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His Camera Captures a Building's Nuances


Jack Boyd's job sounds simple. He has to make things look natural. But, as one might expect, that's easier said than done.

Boyd, an architecture photographer, has to take into account the size and shape of each building, the weather and unusual lighting conditions. The photographs are designed to show off the creativity of the architect, not the photographer.

"I try and capture the ambience that is there," he said. "I don't want to bring in a whole bunch of lights and flood the place and shoot it. I want to capture the nuances of the lighting and the feeling of what the designer wanted to do. I try not to use a lot of supplemental lighting if I don't have to."

Boyd, 41, who is based in Costa Mesa, often makes multiple images with his 4-by-5-inch format camera on a sheet of film to expose for a variety of light sources, trying to find the perfect balance. He works by isolating the light sources.

"If you have fluorescent lights in the kitchen and tungsten (normal room or incandescent bulbs) light throughout the rest of the house, those two light sources don't record the same on the film," he said.

In these cases, he shuts off the tungsten lights and puts a filter pack together that will make the fluorescent lights record the same as the tungsten on the film. Then he shuts off the fluorescent lights, turns on the tungsten lights and makes another exposure on the same piece of film.

Depending on the shoot and the various light sources, he may make as many as five exposures on the same piece of film.

Boyd was born in Santa Ana and attended Newport Harbor High School. After a stint in the Army, he studied photography at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, graduating in 1976.

After college, he did studio and commercial work for a year. It was then that he developed an interest in architectural photography and decided to specialize in it. Boyd's clients now include the Irvine Co., Shell Oil, Ramada Inns, Coldwell Banker and the Westin South Coast Plaza hotel.

Boyd has a few tips for those interested in this type of photography:

Use a tripod and natural light as much as possible because the flash that comes with the camera is only good for so much illumination. Also, the light will be flat with flash, and you won't get the shadows that create depth and dimension.

Use long exposures, which will give you an increased depth of field.

Be sure to bracket your exposures.

Position the camera in the corner of the room to get the maximum view.

If you have interchangeable lenses, use a wide-angle lens.

Keep the film plane parallel to the walls in order to avoid convergence where the walls slant in or out. This is a problem when using 35-millimeter cameras with lenses that don't have perspective control.

When shooting exteriors, try to include two sides of the building to give the photograph more depth.

The photography column, which runs Saturdays in Orange County Life, is intended to help both the serious amateur and weekend shooter. Questions and ideas are encouraged. Write to: Robert Lachman, The Times, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, Calif. 92626.

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