Architectural photography is about clicking pictures of buildings, exteriors & interiors and monuments. These images are mostly taken for art. Or for documenting the beauty of a structure.
What is Architectural Photography?
Architectural photography comparatively is a less dynamic genre of photography. Exceptionally less dynamic when compared to sports photography or photojournalism. In architectural photography, the photographers spend a considerable amount of time Mulling over a scene or environment. This also means that your camera.
What you need to focus on in architectural photography is the quality of the images that you create. You need to capture the pictures of an architectural place in low ISO, take the images raw and focus more on the editing part. This is the way that you come halfway in capturing stunning architectural pictures or photographs.
Focusing on the composition rules is a very vital thing in creating stunning architectural photographs. You know how to frame, or even the most beautiful building can look average in your photographs.
What is the must-have equipment for architectural photography?
If you are a photographer and trying your hands on architectural photography, then these are the must-haves you would need. The necessities to capture stunning pictures of the architectural gems are as follows:
What is an essential piece of equipment which is required in all forms of photography? And it is especially required for architectural photography. It is even safe to say that photographers should use a tripod in all sorts of architectural photography. In architectural photography, the pictures need to be sharp to focus manually so that the frame doesn’t shift from the focus. With a tripod, there are no chances of the frame during exposure, and this, in the end, will give you sharp pictures.
Bracketing is an essential thing in the case of architectural photography. By using a tripod, you will be ensured that your photos are lined up during multiple exposures.
- Wide-angle lens
Getting a wide-angle lens for architectural photography is as important as using a tripod. In architectural photography, it is essential to capture as much as it is possible to cover. So using a wide-angle lens is a must. At times the interior decorations of the rooms can be small, and you need to get the details in the picture; a wide-angle lens will be accommodating in this case. At times you also need to capture some of the cityscapes to give more definition to the building or the architecture; in that case, a wide-angle lens might not help that much, but it’s Going to be extremely helpful in all other purposes. So, do Consider buying a wide-angle lens.
- Full Frame DSLR
Although a full-frame DSLR is quite costly, it is a good investment for architectural photography. A full-frame DSLR will ensure high-quality pictures along with reduced noise.
Also, the choice of lenses available for a full-frame DSLR is beneficial in architecture photography. Most of the manufacturers have tilt-shift lenses or wide-angle lenses of high quality. All these lenses work well with a full-frame DSLR camera.
Some of the suggested full-frame DSLR are Nikon d5, Sony alpha a7 II and Canon D5 mark 4.
- Angle Finder
Angle finder is a piece of simple equipment required in architecture photography. Any equipment allows you to go down to an extreme to capture a worm’s eye view of architecture.
The angle finder is valid when a much wider angle is required to make the picture look perfect, and your DSLR has already reached the broadest focal length that it can.
At that time, the best thing other than changing the lens was to go lower down to the ground.
- Tilt-shift lens
In architectural photography, sooner or later, you will be moving to wide-angle distortions. And this will cause the objects to bow into the centre of the frame.
Although it is possible to use it carefully, you will want to avoid it most of the time.
This error can be corrected during post-processing, but you need to capture the photo right in the camera. The tilt-shift lens will help in correcting the bowing effect. You can even adjust the tilt lens to correct keystone & parallax distortions as well.
Although there are other lighting sources available in the market, strobes are the best ones you can use for architectural photography. Stones as a source of lighting are easy to carry and are compact.
You can also get radio triggers and recovers to go with your strobes, which will be a worthy investment. Being able to manage a source of light off the camera will help a lot during the shoot.
Using a strobe can quickly light up a scene creatively that you are willing to capture. But the object needs to be closer to the camera. It is not possible to light a cityscape with a strobe.
While using a strobe, balancing the light is very crucial. You can get the same exposure for a witch and the rest of the scenes. Usually, a window will try to overpower the photo; thus, having a light source to match up for the rest of the scene is very important.
- Post-processing software
Another very crucial thing in the case of architectural photography is the post-processing software. Once you are done capturing the photo, once you are done capturing you will need to figure the post-processing part to make it look even better.
The architectural photographers mostly go for it in HDR, or even better, they use digital blending.
The preferable software for this part includes Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom. Photoshop is considered to be the best option for digital blending. Nik EFEX is also a good option as it comes with various filters to make your photos look impressive.
Important tips for architectural photography
Architectural photography is a genre of photography that you try at some point in time. However, it is pretty tricky to pull off.
Each architecture and building has a personality and mood of its own. As a photographer, it is your job to capture every detail so that the viewers can see the images and understand the mood and personality of the architecture. The viewers of your picture should be able to feel the place by looking at your photographs.
The tips given below will help you in clicking mesmerizing architectural photography.
- Take your time and get to know the space.
To capture the essence of architecture from inside and outside, the first thing that you need to do is know the place well, and you need to scout the location well. Check where the sunlight falls, where are the access points, where the shadows fall at different times of the day and so on.
Search for unusual perspectives and unusual angles will make the photographs more interesting. Check when there are people in the location and whether you want to include them in the photographs.
Do some research about the conceptual things. Please get to know the history of the buildings, who built them, how the other photographers have photographed them, etc.
Knowing about all these things will let you conceptualize how you want to take the shots. You can also focus on just the structure of the architecture, but be aware of all the possibilities.
- Focus on the lighting while shooting outdoors
Just like any other genre of photography, lighting is a significant factor. Lighting can either make or break your shot. For shooting in the exterior, make good use of the golden hour.
The golden hour is the first and the last hour of sunlight in a day, and the blue hour is the hour after sunset and before sunrise. These are the hours of the day when you can click the best pictures of the architecture.
Most of the photographer’s wait for the time when there is still light in the sky, and the city lights have just come on. Though it happens for only a few weeks in a year naturally, it’s magical and the ideal time to shoot. In case you prefer night photography, then you can wait till the daylight goes off.
- In the indoors, make the light work for you.
Taking light-wise photographs of the interiors is more complex than taking outdoor shots. Unless you manage your lighting source, you will have to adjust with the lighting present in the place, which will make your work more complex.
If there are windows in the location, you need to shoot mostly during the daytime to maximize natural light.
In low lighting conditions, you have to use a tripod to keep your camera stable during the long exposure shots.
In case you’re not shooting in Raw, take extra care of the white light balance.
- Do not forget the details.
Most of the photographers focus on capturing the building as a whole. Trying conceptual angles or macro open up new possibilities of taking unusual shots.
Focus on the details, the geometric patterns, mainly in the older buildings, which most people will not notice. Focus on the lines that interact with each other. How the light emphasizes the details of the structure and so on.
A little bit of exploration can help you with not oy great shots, but also you can get to know exciting facts about the building, which allow you to add more story to your shots.
- Look for a unique angle.
Many photographers go for recreating the shots that they see by other photographers, while some of them create their original photos with unique perspectives.
While you’re walking through the place, make sure that you explore every corner To know which angle is perfect and unique to give you a new perspective.
The exterior, explore all sides of the building from near, and from far, you can also go onto the balcony or rooftop for getting great shots.
- Invest in the gear
Luckily, in architectural photography, you don’t need to invest much in the gear because most of the photographers already have the necessary things, Like a decent DSLR tripod and a cable. The next thing that you need to invest on is a wide-angle lens. A wide-angle lens will help in capturing an entire scene in a single frame.
Apart from cameras and lenses, you can invest in filters. A graduated filter will help ton down the brightness of the sky while the foreground will still be adequately exposed.
You can also choose a neutral density filter that will work With more range in Shorts with prolonged exposure. Polarizing filters are also helpful as they help control unwanted reflection and colour/contrast to the sky. If you have a great budget, you can spend on a tilt-shift lens, which will reduce your post-processing work.
- Learn post-processing
Post-processing will pact the final look of your photographs. Post-processing is a very crucial step in architectural photography. The more you are better with the post-processing part, the more you will be able to influence the final look of your picture.
This is the part when you decide what kind of editing software you will use to edit your pictures. The software you choose makes sure that they can work with Raw photos and also does lens correction.
Suppose you have planned to add HDR to your photos to enhance their quality. In that case, you can choose advanced editing softwares like Photoshop, Lightroom or, you can also choose Aurora HDR or Photomatix, which are solely designed for HDR images. So, choose editing software according to your requirements, according to what you want the final picture to look like.
The first and foremost thing you would want to do is know what you are going to photograph. Look for locations that are nearby and have entries available all the time. You have to be prepared with your equipment beforehand. Knowing the location will let you set a definite time for the shoot. For example, if the location is pretty far away, you can check the weather forecasts, and according to that, you can plan your shoot. Moreover, your location might have been used before since you searched it up online. Hence, you have to be concerned about that.
- Including artwork
If you live in a place filled with beautiful streets and sculpture scenarios, it is an advantage to you. It allows you to capture your architectural shots uniquely. Your motive here is to highlight the connection between art and architecture within a short moment. Include various forms of sculpture and art in your frame to complement the architecture in the background. From the viewpoint of vintners, the shot will look more artistic and highlight all the aesthetics it holds. Make sure all these objects are of varied patterns and sizes.
- Learning about the architecture
You must know the stories related to the architecture that you will be photographing. This helps a photographer add depth and background details that can highlight the background element of the architecture. It creates depth to the concept and makes the viewers look at it with more consideration and interest. Other than that, you have to know the symmetrical details of the building. It helps to bring out a more practical approach to the photo shoot. Make sure that your analysis, if not accurate, works good enough for your photoshoot.
- Involve people
This trick is quite the usual one to include a very human Vibe in the pictures. Including people in the scene will add more context to the image and give one conceptual depth to the background elements. You don’t want the people to be too conscious about the camera and be as normal as possible. You don’t want anyone to freak out while doing the photo shoot, which is why it is much more preferable to do it by letting the person know about the whole scenario or make the whole thing look oblivious. The people do not require to have a specific age limit. The shot should hold diversities and different perspectives to make the picture stand out. Take great street photography tricks, take a tripod and shutter release cord and suspend your shutter speed right down. This will help you to capture the fading movement of people walking against the composure of the building.
- Experimenting with lights
Lights and shadows are the most critical segment in a photoshoot, no matter what kind. They include feelings and death to a scene which is a prominent human touch to the photo shoot. The consistency of lights should differ in the way the photograph represents itself. Instead, it is your perspective on the photograph that matters the most. Let your creativity play the game here by analyzing the kind of lights that would suit the architecture.
- Add everyday objects
Adding people in the background is a great concept; however, adding objects made by human hands is more prominent to include depth in the images. You can include various furniture, clothing, equipment, etc. that helps to make the picture look more lively and natural. This conceptual method helps the audience to re-imagine the scenario in their heads with different realizations and storylines. Creativity is the key to achieving the perfect photograph. Play with these objects in the background, foreground and middle ground of the building by changing angles and viewpoints.
- Shoot the little features
The objective of architectural photography is to bring out the whole body of the building along with the accurate lights and Shadows great depths and concepts. However, to add more concept to the photoshoot, try to capture the minor details with major fineness. Take pictures of small designs on the threshold of the building for the bizarre gargoyles that stand before the stairs and balconies. If your building has unique constructional details, the better it is for your architecture photoshoot. Also, get pictures of essential structures and signs that indicate religious beliefs or the ancient background of the building.
- Varied angles
Architectural photography is heavily based on angles and perspectives. You can get the audience to see the photograph from your perspective by viewing the angles that portray the symbolism you derive from it. However, this will make you do some extra work. You might have to take pictures from the top angle to get the roof of the building, which includes you getting on some other balcony or staircase of a neighbouring building. You might also have to crouch down on the ground to get the side angles of the building captured perfectly.
- Playing with colours
In my opinion, architectural photography looks tremendously outstanding in black and white shades. The architecture looks more highlighted with natural shadows and depth in it. To bring out the right colour, it is not necessarily necessary to edit them. You have to work according to the surroundings and the natural light that falls on the building. The motive of the photoshoot is to make them look as natural as possible.
- Use the right technical bits.
The good thing about architectural photography is that it consists of a systematic process involving different perspectives and compositions, which makes it stand in its exactness. For example, when you utilize a tripod on a brilliantly sunny day, capturing shots of a very deserted building. It will make a discrepancy when you try to urge yourself into bringing numerous compositions into your picture through your tripod. Other than that, having a suitable shutter release cable is also very vital. It is not likely to always get pictures of a building that is surrounded by desolation. There will be a lot of buzz and distractions that might make it challenging to get the shots.
- Include natural components
Including nature in your frame gives the image a softer look. The various shapes and sizes of buildings can look contrasting when put into the elements of nature. Including plants and natural components can make your picture look more lively and add more components to it. Nevertheless, architecture is yet supposed to be the main focus.
- Natural light
One thing about architectural photography is that it is influenced by natural light more than anything else. You can’t do the photoshoot in a studio setup because that is out of imagination unless you are experimenting with a green screen. But do not go for that method. Hence, you have to be particular about your timing. You don’t want the sun to be extremely harsh, and neither do you want it to have too many shadows. Although you can fix a lot through editing and Photoshop, the objective is to get most of the work done in the given time.
- Get the right camera settings.
There are a bunch of things you need to keep in mind before jumping into the photoshoot. You can’t just wait until the right pictures are taken. You have to make the most out of the given conditions. Various steps can multiply your chances of getting the right shots. For example, get a fast shutter to avoid getting too many blurred out pictures.
Furthermore, use tripods if there are chances of low lights. Also, try to vet your pictures in RAW format. It is the most preferable for architectural photography.
- Balanced composition
Fine art architectural photography mainly revolves around its compositions. If anything, it can take your photography to another level of perfection. Composition is practically everything a picture stands on. Of course, it gets better with time and experience. As a rookie, it is just better to keep things on track. You can get more analysis done through books on arts and nature. It helps to collect some factual ideas, at least. Everything about the golden hour rule and balance is a fundamental concept in architectural photography. Try to get the building from every angle. Keep switching your positions to find the right kind of composure in the shots. You could instead rely on several options than just editing a few of them. It wouldn’t be that satisfactory. Neither to you nor the client.
- Avoid distortion
It is better to include a somewhat long focal length for architectural photographs. Through this, you can capture the detailed bits of the architecture that people wouldn’t pay too much attention to. Furthermore, you can also use 35 mm lenses to capture wider angles at any chance given. It is because you might have to capture full-body pictures as well.
- Less is more
Every aspect in fine arts photography or architectural photography, in general, has to be the most minimum. You can make the procedure way too tricky for the audience to get through it. As vital as the concept is, it needs to be decent and straightforward enough. Imagine n/ot being able to dig up too many theories on a building. Avoid anything that is an absolute unnecessity. You can’t include billboards and banners in your frame. There is no place for distractions. Keep an eye on all the things that are vital and make sure they synchronize together.
- Abstract figures
Often, abstract architecture photography goes alongside fine art architecture photography. Leaving out any objects to utilize in our daily routine leaves us with intense thoughts and amazement. Swivelling your camera upside down and discovering great angles is just one of the methods to switch a random architectural portrait into an abstract piece. Pay close attention to the object and keep your calm. You will be able to find new startling ideas that will vary from one subject to other. This is how architectural photographs get their significant outlook. They seem idealistic to the audience.
- Black and whites
Different people like to use different types of colours for architectural photography. Preferably black and white is an exclusive colour used for architectural photography to increase the intensity of the composition and bring the architecture into the highlight. Different Shades can depict a background story or hidden message. In abstract buildings, they are only affiliated and frequently can be excluded. The audience is going to see what you want them to see. It would be rather critical to call it manipulative, but the preferences you want to hold in your pictures is up to you.
- Use multiple layers
Without final touches or editing, photography can not be complete for any photographer. In fine art architectural elements, it is preferable to use Photoshop to edit out the pictures. Photoshop is the most widely used tool that allows you to bring changes to your images in various ways instantly. However, don’t remove the images that did not work out well even after editing. You might want to keep their copies so that you can use them if a problem arises.
Moreover, all the information from the images is important enough to be stored on your device. Also, make sure that the primary layer is available all the time to be easier for you to add extra dynamics to your picture. You can instead begin again then check other options immediately.
Architecture photography is one of those genres of photography that does not require a full-blown setup. You create the studio set up within the natural limits, which makes it more unique than other photography styles. All the tips mentioned here are professionally supervised and tested. It can take a little time as a rookie, but you can get your profession to boost in no time.