We are surrounded by architecture every single day. Everywhere you go there will be a lot of Architecture to see and even photography.
Architectural photography is a very popular genre of photography. Sometimes it can be very difficult to know what or how to shoot Architecture though. Here are some of our best tips for when it comes to shooting architectural photography.
The Digital Splash Awards 2019 photography theme for June in Architectural photography! Enter your images for the chance to win up to £500 in Wilkinson Cameras Vouchers.
Shoot at Different Times of the Day and in Different Weather Conditions
When it comes to shooting architecture, people tend to seek out the most dramatic lighting. One lighting style being the sunset hour when the shadows are long, and colours are bright. This can result in extremely atmospheric images. But, it only captures the atmosphere at one specific point in the day.
Our tip is to take a series of images at different times throughout the day, or even in a variety of weather conditions. It’s tempting to wait for the perfect sunny day or a great sunset – which can give amazing results, but sometimes it’s the cloudy days which can make for a much more dramatic image and the chance of harsh lighting or glare is reduced as well.
Photographer: Domagoj Ćosić
Watch your lines
One extremely important element behind all architectural photography is making sure your lines are where they are meant to be. Horizontal lines should be horizontal and vertical lines, vertical. This can be challenging, especially if you need to tilt your camera to get all the architecture in the frame. Getting this right can really make an image… getting it wrong can really throw the perspective and fail to do your subject justice.
Parallel lines can start to converge, which is also known as keystoning. This can make the building look as though it is falling backwards. If you are shooting with a wide-angle lens, you may also have some distortion in your images.
Try to put some distance between you and the building or try a higher point of view to combat keystoning. A tilt-shift lens can also fix any problems. If you have any lens distortion, we recommend rectifying this in post-production.
Photographer: Samuel Zeller
Don’t Miss the Details
A lot of people focus on capturing a buidling as a whole. Buildings contain hundreds of little details that get lost when entire building or rooms are shot in one frame.
Keep your eye out for all the small details and geometric patterns. By exploring just that little bit more, not only will it result in fantastic shots, but you will also learn more about the building’s construction and history. This allows you to add more story to your shots. Framing is key here, think about the composition of the shot when focussing on a particular detail.
Photographer: Frances Gunn
Take a Unique Angle
Some photographers are looking to recreate iconic images, but many are looking for something unique. This means finding a unique angle. Look at the architecture in a way you haven’t done before. This may be as simple as moving your camera a few inches another way.
Explore every side of a building that you are shooting, from close and far away as well. Why not try to shoot from rooftops or balconies to give your pictures an even more unique angle? Or, get down low and look up. For the ultimate change in perspective, drone photography now allows you to take pictures of buildings from angles rarely captured before (just remember to fly legally and safely, of course!)
Photographer: Julien Borean
Remember the Human Element
Architecture was designed for people, by people! So, by including them in your images it can bring more dimension and interest to your images. It also give a story of those working and living in the building and also gives perspective and scale to your image. We do understand that sometimes people can get in the way though, so see our next tip below to find out how to get rid of them!
Photographer: Veit Hammer
Play With Exposure Times
The best thing about a suject which stays still, is that you can experiment with exposure times. Using Neutral Density filters will allow you to increase your exposure time and bring some movement into the sky or foreground of the image. If there are people walking around, a slightly longer exposure will add some movement to the image, whilst softening the distraction of the people allowing the building to be the main focus.
Alternatively, a long exposure will add movement to the sky, adding a little bit of drama. This may be particularly useful if the weather wasn’t what you were hoping for!
A photographer who we work with once described a 10-stop neutral density filter as as his “go away filter” (although he maybe didn’t put it quite as politely as we have for the blog!). Because, you can actually use a very, very long exposure to completely remove people from an image. Imagine you wanted to take a picture of a popular tourist spot. You’d never be able to find a time where not one person would get in your shot. Using a very long exposure and a 10-stop ND, any moving people will simply vanish from your final shot, leaving just the building you want to capture. Just be sure to have a very good tripod for this type of photography and make sure it’s not too windy!
Photographer: James Padolsey
Don’t Forget Post-Production
There’s a lot to be said about getting it right in-camera. Post-production can make a good image better, it’s not a magic wand. But, certain tools in most good editing software will allow you to tweak your architecture photography, whether fixing perspective problems or bringing back an overeposed sky or simply adding some contrast to help your image “pop” a little bit more. Remember to shoot in RAW (we like to shoot RAW & Jpeg so we have one to edit and one ready-to-go) so that you have the most information in the image to work with.
Photographer: John T
Do your Research
Be sure to research the places you plan on shooting before you go. By learning the history and context of an architectural site, you can focus your photography on the aspects that you want to. This could be a relevant story or idea that captures the essence of the architecture. You may also need permission to take photographs and it’s best to know this and get it in advance, than to be disappointed on the day you plan to shoot.
Do a “recce” – plan in a couple of trips to find the best time of day, the best lighting, the best positions to take your photographs. Spending some time at the location and getting to know it will enable you to get the best images.
Photographer: Joshua Fuller
Enter your architectural images into June’s Digital Splash Awards, where you could win £100 in Wilkinson Cameras vouchers and the chance to enter The Final to win a further £500!