Nick Carver Photography Blog

Photography Tips, Tutorials, & Videos


Medical Office Art

Office Art by Nick CarverOffice Art by Nick Carver
Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Offices, Del Mar, CA

Office art can either be the most boring stuff on the planet - some cliché photos or paintings picked up from the local Bed, Bath, and Beyond for a few bucks - or it can be art worthy of a gallery. The artwork can be an active contributor to the office branding and overall "vibe" rather than an afterthought to fill wall space. I think the industry is moving more towards this type of high-quality artwork in office buildings, medical centers, and eateries because people are realizing that the extra effort and expense for something high-quality and unique is well worth it to give their clients a pleasant and memorable environment in which to do business, see the doctor, or enjoy a meal. Art consultants and interior designers have done a great job educating their clients that their restaurant, office, or doctor's office needs memorable artwork to tie the whole thing together. Gone are the days of mass-produced, unimpressive, and forgettable office art. It's a golden age of opportunity for creators of fine art.

Truly there's nothing I enjoy more than making wall art. The satisfaction of seeing one of my photographs framed up and on display in someone's home or office is the ultimate reward. I love the process of designing the artwork, picking out a frame, getting the prints made, delivering the finished's just good fun. So when I was approached with the opportunity to create 11 framed prints for a brand new medical center in Del Mar, CA, I jumped on the chance. The Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group offices in Del Mar with their gorgeous Craftsman style design needed photographs that promote well-being and a deep connection to nature. Luckily for me, they found my images through an online search and felt my photography was a perfect match.

I worked with Sharp Rees-Stealy for several months, narrowing down the selection of photos and planning out the matting/framing style. We ultimately opted for a sleek modern wood frame with an off-white double mat under anti-reflective museum glass. The results came out beautifully.

My underlying purpose with photography has always been to create images that connect people to nature and give them a vehicle to detach from their stressful lives, enjoy the scenery for a minute or two, and remember how much beauty is still out there in the world. I can think of no better place my images will fulfill this purpose than at a medical office, where people are often in desperate need of an escape as they wait for stressful news.

Office Art by Nick Carver

Office Art by Nick Carver

Office Art by Nick Carver

Office Art by Nick Carver

Office Art by Nick Carver

Office Art by Nick Carver

Sunset at Heisler Park in Laguna Beach

Sunset at Heisler Park in Laguna Beach, CA
Heisler Park at Sunset in Laguna Beach, CA
Canon EOS 5D, Lee Split ND Filters
Click Any Image to Enlarge

Heisler Park is a classic picturesque beach park in Orange County that embodies the Laguna Beach scenery about as perfectly as any beach can. The palm trees, the white sand, the screams Southern California. To me, Heisler park is both a favorite photo spot and a second office for my teaching business. I take students here for Orange County private photography lessons and group photography classes all the time.

One of my favorite classes, Landscape Photography at the Irvine Fine Arts Center (details here), includes a field shoot in Laguna Beach to catch the sunset. In a recent session of this class back in February, the sunset was kind enough to offer up some brilliant colors for our practice shoot. In between helping my students out one-on-one as they practiced shooting in manual, using filters, and fine-tuning their compositions, I fired off a few compositions myself to demonstrate concepts in the next evening's meeting.

Luckily I was shooting digital (as I always do for these classes). Using my DSLR camera, I was able to shoot quick and review my results immediately. Film would have been a bit too slow and I probably would have missed a few shots. The colors and contrast are certainly rendered differently on my digital sensor than they are on my trusty Fuji Velvia film, but not necessarily for the worse - just different. In these photos I opted for my usual compositional approach - interesting foreground element, slow shutter speed to blur the water, wide angle lens to get it all in. They may not be wildly different from my previous work, but I suppose every sunset is unique and so every picture is unique.

Shutter speeds varied, but most were around 1 second and I used split ND filters in every shot. Without the filters, the colors of the sunset would have been lost forever.

Sunset at Heisler Park in Laguna Beach, CA

Sunset at Heisler Park in Laguna Beach, CA

Sunset at Heisler Park in Laguna Beach, CA

Sunset at Heisler Park in Laguna Beach, CA

Sunset at Heisler Park in Laguna Beach, CA

Gear Review: The Slim UV Filter

I’m a fan of UV filters for DSLR cameras (here’s why). With a high-quality UV filter, you can get some peace of mind from a small investment without any penalty. High-end UV filters won’t degrade image quality regardless of what the Flickr forums tell you and they will protect the front of your expensive lens from sea spray, dirt, scratches, and even some serious falls.

I’ve also written about what I think is the best UV filter on the market (read that article here). So then what’s left? You know I’m for ‘em and you know what brand I like...

Well there’s one sneaky little option when it comes to purchasing a UV filter that you should know about: the slim UV filter.

The only difference between a slim UV filter and standard UV filter is that the slim version has no front thread on it. See, regular screw-in type photography filters have a male thread on the back that allows you to attach it to your lens (duh) and they usually have a female thread on the front of the filter that allows you to attach another filter on top of it, and another one on top of that, and another and another...

Gear Review: Slim UV Filter
Standard UV Filters have a front filter thread like this

The slim UV filter, on the other hand, typically does not have a front thread. You can’t attach a filter on top of a slim UV filter. They are basically flat on the front - the outer ring is flush with the glass.

The idea is that with ultra wide-angle lenses, there’s a risk of vignetting from a standard UV filter. Vignetting is when the corners of your photo are darkened because the filter sticks out in front of the lens too far. It’s like looking through a tunnel. So someone came up with the bright idea of slicing off that front filter thread to reduce vignetting. It’s a smart idea. And hey, it’s not like anyone was using that front filter thread anyway...

So some say that for wide angle lenses, you need a slim UV filter otherwise you’ll get vignetting. Well, not exactly. A standard UV on even the widest angle lens might create vignetting, it might not. Depends how they engineered the lens. For instance, I have a Canon 16-35mm lens on a full-frame camera, which is the widest angle available second only to fisheye. My standard B&W 77mm UV filter (not slim) creates no vignetting even at 16mm. Take a look:

Standard UV at 16mm
Even at 16mm, a standard UV gives me no vignetting

But maybe your wide angle lens does get vignetting with a standard UV filter. If that’s the case, you really have just 2 choices: either use a slim UV filter or don’t use one at all. Just remember that this filter is going to be on your lens all the time. So if you use a slim UV filter, your lens will no longer have a front filter thread available. And here’s the thing about having no front filter thread: you can’t use any other filters (goodbye polarizer and split ND filters) and you can no longer use a lens cap.

Sure, you could remove the UV anytime you want to use a polarizer or split ND, but that kind of defeats the whole point of having a UV filter to protect your lens. I’m betting that if there’s any time you’ll drop your camera, it’ll be when you’re trying to unscrew a UV and replace it with a polarizer. And sure, slim UV filters come with a replacement lens cap that slips over the top like a glove, but it’s going to pop off your lens much more often than a standard pinch cap.

So before you buy a slim UV filter, weigh the pros and cons of having no front filter thread in exchange for no vignetting. But most importantly, see if a standard UV filter is even going to create the vignetting you’re worried about.

And by the way, if you’re interested in learning more about filters for digital photography - a subject I’m very passionate about - check out my Filters for Nature Photography online course.