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Challenging Assignment in Small Chapel

I recently was asked to photograph a series of stained-glass windows adorning the prayer room at Lake Forest Hospital on Chicagos North Shore.  The stained-glass was designed by my client and printed onto the window glass using a new technique hes developed called allusionism. It basically uses an enlarged high-resolution digital image in CMYK color space and prints it onto glass which is then sealed with a polymer coating that protects it from the elements and UVs.

The challenge presented to me was twofold; to capture the group of seven windows in one image (among other images) and to render accurate color in the images.

Capturing the entire seven windows was a challenge due to the small size of the prayer room, about 18 feet in diameter compounded by the circular shape of the room. Increasing the difficulty was that the most distant and optimal point from which to capture the seven windows together was off center from a position perpendicular to the center window.  My best attempt was made with a 15mm lens capturing two separate images and later stitching them together in Adobe Lightroom.  The first image was made utilizing six windows and then shifting the camera just enough to include the window to the far left which was not included on the first image.  This little movement minimized the optical distortion that was similarly required on the first image.

Glass Windows in Prayer Room Lake Forest Hospital


The second challenge was the need to render accurate color to both the prayer room interior and the colors within the windows.  A color meter reading indicated interior lighting at a color temperature of 2950K (Kelvin) and set my camera color temperature accordingly.  A MacBeth color card was further used to ensure accurate color within the room. The problem was then to capture accurate color of the windows being lit by exterior lighting of 5100K but still compromised a bit by the overhead lights built into each windowsill. 

South View Glass Windows in Prayer Room Lake Forest Hospital


Later in post-processing and after merging the two images to capture all of the windows, I opened the merged image in lightroom, and processed the image for the interior. I then  created a duplicate copy of the merged image and processed just the window areas at 5100K.  I then opened up the image processed at 2950K and the duplicate processed at 5100K together as layers in photoshop.  With the 2950K image as the top layer, I created a mask and carefully brought through the lower layers windows with a brush tool painting black on the mask only in the areas of the windows.  The top 2950K layer now had the window areas removed allowing the underlying layer (5100K layer) to show through the upper layer.  After flattening the two layers I now had the correct colors rendered for both the interior lights and the exterior daylight illuminating the windows.All in a days work….make that three days.

Glass Windows in Prayer Room Lake Forest Hospital


Great results and a happy client.  And thats what its all about.

Mike Crews is celebrating his 20th year in professional photography with a limited time 20% discount on all photography projects through April 30, 2020.  This offer is good for all projects that fall within the following criteria:

* The project must be booked and completed no later than April 30, 2020.  Scheduling is subject to availability.

* The project location must be located within a 50 mile radius of downtown Chicago.

* Project must be acceptable to Mike Crews Photography.

* Additional travel, props, models, or other project expenses required for project completion may not be subject to discount.

If you have planned, waited, or just wondered about professional photography for your designs, construction, or other projects, NOW IS THE TIME as this offer expires after April 30, 2020.  Call me at (630) 605-3976 to discuss your project options or just to get information on how we can showcase your project.

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Mike Crews Architectural Photography of Chicago Awarded Best Of Houzz 2020

Chicago, Illinois, February 12, 2020  Mike Crews Photography of Chicago, IL has won a Best Of Houzz award for architecture and interior design on Houzz®, the leading platform for home renovation and design. The 20-year photography business was chosen by the millions of homeowners and businesses that comprise the Houzz community from among more than 2.5 million active home building, remodeling and design industry professionals.

The Best Of Houzz badge is awarded annually, in three categories: Design, Customer Service and Photography. Design awards honor professionals whose work was the most popular among the Houzz community. Customer Service honors are based on several factors, including a pro's overall rating on Houzz and client reviews submitted in 2019. Architecture and interior design photographers whose images were most popular are recognized with the Photography award.

A Best Of Houzz 2020 badge will appear on winners profiles as a sign of their commitment to excellence. These badges help businesses and homeowners identify popular and top-rated professionals in every metro area on Houzz.

Mike has responded This is quite and honor and I appreciate the recognition from the Houzz community.

This years Best Of Houzz awards go to an incredibly talented and service-oriented group of home remodeling and design professionals, and were proud to highlight the winners on the Houzz website and app, said Liza Hausman, vice president of Industry Marketing for Houzz. This award is particularly meaningful as it reflects the sentiment of the millions of homeowners in the Houzz community who are hiring home professionals for their projects across the U.S. and around the world.

Follow Mike Crews Photography on Houzz https://www.houzz.com/pro/croozmanhz/mike-crews-photography

About Mike Crews Photography    https://www.crewsphotography.com

Mike is an international award-winning professional specializing in showcasing designs in architecture, interiors design, and urban landscaping.  Mike works with architects, interior designers, landscape design professionals, as well as homeowners.  He received his photographic education at the prestigious Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara and has established a large national client base over the last twenty years.


About Houzz

Houzz is the leading platform for home remodeling and design, providing people with everything they need to improve their homes from start to finish  online or from a mobile device. From decorating a small room to building a custom home and everything in between, Houzz connects millions of homeowners, home design enthusiasts and home improvement professionals across the country and around the world. With the largest residential design database in the world and a vibrant community empowered by technology, Houzz is the easiest way for people to find inspiration, get advice, buy products and hire the professionals they need to help turn their ideas into reality. Headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif., Houzz also has international offices in London, Berlin, Sydney, Moscow, Tel Aviv and Tokyo. Houzz is a registered trademark of Houzz Inc. worldwide. For more information, visit houzz.com.

Architectural photography constantly presents unusual assignments. Several weeks ago, I was asked to provide photography for the Milwaukee distributor of an Australian architectural lighting company. They had installed walkway and stairway lighting in exterior handrails of the Old Chicago Post Office.

Old Post Office Chicago
The Eisenhower Highway runs under the Old Post Office

Old Post Office Chicago (Courtesy of Crains Business Daily)

The Old Post Office is located on the western side on downtown Chicago and is 2.5 million square feet and is large enough to allow the Eisenhower Expressway to pass underneath the structure. Originally built in 1921, the post office expanded in 1932 to accommodate the massive postal needs of business Montgomery Ward and Sears.  The building was sold in 2016 and recent renovations now allow the building to host such companies as Walgreens, Ferrara Candies, and Uber. Here is a file photo of the building.

After reviewing the clients website and the location of this project, I thought it best to capture these images on a weekend evening.  The Old Post Office sits in a very busy section of downtown and the upcoming Sunday evening would offer me great weather and freedom from employee traffic.  Late October meant that sunset (my preferred shooting window for this project) would arrive at 6:15 PM just when employees would be flooding out of the building during the week-days.  The goal of this project was to show the application of walkway lighting in a practical and aesthetically pleasing way.

Upon arrival, conditions were better than I expected.  Pedestrians were scarce and car traffic was very light which really helped expedite the project.  And… as always, this project presented unique issues to manage.  1. Capturing the images within a small window of time that would showcase the both the lighting coming from the clients lighting inserts while there was still enough ambient light to show detail in the surrounding area and 2.  selecting the best color temperature setting in the camera to properly capture the images under changing lighting conditions.

Old Post Office Steps
Daytime View of steps with new lighting


The sun was still bright as it lowered in the western sky adding a warm glow to the façade of the Old Post Office.  I elected to begin the shoot using a color balance of 6950K allowing the warm hues of early evening to exhibit in the composition.  As the sun began to reach the horizon, I adjusted the color temperature downward to 4500K which rendered the walkways a natural grey yet still provide warm-tones where the clients inset lights illuminated the walkways and steps.  

Old Post Office Steps and Railings
evening view of new lighting in hand rails


As the sun disappeared under the horizon, I pushed the color temperature down to 2900K, a color temp that would allow the blue sky to dominate while the light offered a soft warm color.  After a mere thirty minutes, the detail in the buildings were lost to darkness but I had captured what I came for.  The clients were very pleased with the results.

Old Post Office Rennovated Stairs
Another view looking East
Light Installation
detail of lights installed in handrails
Old Post Office Pedestrian Walkway
Walk ramp with new lighting
Old Post Office Front in Chicago
view from across street


A little-known gem for tourists and those seeking a religious experience can be found just a little over two-hour drive from Chicago and just 45 minutes from downtown Milwaukee.  The Holy Hill Basilica is situated atop wooded grounds where Jesuit missionaries first settled in the late 1600s.  Finding the hill somewhat unique to the surrounding landscape. one of the Jesuits described in a diary how he placed a stone altar and cross atop the hill dedicating the area to the Blessed Virgin.

The first formal structure on the site was constructed in 1863 and was formally designated Holy Hill, a colloquial term used by the local Irish settlers of the time.  Further additions were added over the next fifty years with the present basilica completed in 1931.  In 2006 the church was designated one of Americas 85 Basilicas. FYI…a Basilica is a church structure that has been recognized and afforded special privileges by the Pope.

When visiting the site, youll be amazed at not only the isolated environment of the 435 acres of woods and trails surrounding the complex but by the beauty of the neo-Romanesque architecture and the beautiful art and interior designs.

Photographing this beautiful church can be challenging on the weekends with crowds gathering to attend services, hiking along the numerous trails, or just exploring the sheer beauty of this amazing complex.

Holy Hill Cathedral Architecture
Holy Hill Basilica from a distance

Holy Hill Basilica is situated on a remote hilltop overlooking rural Wisconsin farm country.


Holy Hill Cathedral from Highway View
Beautiful Neo-Romanesque architecture

Neo-Romanesque architecture of the Basilica.


Holy Hill Cathedral Touor
Altar of Main Chapel

Main altar of Chapel of St. Therese.


  Holy Hill Cathedral Rooms
Side Chapel

Shrine Chapel view


Holy Hill Architectural detail
Beautiful Stained Glass Windows from Europe

Stained-glass windows from Germany framed by beautiful stone work.


Holy Hill Cathedral Main Chapel
Public Attendance of Wedding at Holy Hill Cathedral

Although remote, the beauty of this Basilica attracts tourists, mass attendees, weddings, and baptisms.



Several years ago, I was asked by a local garden club if I would make a presentation at a members' meeting.  The presentation was well received with some great discussion among the members attending.  About two weeks later I ran into a woman in a bookstore who recognized me from the meeting and expressed her personal thanks and appreciation.  This week I received an email from her asking if I still had a list of photography tips presented at that presentation and could I email that list to her.  

I thought I would list them again for anyone and everyone who loves  to capture images from a garden. nursery, conservatory, or while just walking  through a beautiful area.  The suggestions are not listed in any priority as  every photograph presents unique opportunities. 

Garden Walk
So many possibilities for garden photography


Quick Tips for Garden and Landscape Photography

·       Try to shoot early or late in day  (avoid mid-day when light is harshest and colors muted)

·       Soft sunlight renders the best light

·       With bright sunshine, try to keep sun direction at right angles to composition

·       Level the horizon line

·       If possible, physically clean up area within composition before shooting

·       Use rule of thirds to compose the photo rather than centering

·       Try to provide a path for the viewers eye to follow through the composition

·       Darken (wet) the soil or pavers for better contrast

·       Try selective focus (primary item in focus with background blurred)

·       Eliminate sky unless it is an integral part of composition

·       Move in for close-ups

·       Process captured images for brightness, color saturation, contrast and sharpness

·       Crop images as desired

·       HAVE FUN AND EXPERIMENT!!!


Please take a few minutes to view my Urban landscape gallery here:  https://www.crewsphotography.com/gallery.html?loopTrack=1&folio=Image%20Galleries&gallery=Urban%20Landscape%20Design

Last Thursday my wife, Deb, informed me of a solar storm that would most likely trigger the northern lights in the next 48 hours.  The storm was predicted to be strong enough to generate a KP-6 to KP-7 auroral display possibly strong enough to be seen as far south as Chicago.

Deb and I have been fortunate enough to live and travel overseas often fulfilling our bucket list goals such as seeing the pyramids of Egypt (you could see them from my upper patio during our four years living just outside of Cairo), the Himalayas, and a Kenyan safari. Viewing the northern lights has been on our list but has eluded us for years.  We've made several trips to Wisconsin in attempts to achieve that goal each time finding nothing but dark, cloudy skies for our efforts.  We were confident this third try would be a charm relying on several factors that should make this a successful trip.  The solar storm was predicted to be strong, great weather for our chosen location to photograph the event, and an empty calendar for the Labor Day weekend. If the aurora failed to appear yet again at least the seven-hour drive to Houghton, Michigan would give us a break from work and our ongoing home remodeling project.

The drive to Houghton, Michigan was lovely giving us another chance to appreciate the beauty of Wisconsin with its changing eco-regions and geology between Chicago and Lake Superior.  We arrived about 6 PM in Houghton and immediately began our search for a vantage where we could view and photograph the northern lights show.  I wanted not just a view of the sky, but being an annoying photographer, wanted a great northern view plus an interesting foreground to help frame my compositions.  After a little research, we selected to set up at the McLain lighthouse on the northern coast about 15 minutes north of Houghton.  We hoped this location would give us an uninterrupted northern view with nothing but Lake Superior and the lighthouse in view.

Upon entering the park office to gain entry, we were informed that a day pass would cost $5.00 but we would have to leave by 10 PM. 

Frustrated, we drove back into Houghton, crossed the bridge back to west side of the river followed the west side road to the same beach, same lighthouse but on the other side of the Sturgeon River outflow. The detour delayed us by 45 minutes and found ourselves in the midst of 500+ students and observers.  It was a remarkable scene as the crowds were gathering into small groups and building fires in anticipation of the aurora.  

Breakers Beach in Michigan
Location selected to photograph the Aurora Borealis


With the beautiful Lake Superior as far as the eye could see we scrambled to find the perfect spot that would minimize the view of the social gathering but still provide us a great composition for our photography. 

Upon selecting an isolated spot and quickly unpacking a beach towel, two folding chairs, a cooler with Jimmy John sandwiches, we quickly reviewed the optimum camera settings for capturing astronomical photography.  Cameras were set to manual focus (and set on the light house across the river), manual exposure, an ISO setting of 1600, and use of a wide-angle lens about 16mm - 20mm and aperture of f/2.8.

As the light dimmed, we worried over a bank of clouds that so rudely parked itself on the northern horizon staging area and questioned whether we would be disappointed yet again.  

After waiting another fifteen minutes our eyes adjusted to the increasingly dark sky and noticed a faint glow peeking over and through that stubborn cloud bank.  There wasn't much color to delineate but it was noticeably brighter than the surrounding sky.  Surely this light was not coming from primitive Isle Royale, Mi., over 60 miles to the north. 

First signs of Northern Lights
First signs of the Aurora


It was time to photograph.  The sky continued to darken and emphasizing a now green cast to the horizon.  Like excited kids, we began to capture images ever adjusting the exposures to optimum settings.  To our amazement, the camera was much better at discerning the true colors of the event unfolding before us.  I later learned that our eyes rely on rods and cones to aid our vision.  The rods interpret most of the color renditions and the cones work mostly on blacks and whites or brightness.  When the brightness dims, the rods can no longer interpret color as they can in the daytime rendering us somewhat color impaired in dim light.  However, we were astonished to find that our cameras were not so handicapped by the low light and the faint hues now spreading across the horizon.  We discovered beautiful colors on our display screens after each capture and were further astonished to see how quickly the colors of the aurora were changing in density, color, and shape.  

The Aurora Borealis From Breaker Beach
Spectacular light show looking north


With a sense of accomplishment, we photographed for about four hours often pausing as the aurora waxed and waned.  In the end, our spontaneous trip to the north proved to be great success.  We had succeeded in accomplishing a life-long goal. The science behind the making of the aurora is quite complex but the sheer beauty is all you need to be humbled reminded of the wonderful gifts accessible to us here on earth.



If you love art but cant visit the Art Institute of Chicago, the museum has taken a step to assist you in your taste for art appreciation with the aid of high resolution photography.  The museum has photographed over 52,000 works of art in hi-res and can be viewed in their Collection section of their website https://www.artic.edu/collection.  Viewing these masterpieces from afar is one thing but this collection can now be viewed in such detail that individual brush strokes and color blending techniques of some of the greatest artists in history are clearly visible providing the viewer and new level of appreciation.  Further, the works can be downloaded for public usage using the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license.  

Below  is an example of one of my favorite paintings (and with detail)   Claude Monet's Arrival of the Normandy Train, Gare Saint-Lazare, 1877.

Arrival of the Normandy Train, Gare Saint-Lazare, 1877.
Detail of the painting

With detail

A very nice gesture by the Art Institute of Chicago (and whoever produced those high-resolution images).

No more excuses for avoiding your monthly dose of art appreciation!

Beautiful!


It's been a very long time since I've taken a day off and it was starting to affect my moods and demeanor.  Between my architectural photography business and ongoing home renovations, my lovely wife Deb pulled me back to life yesterday insisting that I accompany her to the Chicago lakefront to watch (i.e. photograph) the Annual Chicago Air Show. 

I guess I wasn't quite far enough down the hole to recognize that a day out of the office would be good for me.  Besides, I always loved the air shows as it reminded me of my four and half years serving in the U.S. Air Force.

As I gathered my equipment while prepping to leave the house, I realized how different this day would be without the use of a tripod to capture the action in the skies above the lakefront.  Hand holding a 70-200 mm lens with a 1.4 converter would honestly be challenging for me.  I am so accustomed to aperture settings of f/10 - f/16 and shutter speeds from .5 sec. to 30 sec. or more with multiple exposures, almost always requiring the use of a sturdy tripod.

Upon arrival at our selected beach spot, I took out the camera and was immediately confronted with an array of embarrassing choices I rarely face.  How to capture these fast moving aircraft? After all, I'm accustomed to capturing rooms, buildings, and landscapes that always held perfectly still and fully cooperated with my photography method?

Auto focus or Manual focus?

Auto exposure or manual exposure settings?

Image stabilizer mode 1 or 2?

Aperture priority or shutter priority?

These choices may sound obvious to many professional photographers but shooting so often with a proven set of camera and lens parameters over the last seventeen years actually made some of these questions significant.  I sorely realized that I'd fallen into a professional rut and some of my photography skills had atrophied since opening my business so many years ago.  As always, it was a matter of carefully thinking it thorough albeit much slower than I was accustomed.

I found this realization to be a great lesson in personal development.  It was actually humbling to realize that there can be wake-up calls to even the most seasoned photographers.  And better to realize this now than on the job with a client present.

However, lesson learned, here are a few shots captured at the Air Show.  BTW, I'm not showing a few shots taken before I completely figured out the best parameters for shooting! 

Chicago Air Show 2019
Aerial Stunts were such fun to capture
Spectacular Stunts at the Chicago Air Show
Amazing skill on display
Spectacular Air Force Demonstrations
Beautiful setting for an air-show along Lake Michigan
The Blue Angels
Blue Angels in formation
The Blue Angels in Formation
Always a great show when the Blue Angels are in Town


See more at www.crewsphotography.com.



  Post-processing… Whaaaaa?

I recently had a new client request 80 -100 images of his new retail store…and to capture all these shots within a two-hour window just before the store would open its doors for the first time.  I dreamed of walking around this store, camera firmly in hand, bending down, stretching high snapping shots to the rhythm of Maroon Fives Move Like Jagger.  Oh, wouldn't that be nice!

You cant blame the client for expecting that. Many first-time clients only exposure to professional photography has been watching a wedding or event photographer float through a crowd in search of candid or opportunistic moments.  After all, professionals create professional images from their camera…right?

When I explain to potential clients that I can capture 15-30 shots in a day using existing lighting Im often met with a look of puzzlement.  Few realize the need for optimum camera settings, tripod set-ups, compositional arrangement, thinking through the number of exposures required for each shot, measuring and selecting the best color temperature, all critical in gathering data enough data to produce a predetermined look as a final product.

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis Altar View
This is the raw (unprocessed) version of the altar image.


Unprocessed image of altar in Cathedral Basilica St. Louis

Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis
Same image as above after processing in Lightroom and Photoshop


Post-processing each image may require anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 hours or more utilizing a number of software products...all critical (and costly) tools in professional photography.  The software allows a photographer to extend his technical and creative talents to each image.  The entire process consumes a lot of in office time but is critical in distinguishing professional images from amateur photography. 

In summary, post-processing is critical in the creation of every professional image.

·       Post-processing creates images that are not possible straight from the camera through blending of light color brightness, editing,  cropping, etc. (see below) 

·       Post-processing raises the quality of the final product to professional standards.

·       This is where the professional photographer develops a recognizable style or look to his professional images.

·       It reminds the clients that this level of photography is worth paying the professional.


Post-processed image from above  using Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop 

Whether you are a seasoned photographer, a new photographer or just love to capture moments with your I-phone, everyone loves to view mankinds efforts to document our curious world.  I continue to marvel at the stunning images created each year. 

Several years ago I made the effort to submit several images to the Black and White Spider Awards out of London.  I was fortunate to win an Honorable mention for the image at the bottom of this blog post.  I'd love to dedicate more of my time to fine art photography but can't seem to find the time as my architectural photography business takes all of my time.  Maybe when I retire in a few years.

None-the-less, here is a sampled list of websites showcasing some of the best photography.  Enjoy these amazing photos:

National Geographic Best Photos of the Year (so far)

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/photography/proof/2019/07/50-best-photos-from-this-year-so-far/

Travel Photography of the Year

https://mymodernmet.com/tpoty-photo-awards-2018-winners/

Black and White Spider Awards (one of my favorites)

https://www.thespiderawards.com/gallery/index.php

British Wildlife Photographs of the Year

https://www.bwpawards.org

International Photography Award Winners

https://www.photoawards.com/

Sony World Photography Awards

https://www.boredpanda.com/sony-world-photography-awards-winners-2018/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=organic

Annual IPP  Awards

https://www.ippawards.com/2019-photographers-of-the-year/

National Geographic Travel Photos

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/contests/travel-photo-contest-2019/


Mike Crews  -  'Steppin Outta Time' -2013

Good businesses are always looking for ways to minimize their expenses.  Hey, isnt everyone?  So, I sometimes get questions about sharing the costs of a professional photography project with the most frequent question being Can we share the cost of this project with another company?

The answer is yes!  Sharing the costs of a project with other businesses can result in substantial savings for each client.  The more partners involved in the project the greater the savings.

Here is an example how adding a partner to a photo project reduced costs for several businesses wanting to use a set of project images for marketing. 

Client A, an architect firm contacted me with a significant project to capture and document their designs of corporate offices in Chicago.  The total costs for Client A was $X.  This included my creative fee, time and skills to capture the images on location, the processing of the images to professional standards back in my office, custom formatting and sizing of the images to clients request, archiving of the images, in-perpetuity licensing of the images for their marketing purposes, and delivery of those images to the client.

Client A then asked about the cost of the same project if another partner Client B (a lighting contractor who worked with Client A on the same project) could partner with Client A.  The project cost for both Client A and Client B was reduced by 29%.

If yet another client partner (a flooring contractor) joined as an additional partner the costs per client was reduced by 37%.

The bottom line is sharing the costs of a project will result in significant savings for the same set of images.  Please ask for more details on how your business can save significant costs by partnering with other parties on a photography project.

A recent photography project in Chicago presented the opportunity to capture beautiful, state of the art office designs by Ted Moudis and Associates.  Several employees of Ted Moudis & Assoc "teamed" up as my models for the two locations on Wacker Drive.  The team expedited the setups for each view with military precision allowing this project to be a great experience.  

The use of models within design images are a growing trend within architectural and interior photography emphasizing the utilization of "space" in design.

Ted Moudis Designs
Entry to Ares Management Corporation in Chicago
Ted Moudis Office Designs
Offices and Walkway
Ted Moudis Designs
Beautiful Architecture
Ted Moudis Designs
Kitchen Area


You can see more examples of interior work at https://www.crewsphotography.com/gallery.html?loopTrack=1&folio=Image%20Galleries&gallery=Interiors%20

I was recently asked to photograph a beautiful home in historic Woodstock, Vermont.  This home is privately owned and was decorated by a wonderful interior designer from Dallas, Texas.  My wife, Deb, accompanied me on this trip often assisting in the room setups along with the designer and myself.   Here are some finished images of this lovely home after three days of shooting.

Vermont Home
Evening capture of Vermont Home
Vermont Home
Vermont Home Formal Living Area
Vermont Home Guest House
Vermont Home guest house Living Area
Vermont Home Kitchen
Beautiful kitchen layout and color
Vermont Home Dining Room
Balancing the outside light with inside lighting is critical
Vermont Home Master Bedroom Entry
This composition leads the eye from front to back of this room.

This development is significant in the world of photography.  If this act becomes law, there will finally be recourse for smaller creative types to pursue copyright violations on a smaller scale.  Too often, the average photographer can't afford to pursue legal remedies to willful infringement against the deep pockets of a business or corporation.  With the help of the ASMP, APA, The Copyright Alliance and others, The named "Case Act" was introduced to the U. S. House and Senate on May 1, 2019.  The proposed bill currently has 30 sponsors in the House of Representatives.

Mike was selected to photograph the Kellogg School of Management's new Global Hub Building on the Northwestern University campus.  This was a very large project including over 130 images of this modern design.  
Gordon Segal 60, chair of the educational properties committee for Northwesterns Board of Trustees, describes the new facility this way  The Global Hub epitomizes the legacy, spirit, ambition and vision of Kellogg, said Segal. This is truly a global hub as it blends design elements from 17 countries  from German ceilings to Japanese tiles  and will help Kellogg continue to attract the best students, faculty and administration from around the world.

Global Hub Building
Early morning image taken just before dawn. Temperature was -15F.
Global Hub Architecture
Beautiful architectural design.
Global Hub Building Architectural Design
It was a blast photographing all of the designs seen on the Global Hub Building


Global Hub Architecture at Night
Amazing architecture on GLobal Hub.
Amazing architecture on GLobal Hub.


A Beautifully Designed Patio
Composition and control of exposures with outdoor lighting is paramount

Chicago, IL.   January 12, 2016  Mike Crews Photography of Chicago has won Best Of Customer Service on Houzz®, the leading platform for home remodeling and design.  The fifteen-year company specializing in architecture, interior design, and commercial landscape photography was chosen by the more than 35 million monthly unique users that comprise the Houzz community from among more than one million active home building, remodeling and design industry professionals. 

Design award winners work was the most popular among the more than 35 million monthly users on Houzz. Customer Service honors are based on several factors, including the number and quality of client reviews a professional received in 2015. A Best Of Houzz 2016 badge will appear on winners profiles, as a sign of  their commitment to excellence. These badges help homeowners identify popular and top-rated home professionals in every metro area on Houzz. 

I really appreciate Houzz.com providing photographers and other service providers such a professional platform to work within the design community here in Chicago and across the country.- Mike Crews, Owner/Photographer, Mike Crews Photography.

Anyone building, remodeling or decorating looks to Houzz for the most talented and service-oriented professionals said Liza Hausman, vice president of Industry Marketing for Houzz. Were so pleased to recognize Mike Crews Photography, voted one of our Best Of Houzz professionals by our enormous community of homeowners and design enthusiasts actively remodeling and decorating their homes. 

Follow Mike Crews Photography on Houzz http://www.houzz.com/pro/sloop... 

About Mike Crews Photography

For the past 15 years Mike Crews has specialized in creating beautiful imagery of architecture, interiors, and professional landscaping.  His award winning images are a combination of artistic vision, technical skill, and lighting techniques.   Mike utilizes 25 years of project management and the latest technologies to provide his clients a great collaborative experience and superior imagery.  

Client satisfaction is the biggest reward in this business, and collaborating with a client to put the finishing touches on a project is a very special commitment.  I value that my clients invest their time and money on my expertise and have dedicated my business to providing them a great return on that investment.  Nothing pleases me more than to receive news that a clients project has received an award or recognition for their designs after using my photography. You just cant beat that kind of thank you.

Mike received his photographic education at the prestigious Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, CA.  Since 2001he has photographed for architects, interior designers, landscaping designers, pool designers, golf courses, retailers, restaurants, engineering firms and, home designers.

About Houzz

Houzz is the leading platform for home remodeling and design, providing people with everything they need to improve their homes from start to finish  online or from a mobile device. From decorating a small room to building a custom home and everything in between, Houzz connects millions of homeowners, home design enthusiasts and home improvement professionals across the country and around the world. With the largest residential design database in the world and a vibrant community empowered by technology, Houzz is the easiest way for people to find inspiration, get advice, buy products and hire the professionals they need to help turn their ideas into reality. Headquartered in Palo Alto, CA, Houzz also has international offices in London, Berlin, Sydney, Moscow and Tokyo. Houzz and the Houzz logo are registered trademarks of Houzz Inc. worldwide. For more information, visit houzz.com.

Rush Medical Center in Chicago
Amazing architecture inside the Rush Medical Center Chicago

An interesting project to close out 2015 involved capturing a large glass terrarium designed by Sentech Architectural Systems in Austin, Texas.  The terrarium was designed for the Rush University Medical Brennan Entry Pavillion and consists of a conical shaped glass portal reaching from the inside floor (1 and 2) and extends beyond the ceiling into an outside courtyard area (3). 

The concept was to allow the outside light to flow into an enclosed area within the Pavillion.  The bottom of the terrarium features a plant environment similar to a forest setting where outside light illuminates the forest floor albeit in a limited amount.  Accordingly, the plant life selected for the terrariums floor is similar to that found in a typical forest environment, trees, moss, ferns,, etc.

I was asked to capture the integration of the terrarium concept with the medical environment and how it interacts with both the interior and exterior spaces of the Pavillion.

There are obvious issues to overcome when photographing within a very busy medical facility. 

1.      Obtaining clearance for photography from administrative and security personnel.

2.      Gaining access to areas not normally allowed to the public.

3.      Capturing usable images around the constant flow of patients, visitors, and medical staff.

The most challenging shots for this project involved capturing the inside and outside light in one image (4) . 

Had I attempted to try this at noon, there might have been up to 10 stops of light difference in brightness between the sunny outside and the light levels found inside.  This would have rendered either the outside being blown-out or the inside as too dark.  I chose to capture this shot near sundown to allow a smaller four stop difference of brightness at that time.  The difference in light color temperature between the outside 5000K and the insides 2800K is clearly visible.  Still, I think the shot works for contrasting the outside and indoor environments.

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EVERYONE!


After 10 years of faithful service, my reliable, go-to camera the Canon 1Ds Mark III has been put to rest and relegated to a backup role. Im very happy to announce the purchase of a Canon 5D Mark III. Although, there are more recent, pixel stuffed-sensors available, I elected to buy the 5D Mark III due to its outstanding track record for producing phenomenal images, increased dynamic range, and superior performance in low-light situations …which I am often presented with on many architectural projects.

Along with the Mark III, Im assisted by my new Camranger allowing me to work remotely from my Ipad. By generating its own Wi-Fi signal, the Camranger links to my 5D Mark III via a free downloaded app. Camranger provides live viewing, selective focus (only on auto-focus lenses), and complete control of aperture settings, color temperature, exposure compensation, and shutter release.

Cam Ranger Remote Operating System
New Equipment to remotely operate camera settings


This wonderful combination will allow me to work with my clients in real time to view and adjust compositions with the live view function, in real time before the shutter is released. After capturing, the image can be downloaded from the camera to the Ipad for final viewing and approval before moving on to the next setup. Sweet.

Cam Ranger Attachment
Remote Operational Setup for Camranger
Cam Ranger Operating Screen
Screen view on Iphone or Ipad with Cam Ranger APP


Next month I will be photographing the #2 rated golf course in Iowa over a three day period. I cant tell you how useful all of this new technology will be in capturing the needed course shots. The Mark III and Camranger will sit atop my Manfrotto 24 foot tripod (affectionately named Helga) with a pan and tilt motor drive between the two. By utilizing the Live Cam feature on the Mark III, I can view the composition from my Ipad, tilt and turn the camera angles until the desired composition in achieved, select my focus point and depth of field, and release the shutter while sitting comfortably in the golf cart. The Camranger Wi-Fi signal is effective up to 50 meters.
Buying new technologies is an integral part of being successful in this highly competitive business. Photographers…..charge accordingly.