Meet our Georgie Finalists 3: Gold Edge's Whidden 18

Meet our Georgie Finalists 3: Gold Edge's Whidden 18

We're on a mission this time, wait. We're off to Mission, BC for this week's instalment of Georgie Awards finalists: Gold Edge Properties' Whidden18. As with our last two blog highlights, Gold Edge is another first-time entrant. This was one of the year's most surprising projects, both in its level of detail as well as in its location. It's hard to think of Mission as a destination for a luxury home project, but TJ and his crew at Gold Edge seems to be doing a fine job of changing that perception. This project featured both extensive and thoughtful interior detail, as well as one of the best outdoor living spaces we've seen all year. This project came in as a finalist in the Custom Home $1.3-1.9 Million category, as well as Best Outdoor Living. Having photographed all sorts of projects up in West Van and Langley, it's easy to think we've seen all the good tricks, but this one took full advantage of its hillside location in Mission. And we do mean full advantage: they even framed a view of Mount Baker if you look across the yard at the spa pergola from the dining area. The kicker? The whole outdoor area is reverse-terraced, so you can watch your kids use the (lit) putting green after dark, while sipping wine and enjoying snacks--which we did after shooting finished!

Meet our Georgie Finalists 2: Essence Properties' Evolve

Meet our Georgie Finalists 2: Essence Properties' Evolve

This year was a big year for multifamily developments, and we had a number of Georgie Awards finalists in the multifamily categories. Located in the Morgan Crossing area of south Surrey, Essence Properties' Evolve was a fine example and, as good townhouse projects like this are wont to do, is now sold out. When we first walked through this project, after blowing the drywall dust off our boots and heading back to the office, we kept remarking on how clever the kitchen and overall interior design was (right down to the crazy wallpaper and built-in bookrack in the master ensuite!). The judges seemed to agree: Evolve is a finalist in the Best Multi-Family Kitchen - New and Best Interior Design Display Suite categories. Congratulations!

Meet our Georgie Finalists 1: JBR's Nelson

Meet our Georgie Finalists 1: JBR's Nelson

The Georgie Awards finalists are out, and we have more finalists than will fit into a single blog post and still have you be able to read it. So, this year we're spreading it out and highlighting projects over the course of the next few weeks.

We'll start off with one of our Custom Home finalists: JBR Construction's Nelson residence up in West Vancouver, designed by Mcleod Bovell Architects. It's JBR's first time entering the Georgies, and we're always extra proud of projects that win on their builders' first time in. (We often hear things like 'we're not going to bother entering because the usual suspects always win', and we've taken it as one of our missions to put a stop to this thinking, because it's absolutely not true).

This stunning modern house features a number of sweet architectural surprises: first, the best implementation of 'bringing the outside in/bringing the inside out' we've seen in ages. The "deck" extends, fully covered but with a skylight, out of the kitchen and dining room with a set of stacking glass doors that allow you to either completely separate or completely join the two spaces. The cherry on top? A long linear fire feature that visually merges the two spaces and let you actually use the conversation pit outside, even on a depressingly grey and rainy day like today. It gets better: the master bedroom is cantilevered over a pool, and the ensuite features an aperture carefully positioned to let you enjoy the view over the city while case playing with the reflections in the mirrored tile wasn't enough. That's just the start of it. Enjoy!

Using Your Georgie Entries for the Ovation Awards

Using Your Georgie Entries for the Ovation Awards

The GVHBA Ovation Awards Call for Entries is out, and the entry form is open starting today. A lot of our clients enter (and win!) the Georgies, and if you've in Greater Vancouver and you are a GVHBA member, you qualify for the Ovation Awards as well. (And if you build/renovate/design residential projects in Greater Vancouver, go join the GVHBA so you can enter!) While you have until January 22 to get your entry in, if you've already entered the Georgies, you have a big head start on getting your Ovation Awards entry in way early. (If you're in the Fraser Valley, the Fraser Valley Awards of Excellence are on, and end November 15). Over the last few years, all the local housing awards have worked diligently to harmonize their entry requirements, and this makes life a lot easier for everyone.

We recommend entering as many awards programs (and categories) as you reasonably can, because that's more opportunities to win. One of the questions we're consistently asked is, "I put my project in for the Georgies. What else do I have to do to put my project in for the Ovations?".

The answer is: it depends on what categories you entered.

Out of all our local homebuilding awards, the Ovations have the widest selection of categories (a whopping 51 this year). That's a good thing because there are lots of cool boutique categories that you can enter (sometimes with less competition), but it's a frustrating thing because...that's a lot of categories to sift through, and it's easy to get confused.

There are three questions you need to ask and answer when you're repurposing your Georgie entry:

1. Is there a category that closely or exactly matches what you entered in the Georgies? 

A number of categories in the Ovations match the corresponding category exactly (most of the 'whole house' Custom Home, Single Family, and Multi-Family categories do). In that case, you're good to go! Just copy your photos, text, and budget from your Georgie entry, get a fresh consent form from your client (and submit one yourself, as the builder), and you're off to the races!

Saint Construction's Ross Street, Ovation Renovation $400-$699K winner (and CHBA National winner) last year

Saint Construction's Ross Street, Ovation Renovation $400-$699K winner (and CHBA National winner) last year

This can go the other way as well. If you're a new home builder and you entered the marketing categories in the Georgies, you might end up being disappointed as the Ovations have but one marketing category--Best Marketing Campaign. You can't enter your logo or your sales centre in the Ovations. Similarly, the Special Achievement categories in the Georgies and Ovations are different beasts, so read the requirements carefully as you might fit easily, or you might not fit at all.

2. Is there a better, more fitting category than what you entered in the Georgies?

You have some additional categories that you might want to consider entering as well as your Georgie categories--or instead. This is particularly the case for renovation projects, because the Ovations have different cost and square footage breakpoints, as well as some more options that let you be more strategic and specific about what you enter.

One case we see frequently is in kitchen renovations. Say you renovated a kitchen and a greatroom. In the Georgies you have to enter the kitchen in a Kitchen category, and the greatroom in the Any Room category. We often see projects where the greatroom is a good piece of design, but it's not quite enough to be awards-worthy in its own category--but the flow between kitchen and greatroom is.

A fine candidate for Kitchen and Greatroom

A fine candidate for Kitchen and Greatroom

If you just read that and said "Hey, that's my project!", then you might want to consider entering the Kitchen and Greatroom Renovation category rather than simply repurposing your Kitchen entry. Doing this is going to likely require some rejigging of your marketing text, as well as a few changes in photos to include the greatroom.

If you had us do your photography and/or writing, we can often do this for a nominal charge to cover reworking the text and licensing an extra few photos.

3. Are there additional categories you should enter?  

As I just mentioned, the Ovations have some excellent 'boutique' categories. Did you renovate a character home, or do a predominantly exterior+landscape renovation? Check out the Best Heritage/Character Home category, and the Best Exterior Reno categories.

If you're a new home builder, there are some goodies for you as well. Laneway projects get their own category this year (Best Small-Scale Home < 1000sqft). We've photographed some fantastic laneway projects this year, and it's great to see this category come up.

For the volume builders among you, look particularly at the Best Residential Community categories, which take a more holistic look at your development, including your amenity spaces and how your community fits into its surrounding. If you have great amenity features, these categories could be for you.

In these cases, you'll likely need some new writing as well as licensing some extra photos from your Georgie Awards entry, so give us a call and we're happy to help.

And if you didn't enter the Georgies, it's worth remembering that you can often use your Ovation Awards entries for the Georgies next year. Because of some quirks with the entry form, it's much easier to take an Ovation entry and reuse it for the Georgies than it is to go the other way around...but as they used to say about voting in Chicago, "enter early and often!". We have packages to help you out with your writing and photography, and we're looking forward to seeing the wonderful things you're building.

Good luck in the Ovations!

Pareidolia! (Or: Who Put The Doggie In My Driveway?)

Pareidolia! (Or: Who Put The Doggie In My Driveway?)

One of our favourite projects this Georgie Awards season was a house that features a smooth architectural concrete driveway with a lightly swirly finish that looks absolutely fabulous when addition to some lovely landscape lighting. When I edited the image, I noticed something a bit 'off' in the reflection but couldn't put my finger on what or why...and nobody else noticed anything either. I chalked it up to too many long days on location and too little sleep.

Mission driveway pre-edit.jpg

Fast forward a couple of weeks, and we get a message (on Friday the 13th, no less) forwarded from the client's graphic designer. "I was placing one your images and I noticed what looks like a ghosted image of a dog, or racoon, in the foreground.". Well, now that you've pointed it out...I can't unsee it! Let's zoom in to make it clearer. It sure looks like there's a ghost of a dog emerging from the reflection!

Doggie Pareidolia


So, I fired up Capture One and went back to the original image files. It sometimes happens that pets, people, or other things do run through images unintentionally, particularly if we're doing long exposures (and this was about a 20 second exposure), but this wasn't what's going on here. This image is stitched from two perspectives to get a wider angle, and the reflection pattern was present in every version of the image.

What's going on, then? Hallowe'en is coming up: did we catch the ghost of an old Mission dog that once roamed the site long ago? Unless our client reports that their client hears strange howling noises in the middle of the night: this is an instance of pareidolia. Say it with me, so you can impress your friends at your next cocktail party: pair-eye-DOH-le-a.

Pareidolia, according to Merriam-Webster, is the tendency to perceive a specific, often meaningful image in a random or ambiguous visual pattern. We've all experienced it: the Man in the Moon, the Face on Mars, certain rock formations, even...Mother Theresa in a cinnamon bun, and Snack Food Jesus. In this case, the "doggie" is due to the reflection of the landscape and window lighting on the wet concrete. Speaking of cool words, those of you who do film lighting will observe that the front foliage is behaving as a cuculoris and hard-shaping the light in the reflection, creating the effect.

Blurring out the reflection in Photoshop made short work of it:

goldedge-whidden59257 1.jpg


And that, as they say, is a dog gone bit of post!

Happy Vernal Equinox, folks!

As of today, it's officially the First Day Of Fall. Pagans get to celebrate this with Mabon, but we architectural photographers have our own observance: the noting that between today and the Spring Equinox, Mother Nature will no longer be providing direct light on north-facing elevations. Bummer.

We really need our own festival to mark this, but there are so few of us and we're so geographically diverse, good luck with that. Maybe someday...

We love fall light (it's lower, more direct, and emphasizes those lovely fall colours), but the lack of direct light can make photographing north-facing exteriors a bit more challenging. Thankfully, there's lighting, and of course, shooting at twilight to get around this problem. So, when a client calls and wants photos of a north-facing exterior, we get to be a bit more creative with timing (because shooting directly into the sun causes all sorts of problems of its own) and lighting to get the job done. Or, some combination of both, as we did when photographing this nifty laneway house from the crew at Lanefab, which was recently also on the Vancouver Modern Art & Design Tour:

Lit twilight laneway exterior

The upside of the days getting shorter is that we can shoot twilight exteriors earlier in the day. In Vancouver, midsummer days last so long that we're often photographing well past 10 or 11pm, and packing up at midnight. Being a night owl, I rather relish this (especially because you get good twilight for almost an hour), however, for homeowners--particularly those with kids--this can be tough because it's "way past everyone's bedtime". With twilight happening closer to 6-7pm, this makes things a lot more convenient for everyone, at the cost of...fewer twilight images to be had before losing the light, and a bit more planning on our part to get everything in.

So, if you have a north-facing exterior, and you need natural direct light on it, we're happy to schedule you in after May 1. Otherwise, grab yourself a pumpkin spice latte and enjoy the fall!

Capture One 10.2: Go Home, You're Broken!

Those of you in the mostly-wonderful and sometimes-exasperating world of capture, teching, and editing with Phase One's Capture One (like myself) probably noticed that a new version of Capture One, 10.2, dropped earlier in the week. I've just finished one of the busiest weeks of the year (10-12 hour location days, at different locations, every day!) with a combination of the late 10.2 betas, for which I'm a tester, and the release version of 10.2, and...I'm uninstalling it and going back to 10.1.2. Phase, you let this one go half-baked. (And before you asked: yes, all of these issues save one, which is new in the 10.2 release version, I've reported to Phase, on the last beta release. Hopefully they'll be fixed in 10.2.1, whenever it comes out).

What's busted?

  • Undo/redo on dual monitor Macs. I edit with the Browser on one screen and the Viewer on the other. Undo and Redo only work on the Browser window's screen (and focus), not on the Viewer. In past releases, key combos including undo/redo would work on both screens; having it work on the browser screen only is exactly bass-ackwards because that's the window you will probably be most unlikely to use. (Note that if you've turned off 'Displays have separate Spaces' in your Display Preferences, this works fine; but that's not the default for most of us).
  • Custom key combinations randomly don't respond. On my laptop, I have Live View mapped to the forward slash key, which I can usually hit with my big toe if I'm in socks on location and my laptop is on the floor (both of which are often the case). During this morning's shoot, about half the time, this didn't work...causing me to have to bend down and hit the Live View button on the Camera tab. Ecch. (10.1 broke the ability to map Space in live view to take an exposure, which is annoying enough, particularly when you're one-handing your laptop because your other hand is steadying a pole with your camera flying 16 feet above you).
  • No forward slash in watermarks. I run a business called Martin Knowles Photo/Media. This one's a near deal-breaker. I can work around it by using the Unicode fraction slash, but still...
  • Sleep/wake tethering instability. I shoot a P45, tethered to a MacBook Air 2011 with the Thunderbolt-FireWire dongle. It may well be time for me to replace the dongle (but given that C1 shows the same misbehaviour on both my dongles and on my main and backup cables, I'm given to think it's a software issue). Back in the bad old days of C1 7, you'd have to be very careful to disconnect your camera before closing your laptop's lid, because you'd often cause CaptureCore to blow, leaving you with no other choice than restarting Capture One in order to re-tether. Guess what annoying behaviour is back in 10.2? It gets worse: half the time when this happens, I actually have to reboot the entire machine. I've sometimes even had this happen when I pull the dongle before closing the laptop lid, which is doubly horrible when you're running outside because you're in the last few minutes of usable light at dusk, and Mother Nature won't wait for a reboot.

So, my conclusion: unless you need to be running 10.2 because your camera isn't supported in 10.1.2, skip this update and wait for the next one to come out. They've fixed a number of niggling annoyances (zoom controls in Live View being one, which I've reported in every single release since the 10.0 betas), but at least three of these issues are major showstoppers in my workflow. Thankfully, Phase makes it really easy to downgrade to previous releases.

...And Another Awards Season Begins

Sometimes award seasons get off to a slow start. This isn't one of them, particularly if you're an interior designer or builder. The IDIBC, PIDIM, and IDA are all running design awards at the moment. For builders and renovators, the Georgie Awards requirements are out, and you'll be able to enter beginning early July.

So many design awards. So little time. many opportunities to win and get good PR! You can't win if you don't enter, and the only way to become an award-winning designer, builder, or architect is to win awards.

What to do? Take advantage of the opportunities to make your entry succeed, of course! And there are several ways to do just that:

The Georgie Webinar: Steps to Success

On Thursday, June 22 at 10am, writer Susan Boyce and I are presenting a webinar: Georgie Awards: Steps to Success. We'll break down the process and give you a roadmap (heck, a whole cruising guide!) full of local knowledge, tips, things to think about, and ways to streamline your entry. We've aimed it towards builders and renovators, but those of you entering interior design and architecture awards will probably find lots of good things to learn as well.

You're probably thinking: "I hate webinars! They're all 10 minutes of good information and 40 minutes of pitch". Me too--which is why this webinar won't be that! We promise no more than 10 minutes of pitch, if that. So sign up, get your notepad, and prepare to have a good plan for moving ahead.

Awards Roadmap

Almost all building and design industry awards have common requirements: there's usually a set of written statements, a number of photos, some forms, and some prep work. If it's your first time putting together an awards entry, this can be a bit daunting. We feel your pain, and we're here to help...yes, we've seen those short deadlines, specific requirements, the rush to get that half-dozen perfect photos together, and not to mention the terror of a blank page that has to be filled with 300-some words of goodness. All of which you're of course having to do when you have designs to finish, people to call, problems to solve. 

Susan and I have put together a guide to help work you through the process, and you can download it for free. Check it out!



An Award Season Ends...

It's as reliable as flipping the calendar to a new page: just as we finish congratulating our clients for winning awards last season, it's time once again to get another awards season under way.

We'll start with kudos to a couple of our architect clients. First up is Proscenium Architecture + Interiors, for the heritage restoration and bell spire addition at Christ Church Cathedral. Proscenium brought home an AIBC Special Jury Award at the Architectural Institute of BC's annual awards, as well as a City of Vancouver Heritage Award, carrying on a fine tradition as the 2004 renovation phase at Christ Church was also similarly awarded by the City over a decade ago. We were involved in both the construction progress and final photographs of this project (on both the 2004--before I was photographing full time--and 2017 renovations!). Check out the video if you're curious.

Christ Church Cathedral AIBC Awards

The BC Wood Awards are always a particular favourite, and we've had several projects win over the past few years. We get to add another to the pantheon: Urban Arts's Engineering Student Centre at UBC.

Our clients made a fantastic showing in the GVHBA Ovation Awards, with many of our finalists making it into the winner's circle.

First off, first-time entrant Mulberry Property Group's Eyremount made a solid showing, including in the Best Kitchen category...with their three-part kitchen that I'd love to cook in:

Mulberry Properties kitchen british properties eyremount


Congratulations to first-time entrant Saint Construction's stunningly modern Ross Street, bringing home the Best Renovation $400-$699K Ovation:

Vancouver Modern Wood Renovation

Hayer's Summit led off the Best Townhouse/Rowhome Development - Production > 1,500 Sq Ft and the Shaw Viewer's Choice Award:

Hayer Summit Langley Townhouse Ovation Georgie

Project Mint, another first-time entrant, got to take home an award in both hands as well this year, with their Pender Duplex getting honours in Best Townhouse/Rowhome Development - Infill, and Best New Kitchen Under $50,000, with a tip of the hat and an additional award to...another first-time entrant, Designs by Katerina and Silvie, for the fantastic kitchen:

East Vancouver Modern Kitchen Georgie Ovation

We often hear the excuse "we're not going to bother entering because 'the usual suspects' always win". We say: bollocks! This year, all of our first-time entrants did well--in fact, almost all of the projects Susan Boyce and I worked on in last year's awards season came in as finalists and/or winners in one or (often) more local awards programs. Sure, 'the usual suspects' do well, but that's because they enter all the time, and you can win as well if you enter!


The Final Batch Of Finalists!

The Final Batch Of Finalists!

Somewhere out there in the hallowed halls of CHBA National, and the equally hallowed halls of the GVHBA, someone decided that March 29 Shall Be Housing Award Finalist Day, and an elite cabal sprang into action, bestowing finalist awards left and right, blasting off press releases, and churning out posts on social media.

Or not.

It's probably purely convenient coincidence that the list of finalists for the CHBA National Awards for Housing Excellence dropped on the same afternoon as the GVHBA Ovation Awards Finalist Soiree. We'd love to believe the former, but we figure that the latter is more likely. Speculation aside: on with the honours.

Project Mint's East Pender, which led off our Georgie finalists, showed up again in the Ovations: for Best Interior Design Display Suite and Best Townhouse/Rowhome Infill:

Vancouver modern duplex Project Mint Pender ovation georgie


 Another Project Mint project, a lovely renovated 'atomic ranch' in Deep Cove for which we had to hose a substantial amount of snow off a big courtyard area during the shoot with hot water (that's a first) showed up as a finalist in Best Kitchen/Greatroom and Best Reno $200-399K:

North Vancouver Atomic Ranch Ovation Georgie Midcentury

Saint Construction's East Van Heritage, a Georgie finalist, was a finalist in the Ovations-only Best Heritage/Character Renovation, as well as the CHBA National Whole House $500-$1M category:

East Van Heritage Saint Construction Vancouver Heritage


 The other Saint project we photographed, Ross Street Modern, was a finalist in Best Reno $400-$699K at the Ovations, and the Whole House $250-500K category at the CHBA Nationals.

Ross Street Modern Vancouver Renovation Georgie Ovation


Linhan Design (and 3 Dimension Construction)'s Family and Formal, another Georgie and CHBA Fraser Valley finalist, was also a finalist in Best New Kitchen Under $50K.


Mulberry's Eyremount picked up a goodly stack of finalist honours, including Best Special Feature (for the uber-cool car turntable, packing at least 4 parking spaces into the space of two), Best Custom Home Over $3 Million, Best Interior Design Custom Residence, and Best New Kitchen Over $100K. 

Mulberry Special Feature Ovation Awards Car Turntable British Properties

Hayer Builders Group and Fifth Avenue Marketing have been on an absolute tear this awards season as both finalists and winners at the CHBA Fraser Valley Awards, and the Georgie Awards. They continued it tonight with their Summit project, which was a finalist in the CHBA National Awards for Attached Homes – 1,500 square feet and over, and in the Ovations: Best Townhouse/Rowhome 1,500sf+, Best Interior Design Display Suite, Best New Kitchen Under $50K, Best Residential CommunityMulti-Famly Home Builder of the Year:

Summit Great Room double height Surrey Ovation Awards

One of the things we love about the Ovation Awards is its long time horizon: this year, projects completed in the last three years are eligible to enter. This sometimes means some cool surprises as projects we've photographed in the past for other awards programs suddenly pop up again at Finalists Night. This happened tonight: Tien Sher's Balance micro-loft project is a finalist (and since it's the only one, it's likely a winner by default) in the BC Housing Award for Innovative Choices) and Best Multi-Family Low Rise:

Tien Sher Balance

Another Tien Sher project, Jade, was a finalist in Best Townhouse/Row Home Less than 1,500 sqft. 

Tien Sher Jade Ovation Richmond Townhouse

Are you looking to join this list next year? We're here to help. Check out our award resources...and get started!

Learn how to improve your marketing and award entries

We're big into sharing knowledge, especially when it helps you build your business. And with the weather getting marginally better (but still keeping a lot of us mostly indoors most of the time...), it's a perfect time to start thinking about those upcoming springtime and summertime photo projects when winter is finally gone and we start getting landscapes that start looking less dead. That's going to mean that awards season is also right around the corner, and it's never too early to start thinking about it!

Ovation Awards class on e-Learn

If you're a GVHBA member, you might have seen an announcement for the class that Susan Boyce, Lynn Harrison, and I did on Ovation Awards: Tips and Strategies last October cross your desk. We're jazzed that the class is now available online on the GVHBA's newly minted eLearn platform. You won't get the class exercises, but the content is now available in the comfort of your very own office (or at home, with your pets trying to shove your laptop off your lap...), and you even get 2.0 awesome Group B CPD points if you're a builder member who needs to keep your license up.

Almost all the points we make about the Ovation Awards also apply to the Georgie Awards, the CARE Awards, the Fraser Valley Awards, and most of the rest of the local housing awards, all of which have very similar entry requirements.

As part of their introductory special, eLearn classes are 50% off for another few days, so if you're interested, get on it quickly.

eLearn: Ovation Awards Workshop

Cookbook: 6 Steps to Distinctive Photos

If it's your first time getting a project photographed, you're probably wondering what you can do to make sure that your project looks the best, and you get the photos you need to propel your marketing and PR efforts. We're here to help you out with that. Check out our 6 Steps to Distinctive Architectural Photos cookbook. It's free!

Awards Roadmap

Is it your first time entering an awards program? Wondering what to expect, and what to have in place so you have the easiest and quickest time getting to a successful entry? There's a roadmap for that too!

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Congratulations Georgie Winners & Finalists

Congratulations Georgie Winners & Finalists

Our clients always do well in the Georgie Awards, and this year was no exception. In the small pantheon of housing award programs, the deadline for the Georgie Awards is usually first (as the deadlines for the CHBA National Awards, the Ovation Awards, and now the CHBA Fraser Valley awards, among others, happen in subsequent months), so we usually recommend people enter the Georgies first, and then use your Georgie entry to enter everything else, because it means you've already done about 90% of the work to a successful award entry up front.

First-time entrant Mulberry Property Group's Eyremount took home the gold in Custom Home Over $3 Million, and Best Master Suite. This is one of the few cases where good real estate photography will serve you well--almost. While we didn't photograph this project, Susan Boyce and I project-managed the entry, and we provided fill-in photography to cover their excellent kitchen, which their real estate photos didn't do justice (and we subsequently entered in the Ovations). 

Infinity's Heritage took home the gold for Multi-Family Townhouse Development and Grand Georgie for Marketing Campaign of the Year. Besides featuring what has to be the cutest little repurposed heritage home sales centre I've seen in ages (now being repurposed for their nearby Belmont phase), if you've been following press coverage of the Georgies, you've probably seen this photo already:

Infinity Heritage Langley Multi-Family Townhouse Georgie

Just add a bottle of wine and some cheese, a few of your favourite neighbours, and...perfect place to spend a summer evening! (We'd have staged that up, but the Georgie photo requirements don't let you show people). When it gets too cold, just retreat to the exquisitely appointed clubhouse to party the night away.

We're especially proud when companies who have never entered before enter and make it to the finals--because for most people outside the building industry, finalist is just as good as winner--you don't get the nifty gold statue for your wall, but you do get the bragging rights and the ability to market yourself as a Georgie finalist, which could well lead to your next project that does bring home a gold statue.

We had a plethora of finalists this year. Project Mint's East Pender gets finalist honours in Best Multi-Family Townhouse - Infill and Best Multi-Family Kitchen. This was Project Mint's inaugural project, and judging from what we've seen from them so far, they're definitely One To Watch.

Project Mint East Pender Vancouver multi family townhouse kitchen Georgie

South Ridge Developments' Life Above, which took home a Custom Home $450K+ a month ago at the CHBA Fraser Valley awards, took home finalist in Best Single Family Kitchen Under $100,000.

South Ridge Langley Life Above barn single family kitchen Georgie

There's just something about Fraser Valley kitchens! Linhan Design's Family and Formal placed in the Best Single Family Kitchen Under $100,000 category:

Linhan Design traditional kitchen Family and Formal Vancouver Fraser Valley Georgie

Another first-time entrant Saint Construction landed two projects in the finals. Ross Street Modern placed in Best Residential Reno $300-$499K with one of those projects where you see the "before" images, and you say to yourself: Wow--way to create something awesome out of a 1940's teardown!

Vancouver Modern Ross Street Saint Construction Georgie

Another saintly Saint project, East Van Heritage, landed in Best Residential Reno $500-$799K, with a sensitive addition and refit to a heritage project off Commercial Drive (no, that's not a trick of the lens: the fridge really is that big. We're told they entertain a large family, frequently):

Saint Construction residential reno Georgie heritage Vancouver

A Best Condominium Renovation Over $250,000 final went to NWI Contracting, another first-time entrant, for this lovely downtown condo:

NWI Condo Renovation Georgie vancouver modern

Finalist honours for Best Master Suite went to the stunningly modern and very cozy Pacific Spirit by Reid Developments:

Reid Developments modern Vancouver master suite Georgie

Hayer's Exchange, a multi-category winner in the CHBA Fraser Valley awards, placed as a finalist for Best Landscape Design--packing a number of lovely features such as rain barrel irrigation, community garden plots and a lot of green onto a dense space, as well as a Grand Georgie - Best Residential Community finalist:

Hayer Exchange landscape design residential community Georgie

Congratulations, everyone! We're looking forward to seeing many of you at the Ovation Awards in a month, and as this endless winter finally comes to a close and your projects get complete, just remember: starting early for next year is always a good idea! The scheduling is easier, it's cheaper, and we can put you first in line for finishing your writing and awards prep as well as photography the earlier you start.

And if you're one of those who always says "why bother entering, because the usual suspects always win?", we say bollocks! With the large number of first-time entrants doing well, the only way to become an award-winning builder is to go enter and win something, and: you can't win if you don't enter!

You have a stack of photos. Now what?

Imagine this: you've built that wonderful project. You've called us and you now have a set of photos that make it look even more wonderful. You've submitted them for your award, or put them on your website...and because you're busy, you've moved on and all that work is sitting in a folder somewhere. You'd love to get it out, but how and when--and how do you get it into the right hands?

You're thinking to yourself: I wish I could get more out of that! More...good press, clients, cool projects, likes on Instagram...whatever. Right?


Introducing GetMore! We've teamed up with PiTCH PR to help you get more from your marketing efforts. Efficient and cost-effective marketing and public relations takes careful planning, good contacts, and a variety of strategies to do well. Jenn and the PiTCH team bring their substantial experience doing PR strategy, print/web/event marketing, and organization to help you get your firm's projects and your brand out into the community. 

You're ready to GetMore! Let's make it happen together.

Congratulations CHBA Fraser Valley Awards of Excellence Winners!

Congratulations CHBA Fraser Valley Awards of Excellence Winners!

It was a dark and snowy night on Saturday, but a certain hotel ballroom located mercifully close to the highway on the outskirts of Abbotsford held plenty of good cheer: it was the inaugural run of the CHBA Fraser Valley Awards of Excellence--and we hardy building industry folk weren't going to let half a foot or more of blowing snow, icy roads, stuck cars, and slightly-tardy-but-worth-the-wait catering get in the way of celebrating the work of our peers. And celebrate we did!

Despite the harrowing trip out and back from downtown Vancouver, it's always a pleasure and honour to be part of the first run of any awards program. It's even more of a pleasure and honour when our clients placed as finalists in just under half of the total categories.

So: which projects reigned supreme?

Linhan Design's lovely Family and Formal was a finalist in the Best Single Family Kitchen, Best Master Suite, and Best Interior Design Custom Residence categories. Utilizing transitional design elements, this South Surrey-based project featured a number of clever design elements that allows a mix between public and private space--allowing the house to work equally well for day-to-day family use as well as a space for formal entertaining, music, and art. 

You know it's going to be a good night when you sit down with a glass of wine, flip open the awards program, and discover one of your photos being used on the inside front cover:

Langley Timber Frame


That lovely twilight exterior belongs to South Ridge Development's Farmhouse Charm and Cottage in the City projects, which propelled them to win the coveted Grand Custom Home Builder of the Year and Custom Home $450-699K awards, as well as placing as a finalist in the Custom Home $1 Million+ and Best Single Family Kitchen categories. These two timber-frame projects share a multi-acre lot on the edge of Langley. Facing rebuilding after a house fire, and being owners of several beautiful horses (who I got to meet on the shoot!), the owners of this project took the opportunity to build their ideal barn (with open living space above) for their pasture and paddock, and then live in that space while they built their new house next door. This was one of our most intriguingly fun projects to photograph last year: timber frame always shoots well (and our medium format tech cam gear just loves all the texture), and we had the wonderful challenge of chasing the closing of a weather window before the Georgie Awards deadline. That twilight exterior was photographed just minutes before a storm system proceeded to come in and hose the area with a late-September thunderstorm. Good thing all the staging was waterproof!

The big standout of the night amongst our clients was Hayer Builders Group, whose Exchange project near Carvolth Exchange on the Langley border we photographed as part of the crazy week before the Georgie Awards deadline last September, and whose Summit project we've photographed a couple of times this winter--once for interiors, and once for exteriors just a couple of weeks ago...because, while we expected the pervasive snow and ice that caused a big weather delay on the first visit to melt out by sometime in early January, as those of you in Vancouver who are reading this while watching the snow fall yet again, the number of snowy and icy days this winter, particularly in the Fraser Valley, has presently blown past the number of not-snowy-and-icy days. Among other things, both projects are notable for their big private rooftop decks that each unit gets--and you know the weather's been crazy when you have to wait weeks and weeks for a rare non-snowy-non-wet day to photograph the rooftop decks sans slushy mess.

These two projects were (big breath...) winners in Best Multi-Family TownhouseBest Multi-Family KitchenBest Innovative Feature, and finalists in Best LandscapeBest Outdoor Living. With all that love, it was no surprise that Hayer took home the Grand Multi-Family Home Builder of the Year

Congratulations, everyone!

We're looking forward to seeing some very good things from this awards program in the future. One of the things we noticed was that there were far more finalists in the New Home categories than in the Renovation categories; apparently a lot of the renovators didn't complete their entries. Which is a shame, because we know there's a lot of good work out there, and we're here to help! Renovators in the Fraser Valley, time to strut your stuff next year!

If you've never entered an awards program before, we'd strongly encourage you to--especially because for most of you in BC, you now have three levels of awards you could possibly win: your local awards (the GVHBA Ovation Awards, the CHBAFB Awards of Excellence, the CHBAVI VIBE awards, etc.); your provincial awards (the Georgie Awards), and the national CHBA Awards of Excellence. Because all three awards levels have different judges but very similar entry requirements, we'd encourage you to enter as many levels as you can qualify: once you've done the work to enter one, you've done about 90% of the work required to enter the next level, and that gives you more opportunities to win.

To help with that, we've put together a guide that works you through the whole process. It will be several months yet before the Georgie Awards call for entries comes out (it's usually the first out of the gate), but this gives you more time to be prepared and get your project ready!



For most of the last year, I've been working with my fellow members of the Greater Vancouver Home Builders' Association's Suppliers Council to put together a pavilion for the upcoming BUILDEX show. Many hands (about 16 suppliers, in this case) make light work, and we're looking forward to unveiling it at the show. Thanks to the amazing work of Jamie Banfield and his team in putting a ridiculously diverse selection of product and services into a coherent whole, the pavilion will feature all sorts of wonderful things, including new products for inside and outside your building, and inside the walls as well. (I'm serious!).

It's hard to believe, but the show is coming up in two weeks--February 15 and 16, to be exact--and we're totally excited about being part of it. If you haven't registered, go register already!

I'll be at the booth most of the Thursday morning, so if you're wandering the tradeshow, make sure to stop by. I'm also planning a 15-minute "fireside chat" on specifying architectural photography. We'll have a wall display of our most recent photo shoots, including many that are finalists in the this year's Georgie Awards and many that were winners in other local building industry awards.


As The Calendar Turns

As The Calendar Turns

This coming May, I'll be celebrating ten years of running Martin Knowles Photo/Media and serving the local design, architecture, and building communities. We're hoping to be around for many, many decades longer. It's an amazing privilege to be able to see all the work you do, help you promote your design work, and collaborate with so many other amazingly talented people!

Every year, we put together a calendar of some of our favourite images from the year past. This year, we're doing something a little different: we've chosen some of our all-time favourites from the last decade. Narrowing down that big of a pile of files into 9 images that will fit in the vertical format we use was a huge challenge because there are so many fine images and wonderful projects to choose from. As postproduction software has improved over the course of the decade, we also took the opportunity to do a bit of extra work on some of the images, just because we have artistic possibilities now that we didn't have then. It was a labour of love...and if you're one of our current customers or friends, a 2017 calendar is on its way to you. And if you'd like one to hang on your wall (or the end of your cubicle, or the end of any 2x6 wall, or in the front pocket of a project notebook, or, we're told, the A-pillar of most pickup trucks), please let me know and I'll send one your way.


Happy 2017, folks!

Capture One 10 Is Out: Go Upgrade!

Capture One 10 Is Out: Go Upgrade!

As an avid Capture One user and Phase One Certified Professional digital tech, I always approach new Capture One releases with a mix of anticipation and trepidation. Anticipation, because there's often good things to play with that are going to make my workflow faster; and trepidation, because I started with Capture One back in version 7, where the learning curve was way steeper because you couldn't be sure of whether the tool wasn't working because the tool was broken, or because you didn't know how to use it...and things would go kerblewie all the time. I'm pleased to say that Capture One 10, just released today, is a worthy upgrade that if you're a CO9 (or earlier) user, will serve you extremely well. I'll leave some of the big feature changes like control surface support and 3-phase sharpening to others to document, but: as is often the case, the most useful features for working pros are the ones that take a footnote in Phase One's documentation. So, having been on the CO10 beta, here are a number of goodies and a few cautions.

It's Faster And More Stable

Now and then, Phase One sends out surveys to us working pros asking us what we'd like to see in future versions of C1. I, and it seems quite a few others, told them that the best feature we'd like to see is...speed and stability. They delivered: CO10 is hands down the fastest and most stable CO release I've used thus far. There are a number of places where this really shines:

Masking on local adjustment layers feels a lot faster. On my 4-core iMac 27 late2011, I run with OpenCL off because OpenCL tends to be slower than native CPU, and masking--particularly on Phase files--has always been a bit laggy. It's still a little laggy, but it's hugely better than it was.

Accessing sessions on slow drives. Phase One recommends not accessing sessions on a NAS, but as someone with a project-based workflow, it's sometimes unavoidable. I run a slow NAS (QNAP TS-419P2--which I swear I'll upgrade sometime this coming year when that last terabyte finally fills), and for anything other than very basic open and process actions (which still haven't tended to work right...), it's been far better to move an old session onto a local drive, whack on it, and copy it back. In CO10, I'm pretty confident doing occasional editing on old files without having to wait to copy what can often be a large session across. There's still occasional hangups and slow performance with big layered 16-bit TIFs, so if your workflow runs towards that (as mine does), you're still probably better to copy everything local. But, if a client calls you for a few images from a past shoot with a few minor edits (which happens a lot here), you can probably now reprocess things without having to wait forever to copy.

Faster preview in general. My onsite tether machine is an ancient, mid-2011 MacBook Air. With only 4GB of RAM, this machine is woefully underspec'd for serious work, but if I'm on the road, sometimes I end up having to do basic editing on it. During one of the early CO10 betas, I ended up doing preliminary edits for a whole session on the Air, and while it sure wasn't fast, it was a lot more usable than CO9 ever was. Bravo!

But the biggest change for me, and probably for all of you who shoot technical cameras?

LCC Creation is multithreaded long last! Most Capture One operations take full advantage of multicore CPUs. The notable exception to this has been creating LCCs. Because I shoot on a technical camera, I'll roll into the office after a shoot, needing to create a whole pile of LCCs at once...which has usually meant selecting about 40 images at a time, right-clicking Create LCC, and fixing tea. Or doing LCC creation on my ancient MacBook Air, because a single core on the Air wasn't much slower than a single core on my iMac.

No more! LCC creation will now use as many cores as you have, so it's going to be faster--from somewhere between twice as fast on my ancient Air, to about 6 times as fast on my iMac.

Tethered focus controls

Tethered focus controls actually slipped into the Live View window in CO9, but with a number of improvements to live view over the last few releases, they're actually useful if you're shooting with a supported camera. I recently ended up shooting a focus stack on my Canon 5D Mark II entirely tethered from the next room (happens a lot if you're shooting in wine cellars or in small bathrooms) by shooting from the Live View window and twiddling the focus controls. Very cool.

Recipe proofing

Capture One has long had the ability to proof using your output ICC profile. This was quite handy, but also very easy to muck up: there have been more than a few times when I've been working on something late at night that I was previewing for print output, then started editing again after a good night's sleep and forgotten that I was outputting to print and subsequently...wondered why all my unedited images were showing up as flat and lifeless. Whoops!

In CO10, things behave a bit differently. There's now a Recipe Proof button on the toolbar that lets you proof your entire process recipe, including sizing and compression. If you're in Recipe Proof mode, you'll not only see the output ICC results, but also the final output size and the results of compression, if you're outputting in a lossy format. This is very handy if you're outputting files to the web, or other situations where you're trying to pack as much quality per size into a particular file output (several of our local architectural awards programs require JPGs at '300 DPI at 5 megs or less', so the challenge is to pack as much detail into that per size and not blow past the limit).

Getting the most out of this may require a few little changes. In CO10, go to View > Proof Profile. You'll probably see Recipe Profile, which is the default. If this is selected, it means that your default view will be using the ICC profile in the process recipe. Now that Recipe Proof exists, you might want to change this to a sensible default for your workflow (like Adobe RGB), and use Recipe Proof when you explicitly want to soft proof your output. 

Upgrading existing sessions

Upgrading previous sessions to CO10 has thus far been very straightforward, but there's a caution. CO10 has a new processing engine, and I've yet to find an image whose preview effectively changes when clicking the magic 'Upgrade' button to move to CO10. Because of the new sharpening options, if you've worked heavily with CO9's sharpening tools, you might find some differences. Unlike, say, the changes from 7 to 8, the move to CO10 seems minor enough that it's safe enough to hit Select All > Upgrade on current 9 sessions and let 'er rip.

A caveat, though: because of the (newer, faster) previewing facilities, when you upgrade a session, CO10 has to repaint all the previews, sometimes twice. This takes time, particularly when you're on a large session. While you can work (sort-of...) when that's going on, my method of choice is to open the session, do a Select All > Upgrade to move everything to the CO10 engine, and wait until all the previews are updated. While having the cup of tea that I can no longer have while waiting for LCCs to create...and enjoying much faster editing afterwards.

Workspace cautions

CO10 has a new default workspace that's a lot more friendly on widescreen displays. They've put the browser view on the far right rather than below, which I'm still getting used to (old habits from Lightroom die very, very hard), moved a bunch of the tools around, added tool tabs for camera focus outside of Live View, and added the aforementioned Recipe Proof button. This means that if you're using a workspace you built for CO9, you might well be missing some good functionality. I've taken the time to re-create my workspaces based on the new default workspaces in CO10, and you might want to as well.


This January, I'm teaching a two-day soup-to-nuts weekend workshop on Capture One with Vancouver Photo Workshops. If you're looking to make the leap, or if you've been using Capture One for awhile and want to get more out of it, go sign up.

Time to upgrade!?

I'm quite happy with CO10, and chances are good you will be as well. If you're looking at upgrading to CO10 or migrating from Lightroom or Aperture, it's a good time to make it happen. You can also get 10% off using the promo code AMBMKPHOTO from Phase One's online store.

Raise the Roof, Ring the Bells, Feed the Hungry

Raise the Roof, Ring the Bells, Feed the Hungry

For the last year and a half, I've been documenting the most recent phase of the renovation work at Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Vancouver: the replacement of the roof, the construction of a bell spire, and the major renovation of the kitchen largely to better serve Vancouver's homeless population. It's the cathedral church of the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster, Vancouver's oldest surviving church building and stone structure, faith home for nearly 18 years. You probably know it, because it's been covered under a big tent of scaffolding for most of the time, and you've probably also wondered "what are they doing under there, and when will it be done"?

Last night, the last few bits of the scaffolding came down, the place was filled with celebration, the bells rang, and the lights lit. And for the celebration, I edited together my choice images from the entire process to share some of my favourite viewpoints from up on the scaffolding, out on the lifts, and under the tent. If you missed it, here it is: enjoy! And stop by the Cathedral sometime: the bells are presently being rung at 9 and 6pm, and there's a lovely view of the bells from the laneway and another lovely view from the semi-public close across the street at Cathedral Place.

It's Ovation Time

It's Ovation Time

A couple of weeks ago, the Greater Vancouver Home Builders' Association put out the Call for Entries for the annual Ovation Awards. For home builders, renovators, and residential designers in the Greater Vancouver area, this is one of a trifecta of award opportunities that happens every fall--the other two being the Georgie Awards, the results of which we're eagerly awaiting given the number of projects we put together for it; and the CHBA National Awards of Excellence, which should be dropping their call for entries soon.

We love the Ovations! They're a great way for smaller, more clever renovation projects (in particular) to get recognition, and because the requirements for a lot of categories are identical to that of the Georgies, once you've done the work for one, you're well on your way to doing the work for another. As a result, the Ovations are a good opportunity to enter projects that you didn't quite get done in time for the Georgies--giving you some good marketing juice if you place in the finals. There are also a couple of very fun parties at the end of the whole process, and who doesn't love a good excuse to dress up and eat, drink, and be merry with your colleagues?


We've put together several resources to help you on your journey to making a successful awards entry:

  • This Friday I'm doing a workshop along with a couple of my favourite colleagues on award projects--namely, writer Susan M. Boyce and marketing extraordinaire Lynn Harrison, out at the GVHBA Office. I'm told there are still a few tickets available, so if you want a good two hours of tips, tricks, and exercises to get your creative juices flowing, go sign up while you still can.
  • We have special packages that wrap up all the photography and writing you need for your entry in one bundle for one price. Check out the Ovation Awards menu up top for both photography and photo + writing packages. Are you a first time entrant? Let us know and you'll qualify for our First Time Entrant Discount.
  • Does the online entry form confuse you? Are you dreading that run out to Surrey with a stack of plans? Would you just rather have Someone Else Do It? We get it...and we can be that someone. Ask us for pricing.

Last but not least, we're proud to announce

The Awards Entry Roadmap!

We've put together a checklist to help guide you through the process of submitting your project for an award, and we're sharing it with you for free! Just fill out your info and we'll email you a copy:

Name *

And did those feet...

It can often take a good long time on location between setting up the camera in a position and getting a final shot. There's lighting, staging, cleanup, and...often more lighting to do before everything's solid and we move on to the next image. Particularly in a family home, people can unwittingly (or sometimes intentionally) walk through the scene during that time. And in rare instances, what they leave behind is even...a-track-tive. Yep, couldn't resist.

I considered leaving the footprints in this image for the final version, but decided against it. Next time I shoot a kid's room, though...