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Architectural photography allows us to share and experience buildings and areas from all around the world. Architectural photography can include structures such as theTaj Mahal, Angkor Wat, the Sydney Opera House, Rockefeller Center, and the Hoover Dam. It can also encompass structures such as a local city hall, a gazebo in the park, or Grandma’s house.
Architectural photography for beginners may seem daunting at first. But it really is an enjoyable genre of photography. We'll share some helpful architectural photography tips that will let you enjoy this fun photography style.
Architectural Photography Gear
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What architectural photography gear do we need? Well, any good camera will let you start, but some items are very useful for architectural photography. A good camera that can shoot RAW files, wide angle lenses, a tripod, and a high-quality monitor for editing are just a few recommendations.
A DSLR or mirrorless camera will allow for recording RAW files as will several point and shoot and bridge cameras and a couple of smartphones. The kit lens supplied with many cameras has a decent wide-angle focal length though wider lenses are often preferred for architectural photography.
A tripod gives options for long exposure, HDR photography, panoramas, and leveling the camera. The monitor becomes important during post processing since you want the best view of the images being processed.
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When looking at architectural photography tutorials, composition and camera angle tends to dominate the conversation and for good reason. We see buildings everyday and everywhere but an architectural photography image can transform those everyday views into an amazing image.
One of the things to look for in composition for architectural photography is an angle or a view that captures the essence of the building or area but is also unique to your own vision. In other words, is there a view that shows those seeing the image how you feel about it? Or perhaps an angle that exemplifies what makes it special?
We all know and love the Rule of Thirds composition technique which works fantastically for this subject matter. For architectural photography, also look for incorporating leading lines, the Golden Spiral, symmetry and asymmetry, and negative space.
Camera Angles and Lenses
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Some of the things to look for in this type of photography are camera angles that aren’t eye level views. Especially with a wide angle lens, a lower camera angle can create a very unique view of a structure.
Besides those ultra wide angle lenses, a telephoto lens and a different camera angle can also provide views of the architecture that can surprise and delight viewers. Zeroing in on a small portion of architecture can even result in an image that is abstract in nature.
Not to be overlooked is the view from overhead. Climbing up a floor or two, using a long pole and a remote, or shooting with drones are additional options for different camera angles to enhance our architectural photography.
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One of the wonderful things about photography is that there is as much creative work that can be done after the exposure as there is before taking the picture. Capturing RAW files gives us lots of options for post processing.
Before we take the picture, we decide on what lens to use, exposure settings, depth of focus, and the composition and camera angles. After the exposure, our post processing choices can enhance or alter the image in amazing ways.
For architectural photography, two techniques that take full advantage of these are HDR photography and monochrome or black and white imaging. Both of these architectural photography images require a lot of input while processing, so an excellent computer monitor as part of our architectural photography gear makes good sense.
While the monitor in our superb laptop is quite good, using an external monitor becomes important for controlling the post processing decisions we’ll need to make for these high-quality architectural photography images.
Ultra widescreen, curved monitors are some of the best choices for any serious photographic or video editing including architectural photography. The fine monitors from ViewSonic exemplify the advantages of high-quality monitors for editing.
Two examples we can recommend are the ViewSonic VP3881 38” curved monitor and the smaller, less expensive 34” ViewSonic VP3481 curved monitor. These amazing monitors have extreme sharpness, superior color capability with the ability to resolve 3.39 trillion colors, and immersive viewing with the large, ultrawide, curved screens.
These features are important for accurately post processing our architectural photography to take advantage of the skills and techniques we are learning.
Display the Images
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All of the fine work and creative input for architectural photography tends to get a little lost if we restrict our display of our images to social media posts. A great architectural image is just begging to go on display as a large print.
High-quality images can be printed on paper, canvas, metal, and acrylic in a variety of sizes. This final step is often what makes the image a work of art. There’s just something about physical prints that really enhances the viewing pleasure of our architectural photography.
Worth the Extra Effort
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The subject matter is worth the effort. Choose a good camera and lens, decide on the right camera angle and composition, and post-process to finish the image, then have it printed. These are the variables we can control to transform what we see into fine art.