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Thomas Annan

Thomas Annan | National Galleries of Scotland

Capturing Life’s Essence: The Timeless Artistry of Richard Avedon

Specific names shine brightly in photography, leaving an indelible mark on the medium. One such luminary is Richard Avedon, an iconic figure whose lens effortlessly captured the human essence like no other. Avedon’s evocative portraits and profound ability to unveil the soul behind the facade earned him a well-deserved place in the annals of photographic history. Join me as we explore this extraordinary visionary’s life, art, and lasting impact.

A Visionary in the Making: Richard Avedon’s journey began in New York City on May 15, 1923. His early passion for images led him to study photography, and he embarked on his career in earnest during his teenage years. Inspired by fashion magazines, Avedon honed his skills and soon immersed himself in fashion and editorial photography, forever altering the industry’s landscape.

A New Perspective: What sets Avedon apart is his ability to go beyond the superficial and capture the soul behind the image. His portraiture work is unparalleled, characterized by a stark simplicity that reveals the true nature of his subjects. In addition, Avedon had an uncanny talent for making the camera disappear, allowing his subjects to show themselves in their most vulnerable and authentic form.

A Study in Contrast: One of Avedon’s distinctive techniques was using a white backdrop, creating a visual juxtaposition that placed his subjects on center stage. By stripping away elaborate backgrounds, he eliminated distractions, enabling viewers to focus entirely on the essence of the individuals before them. This minimalistic approach became a hallmark of his style, lending his photographs a timeless quality that continues to captivate audiences today.

Beyond the Surface: Avedon’s work transcended the mere portrayal of physical appearances; he delved deeper, seeking to capture the human condition. His portraits exuded a profound sense of humanity, eliciting emotions and telling stories with each shutter click. Avedon had an innate ability to connect with his subjects, creating a sense of trust that allowed them to bare their souls, often with raw vulnerability.

Cultural Impact: Richard Avedon’s influence extends far beyond photography. His iconic images have graced the pages of leading publications, museum exhibits, and countless galleries worldwide. His subjects ranged from celebrities and politicians to ordinary people, each portrait representing Avedon’s unique perspective.

A Lasting Legacy: Avedon’s work inspires photographers and artists, challenging them to dig deeper and uncover the true essence of their subjects. His commitment to truth and authenticity resonates in an era often characterized by artifice and superficiality. Through his art, Avedon reminded us of the beauty and complexity of the human experience, capturing fleeting moments of vulnerability, strength, and introspection.

Conclusion: Richard Avedon’s indomitable spirit and artistic genius forever transformed the world of photography. His ability to transcend appearances and unveil the true essence of his subjects is an enduring testament to his talent. Through his lens, Avedon unravelled the layers of humanity, evoking emotions and leaving an everlasting impact on the art form. His legacy serves as a reminder.

The History of the Scheimpflug Principle: How an Austrian Army Captain Revolutionized Photography

My interest in photography led me to study the Scheimpflug principle, which allows control of the plane of focus and the depth of field in your images by tilting or shifting your lens. But I wanted to know the origins and who invented this principle? In this blog post, I will tell the story of Theodor Scheimpflug, an Austrian army captain who devised a method and apparatus for correcting perspective distortion in aerial photographs, and how his discovery influenced photography and optics.

Who was Theodor Scheimpflug?

Theodor Scheimpflug was born on October 7, 1865, in Vienna. He attended university in Vienna and joined the Austrian army as an engineer. He became interested in photography and started working on aerial photography in 1902. He realized that conventional cameras could not capture accurate images of oblique objects, such as buildings or mountains, because they would appear distorted due to the lens’s angle of view. He wanted to find a way to correct this distortion and make the images more realistic and proportional.

What did he invent?

Scheimpflug invented a device that consisted of a camera with a movable lens and a movable film holder. He attached this device to a balloon or an airplane and took photographs of the landscape from different angles. He then used a mathematical formula to calculate the optimal position of the lens and the film holder for each photograph so that the plane of focus would be parallel to the plane of the object. This way, he could eliminate perspective distortion and achieve sharp focus on things at different distances from the camera.

He patented his invention in 1904 and named it “Apparatus for Correcting Perspective Distortion in Aerial Photographs.” He also published several papers and books on his method and its applications. He credited Jules Carpentier, a French engineer and inventor, for discovering the rule that governed his invention, which he called “Carpentier’s rule.” This rule stated that if the lens, film, and object planes are not parallel, they will intersect at a standard line. This line is called the “Scheimpflug line.”

How did his invention influence photography and optics?

Scheimpflug’s invention was a breakthrough in aerial photography and cartography. It allowed him to create accurate maps and surveys of large land areas with minimal distortion. His method was also used for military purposes, such as reconnaissance and artillery targeting. His invention also inspired other photographers and optical engineers to explore the possibilities of tilting or shifting lenses for artistic or scientific purposes.

One of the most famous applications of Scheimpflug’s principle is tilt-shift photography. This technique uses a particular lens type or a digital manipulation program to create selective focus or blur effects in images. This can create an illusion that the captured scene is a miniature model rather than a full-scale environment. Tilt-shift photography is often used for architectural, product, or landscape photography.


The Scheimpflug principle is a concept that has revolutionized photography and optics by allowing photographers and optical engineers to control the plane of focus and correct perspective distortion in images.

Now, if that wasn’t enough to put you on the edge of your seat, there is the …

Scheimpflug formula is a term that can refer to different mathematical formulas that are used to apply the Scheimpflug principle in photography and optics. The Scheimpflug principle states that if the lens, image, and subject planes are not parallel, they will intersect at a standard line. This allows for a sharp focus on objects at different distances from the camera by tilting or shifting the lens.

Some of the standard Scheimpflug formulas are:

  • The imaging formula: This formula relates the distance of the object plane (z) and the image plane (z’) to the focal length of the lens (f) when they are parallel to each other. It is given by −1= z’z. (1) f
  • The Lensmaker’s formula: This formula relates the distance of the object plane (z) and the image plane (z’) to the focal length of the lens (f) when they are not parallel to each other. It is given by −1=1. (2) z’ (y)z(y)f where y is the coordinate along the Scheimpflug line.
  • The angle of tilt formula: This formula relates the angle of tilt of the lens plane (θ) and the image plane (θ’) to the focal length of the lens (f) and the distance of the lens from the image plane (L’). It is given by tanθ’=ftanθ. (9) +f
  • The magnification formula: This formula relates the magnification of the axial object and image points (mo) and the magnification as a function of y (m) to the angle of tilt of the lens plane (θ), the focal length of the lens (f), and the distance of the lens from the image plane (L’). It is given by mo=L’=f. (10) LL+f and m=mo1+tanθf+L + \uF8F9 \uF04B \uF8FA. (13) \uF8FB

These formulas can be used to calculate the optimal position and orientation of the lens and the image plane for a given subject plane, according to the Scheimpflug principle. They can also be used to calculate the depth of field, perspective correction, and image keystone distortion.

To sum it up, this is computational photography on the next level.

The View Camera

View cameras, also known as large format cameras, are a type of camera that uses a flexible bellows to adjust the distance between the lens and the film plane. These cameras are often used by professional photographers, especially those who specialize in architectural, landscape, or fine art photography. In this blog, we will explore the features, advantages, and disadvantages of view cameras.

Features of View Cameras:

View cameras are different from other types of cameras because they allow the photographer to adjust the angle of view, the focus, and the perspective of the image. Here are some of the features of view cameras:

  1. Bellows: View cameras have a flexible bellows that allows the photographer to adjust the distance between the lens and the film plane. This feature makes it possible to change the perspective and the focus of the image.
  2. Large Film Format: View cameras use large film formats, typically 4×5, 5×7, or 8×10 inches. This results in a higher resolution and more detail in the final image.
  3. Tilt-Shift Capabilities: View cameras allow for the lens and film plane to be tilted or shifted independently, giving the photographer more control over the perspective and the depth of field of the image.

Advantages of View Cameras:

  1. High Image Quality: The large film format of view cameras results in higher resolution and more detail in the final image. This is especially important for photographers who want to create large prints or who need to capture fine details in their images.
  2. Precise Control: View cameras offer precise control over the focus, perspective, and angle of view of the image. This makes it easier to create images with a specific look or feel, or to correct for perspective distortion in architectural photography.
  3. Flexible: The bellows of view cameras can be adjusted to accommodate different lenses, making them more versatile than other types of cameras.

Disadvantages of View Cameras:

  1. Cost: View cameras are more expensive than other types of cameras, especially when you factor in the cost of the lenses and accessories.
  2. Bulky and Heavy: View cameras are large and heavy, making them difficult to transport and use in the field.
  3. Slow and Complicated: View cameras require more time and skill to use than other types of cameras. The process of setting up the camera, adjusting the focus and perspective, and taking the shot can be slow and complicated.

In conclusion, view cameras are a specialized tool for professional photographers who need precise control over the perspective and focus of their images. While they offer advantages in terms of image quality and flexibility, they are also more expensive, bulky, and complicated to use than other types of cameras. If you are a photographer who needs the control and precision that a view camera offers, it may be worth investing in one. However, if you are looking for a more portable, affordable, and easy-to-use camera, a different type of camera may be a better choice.

Annie Leibovitz

Annie Leibovitz is one of the most iconic photographers of our time, known for her distinctive style, her ability to capture emotion and her ground-breaking contributions to photography. Born in Waterbury, Connecticut, in 1949, Leibovitz began her career as a photojournalist for Rolling Stone magazine in the early 1970s. Since then, she has gone on to photograph some of the world’s most famous people, from politicians to musicians to Hollywood celebrities.

Leibovitz’s style is characterized by her use of vivid colour and her unique ability to capture the essence of her subjects. Her portraits often feature her topics unexpectedly, using lighting and composition to create a powerful visual impact. Her most iconic images include the picture of John Lennon and Yoko Ono taken just hours before Lennon was assassinated, the photograph of a pregnant Demi Moore that graced the cover of Vanity Fair in 1991, and the haunting image of Queen Elizabeth II taken in 2007.

Throughout her career, Leibovitz has been recognized for her contributions to photography. She has received numerous awards and honours, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Center of Photography in 2009. She has had several exhibitions of her work at museums and galleries worldwide. Her book, “Annie Leibovitz: Portraits 2005-2016,” is a stunning collection of her work from the past decade and showcases her ability to capture the unique qualities of her subjects.

One of the most notable aspects of Leibovitz’s career is her ability to adapt and evolve her style over time. While her early work was heavily influenced by photojournalism, she later moved into more commercial and editorial work, and her style evolved accordingly. She has also been able to use innovative technologies to push the boundaries of what is possible with photography and has experimented with digital manipulation and compositing in her work.

Despite her many accomplishments, Leibovitz has not been without controversy. In 2008, she faced criticism for a series of photographs she took for a Louis Vuitton ad campaign, which was accused of being racist and perpetuating colonial stereotypes. More recently, she has been embroiled in a legal battle over the rights to her photographs, with several parties claiming ownership of her work.

Despite these challenges, Annie Leibovitz remains one of our time’s most respected and influential photographers. Her ability to capture the essence of her subjects and her willingness to experiment and evolve her style has made her a true pioneer in photography. Her legacy will undoubtedly continue to inspire and influence future photographers.

The Camera Obscura

The camera obscura, which means “dark chamber” in Latin, is one of the earliest photographic tools known to humanity. It has been used for centuries to project an image onto a flat surface, allowing artists and scientists to study and capture the world around them.

The basic design of the camera obscura consists of a small hole on one side of a darkened room or box. This hole acts as a lens, allowing light to enter the chamber and project an inverted image onto the opposite wall or surface. As a result, the idea is usually dim, but it can be brightened by increasing the hole size or using a lens to focus the light.

The camera obscura was first described by the ancient Chinese philosopher Mozi in the 5th century BC. However, it wasn’t until the Renaissance period in Europe that the camera obscura became more widely used. Artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Johannes Vermeer used camera obscura to create accurate and realistic depictions of the world around them.

The camera obscura also played a significant role in the development of modern photography. In the 16th century, the Italian scientist Giovanni Battista della Porta used a camera obscura to project images onto a piece of paper coated with silver chloride. This was one of the earliest forms of photographic paper. It paved the way for developing photographic processes such as the daguerreotype and the calotype in the 19th century.

Today, the camera obscura is still used by some artists and photographers as a tool for creating unique images. Some even build their camera obscura using simple cardboard boxes and lenses. Modern technology has also made it possible to create digital camera obscura, using software to simulate the effect of an actual camera obscura.

In addition to its artistic and scientific uses, the camera obscura has also played a role in popular culture. It has been featured in literature, film, and even amusement parks. The first “camera obscura” was built in 1765 in Edinburgh, Scotland, as a tourist attraction.

In conclusion, the camera obscura is a fascinating piece of photographic history that has played a significant role in developing art, science, and technology. It is a reminder of the ingenuity and creativity of our ancestors and a testament to the enduring appeal of capturing and understanding the world around us.

The history of photography

Photography has a rich and fascinating history that spans more than two centuries. Here’s a brief overview of some of the key milestones and developments:

  • 1826: French inventor Nicéphore Niépce produces the first known photograph, a heliograph (sun print) made using a camera obscura and a bitumen-coated metal plate.
  • 1839: Frenchman Louis Daguerre develops the daguerreotype process, which produces detailed, permanent images on a polished silver-plated copper plate.
  • 1841: English inventor William Henry Fox Talbot introduces the calotype process, which uses a paper negative to create multiple positive prints.
  • 1851: The wet-plate collodion process is introduced, which involves coating a glass plate with collodion and then sensitizing it with silver nitrate before exposing it in a camera. This process allows for faster exposure times and greater detail than previous methods.
  • 1888: Kodak introduces the first mass-market camera, the Kodak No. 1, which comes pre-loaded with enough film for 100 exposures. After taking the photos, the entire camera is sent back to Kodak for processing and printing.
  • 1907: The autochrome process is introduced, which uses dyed potato starch grains to create the first practical color photographs.
  • 1925: The Leica camera is introduced, which is the first compact camera with interchangeable lenses. This camera revolutionizes photojournalism and street photography.
  • 1935: The first flash bulbs are developed, which allow photographers to take pictures indoors or in low light conditions.
  • 1948: Edwin Land introduces the Polaroid camera, which produces instant prints.
  • 1960s: The 35mm single-lens reflex (SLR) camera becomes the standard for professional photographers, offering greater control and flexibility than earlier models.
  • 1975: Kodak engineer Steve Sasson develops the first digital camera, which weighs 8 pounds and records black-and-white images onto a cassette tape.
  • 1981: Sony introduces the Mavica, the first digital camera to store images on a floppy disk.
  • 1990s: Digital cameras become increasingly popular and affordable, leading to the decline of traditional film photography.

Today, photography continues to evolve and adapt to new technologies and trends. With the rise of smartphones and social media, anyone can take and share photos with the world in an instant.

Architecture is more than just buildings.

It’s a reflection of society, of culture, of history. How it’s designed and built tells us about the people who created it, the materials they used, and the technology available to them. And yet, architecture is also timeless. It stands as a testament to the ingenuity and creativity of human beings throughout history. So it’s no wonder that architectural photography has become such a significant art form. In this blog post, we’ll explore the history and significance of architectural photography, from its earliest days to the present, and how it has helped us capture the beauty of our built environment.

Architectural photography has been important for documenting and showcasing architectural structures for centuries. Originating in the 18th century with drawings, architects and photographers refined the craft. The evolution of photography and technology has made it easier to capture images of buildings, both inside and out, with greater precision and detail. Today, architectural photography is applied in various fields, such as real estate, interior design, and even SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for websites. It is essential to showcase a building in the best possible way to attract customers or clients. With the help of architectural photography, businesses and organizations can highlight their buildings and architecture online, thereby improving their online visibility and brand image.

The history of architectural photography began to flourish with the invention of the camera in 1839. With this new technology, photographers could capture detailed images of buildings and architecture in a way that was not previously possible. This allowed for a more accurate representation of the buildings, designs, and unique features. As a result, the camera became an essential tool for architects and builders as it allowed them to document their work and showcase it to others. As photography continued to evolve, so did architectural photography. New techniques and technology allowed for even more stunning and detailed images of buildings, which helped inspire new designs and ideas within the industry. Today, architectural photography continues to be an essential part of the field, providing insight into the history and evolution of buildings and their designs.

The history of architectural photography began to flourish with the invention of the camera in 1839. This new technology allowed photographers to capture detailed images of buildings and architecture in a way that was not previously possible. As photography continued to evolve, so did architectural photography. New techniques and technology allowed for even more stunning and detailed images of buildings. These images could be used to document the work of architects and builders and to showcase their work to others. This has helped to inspire new designs and ideas within the industry. Architectural photography is still essential, providing insight into buildings’ history, evolution, and innovations. Capturing the timeless beauty of architecture through photography is an exploration worth taking. 

Finally, the history of architectural photography showcases the evolution of photography as an art form and its ability to capture the essence of structures in a way never possible before. Using new techniques, such as panoramic views and digital imaging, has allowed photographers to take their craft to new heights. As a result, the beauty and grandeur of architectural landmarks can now be shared with a larger audience than ever before, making it possible for people worldwide to appreciate the majesty of these structures. As time passes, architectural photography will likely continue to evolve, bringing us closer to the beauty and wonder of the buildings we admire.

Architectural photography has come a long way since its first use in the 19th century. From the early experiments of capturing the contours and details of buildings to the modern use of digital imaging, architectural photography has evolved to capture the beauty and grandeur of our built environment in ways never possible. As technology grows, so does architectural photography’s potential to capture even more timeless beauty. The history of architectural photography is a testament to how far the art form has come and the possibilities it holds for the future. 

Architectural photography has come a long way since its first use in the 19th century. Early experiments sought to capture the contours and details of buildings, and modern advancements have enabled photographers to capture the grandeur and beauty of our structures in unprecedented ways. Panoramic views allow for entire designs to be seen in detail, while digital imaging will enable viewers around the globe to appreciate the beauty of these structures. As technology advances, so does the potential for architectural photography to capture even more timeless beauty. With its rich history and ever-improving capabilities, architectural photography is a powerful tool for captivatingly capturing the beauty of our built environment. 

Five influential architectural photographers

5 Famous Architectural Photographers and Their Works

Architectural photography is a unique and specialized field that requires a keen eye for detail and composition. It captures the beauty and intricacy of buildings and structures, highlighting their design, materials, and unique features.

  1. Julius Shulman

Julius Shulman is considered one of the most outstanding architectural photographers ever. He was known for capturing the modernist architecture of Southern California during the mid-twentieth century, including the works of Richard Neutra, Rudolph Schindler, and Pierre Koenig. One of his most iconic works is the photograph of the Stahl House, which showcases the stunning views of Los Angeles from the house’s floor-to-ceiling windows.

  1. Iwan Baan

Iwan Baan is a Dutch architectural photographer known for his unique and unconventional approach to photography. He often captures buildings and structures in their surrounding environments, showing how they interact with their surroundings. His most famous work is the photograph of the Torre David building in Caracas, Venezuela, which shows the informal settlement in a new light, highlighting the creativity and resilience of the residents.

  1. Ezra Stoller

Ezra Stoller is another legendary architectural photographer who captured the works of some of the most iconic architects of the mid-twentieth century, including Frank Lloyd Wright, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Eero Saarinen. His photographs are known for their clean lines and geometric forms, showcasing the beauty and simplicity of modernist architecture.

  1. Hiroshi Sugimoto

Hiroshi Sugimoto is a Japanese photographer known for his minimalist and conceptual approach to photography. He often captures architecture and landscapes in black and white, creating surreal and otherworldly images. One of his most famous works is the photograph of the Seagram Building in New York City, highlighting the building’s sleek and modernist design.

  1. Richard Barnes

Richard Barnes is an American photographer specializing in capturing abandoned buildings and structures. His work showcases the beauty and decay of forgotten buildings, highlighting their unique features and textures. One of his most famous works is the photograph of the abandoned Michigan Central Station in Detroit, which showcases the grandeur and decay of the iconic building.

In conclusion, these five famous architectural photographers have significantly contributed to architectural photography, uniquely capturing the beauty and intricacy of buildings and structures. Their works have inspired generations of photographers and architects, from modernist masterpieces to abandoned buildings.

Who we are …

I am dedicated to giving you the absolute best of architectural photography, including commercial, industrial, institutional, governmental, and infrastructure. My job is not to take simple pictures to enhance my company but to take the best image files I can and create the best photographs that highlight your building or project. You are the client and not me.

My photographic journey started in 1970 when I received a Nikon F with the Photomic meter for my 10th birthday and shot many rolls of Kodachrome then, and a few were even published. Come a long way since then, and so has photography as well. Even though I still have a couple of Nikon film cameras, I have gone digital for my commercial work.

Experience with architecture is from the inside, as I have been a journeyman carpenter and professional firefighter for most of my life. Stationed at numerous points worldwide while in the military, which introduced me to architectural designs that many would never get to see. I have a particularly innovative idea of what does and does not look good in a photograph, but I am okay with asking the architect what they want to show.

I started this firm in April 2020 as the pandemic began gaining strength, and while business has been prolonged, every veteran can overcome every challenge. Has come a long way from its beginnings in Detroit, Michigan. When I first started, my passion for photography was so that Jeffrey S Austin LLC could offer you the absolute best.

The firm is an SDVOSB or Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business and is SWaM certified in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

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