Architectural Photography tips
Architectural Photography tips; The Solution
Parallel Lines. Anyone remember the Blondie album from 1979? The band all smiling, Debbie Harry famously looking particularly grumpy “What’s that got to do with photography?” I hear you cry. Well, I’ll tell you what. The best Architectural Photography tips are all about perspective.
We’ve all seen those photographs of buildings that don’t.. look.. quite.. right. but maybe we’re not quite sure why they look so funny. Here are some architectural photography tips.
As an observer standing at ground level we naturally look up at a tall building. When we do this, whether or not we’re aware, to our eyes the building appears to taper towards the top. The closer we get, and the taller the building, the more apparent this is.
However, when photographing a tall building, the act of pointing the camera upwards to avoid cutting off the top, leads to an exaggeration of the phenomenon we call ‘converging verticals’. The closer you stand to take the photograph, the worse it gets. Use a wide angle lens and it gets even worse. A parallel walled tall building like an office block or a church will look more like a pyramid, almost like it’s leaning backwards. This is one of the major challenges faced by the property and architectural photographer.
Put simply, don’t point your camera upwards. Now, you may think that’s easier said than done. After all, if it’s a tall building you’ll have to point your camera upwards, won’t you? Well, yes, and no.
The key to capturing correct perspective lies in elevation. Geometrically perfect perspective would be achieved if the centre point of the camera viewfinder was at a tangent to the facing wall of the building. Put another way, if the building were a mirror, the reflection of your lens would be right in the middle of the viewfinder. This assumes you’re facing the building head on. That’s all well and good, but it limits your ability to correctly compose the photograph. It’s quite likely that in doing this, you’ll cut off the top of the building.
So, in practical terms, how do we get around it?
Shoot from a greater distance, using a longer focal length. This is often not possible in built up areas.
If you have to use a shorter focal length owing to the above not being possible, one option is to position the building in the top of the frame, then crop out the lower foreground. This allows you to shoot without pointing upwards, preserving perspective.
One obvious option – shoot in the portrait orientation, assuming the end user is in agreement
or, if not
Use a mast, or a step ladder to gain sufficient elevation to avoid pointing the camera upwards.
Of course, you could always ‘embrace’ CVs, and use them for creative effect…
The above are all practical precautions necessary to help avoid converging verticals at point of capture. See more examples on my architecture page.
In my next Blog, I’ll share more Architectural Photography tips and cover how to use specialist lenses and software.
However, if all this seems a little too much…. call me
and I’ll happily take your Architectural photographs for you
In the meantime, check out 500px and search for “architecture” for some amazing inspiration.