04 Oct 9 practical tips for architectural photography
It can often be quite a breath-taking experience to view a beautiful building, with incredibly unique architecture, and so of course we feel the need to capture a permanent image of what we are looking at. However, it is usually the case that thephotograph comes out looking slightly flat, and not showing a true depiction of how amazing the piece of architecture really is. With buildings being permanent structures, this enables us to have some control over planning the perfect shot and lessens the chance of potential problems.
Look below at some useful practical tips concerning architectural photography:
1. Get to Know the Site
Before embarking on achieving the perfect photograph of a static building, perhaps most important is getting to know the structure and area with the naked eye. Walk all the way around the building and learn the views of its entirety. It is helpful if we do this more than once as we may notice details, angles, or effects that we would not have noticed on first look. By familiarising ourselves with the whole site, we have the chance of finding the best view points to capture the image.
2. Shoot in Different Weather
None of us enjoy standing outside in the cold or rain, but when it comes to architectural photography, the weather can change the whole view or character of a unique building. Some buildings and structures look better in bright sunshine, where as some look better in a dark, wet environment. If we take the camera out to work in a variety of weather, we can capture the building in many different lights and conditions, and from the selection of photographs we can then decide in which climate does this building look at its best.
3. Alter Your Viewpoint
One of the most commonly made mistakes we slip in to with architectural photography is to go for the most popular head on view of the building. Sadly, this is often not the best image to show the true character of a unique structure. We must consider whether the frontal photograph will fill our whole frame, and if so, do I want anything in the background to compliment the building. It is wise to take photographs from a variety of viewpoints, even for example taking a photograph from low down on the ground pointing upwards, can give a sense of grandeur to an architectural structure and may present a more appealing final image than a standard head on shot. If there are strong lines in the building you are looking at, always use these to try and create great angled shots.
4. Small Details
I find it most interesting on large pieces of architectural work, to look closely at the small detail, rather than view the building from a distance. When photographing such structures, try not to forget to get up close and look for the finer detail that others may have missed. It is these details that gives a building its true character and makes it stand out from the rest. Creating well taken photographs of the small details can be important to give a true picture of what a building Is really like and can be more intriguing to any viewer than a simple overall shot of the whole thing.
5. Colour Vs Black and White
Some buildings, mainly colourful ones, look beautiful in colour on a warm summers day, where as others look much more eye catching in a darker gloomier climate on a black and white image. We each have our personal preference when it comes to shooting in colour or black and white, but for architecture, some buildings, especially those with strong lines and patterns, can look very striking caught in black and white, and using a polarizing filter can really highlight the contrast of light and dark. We often just shoot in colour because it seems to be the norm, but you may surprise yourself if you step outside of those boundaries and try some new filters.
This links slightly to the tip we gave you about weather earlier, however lighting is sometimes created artificially by photographers especially when shooting the inside of a building. Choose the perfect time of day to shoot the image you are hoping for, avoid back lighting as it can hinder the view of the small details and create a dark surface over the building. I would say that side/front lighting works best for the outside architectural photography and really highlights the finer detail. When shooting inside, it is best to go for a bright day to bring in as much natural light as possible, to avoid the complications that artificial lights can bring.
7. Wide Angle Lenses
When trying to capture something large and magnificent all in one shot, it is paramount to use a wide-angle lens to give you the best reach. These lenses are a worthwhile investment to your camera equipment. However, if you do not have one of these now, there are ways we can get around this. I suggest you take various photos of what’s in front of you, slightly overlapping each one, and with simple computer software you can merge these in to one larger image to show the full view of the internal room or external large building.
8. The Iconic Shot
When shooting a structure that has been shot many times in the past, remember, sometimes nothing quite beats the iconic shot that all photographers go for. It is ok if we choose not to be unique and go for the same angled image as those who have been there previous.
9. Be Patient and Persistent
Lastly, don’t give up! I know it can feel frustrating and tedious trying over and over to capture a shot that just isn’t working for you, but with time, patience and thought, you will get there. Stay aimed and focussed and that magic shot will present itself to you.
Have some more tips we might have missed out on? Add them in the comments sections and let’s talk.
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