When I think of Architectural Photography, I think of abstract shapes, beautiful lines coming together with intricate patterns and the details that creep forward with the assistance of light. These are just a few elements that play apart in architectural photography.
Despite the fact your subject can't necessarily run away, this photography specialisation is not that simple. With these tips I hope to give you advice about the world of line, structure and perspective. Read carefully as I divulge a few ideas, tips and tricks on how to improve your own architectural photography game whether your a beginner or just interested in what I consider when I'm out and about.
1. The Many Woes Of Lens Choice
First off, if you're in possession of a tilt-shift or wide-angle lens, you're at a great advantage. Architectural Photography isn't all about the equipment but you're at a huge advantage visual advantage with this lens at your side. I personally don't own a tilt-shift, although it's very high on the wish list! You can see my choice of wide angle lends here.
Tall buildings and tight spaces can often not always be photographed without a wide-angle lens. This is depending on a number of factors which I'll address blow. If you have one, let's go!
2. Framing The Frame
Without a wide-angle lens you can still take beautiful pictures, just make sure you have the largest possible angle and focal length when capturing tall buildings and structures. If you’re too close to your subject, adjust your position and try to create the best crop by experimenting with the angle and zoom lens. For example, using harsh diagonal contrasting lines to send the viewer's eye darting across the photo.
3. Composition Is Everything
Consider the rules of composition. Emphasis on consider. It's important to go outside of the rules at all costs, though whether your familiar with them or not, the golden ratio and rule of thirds both play a huge role here to help guide the eye to some stunning results.
Walk around your subject, and understand how the light will fall, bounce on or off the facade, the roof, the walls, anything. Decide what angles you can get the best vantage point and stick too it. No need to over shoot here, be patient. When you take your photos from a corner, as an example, you can create even more depth. While shooting from a low angle point of view, parallel to a building can instantly become impressive.
4. Research Your Location
I can’t stress enough, you don’t need fancy equipment and multiple lens to capture architectural exteriors. Everything to do with photography that makes you look again is in the light, the equipment and settings mean nothing if it's used well.
Research your location, visit it often, even without your camera. Look for beautiful details to capture the atmosphere and character of a location as a whole. Whether it’s the light that caught your eye or you are spending time creating illusions with abstract shapes. Rest assure you can still make stunning pictures without that wide-angle lens. Heck you can even create your own look doing this!.
5. Aperture, The Hole In The Lens
Photograph with the highest aperture possible. Buildings and skyscrapers are of course very large, so to get a pin sharp picture of the entire building, we need a large depth of field. I’m assuming by this point, everyone knows how to switch there camera into their cameras manual mode and control these settings. Mixing the camera settings to capture the movement of traffic can enhance an already breathtaking design which of course adds even more atmosphere.
6. Tripod Or A Stabilised Platform
Work with a tripod! This is where things can really change the look and feel of your portfolio. Experiment with time allows you to capture a skyscraper in such a way that will make anyone look twice before moving on.
Fundamentally the most important part of a tripod is to give you the ability to determine the composition with ease. The better the tripod the better the images. Having access to still, long exposures opens a whole new way to see the world. With your camera securely connected to the tripod you can expect to see wonders that you would otherwise never see.
As I mentioned before, ensure that your tripod is held down by your camera bag as wind conditions can effect your photography in ways unimaginable.
7. Say No To Digital Artifacts!
Nobody wants noise artifacts in their photos! To avoid this, and as a general rule with most photographic genres, set your ISO setting as low as possible. This is twice as important when photographing at night, a low ISO value is almost a requirement for a photograph without noise depending on the light quality.
If you still have any unwanted noise in your final image, most image processing software can mange a reasonable amount of noise reduction before the images itself begins to degrade the photo quality.
8. The Last But Not The Least
When photographing architecture, you spend quite a lot of time looking up and designing images with the camera facing upward. As a result, you receive converging lines for perspective. This is a disturbing phenomenon where the lines of a building seem to become crooked or to appear as it is falling toward you. You can solve this problem in a number of ways:
Move away from your subject. The disadvantage is that the beautifully selected composition no longer works or that the environment does not want to cooperate with your desired idea. Choose a different vantage point and recognise the advantages of capturing something differently.
Adjust your angle and focal length. This too often comes at the expense of the chosen composition which to any photographer can be rather annoying.
Get higher! Find a higher vantage point. If you have any experience with a wide angle lens, then you know that if you get as parallel to a building as possible and to half its height, you can in fact look at a building instead of up at it. This is of course if is an option, try neighbouring buildings.
When it comes to getting perfect, work with a tilt-shift lens. This lens can be set up in such a way that the lines are corrected while taking the photo instead of relying on any post production.
If this isn’t an option for you. The application to correct these issues can be found in most Image Processing software. I prefer Adobe Suite, which offers Adobe Lightroom CC & Adobe Bridge CC where you can easily make these adjustments. An important rule of thumb here is too ensure that there is sufficient space around your subject because software adjustments are corrected at the expense of the edges of your photo.
I hope this answers any questions you have about your own architectural photography!
If you have any questions please leave them below and I’ll get back to you.