How to Succeed in Architectural Photography
Architectural photography involves capturing buildings and structures. From heritage buildings to modern glass facades and even a simple staircase, it’s all part of the architecture. One of the first images made at the beginning of photography is that of a building. The most common classification is exterior and interior architectural photography. A good photographer can tell the story of a building through their photos. Here are some tips and tricks:
• Where to start: Government buildings, historical monuments or museums are a good start. These types of structures are generally accessible for free and offer interesting architecture. Most photographers capture the entire structure; however, do not miss the small details of a building.
• Explore, then shoot: You should spend some time exploring the building and getting to know it. Start by taking a walk outside the building, then explore inside. Walk back and see the building as a whole from different corners and walk slowly to observe the smallest details. Consider doing research on the building during which you may also discover interesting architectural elements that you can photograph. If revisiting is an option, visit the building at different times of the day or season.
• Lighting: Lighting is an important aspect of capturing the best details of a building. The light plays differently at different times of the day. Sometimes even soft light on a cloudy day brings out the best details in a building. As a photographer, you have to visualize the play of light. Incorporate HDR into the shot as it helps capture indoor lighting that contrasts with outdoor conditions. HDR lets you make sure everything is exposed correctly. High contrast or deep shadows can be dramatic, but they tend to cover up small details. Sharpness is crucial.
• Equipment: Wide-angle lenses are useful for structural photography. They can be a big help when trying to fit a huge structure into the frame, but from a controlled perspective. But remember that wide angle lenses cause more edge distortion. However, you’ll also have more room to play around with cropping and distortion correction in the editing software. For creative shots, use tilt and shift lenses, which can create a unique effect and add extra glamor to the image.
• Patterns and shapes: Most heritage buildings have interesting designs, such as rows of columns, arches, windows, steps, etc. Switch to a zoom and capture them from an angle. Play around with different depth of field settings and see what works best for you. Look for trees, a pond or any reflective surface to spark your creativity – even the most mundane structure can be highlighted.
• Add people to the frame: The people in the frame can bring the image to life but do not treat them as the main subject of architectural photography. The focus is on the construction of structural elements. Remember that adding people into the frame can sometimes be a distraction, drawing attention away from the structure at hand.
• Editing: When using a wide-angle lens, it is essential to ensure distortion correction. This can be easily done with software like Photoshop and Lightroom which compensates for distortion by adding lens correction tools and lets you edit your images until they look like they look to the naked eye.
Distortion is basically unnatural bends or curves, especially around the edges. Editing tools are a photographer’s best friend in architectural photography. You can also get creative and try converting the images to monochrome, which more often than not will turn out just fine! Internationally award-winning photographer and licensed architect, Tim Cornbill says the key elements to producing top quality architectural photography are balance, composition and geometry. A sound mantra to follow.
Lenscrafyou is a monthly column on all things photography – tips, tricks and everything in between.
The writer is a photojournalist who tells stories with his images. Find his photos on Twitter and Instagram @pushkarv