Saturday, September 13, 2014

How to Photograph Architecture

Architecture is the topic of the week of Sept. 14th for the Boost Your Photography: 52 Weeks Challenge. No matter where you live, you can find interesting architecture to explore in your photographs. This post will provide links to a few great articles on architecture photography to get you started.

How to Photograph Architecture | Boost Your Photography

Architecture and Composition

Architecture photography is all about composition. There is so much to think about in terms of lines, placement, and lighting. One of the biggest things to keep in mind when photographing architecture is that the type of lens you use - and how close or far you are from your subject - makes a big difference in how your subject will appear in the final image.

The image above is from an earlier post on architecture, Photographing Architecture: watch your lines. I shot this series of photographs of our state capitol building by continually backing up until the amount of the building in the frame was approximately the same for each focal length. (The 18 mm shot was taken from the bottom of the set of stairs, while the 46 mm shot was taken from about two city blocks away.) Wide angle lens and shooting close-in to a building will tend to exaggerate the vertical and horizontal distortion and create converging verticals. Stepping back and using a zoom lens creates more 'natural' looking straight verticals and horizontals, but you may not always have a wide and unimpeded view of your subject to make that type of shot possible. (A specific type of lens, known as a tilt-shift lens, allows you to correct for this type of distortion in camera, but such lenses are a significant investment.)

Correcting for Converging Verticals will significantly shrink your usable image | Boost Your Photography

You can also correct for this type of distortion in post-processing, as in the image series above. The top image is the original photograph. The middle image is after a correction for the vertical and horizontal distortion. Notice that some of the image is now gray space that must be cropped. I chose the cinematic crop ratio, shown in the bottom image, to feature the width of the scene. I would have liked to include the entirety of the Sears Tower, but correcting for distortion resulted in the loss of some of the building. Think about shooting wider than you need if you are planning to apply post-processing corrections.

General Tips for Architecture

The article pinned above, 9 Architectural Photography Tips by Natalie Denton appears on Digital Photography School. This post lays out some of the big ideas regarding architectural photography and how best to approach an architectural subject.

A second article by Natalie, Photographing Architecture expands on the original list with a series of suggestions for what to pay attention to when shooting architecture. This is a great place to start to get some ideas for composition, timing, and subjects.

Interior Architecture

Architecture photography does not mean that you can only take your photographs outdoors! Do not forget the variety of subjects provided by indoor architecture photography. Interior photography may be a specialized branch of architecture but one that also holds endless interest and opportunities.

The article pinned above, 6 Tips to Take Your Architecture Photography to the Next Level by Suzi Pratt, focuses on suggestions for interior photography, especially for magazines or lifestyle publications. Think about how interesting it could be to apply these tips to your own interior!

My final tip for photographing interiors, especially your own, comes hard-won from needing to sublet my apartment a few years back. While Suzi mentions 'styling' an interior, you might be amazed at what a difference a few minutes of decluttering can make in your final image. Do not be intimidated - you only need to declutter what the camera can see. Hide a few things behind the couch, and your whole space might suddenly look bigger and brighter!

Summary: Architectural Photography

Architecture provides a variety of opportunities to for photography, considering both exteriors and interiors. Pay attention to lines and lighting, and you will be well on your way to creating interesting and memorable shots.

Share a link or a photograph with us in the comments below! Or consider joining the BYP 52 Weeks Google+ Community to share your weekly photograph and see what others are capturing.

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