When we hear the term “architectural photography”, we subconsciously imagine houses and skyscrapers. However, apart from exteriors, architect photography also includes interiors of buildings, bridges, various constructions and even cityscapes.
No matter whether you are a newbie or an experienced photographer, this guide will come in handy. It offers useful architecture photography tips that will help you improve your photography skills.
Try to capture various looks in the frame, by returning to the shooting location several times a day. By photographing one place at a different time, you get completely different shots as a result. The choice of the time to photograph buildings directly depends on the direction they face.
If you want to capture east-facing buildings, it’s better to shoot them in the morning before overhangs start casting shadows on the front.
Speaking of south-facing buildings, it is recommended to photograph them around noon to get nice and even lighting in the photo.
West-facing buildings look perfect in the frame in the afternoon before the shadows start lengthening.
The most difficult thing is to photograph north-facing buildings. It is recommended to shoot them at dawn to get golden hour photography that will add beautiful tints to the photo. You will capture window reflections, long shadows and fantastic hues.
Architecture pics taken in good sunny days aren’t that impressive. Use weather conditions to your benefit to create fantastic shots. Cloudy skies, snowfall or some rain-soaked surfaces will greatly look in the frame.
They will add dramatic touches and special mood to your architect photography. Experiment in any weather and don’t depend on its mercy. Moreover, it is a great idea to shoot the same building or construction in different seasons.
In late fall, winter and early spring the sunlight creates an ideal environment for twilight photography. If you don’t have any architect photography ideas, get inspired by Fernando Guerra, a world-known architectural photographer from Lisbon.
Some shooters believe that people in the frame ruin architectural photography. However, people may breathe life into the scene and make it real. By including humans, you may convey different messages, like the one that there is a close connection between people and architecture or show how they use it.
If you see that people distract the viewer from the architecture, combine it with long exposure photography to make people blurred. Such pictures show the timeless properties of buildings since the structure is still while the crowd is blurred.
HDR photography is a technique that involves capturing the same scene with various exposure levels and then creating a single photo out of several ones. It is a great solution for artistic architect photography. You take several pictures and then fuse them into one using the best free HDR software. Thanks to the fact that every picture is taken with different exposures, the final photo appears to be dynamic, dramatic and eye-catching. This method is suitable for exterior shots.
Don’t forget to check out the list of the best backpacking tripods since this type of photography is impossible without such an accessory.
Like any other genre, architectural photography requires some preparations. Before photographing architecture, you should explore the angles of the building and look around every side. Don’t limit yourself to the only front look of the building. Try to find interesting details, like extraordinary ceilings, strange staircases or something that will help create an impressive shot.
One more thing that should be also considered in architect photography is the height you take the picture from. Stop photographing from the eye-level. Taller heights will help you create fantastic pics, emphasizing shapes and minimizing distortion. If you shoot looking up, you will make the image look dominating.
Architectural photography requires sticking to basic rules of photo composition. For instance, you may find some archway or opening to frame a picture.
You may also use the leading lines photography that will lead your viewer’s eye to the main object.
The most eye-catching ones are symmetrical compositions. They are very powerful and instantly attract the viewer’s attention. These may be buildings or bridges since they are often designed featuring symmetry.
You will not get the desired results without knowing the building. You can’t just come to the location for the first time and capture impressive shots. One of the best architecture photography tips is that you should read about the history and the context of the site.
In such a way, you will be able to concentrate on the most important things that have significant meaning for this place. This info will help you make the plan on how the shooting will go on.
Moreover, it is recommended to do some research on practical things, like how the sun travels and where the shadows are. Mind to check out different access points.
Architect photography is not just capturing huge buildings and showing their greatness. To achieve the best results, you should use macro photography. If you work with old buildings, focus on geometric patterns and details. The things that others might not notice may become cool objects for your images.
Pay attention to the lines and how they interact with each other. Research how light influences the building materials.
Focus on the shadows and how they behave. Come closer to windows, arches, brickworks and columns of a building. Pay attention to patterns, textures, spiral stairways and curving lines.
Reflections may turn an ordinary shot into a work of art. Use them correctly and you will add mystery to the photo. You will make your compositions deeper and create symmetry.
You are wrong if you think that there are a few surfaces to create reflections. These may be large mirrors in the halls, pools or fountains in front of the main entrance, etc. Use your creativity and you will find “reflection-friendly” surfaces in or near every building.
Architectural photography may also suffer from lens distortion. It may create unnatural warping that puts things out of proportion or makes the straight lines of a building seem to curve.
Fortunately, for today we have numerous image editing programs that will fix this issue in a matter of seconds. Software like Photoshop and Lightroom offer lens profiles that will correct the distortion and will make your photo look ideal.
If you are involved solely in architect photography and need a camera only for these purposes, don’t focus on portrait or action camera features, such as fast continuous shooting modes or face-tracking autofocus systems. You just need a qualitative DSLR, like Canon 6D Mark IV or Nikon D750.
Thanks to top-notch quality and perspective control, DSLRs are the best option for those photographing architecture. If you are short of money but still need a full-frame DSLR, you may consider some second-hand devices. Such older models as Canon 6D Mark II and Nikon D610 are worth the money they cost.
Sharpness. If you use a tripod, you may be sure that your camera will not move during the exposure. Moreover, if there is not enough light, for example, in the evening or indoors, you can’t use your camera handheld because the photo will not be sharp. So, a tripod is a must-have here.
Bracketing and long exposure techniques can’t be applied without a tripod. A tripod guarantees the images are lined up throughout your multiple exposures and help you capture the motion.
If you are involved in photographing architecture, you probably know that the best setup for it is a wide-angle and a tilt-shift lens.
A wide-angle lens is particularly useful if the building you photograph is hemmed in by other constructions or if you take interior shots and want to capture as much as possible. My recommendation is to use Canon 17-40mm f/4L or choose among other best Canon wide-angle lenses.
We use tilt-shift lenses not only in tilt shift photography. They are also great helpers in interior and architectural photography. It is a suitable tool to adjust composition, frame the field of view without tilting the camera down or up and correct distortion. One of the best models is Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L.
A polarizing filter is great for photographing architecture, for many reasons:
Controlling reflections. It is a perfect filter to increase or decrease the effect of a reflection in the frame, for example, reflections of water or windows.
Intensifying colors. With this filter, you will improve contrast in the photo and make the colors brighter and clearer.
Eliminating glares. If you work indoors, a polarizing filter will eliminate glares on coffee tables, floor, glass, wood walls, etc.
As stated above, details play a great role in architectural photography, so you should try to capture all of them. That is why shooting at a narrow aperture, such as f/11, and at a low ISO, such as ISO 100-400, is a perfect combination to get the sharpest images. Use Aperture Priority (AV) or Manual modes.
If there isn’t enough light or you can’t use a tripod, open up the aperture but try to stay at f/4 or wider. A mid-range ISO of 800-1600 will still ensure capturing enough detail. It is recommended to photograph in RAW format and then correct the shot at the photo post-production stage. In such a way, you will adjust the white balance, reduce noise, etc.
If you want to get the best architectural pics, you should not forget about qualitative picture post-production. Check out professional freebies for Photoshop and Lightroom that will help you perform color correction and achieve HDR effect in a matter of seconds.
This tool was designed to incorporate a sunset feel into the frame. If you apply it, your cityscape will become warmer and more dramatic.
It is an ideal preset to improve pictures taken in gloomy weather. It will clarify and brighten your pics, adjust contrast, vibrancy, etc. in the frame.
If you are looking for the filter to sharpen architect photography, this Lightroom preset is exactly what you need. It will improve brightness, intensify the colors, raise the clarity making the photo an eye-catching one.
Black and white effects are frequently used in architectural photography. They help bring out the clean lines of the building and fix lighting issues if there are any.
This Ps action will work great with pics taken at different times of the day. It will correct such exposure defects as colors, tone, contrast, noise, etc.