You do not make a good architectural photo in just a few minutes. Do you think you have the patience and do you want to start with architectural photography? Then you are immediately faced with a number of choices: which equipment do you choose? Are you going to use (creative) filters? And, how do you determine your position and are you well-prepared? We give a number of tips.
In principle, you can make architectural photos with every modern camera, but the more important is the lens that you choose. Most photographers will go for a wide angle, think of a 20 mm to 24 mm in case you use a full-frame camera. If you take an even shorter focal length, for example, 16 mm, then you pull the foreground and background very far apart what might look unreal.
A lens that is widely used in architectural photography is the tilt-shift. When you start photographing a high building, you will immediately notice that the lines are running together if you are too close. You can move further away or correct the perspective in post-processing, but professional architectural photographers almost all use tilt-shift lenses. With this lens, the lens parts can slide and tilt towards the sensor. You first level your camera completely. Then you turn a button on the lens through which the lens system slides upwards until the building is shown as a whole. Because you have levelled the camera, the vertical lines are now also truly vertical.
A tripod is one of the most important parts of your equipment. A tripod prevents blur from vibrations and makes it easier to determine your composition carefully. With the camera on a tripod you can easily make adjustments and after that leave your camera in this way. Sometimes you have to wait awhile to make the shot, because the sun appears or disappears or because passersby walk in front of your image. In those cases, working from a tripod is really a solution.
Also use a remote control. By not touching your camera you prevent unwanted vibrations. The self-timer is a good alternative, but you have less influence on the exact moment of shooting the photo.
In architectural photography, you can make good use of filters such as the polarization filter. This ensures that annoying reflections in reflective surfaces disappear and colours become more saturated. You can also use graduated neutral density filters with which you can reduce the contrast in your subject to values that your camera can capture. Make sure that you illuminate correctly. Simply placing the filter in front of your camera, measuring lightly and pushing the button will not produce the desired effect.
First put your camera on manual and determine the correct exposure for the dark areas. Next, you determine how many stops the bright parties with this setting are overexposed. Then select the gray graduated neutral density filter with the correct value to compensate for this overexposure.
Especially when photographing an interior, it is important that the colours are correct. If there is a lot of use of artificial light in the interior, then the colours in the image will sometimes turn out orange. Because you photograph in RAW you can quickly adjust this, but what was the actual colour? You are no longer on location and your memory is not very reliable in that respect. Adjust your camera and then make a photo from a graycard. In the post-processing, you can easily choose the right value by clicking on the graycard with your pipette and giving this value to all photos with the same color conditions.
Perspective and your position
In addition to all this handy equipment, you will also have to work accurately yourself. Choose your position with care, a small change can already have a major impact on the way the building will look on the photo. If you move your wide-angle lens close to your subject, you will see that the perspective is highly distorted, especially in the vertical lines. At a greater distance and with a longer focal length, the subject is compressed more, making the shape of the building look different. Do you want to make a whole series? Then always pay attention on objects in the vicinity when you change positions. Due to a change in position, some objects become more prominent in view or disappear completely. A certain object can thus demand more or less attention than is actually the intention.
Make sure you are well-prepared. Explore the location in advance, so you avoid surprises at the moment you want to start shooting on the spot. You can also do part of the preparation at home. You can do that, for example, by studying the location on Google Maps, or by using websites such as https://app.photoephemeris.com. With this website, you determine in advance the position of the sun in relation to your subject. So you can find out at home, what is the best time to shoot pictures. Be aware that you may not always be allowed to shoot pictures anywhere. In case of doubt, always ask permission, which prevents problems on the spot.