Architectural Photography on Mapleton Hill

So Julie Meko the very experienced Re/MAX real estate agent calls me and would like to have me come out for a shoot of what I consider one of THE Grand homes of Boulder, CO. Actually one of the Grand homes of America. But you be the judge. The house is 5 bedrooms, three stories with basement and is situated on a 1/2-acre lot on top of Mapleton Hill in Boulder’s Historical District. It is approx. 6500 square feet of living space with breathtaking views of the flatirons.  The home was built in 1890. Can you say Location, Location, Location? I can’t think of a more beautiful or perfectly situated home that combines history with a massively complete remodel under the direction of both the home owner and her architect Katie Pekarek of the Boulder firm Kristen Lewis Architects. The renovation, which greatly enhanced the flow of the home, took two years.  They have brought a wonderful eye for detail, color and texture to this home.  Every inch of this property is just a visual treat, including the terrific views of the Flatirons.  Starting with 10′ high ceilings to the recycled wood floors, the owner and her architect just poured subtly, beauty and environmental consciousness into their remodeling project.

Wisely, they started hundreds of feet below the surface to run this home off a geothermal heating system that is housed in a very impressive basement mechanical room.  With that solid environmental foundation the GRAND old Victorian home has entered the 21st Century as a beacon of the past shining a bright light into the future. The owner and Kate went room by room with their remodel. Just some of the results are seen here but you get the idea.  It was a truly comprehensive renovation.

For me it was a fun exercise in precision photography.  I wanted to capture the real depth of this property so I went for a true Panorama shot for the top shot seen here. I used a Really Right stuff Nodal Point slide and panning clamp which enables you to pan on a level plan right under the Nodal Point of the lens and eliminate parallax shift.  One essential piece of glass for architectural photography is the Tilt-Shift, PC-E Nikkor 24mm f3.5 ED, don’t leave home without it. You shoot two bracketed shots and then stitch them together, hence the wide screen look.  Caleb Tkach was my very capable assistant cameraperson.  We used a l4’ high Bogen Studio Tripod. Our workflow was via LR 4 – we’re still letting LR5 sort itself out. We typically shoot a HDR combo of images:  A Master, 2 stops under, 2 stops over and 4 stops over.  Carmichael Productions, inc’s  retouching is very detail oriented and something we take great pride in.  Shutter control, deep DOF and of course, using a remote shutter release cord to not disturb the camera are some of the tricks to shooting architecture.  It is a nice change of pace to look closely at architecture and truly have the time to scrutinize the image for maximum impact and staging.  I’m happy to photographically present the home and pleased I could help spread the word about the greatest house, on the greatest street, in the greatest town in America!

Best Bob C.




USA Cycling Association – Bourbon Street Productions, director/camaraman Bob Carmichael

So I get a call from John Bourbanais who runs a Colorado Springs production house called Bourban Street Productions. He’s got a couple of projects going at once and he is kindly contacting me to come in to direct and shoot a commercial in his absence.  I say yes and Doug Millington and I start a sprint to get a location scouted, crew and camera booked, permits pulled and to develop a plan.  The first file here are some of my story boards for the first day and some of the behind the scenes images of us shooting.  BSP was represented on the shoot by their producer LeAnne Carrouth who was a great person to work with, smart and concise!

The crew was top of the line with Chris Gerding, who is a great collaborator and knowledgeable lighting gaffer. We had Mitch and Matt Stelling and Jesse Jaco as our Grips and they are amazingly on task always thinking one step ahead and that makes a director/cameraman’s job that much easier. Our 1st AC was Doug O’Kane, he and his brother Mark are serious production people. You’ll see Doug pulling focus on all these shots.  Doug is a pro who is unflappable and when you get behind the eye piece, you know he is going to be on the money focus wise. The Digi tech was a very capable fellow named Nathan Berry-Chaney who expertly managed our digital work flow and 2 Go-Pros. Our make-up person was the can-do Suzanne Blons who doubled as a set PA as well. This was a low budget commercial but we got the shots and had the camera moving to intensify the action just like the big boys do.

Thanks to Jason Hornbeck at ACamera for his continued amazing help in getting us one of his Arri Alexa cameras with the 11:1 Optimo zoom. We used it from 24mm to 600mm and it was steller!

Our budget was challenged on this shoot but necessity is the mother of invention and to get our car to bike shots Chris Gerding wielded a platform extension onto his Toyota that allowed for the camera, operator and AC to shoot. The Gerdocamcar! Chris and his boys strapped us in from all points and we were good to go. Chris drove drove the switchbacks and was able to communicate all the upcoming turns via his car comm system.  The G’s on the turns and trying to hold onto the Alexa was a task and the grunts from O’Kane and I operating that rig was like a weight lifting session. Intense! The Boulder Sheriff was there to close the road and make it all safe. Doug Millington did his usual terrific job of bidding and producing. He also served as a very capable Assistant Director to move things along. Thanks to all, particularly John Bourbonais and BPS Productions and the USA Cycling Association for a fun two days.

Bob C.

Click the link below to see the shot list and previs/scout images of the first shoot day.  It is the director’s job to have a plan.

USA Cycling ROAD MASTER 18th

Behind the scenes photography by Jason J. Hatfield –

USA National Team Riders at 6:30AM

First shots onto the SXS Cards.

Using the cross light, Flag Staff BG.

Ansel Adams is making a comeback because of video screens reflectivity.

Foreground action & slider.

Mitch Stelling finessing the slider dolly.

Confident with AC Doug O’Kane on the focus knob.

Using the same location just down the hill to a great reveal!

Now we are using telemetry to gauge the riders coming up the Morgul Bismark.

Now we are using telemetry to gauge the riders coming up the Morgul Bismark, grips on the hill calling the marks to Doug.

The GERDO camera car. Damn he’s good! and yes we are double strapped in.

Serious forces unleashed on those Flag Staff 180’s.

The Gerdo Camera Platform in the turn.

A group coming from the left and we are coming from the right. Compounding all the action.

A Carmichael Portrait working for a client and good friend – the story.

Kevin Donald: Producer/ Assistant Director/Actor
Just got the kind of call we all like to get and that was from my long time friend and colleague Kevin Donald, who rang me up from his home in Hood River, Oregon to thank me and let me know my portrait of him on his agents site Q6Talent had just helped him land a spokesperson role in 2 television commercials, and 20 radio ads. Working with Kevin on his head shot was fun, he’s been a spokesperson on National Commercials for brands like Coke, Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Coors, Grapenuts, Molson, Michelob, Hewlett Packard, IBM, Ford, GMC, Honda, and dozens of other national brands,going back to 1970’s. He’s also a great assistant director who’s worked with me on many projects. He’s thorough and knows how to handle complex production assignments and make talent feel comfortable. He can relate because he has years of being front of the camera himself. We’ve worked together on many challenging projects that range from marine environments, to race tracks, and cliff sides. Kevin’s always has been a great athlete, as a gymnast, collage pole vaulter, climber, waterman, and cyclist. We met when I was a University of Colorado football player and he was a nationally ranked pole vaulter. That’s going back a ways… but KD always stays on his game and I’m really pleased my studio and photography approach worked just like it supposed to for him. And that is … capture and create a honest image that communicates some essence of truth about the subject. In Kevin’s case I’ll let him tell the story:

“I have climbed with Bobby for years and worked in concert with him as an assistant director on numerous feature films and commercials throughout the United States, Canada and Europe so we obviously felt really comfortable working together to capture an image I could use for my most recent head shot. Bobby was able to dig just a little deeper than most professional photographers to capture a “look” that enables casting directors to sense facets of my personality and potential as an actor. Here’s the deal, at any preliminary casting, most directors spend just a moment with each head shot when making their decision for who gets a “call back” and who’s head shot goes into the “round file” (trash can) so it’s essential that a photographer capture any interesting qualities that a person can convey while being photographed. Technically, Bobby is as good as they get and his studio is state of the art.” Thanks again Bob!

Kevin Donald

An authors portrait

What better time than April 22 the celebration of Earth Day to announce an important book that takes the appreciation of our planet to truly galactic dimensions? As for Portraits, they are a fascinating opportunity to take the measure of your client and serve them with an image that unflinchingly delves into their inner nature. You want to make the studio environment comfortable to allow a photographic exploration that will lead them toward an honest expression of themselves. Once again, the phrase that the “eyes are the window to soul” holds true. A recent portrait that I’m very pleased with is my image here of Roger Briggs. Roger is someone I’ve known for over 40 years. The first film I ever made focused on he and Duncan Ferguson climbing what was then the hardest climb in America, the Eldorado Springs, Colorado route called The Naked Edge. At that time, the spring of 1972, both Roger and Duncan were in the top echelon of climbers in the world. You can see that film in my collection of classic climbing films here on my site. The title is Break on Through. But I digress…

Roger is world class in many ways and he was just inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame. He has climbed at the highest level throughout his life. Roger is also a physics teacher here in Boulder and he has recently written a fascinating book called Journey to Civilization-The Science Of How We Got Here. It is published through Collins Press. It is a laypersons guide to the origins of the universe and the ascent of human kind. It is an truly enlightening book. I hope that you’ll consider purchasing this wonderfully illustrated science based (thank God!) journey into the mysteries of the universe and by extension ourselves. The portrait on the back cover is my small contribution to Roger’s wonderful book. I hope that it communicates to you something about the intensity, curiosity and authenticity of an amazing adventurer and freshly minted author Roger Briggs.

Moving forward in peace,

Bob Carmichael

Carmichael Productions, Inc. & Company Headshots for Distinctive Branding

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This last week we were really pleased to have Beryl Stafford the president of Boulder’s own successful and growing energy bar company Bobo Oat Bars booked in for a portrait session for herself and her key staff people. Bobo Bars is a classic American small business success story. Beryl has created a uniquely healthy snack bar and she’s gearing up to add an additional shift! We offer group discounts to companies bringing in four or more individuals. Our distinctive portrait approach shows off your “human resources” in a consistent framework that speaks volumes about your attention to important details. Fundamentally it says you value your people highly. The experience of having a professional portrait taken is truly unique at my in-house studio. This old stone front structure is a Boulder Historical Landmark that we’ve renovated into a 21st century home built to a LEEDs Platinum Certification. With a certified HERS rating of 12 and a 10K solar array on the roofs, the house is virtually at net zero energy consumption. When you enter the house you find yourself in my photography gallery of fine art landscapes. Among the pieces hanging is a recently shot 76″x40″ panorama of the West Face of the Third and 2nd Flatiron.

At the back of the home is a customed designed 1,000 square foot studio with twelve foot ceilings. There is a comfortable make-up cove at the entrance to the studio. The lighting units are low amperage, continuous K5600 HMIs. These lamps are low on heat and with the ceiling fans going they are very comfortable to be photographed under. The extensive lighting control and grip paraphernalia are state of the art Matthews Studio Equipment. I have a number of personal favorite lighting setups dialed in at my studio to create my signature portrait look. I shoot tethered to a computer for instantaneous feedback. I typically shoot around 150 images per setting. To edit the images we set down at a two-screen Apple desktop configuration and via Lightroom 4 we compare and contrast the selections of images, making a final pick very fluid and easy. My retouching is literally world class.

Please take a look at the Portrait section of my website for more examples of my work sometimes referred to as Head Shots. Whatever you want to call them, my goal is to capture the personality of my subject. I shoot close ups because I find the human face fascinating and you know what they say about the eyes being the window to the soul. The entire process here is set up to capture unique and flattering images of my clients that will serve them well in all their professional and social media endeavors. I like to think our efforts are about boosting commerce and we’ve established a forum here that is geared to make that objective a fun and positive experience.

Ciao, Bob Carmichael

From Russia With Love to Seventh Generation Body Lotions

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In 1963, a well regarded NYC art director and graphic designer from the agency Brownjohn, Chermayeff & Geismar – by the name of Robert Brownjohn was hired to create titles for the upcoming James Bond film From Russia with Love produced by Albert Brocccoli and Harry Saltzman. BCG was a cutting edge agency at the time. True to the Madison Avenue ethos of 1960’s, Brownjohn’s idea was to project the opening credits on a very scantily clad dancer/model reflecting the risqué pop culture. He used exhibition projectors to cast the titles on his models skin. It was provocative and cool!

Fifty years later, I get a call from Boulder, Colorado’s newly minted Made Movement Movement Marketing producer Isaac Karsen about a concept they had for an upcoming commericial/online video they were prepping. The creatives had something in mind for a modern application of the Brownjohn technique. Some highly respected ad guys created Made Movement Marketing: David Schiff, Scott Prindle and John Keiselhorst. Also attached is Alex Bogusky as an advisor, investor and partner in this new Boulder agency. Check out his blog @ FearLess – Made in Movement is dedicated to supporting a resurgence in American Manufacturing. This is a group we ALL want to work for so I was happy to a get a call to my production company to explore the idea. Isaac told me about this idea that the creative director John Keiselhorst, and art director Marybeth Ledesma were toying with. The question was how could we project images onto a female figure in a manner that resulted in High Def lettering moving along a model skin. They wanted a modern take on Brownjohn’s concept. CGI was not in the cards; this would have to be in-camera.

We immediately called a local company in we’ve worked with called “Multimedia Audio Visual” These guys specialize in rock concerts, big conventions and have state of the art projection and audio equipment that can put HD images on the sides of buildings. We set up a test day in Denver and I took my 6×6 frame and half frost to stretch across it, along with my trusty K 5600, 800-Watt HMI Joker and a large section of white foam core. Using a book lighting configuration set up, I bounced the Joker into the foam core and then back through the 1/2 frost for a very soft cross key. We knew we wanted to leave the surroundings black and key the model dramatically leaving plenty of contrast for our array of words to play on. I bounced another of my 400 Jokers into another piece of foam core for a tiny bit of fill. Armed with a Nikon D3 and a video camera we were ready to put our model through the paces.

Jim Maxam from Multimedia Audio Visual was assigned to be our projector tech and he quickly showed us that his Panasonic 10K DLP projection system would deliver tack sharp High Def images to just about anywhere we wanted. After a quick tour of his quiver of lenses we settled in on the Panasonic LE 1.5-2.0 short throw lens and suddenly shimmering on the skin of our model were precise and colorful words that she could wrap and bend with body movement. Isaac Karsen the agency producer and Doug and I were relieved to have found a simple solution to the agencies creative. Jim showed us how using a visible hatch pattern we he could size and focus the letters. We took note of how far from the model/spokesperson we would need to place the camera and the lens equivalents and that by placing the projection system off axis to the camera we would avoid projecting onto our seamless backgrounds. We would need a large stage to separate the two.

Doug Millington our executive producer did his usual great job of producing a lean and mean bid and quickly we were in business with this project. For the shoot we booked Colorado Studios in Denver, which is a great place to work out of. The model/spokesperson for the Seventh Generation turned out to be a very impressive young woman named Erin Schrode. Erin brought a ton of credibility to the project with her long history of activism in fashion, cosmetics and sustainability. There was a lot of monologue to cover and my long time, highly capable AD Kevin Donald and I were really relieved to find that Erin was so personable, adept and amazingly facile with her lines. Erin was a great sport as well, she was pretty much limited to a wardrobe that amounted to a micro bikini for our visuals. We needed a lot of body parts to project the chemical names that are contained in conventional lotions and soaps. Toxicity is not necessarily your first thought when applying body care products but the creatives at Made Movement were onto a powerful way to raise awareness in that regard. The concept was to then introduce a new plant based line of lotions and soaps that Seventh Generation was launching that are free from questionable chemicals. Seventh Generation is a Vermont company that has been on the forefront of sustainable and green products for close to a quarter century.

Bringing these chemical compounds to life was the Made Movement art director Marybeth Ledesma – fresh to Boulder from Portland and Widen & Kennedy. She came up with an artful and versatile PowerPoint delivery system that worked perfectly on the shoot day. Her weaving of fonts, colors and program creation was stellar. John Keiselhorst was on set for valuable feedback on the dialogue delivery and the fast creation of our product set. Joining him was the Made Movement Account Services liaison Rachel Steiker.

Rounding out the crew were some really great crew people from the Denver area. Matt Stelling was the key grip and Matt and I have done a number of challenging projects over the years. Matt is simply a creative force that knows how to move the camera, light the set and gets the shot in any environment. Having his name of the crew list is just a huge plus. Matt brought his mechanized turntable to enable us to gracefully and precisely rotate Erin as she danced with our PowerPoint collage. Joining him was our very sage and experienced gaffer Gart Gunberg. My 6x became a 12x book for our key on the stage. Our Alexa camera package came from ACamera. This highly recommended rental company is run by an experienced AC/Camera Operator/Techie named Jason Hornbeck and featuring some great gear from Wyndham Hannaway & Associates. At Acamera’s stage we tested with an Optimo 12:1 zoom to give us a wide variable prime capability. The 24mm-290mm Angenieux Optimo lens was so sharp we certainly didn’t need a case of primes. In fact, we immediately tested various diffusion filters like the Black Promist 1/8 to 1/4 and then a series of Digital Diffusion in 1/2 and 1. The very capable assistant Drew Dutton and I finally settled on a trusty and proprietary German hosiery line which we snot attached to the rear element of the lens with a medium stretch to allow our model to look much more in the realm of glamorous fashion than forensic flesh.

Cindy K Cruz was our make-up artist and stylist. She is meticulous and creative. She made a number of really smart suggestions regarding Erin’s prep for this shoot day, which would entail exposing a lot of her anatomy. Cindy K and Kevin Donald bonded fast with Erin and offered her plenty of support and kudos. Erin Schrode quickly proved herself to be a terrific on-camera spokesperson. She was a tack smart individual and just plain fun to work with. She was just a perfect fit for a brand like this new lotion/soap line she was. The DIT on the job was another very professional Denverite named Kevin Hardy. He managed our rec 709 and our master Log C files with precision and competence. We color corrected the spot at Post Modern in Denver with Rick Gougler who did a great job as usual. A final really nice aspect of the project for me as the director/cameraman was that my son Jesse Royal Carmichael took on the job of scoring the piece. In addition for being a founding member of Maroon 5 he is also a singer/songwriter. For a sampling of his work please go to It was wonderful to see how surely Jesse took command of giving my long-standing go to great editor Brad Wetmore a cool reference track and then came through with a perfect score and rendition for the completed spot.
What comes around goes around …Best regards, Bob Carmichael

Grizzly Bears and Green Screens, Montana 2nd Unit

Grizzly Bears and Green Screens, Montana 2nd Unit

So my producer sister, sweet Katie Carmichael calls me and says “we’ve got this scene in the movie and we need to get a real Grizzly Bear on film to match the blocking of the actors, can you shoot it?” And I reflectively answer in the positive, and then start thinking “a trained grizzly bear” is a perfect oxymoron. Fortunately there is a group up in Bozeman, MT called “Montana Grizzly Encounter”that is a super legit grizzly bear Rescue & Education Sanctuary run by Casey Anderson along with Ami Testa and her adoptive grizzly bear affectionately known as Brutus. They are a great team. Ami literally brought Brutus up in her home from age two weeks old. Both of the handlers were articulate, compassionate and safety conscious.

Nevertheless, when they trailed old Brutus up to our 12×20′ green screen tied down near the beautiful town of Livingston, MT, the set got very quite because Brutus at 900lbs was one bad ass looking bear. I made sure that we had detailed safety meeting as about 15 years ago I was shooting the “Exxon Tiger” and he seriously bit his long time trainer just missing his femoral artery. The point wasn’t lost on me, “trained” animals are never completely predictable. Also, I’ll never forget the size of Burtus’s head which was truly awe-inspiring. He is simply a magnificent beast. We knew he wouldn’t favorably take to a full GREEN Screen BG and floor environment as he evidently likes to shred most things he’s allowed to play with. So we put six feet of surface green out in front of our big green screen and then held our breaths as the door from the trailer was opened.

Just so you know, we had three strands of electrical fence between us and Brutus. We were told not to look him in the eye and during our safety meeting which we had TWICE, we saw that in addition to Ami and Casey who were IN the pin with Brutus they had two other handlers equipped with Pepper Spray as backups. Our Town and Country van was just behind the camera and my 2nd unit crew of AC Scott Dahard and gaffer/grip Chris Gerding along with the veteran producer Doug Bruce were planning on jumping into the empty van in case anything went sideways. We’d even bail on our fantastic Alexa camera suppled by “Acamera Rentals.”

So Brutus comes out of his cage and I’m doing my deep breathing exercise and keeping my eye in the viewfinder. It was a lot of bear but we were very relieved that he seemed content to explore the inside of his little corral of wires and didn’t pay much attention to the green fabric behind him or our lights. One thing we did know and that was the Brutus was capable of doing whatever he wanted should he go there. But Ami and Casey by means of food prompting kept his attention and got him to go easily though his various storyboarded scenes. The most complicated of which called from him to walk along the back set then turn his head dramatically to camera. And damn if he didn’t do all these maneuvers perfectly. We had a good plan that involved the camera height of the A unit camera and matching the lighting angles from the dialogue scenes. It was a very impressive, low key performance by Ami and Casey, who we instantly had faith in owing to their amazing relationship to this animal. We got our shots and yesterday got this email from Katie:

“We saw the movie last night at a private screening in Rome… I was holding my breath until I saw the bear scene which was REALLY great. Luca the editor came up to me afterwards and said that you all did an excellent job ….. Thanks so much for that! The movie opens in Rome on January 3rd…”Lost in America”

And so it goes.