Photography

Tokyo Comp by James Whitaker

I created the Tokyo Penthouse images a couple of years ago, purely as a portfolio piece blending photography and CGI together. I was looking back at them and thought it would be good share these images of the various stages of creating the image - the raw photograph from the studio, the quick render with a 3D model person as a placeholder to help set up the shot, and then the final composition. When you're after lifestyle images of a property that hasn't been built yet, this is the creme de la creme.

deDraft's DA Residence by James Whitaker

I just realised that I haven't posted any photographs recently on my blog. So here's a lovely project by deDraft that I photographed back in the autumn.

Grant and his team have got off to a great start to 2018 with this project being shortlisted for this year's Don't Move, Improve awards. My fingers are crossed for them (and my other friends in contention, but mostly for deDraft).

Family Tree by James Whitaker

This summer was my mum and dad's golden wedding anniversary. With the whole family gathered in Liverpool to celebrate I took advantage of the moment and photographed all their sons, daughter-in-laws and grandchildren. Here's a little selection.

Photography on a Postcard by James Whitaker

Space Explorer Jack by Whitaker Studio

Photography on a Postcard is opening tomorrow at The Printspace and this image from my series Space Baby is going to be part of the show. For £50 you can buy a lottery ticket which guarantees you one of the prints, you just don't know which one. It could be this photo of Jack or it could be a Wolfgang Tillmans image.

All proceeds are going to the Hepatitis C Trust’s campaign to eliminate hepatitis C from the UK by the year 2030.

You can get your lottery ticket here.

ToyDrop is on a mission by James Whitaker

IMG_2970.JPG

After months of hard work and careful planning, my sister-in-law launched her shop of wonderful toys earlier this week. 

Quoting her website verbatim, she says, 

“ToyDrop is on a mission and that mission is simple: to raise a generation of kind, happy, sociable kids who grow up appreciating their things and the world around them. It's why all our toys are chosen to transcend age, gender and trends to form a collection of heirloom pieces that create conscious consumers from the very start.”

Not a bad mission to have, I’m sure you’ll agree! 

IMG_2971.JPG

For all the discerning architects amongst you, this jigsaw puzzle looks great!  Perfect for a small child or an architects’ office secret Santa? I get the Bank of China building, Hong Kong, and the Gerkin, London, but after that I need a little help. Any suggestions?

What Paul Daniels told me about halos by James Whitaker

Paul Daniels portrait by James Whitaker

Paul Daniels was a really lovely guy to photograph. He was warm and friendly, and incredibly generous with his time. I met him in his dressing room before a show and Debbie McGee was there, repairing his jacket. There was the obligatory magician's rabbit hoping around. It was everything I could have hoped for from a meeting with the celebrity TV magician of my childhood.

As we walked down the street to where I wanted to take the portrait Paul started to explain to me the origin of the halo. He explained that back in the day sculptors started to add disks above the heads of their famous subjects to prevent their face from becoming awash with bird poo. With time this purpose was forgotten and the discs were simply associated with important people, and then in turn saints.

Now, a lot of my knowledge comes from stories like this. Often the stories are told to me in the pub where alcohol may have been consumed. Despite the world wide web being on my phone, in my pocket, I don't fact check these things. Wikipedia is not consulted. Had I referred to Google I would have found countless articles about the origins of the halo, almost none of which refer to bird excrement. But then why let facts stand in the way of a good story?

When I Grow Up by James Whitaker

Racing Car Driver

I want to be...

Did you ever daydream when you were little? Over the last couple of months I've been whittling away on these images for Getty, exploring the day dreaming of a toddler (our Jack). Working on them between commissions has meant progress has been quite slow and there are more images to produce for the series, but I thought I'd share the progress so far.  

Steam Train Driver
Pilot

WVWG Summer Exhibition by James Whitaker

Toddler with bucket and spade

Around the corner from where we live there's a little shop that runs a gallery of local artists' work in their window - Walthamstow Village Window Gallery. On Friday their summer exhibition is opening and Toddler with bucket and spade is going to be part of it. It's running until 3 September so there's plenty of time to see it while picking up your sourdough loaf from the shop opposite.

I am selling limited edition prints of Toddler with bucket and spade here.

Space Baby at 3DS Max London User Group by James Whitaker

Toddler in space

On Wednesday evening I'm presenting my work and, in particular the making of Space Baby, at the 3DS Max London Users Group. I'll be showing some of my workflow and how I created Jack's space suit with Marvellous Designer.

For more information go to - https://www.meetup.com/3DSLondon/

Come along and say hello over a pint.

If you've not been before you should, there's always interesting stuff being shown (this week being a perfect example) and beer - a winning combination!

Manor Avenue by James Whitaker

I've been looking forward to sharing these photographs ever since I took them. David Eland, a good friend from university has just finished this magnificent job, renovating a 5 storey town house in south London. The largest element of the design was to lower the basement by 1m to create a cavernous lower ground floor that houses kitchen and dining.

I think this is possibly the first house that I've photographed with an original Damien Hirst in it. The Hirst piece hangs above an exquisite steel and oak staircase fabricated by R E Cooke. It turns out that their main business is making specialist buckets for diggers, but they make a pretty awesome staircase.

Photograph of Kitchen by James Whitaker

The kitchen was crafted by Sebastian Cox and you can find out more about David's work on his website Ozkurt & Eland.

Photograph of Living Room by James Whitaker
Photograph of Living Room by James Whitaker
Photograph of lower ground floor by Architectural Photographer James Whitaker
A cavernous living room photographed by architectural photographer James Whitaker

Light Fields by James Whitaker

Geeky, I know. Extremely!!

I was chatting to someone last night about light fields and it reminded me just how mind blowing they are. Essentially a light field camera captures 4D light information rather than 2D like a traditional camera - rather than recording a flat image it records the light levels in a volume allowing you to do all manor of clever things in post-production.

For anyone interested in exploring the frontier but is short for time check out this video,

For anyone hungry for more intel this podcast from the CG Garage Podcast delves in deep(ish).

Folding House by James Whitaker

I recently photographed this rather nice extension by Thomas & Spiers Architects in south west London. I believe the budget for the construction was relatively modest, yet they've crafted a really lovely space with a calm quality of light in it. I would happily move in!

For more information about the architects visit their website here.

How does CGI work? by James Whitaker

People often ask me how does CGI work, or how do I create my images and I've always felt like I wasn't giving a particularly good answer so I've made this short video as an introduction for the uninitiated.

If you like the video be sure to follow us on Facebook - facebook.com/WhitakerStudio/
and Instagram - instagram.com/whitaker_studio/

And signup for our newsletter to receive a 3D model of the cup - whitakerstudio.co.uk/how-does-cgi-work-newsletter-signup

A free piece of 3D software for you to play with is Sketchup - sketchup.com/

Space Baby by James Whitaker

So, last week I finally finished my series of images Space Baby, and they are now selling through Getty Images. I've been chipping away at them between commissions and they've been great fun to create, so I thought you might enjoy a little break down of what went into making them.

Each shot was sketched out before hand. Sometimes this was a quick pencil sketch and sometimes a very dodgy bit of photoshop, as below. As these were never intended for public consumption I didn't worry about spending too much time on them, they were really just for blocking out the principals of the shot - the camera angle, lighting etc.

We did all of the photography work at the brilliant Cloud & Horse studios in north London, and with a rough idea of the shot that we were after we could set up the studio to give us the right lighting conditions. However, unlike when I was shooting Jennifer for the Tokyo penthouse we couldn't be that precise - a toddler just doesn't stand still that long. We had to be far more fluid and adaptable.

Back at the computer I was able to make my selects from the shoot and begin the hard work.

The first step was to place the photograph of Jack behind the model in 3DS Max. I could then move the virtual camera into the right position so that model and photo would align. With the camera setup and locked in position I could then work on the 3D model, adding detail where it would be seen without wasting time on stuff that would be out of shot.

With all the shot modelled up I then went back to Photoshop to mask out the background in the photograph of Jack. In the instance of this photo I had to use 2 or 3 photographs and composite them together to remove any trace of gravity and me holding Jack.

There was then a little back and forth to double check the camera angle and lighting in the model before rendering out the final image of the spaceship. This was then taken into Photoshop where it could be combined with the photograph of Jack.

I render out my computer images as 32-bit images in multiple passes so that I can adjust each element (reflections, refractions, lighting, etc.) in Photoshop. This is particularly important on images like this to bed Jack into the image and adjust the little details that make him look like he's actually there rather than just pasted on top. 

Every detail was carefully embellished to give the series a comfortable real world feel. For instance the magnetic letters were modelled from scratch and then textured with a Vray SSS2 material. This material allowed me to give the plastic that slightly translucent feel that you get on some children's toys, which then glows a little when it's back lit.

Jack's spacesuit brought some unique challenges, particularly for someone who specialises in architectural imagery (which is normally hard and rectilinear). In the end I took a model of a small boy and tweaked it to give him the proportions of a toddler. I then rigged the model with a skeleton in 3DS Max and exported that to Marvellous Designer. In Marvellous Designer I could then use the toddler model like a mannequin and slowly craft the spacesuit over him. With the fabric parts of the spacesuit finished in Marvellous Designer I then animated the mannequin back in 3DS Max to move from standing to the pose for each shot. I then took that animated mannequin back to Marvellous Designer and animated it while it wore the spacesuit. The spacesuit was then finally taken back to 3DS Max for texturing, to add the hard elements, and then finally adding it to the rest of the scene.

If you have any questions feel free to ask them below and I'll do my best to answer them for you.

Jack the Astronaut by James Whitaker

For a while now I've had this daft idea of sending Jack into space. I thought it would be fun to imagine what life is like for a toddler travelling through the cosmos, maybe on route to populate Mars? And Jack would look pretty dinky as an astronaut. So a couple of weeks ago we spent a day in a studio with Jack, executing a carefully planned shoot. The CGI component of the images is nearly finished now and ahead of the final images being released I thought you might enjoy this behind the scenes shot.