Remember Photography is Writing with Light

Nikon D3s, 14-24mm, ISO 200, ƒ/8, 1/500

I shoot a lot of exteriors of restaurants. The reason I am sent to cover these locations is often because they are in a new market. My job is to capture that they are in the new market.

Chick-fil-A opened a new restaurant in downtown Chicago by Loyola University. I wanted to capture they were in a major downtown location. So I shot up to show the skyscrapers.

Nikon D3, 14-24mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/5, 1/60

Later in the day I would shoot a similar photograph. I think the best time most of the time for architectural shoots is at dusk or dawn. I prefer dusk rather than getting up early. However, I shoot both most of the time. It had been overcast and raining earlier that evening and this is close to midnight in downtown Chicago.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 160, ƒ/7.1, 1/100

Later I was to return to Chicago and capture a new Chick-fil-A at an iconic location at the corner of State and Lake. I went up on the train tracks above to get this photo. I was doing everything I could to show that the most photographed location in Chicago–due to the Chicago Theater sign was next door to our new restaurant.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 125, ƒ/11, 1/100

I was shooting this from every place I could on the street. The problem with daylight when doing these photos is that everything thing is equally lighted. Therefore the lighting doesn’t help you emphasize anything. You are limited to the graphics of composition to make the photo work.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 12800, ƒ/8, 1/100

Notice how shooting at dusk now the Chick-fil-A signage and the Chicago Theater signage now pop.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 12800, ƒ/8, 1/80

Even though my composition takes more of the street in here, due to the red in the Chick-fil-A sign your eye is drawn to it. Compare that to this one below, even tho they are different angles you can see how the daylight overpowers the Chick-fil-A sign.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 100, ƒ/7.1, 1/200

My eye goes to the Chicago Theater, but I really have to work to notice the Chick-fil-A. For the reason I was sent to Chicago, this photo fails.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 12800, ƒ/6.3, 1/80

One of my favorite images from my time in Chicago was capturing this image here. I like the night time because the Chick-fil-A sign shows up, but now I can see inside the restaurant. I can see the customer chillin and just enjoying being inside the restaurant.

My tip to you is to plan your coverage to be at a location at dusk or dawn to get these photos that pop due to the lighting values changing from the artificial light verses sunlight. Remember that the word “Photography” means to write with light–so do it.