Photography

Our photosimulations are most accurate when we do our own photography.

The photograph is the foundation on which the photosimulation is based. There are many aspects of the photography that should be considered, such as viewpoint selection, focal length and image size, and establishing scale and placement.

When Previsualists photographs a site, we survey the site for key reference points and provide scale and placement for the photosims. We use digital cameras with calibrated lenses, aerial photography, clinometers, digital laser range finders, a theodolite, survey poles, markers, and whatever other tools we need to establish exact scale and placement of the project. We do not believe that guessing on scale or placement is an ethical approach to doing photosims.

Photography can be very deceiving, and can skew reality. It is our job to minimize the natural distortions that occur when we convert a three dimensional world onto a flat piece of paper. There are always issues of perspective - the perception of an object being smaller because it is further away. Many things can influence the problems that perspective can have on a photograph. If you stand very far away from an object and use a telephoto lens, the object may be the exact same size on the page as if you stood right in front of it with a wide angle lens. However, the surrounding environment can appear completely different. See this graphic to help illustrate the concept. Since this can dramatically affect the way the object is perceived as fitting into its environment, it is very important to use the most representative focal length and carefully select the place from which the photograph is taken - the viewpoint.

Viewpoint selection is a very important part of every photosim. Before we photograph a site, we need to know the purpose of the photosim. A photosim usually answers a question such as:
What part will be visible from my house?
How will it appear to passing motorists?
Will any of it be visible over the trees?
How big is it going to be?
Will it blend in with the surroundings?
What kind of landscaping or fencing is it going to have?
Overall, what is it going to look like?
The viewpoints should be selected to answer the questions that are specific to that site, and each site is unique. Obviously a site that is being built next to a scenic corridor will be handled differently than one that is built in an industrial area. Or a site built in a residential area will have different considerations than one in a downtown district. To select the best viewpoints for the photosims it takes experience with jurisdictions, proponents and opponents, an in-depth knowledge of photography and surveying and an understanding of the project. Oh, and it doesn't hurt to have a little common sense.

While we will accept projects in which the client has provided the photography, we have found that we can dramatically increase the accuracy and quality of the photosims by providing the photographic services ourselves.