I had an interesting project last week with lighting designer Adele Locke from Mint Lighting Design. The brief was to capture the lighting of a residential project, with the idea of showing the difference good lighting can make.

This is somewhat different to what I would normally photograph because I’m not capturing the overall space and instead trying to draw attention to the lighting design. Part of the challenge is that unless the lighting feature is a big eye catcher (think huge chandelier) then it may not be the obvious focus of the image. An example would be a strip of thin LED lights in a ceiling. Super minimal, and non distracting, but difficult to photograph.
To overcome this, we decided to have a little bit of fun and create some form of animated image showing the lights turning on and off. Here’s an example.

architectural photography gif of lighting design

The above image is what’s called an animated GIF. Where you normally see them used in social media networks with an animated cat, or some idiot hurting themselves on a scooter. What they really are very simple, low quality animations with several key frames. But like many things on the internet that people may dismiss at first, if you can find a way to use them creatively then they can have some value. Garry Veynerchuck talks about GIFs in his recent book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook becuase they’re curently “over indexing.” What he means by this is that they’re super popular, and people are sharing them left, right and center on social media.

So with that in mind i’ve been curious how they might be able to be used in architecture. Lighting is a good example, but it could also be doors opening, mini time lapse films, or showcasing how a space could be used for different things. Throw them up on Twitter, Facebook, Google plus, or whatever and you might have yourself and simple and very effective social media strategy to explain the dynamics of what it is that you do.

A couple things I learnt while making my first GIF

  • The quality of a GIF is low. you have a max of 256 colours, so they’re best for solid color shapes and animations. That said they can still work for complex images (like a photo) if they’re kept small (say less than 600px wide).
  •  If you need a high quality version of this effect then you’re better off using a slider on your website. Load up each frame as a slide and get rid of any fancy transitions. (obviously you can’t use this approach for social media).

If you want to make your own GIFS what you need to do is take a photo of each of your key frames. Make sure your camera is on a tripod so the images are identically aligned and then you use a GIF tool, or Photoshop to compile them. I’ll let you google the exact how to as there’s plenty already out there.