Arkansas Commercial Photographer

Commercial Interiors | Coulson Oil | Arkansas Commercial Photographer

I look forward to any photo shoot I have with Evo Business Environments because I know I will be photographing another beautifully decorated workspace.

My recent project for Evo at Coulson Oil did not disappoint.

Coulson OIl was already a new client of mine. I had worked with them in depth on a recent project to provide art work for their new corportate headquarters which, at the time, was still under construction. I found out towards the end of my project that Evo was providing the interiors so I was very excited at the prospect of photographing the new HQ when it was completed….and seeing my artwork on the walls. You can read more on that project elsewhere on my blog.

Coulson Oil Headquarters. North Little Rock, Arkansas.

Coulson Oil Headquarters. North Little Rock, Arkansas.

What I love about working with Evo is each new location I photograph for them offers a completely different look and feel than the one before.

Coulson Oil | The Beauty of a Gas Station | Arkansas Commercial Photographer

Summer is here.

That means summer road trips are here. Time to pack everything you need (and don’t need) into the car and hit the road.

You’ve been behind the wheel for two hours and it seems like two weeks. It’s a never-ending cycle of whiny kids, car games, too much junk food, the dog hanging out the window, and the occasional pit stop at the closest gas station you can find.

It’s your own personal version of National Lampoon’s Vacation.

When you made the stop at that gas station, did you ever really look at it? I mean REALLY looked at it? Have you noticed the lights? The lines? The architecture? My recent project for Coulson Oil gave me a new appreciate of the humble, yet very important, gas station.

Downtown Little Rock, Arkansas.

Downtown Little Rock, Arkansas.

Last October, I was contacted by one of the senior executives at Coulson Oil to photograph a few of their selected gas stations. The goal of the project was simple: Coulson Oil was building a new corporate headquarters in North Little Rock, Arkansas and they wanted artwork of a few selected stations to hang on the walls.

The project was to photograph seven locations: four in Little Rock, one in Conway and one in both Texarkana, Arkansas and Texarkana, Texas. The client originally wanted seven digital files of their choosing, one from each location. Since they had a specific concept in mind, they would handle the retouching and printing on their own.

The client was very specific in their request, they wanted twilight shots of each station showing the blur of the cars as they moved in and out of each station. I was given a deadline of late February to deliver the files.

Interstate 30, Westbound. Little Rock, Arkansas.

Interstate 30, Westbound. Little Rock, Arkansas.

Over the next few weeks and months, I kept an eye on the weather (we had a very rainy fall and early winter) waiting for what was hopefully going to be a nice evening and traveled to each location about 60 minutes before sunset. The station manager was notified ahead of time I was coming out so when I arrived, I stopped in to say hello and scoped out my angle(s).

With sunset falling earlier and earlier, I was able to time a lot of the visits to coincide with evening rush hour so I knew many of the locations would be busy. For a few locations, my husband came with me and drove our car in and out to add to the effect.

Highway 65 North. Conway, Arkansas.

Highway 65 North. Conway, Arkansas.

For sunset, architectural photos, you have less than a 15 minute window between too light and too dark. I photographed and proofed a variety of lighting looks so they client would have the largest selection to choose from. At most locations, I was able to get two or three angles in my short window of time since I had arrived so early and pre-planned my angles.

On a few occasions, when I left the house, the skies were perfect. But as I drove and got closer to the station, walls of clouds moved in. I had feared it was a wasted trip but the ominous skies gave a very pleasant and unexpected look. Again, this gave the client having a large variety of looks to choose from.

Shackleford and Kanis Roads. Little Rock, Arkansas.

Shackleford and Kanis Roads. Little Rock, Arkansas.

Two of my favorite photos came from the Texarkana, Texas location. As I left Little Rock, the skies were perfect. During the 2+ hour drive, the clouds thickened up just as the sun was setting. What resulted was a very vivid purple and blue sky. Initially, I was concerned because this location was not as busy as others, but the client preferred this one with a little less traffic since it was one of their newer locations so the details of the station were really front and center.

West 7th Street, Texarkana, Texas

West 7th Street, Texarkana, Texas

West 7th Street, Texarkana, Texas

West 7th Street, Texarkana, Texas

Initially, the client only wanted delivery of digital files. Half way through the project, things shifted a bit. The client then asked me if I could recommend a printing company. Since I have been using a pro lab based out of state going back to 2004, I knew they were perfect for the job. After a bit of back and forth discussion on the look they were hoping for, I felt that metal prints would help them achieve their goals. I sent the client an 11x14 high gloss, metal print (with my compliments) as a sample so they could get an idea of what this would look like.

It was perfect. They loved it.

Between the seven gas stations I photographed over nearly three months, the client chose 24 different images for final delivery. Twenty two metal prints were ordered at 40x30 to line the hallways and two at 60x40.

After a few shipping snafu’s (a few prints arrived bent) my printer sent new ones, free of charge, and they were perfect.

Four States Highway. Texarkana, Arkansas.

Four States Highway. Texarkana, Arkansas.

For digital retouching, the client left mostly everything up to my judgement and discretion. Since I prefer to (when possible) get everything right in camera, most of the retouching was focused on cleaning up random sensor dust specs, digital removal of some trees and power lines, removing unsightly oil stains from the pavement by the pumps. I opted not to make the pavement too clean and new since this was a gas station after all. Certain aspects were very tedious so I hired out some aspects.

Interstate 30, Westbound. Little Rock, Arkansas. Don’t you wish gas was $1.85 again?

Interstate 30, Westbound. Little Rock, Arkansas. Don’t you wish gas was $1.85 again?

I really loved working in this project for several reasons. I was given the opportunity to photograph a gas station from an architectural standpoint which was a first for me. I was pleased with the variety of different looks I gave my client considering I only photographed seven location. Time of day, cloud cover (or lack thereof) building angle in relation to sun angle plus timing the cars all played a role in how an image turned out. But what I was most excited about was working so closely with my client from start to finish with not only taking the photos, but handling the printing and personally delivering the artwork within my deadline.

I’ve been to the new Coulson Oil headquarters a few times for other projects related to Coulson. See my other blog posts on working with Evo Business Environments and Fennell Purifoy Architects for more details. It really gave me great pride to walk the hallway and see my work.

To see all of the photos, head over the the Recent Work section of my website.


Tomatoes: Flavors of Summer

I am an unashamed lover of all things tomato. Well, except for tomato juice. That's just plain nasty.

But give me a vine ripe -- preferably home-grown beauty -- a salt shaker, and I have a meal that's perfect for any time of the day or night.

I typically plant three or four tomato plants each spring. I'd grow more, but my husband is allergic to them. Good! More for me. But honestly, the past two seasons have been dismal when it comes to my tomato harvest. Dismal is a generous term. It was downright pathetic. I successfully grew a whopping three, count 'em three, Purple Cherokees (my favorite) and five black cherry tomatoes.

I'm blaming an abnormally cool April that immediately went into a sweltering May with little rain and it stayed like that all summer long. Even with ample irrigation, my crop was pitiful.

According to Wikepedia, the tomato originated in western South America. While many people think it's a vegetable, genetically, it's a fruit. Tomatoes are the edible, often red, berry of the nightshade Solanum lycopersicum, commonly known as a tomato plant. There are more than 3,000 varieties of heirloom or heritage tomatoes in active cultivation worldwide and more than 15,000 known varieties.

Fruit. Vegetable. Whatever you call it, they're downright delicious.

If you had a bumper crop, send some my way.


Tomato cucumber salad:

This simple salad could not be any easier to prepare. Dice up your favorite cherry tomatoes, add cucumbers (something we did grow in abundance this year), add cubed feta and your favorite herbs (fresh thyme and oregano, all home grown) and toss with Italian dressing (Good Seasons seen here) and salt and pepper to taste.

Tomato cucumber salad

Tomato cucumber salad

Slow-roasted Beefsteak Tomatoes

The secret to roasting tomatoes....low and slow. These beauties were roasted on a sheet pan in a 200-degree oven for about two hours. I don't really set a time. I usually eyeball them to tell when they're done. Cut beefsteak, or any large meaty variety, into wedges and arrange on a sheet pan. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, your favorite herbs (thyme and oregano), drizzle with olive oil (go light) and a balsamic glaze. Once they're done, add more herbs.

The recipe possibilities for these are endless. After I pulled them from the over, I ate 10 standing over the pan.

Slow roasted tomatoes

Slow roasted tomatoes

Caprese

The only thing simpler than the tomato cucumber salad seen above is caprese: a salad of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil. I sliced up red beefsteaks and yellow tomatoes and added fresh mozzarella, drizzled with olive oil and a balsamic glaze. Garnish with fresh basil.

The red tomatoes came courtesy of my brother-in-law who has a badass garden and grows hundreds of pounds of vegetables a year. The yellow variety compliments of my mother-in-law. The basil came from my garden. I also made four jars of pesto this year, but that's a blog post for next year.

Caprese

Caprese

Bruschetta

Some of the best bruschetta I've ever consumed was in Italy. Ever since then, I've been on a quest to find good bruschetta here in the states.

Bruschetta originates as an antipasto (starter dish) from consisting of grilled bread rubbed with garlic and topped with olive oil and salt.

I took mine a step further and topped by adding herbed ricotta, roasted cherry tomatoes and topped with fresh herbs, olive oil, balsamic glaze and S&P (salt and pepper). I started with a good crusty, ciabatta. I sliced it on the diagonal and brushed with olive oil. After a few minutes of stove-top searing, I spread a nice thick layer of herbed ricotta followed with the roasted tomatoes and garnish as desired.

This is perfect starter for your next dinner party or even a light dinner all for yourself.

Bruschetta

Bruschetta

Blistered Cherry Tomatoes

I broke my own rule on roasting for this dish. Instead of roasting low and slow, I opted for high and fast. I cranked the oven up to 500-degrees.

Using my $2.00 flea market, cast iron skillet, I added a variety of cherry tomatoes, peeled, whole clove garlic, fresh herbs and a generous amount olive oil. After only 10 minutes, I finished them under the broiler on high for a few extra minutes. The high heat causes the tomatoes to burst, releasing their juices and making it's own sauce.

Blistered Cherry Tomatoes

Blistered Cherry Tomatoes

Once the tomatoes were done, I added a few more fresh herbs and served them atop thin spaghetti topped with shaved Parmesan and S&P to taste. You could also use angel hair if preferred.

Blistered Cherry Tomatoes with Thin Spaghetti

Blistered Cherry Tomatoes with Thin Spaghetti

Blistered Cherry Tomatoes with Thin Spaghetti

Blistered Cherry Tomatoes with Thin Spaghetti

Whatever tomatoes are leftover will keep in the fridge for a solid two weeks. If they last that long.