10D and Pentax-A 50mm f/1.7 SMC lens. Lucky thing I always have my camera handy!

The photo above was shot hand-held at ISO 400, f/4.0 at 1/25 second. The K10D’s in-body IS helped ensure a sharp shot. I later processed the image as black and white in Adobe Lightroom.

When I first entered the building I came in just on the other side of the doors at the end of this hall and headed up stairs. The motion activated light switches automatically turned on the lights at the end of the hall where I came in. Later, I came down another set of stairs at the opposite end of the building and entered this hallway on my way out. The automatic lights took a second to react to my presence before flooding the entire corridor in fluorescent light. I really liked the way the light at the end of the hall played off the walls and polished floor when half the lights were off, so I found the switch and turned off the lights at this end of the hallway before taking this shot.

Wallace Center hallway in color

After taking the black and white picture of the hallway, I decided to try a long exposure deep focus shot. Having not brought my tripod I had to improvise and simply set my camera on the floor. I got this shot by simply selecting  f/22 and ISO 100 in Aperture Priority mode and the camera dialed in 10 seconds for the exposure. I used the 2 second self timer to release the shutter without touching the camera. All I did in Lightroom was tweak the white balance and add a little sharpening.

push pins

These push pins adorn the gallery wall used by the Graphic Design program. Normally they are holding up student artwork and photography. Now they patiently await next semester. Hand-held, ISO 400, f/2.8, at 1/15 second. I tried f/1.7 but couldn’t get the focus on the push pin in the dim light of the hallway. Plus, I found the slightly greater DOF of f/2.8 did a better job of keeping the push pins in the distance recognizable.

empty studio

This is the studio where I have spent the last 3 1/2 months. It’s a lot cleaner and quieter than it has been. I love the feeling of the vignetting this lens produces wide open. Hand-held, ISO 400, f/1.7, at 1/500 second.


One of the 3rd year studios. All the stools where upside down on the desks and the light filtering in through the windows facing the hallway was mesmerizing. I shot this hand-held at ISO 400, f/1.7 and 1/8 second. 1/8 second is starting to push the envelope of what the built-in IS can do on the Pentax. I could have bumped up the ISO but instead I just braced myself up against a wall and controlled my breathing. It took a few tries but I got a number of clear shots with some wonderful bokeh.

I love taking pictures in vacant and deserted buildings. I always find myself wondering what stories the things left behind could tell. Of course, it’s also pretty easy to creep one’s self out…


I'm an industrial designer and an avid hobbyist photographer. People are always asking me "how'd you do that?" So, I decided to create this site as a place to share my experiences and insights about photography, the gear and what it all means to me. I'm not sure if this site will make anyone besides myself a better photographer but I figure it's worth a try. Take a look around and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by!


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