Whether you’re looking for better holiday shots or working on a project, architectural photography can be highly rewarding. Undoubtedly more of an art than a science, the common factor in getting great architectural shots is that every building is different and it is important to try out a range of ideas to get the perfect photo. Here are seven tips to help you improve your architectural photography.
Experiment with Different Weather
Some people think the key to architectural photography is too wait for a day when you have gleaming sunshine to light up a building. In reality, bright sun and a clear sky actually usually make for a relatively uninteresting photograph and in those conditions it generally pays to focus on anything other than the fine weather. The truth is that every building responds differently to weather and it may take on an alternative character with changes in the atmosphere.
It may well mean waiting for the right day to get the weather you want, but see if you can get a few different shots in a range of conditions. You’ll be amazed at the difference in the way a building works between shooting with a backdrop of fluffy white clouds or in misty rain.
Distance Alters Perspective
Just in the same way that a change in the weather can alter the character of a building, use of varying distance will mix things up too. The problem for many photographers can be that they are working with equipment that limits the kind of photographs they can take (more on that in a moment).
Take the example of trying use a standard wide angle lens to compensate for a building’s size. In theory this seems like a good idea, but in practice it tends to result in fairly distorted and unnatural images. If there is a convenient position, it’s almost always better to put yourself a little further away from the building to take the photos.
Invest in a Range of Equipment
As mentioned before, the downfall of many photographers is not having the right equipment for the job. That means that if you get the opportunity to invest in additional lenses and cameras you should definitely take it.
Your long-distance photography, for example, can be improved massively with a telephoto lens as this will actually give you a broader range of positions you can take the shot from. Buying a fish eye of ultra-wide angle lens will also give you more options, as will a camera with a good panoramic format.
Understand the Value of Light
We’ve already talked about how architectural photography is altered by the weather, but the time of day is crucial as well. The way that light hits a building has a huge effect on the way that it looks. So mid-morning sun will give a different look to mid-afternoon sun. The way that shadows work with the building or the reflections cast can add a fascinating dynamic to a shot.
Equally, when the sun goes down entirely you may find other interesting ways to shoot the building. Away from natural light, buildings can often be rendered in an entirely different colour which can make them look striking. Return to the scene after dark and see if provides an opportunity for a unique picture.
Put the Building into Context
The context of a building is important, especially with regard to constructing a dynamic within a photograph. A photo of the building alone is often less impressive than if you can include some of the surrounding architecture and landscape to either contrast or harmonise.
Pick An Unusual Shooting Location
If you are shooting a building that is commonly photographed it’s important to refrain from cliché imagery. Take the example of the Taj Mahal, which is almost always shot from the standard position directly at the front. Photography can be far more interesting if you choose an unusual position to shoot architecture from. And this has been shown as photographers have experimented with alternative shots of the Indian landmark.
Don’t be Afraid of Photography Software
Some photographers shy away from using software to enhance a photo, but they really can be very useful in achieving a more impressive shot. Many professional photographers use software and other post-processing tools.
Article provided by Mike James, an independent content writer working together with London-based expert Logan Photography, who were consulted over the information contained in this post.