On Tuesday 14th March I was contacted by Mia, from Chaplin Farrant Architects, to enquire if I was able to take some external images of a property they have recently handed over to the developers.  The challenge was the fact that they needed the images by Friday lunchtime and the weather wasn’t looking good for the next few days.

However, I pride myself on rising to a challenge and with a possible two hour weather window forecast for Wednesday morning I set off hoping for the best.  As it turned out the predicted clouds didn’t materialise and I had clear blue skies and bright sunshine for the whole time.


The Architects have been nominated for the RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) East of England Awards and needed some high resolution images to support their submission.

The property is a modern conversion of the Old Smokehouse and stables in Southwold Suffolk, just a stones throw from the beach and High Street.  They have been tastefully updated, in conjunction with the conservation officer and neighbours, and turned into 3 second homes.

There is extensive use of zinc and glass to blend a modern appearance with the old structure.

Upon arrival I found several more challenges to contend with.  Firstly the actual entry into the small courtyard is very tight for my Ford Ranger and required a bit of a shunt!  Secondly parking my truck onsite meant it would be visible in virtually every shot and would be in the way for all the others.

Street parking was restricted to 30 mins so I had to be a bit ‘imaginative’ with offloading my kit and shuffling the truck around to avoid the Parking Wardens.

Next came the fact that there was already a private vehicle parked in one of the slots.  I wasn’t able to track down the owner and so it had to remain and be worked around.

The actual courtyard is fairly small and meant it was not possible to get a single shot of the complete premises.  Using a tripod head mounted on a 3m heavy duty lightstand I was able to gain a raised perspective and the use of photoshop’s panorama function allowed me to stitch together three files to create the view on the right.

I took several images from the raised perspective as this gave  the best option to capture the widest view.  Sadly I don’t own a tilt-shift lens so I had to rely upon correcting perspective distortion during post processing.  Anyone who has done this knows that they need a lot of picture ‘real estate’ to maintain the property boundaries within the finished image.Vertical ‘verticals’ are virtually mandatory in architectural photography and the restricted working space certainly challenged my abilities as I had to shoot most of these images with an ultra-wide angel lens.

Despite being thankful for the sunshine it also threw up another challenge, that of hard shadows and strong contrast.  Using a combination of over and under exposed images allowed me to bring out the detail in the shadows whilst still retaining a natural look, giving a good exposure and showing that lovely blue sky.

The final challenge was a more basic one; bird poop.  The lovely zinc roof of the new linkage building was decorated liberally with Southwold’s seagulls waste product.

This one was simpler, although tedious, to correct with a judicious use of photoshop during the post processing.

They say hindsight is an exact science.  It would have been better to photograph this property in the afternoon when the sun had moved around to illuminate the side of the stables.  However the weather forecast predicted ominous black clouds and so I grabbed my chance when the sun shone.  Of course the clouds didn’t appear and it was sunny all afternoon.  Sadly I couldn’t wait.  Had I of known I would have planned it differently and arrived later.

Saying all that, the client was happy with the final images and, after all, that’s all that matters.