The art of shooting buildings is called architectural photography. Pictures of the interiors and exteriors of building are taken that highlight the building in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Shooting architecture is not an easy task. Buildings come in a whole range of sizes and shapes. It is essential for the photographer to capture the highlights of a building without distorting its appearance or leaving out vital details.

Determining shooting techniques

Defining your intent can help narrow down your shooting techniques. What kind of architecture are you shooting, is it real estate, general, abstract or fine art? Do you require details or is a picture of the building in general? How important is lighting? Are you taking pictures of a single building or several buildings and their surroundings? These questions can help clear your motive behind the shoot. The intent will clearly define the way in which it is to be shot.


Image courtesy: Wade Griffith

Guidelines for shooting architecture

Whether you choose to take a wide shot or zoom the picture, it will depend on the environment around the building and the intent of your picture. If you would like a dramatic effect, shoot upward from a low angle. This kind of a shot can be as wide as you like. The wider the shot, the more dramatic the effect, distortions will be minimal if your camera is placed parallel to the ground or slightly tilting upward. If you want to capture abstracts and details, it is best to use a long zoom.

Light is an important element for any photographer. When it comes to architectural photography, lighting can be quite challenging. This is because buildings cannot be moved, and often the surroundings can hamper good lighting. Shooting at dawn or dusk will work well only if the building is oriented correctly. The front lighting of the building should be good. If it is a back lit building then you will probably have to rely on HDR for the desired effect. Cloudy or snowy weather makes shooting narrow streets better.

Photographs of buildings that are lit at dusk or in the night come out beautifully, offices, restaurants and bars for instance. You can achieve a perfect balance between interior and exterior lighting at dusk. Reflections are less likely at this time. A circular polarizer increases contrast and removes unwanted reflections.

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It is very important while shooting buildings to make sure your picture is leveled correctly. Using a bubble level on your camera makes it easier to get a straight photograph. A tripod works well too. Perspective correction lens works wonder, but it can be quite an expensive investment. If you are shooting a building façade right from the front, ensure you are located right in the center of the frame you are shooting. This guarantees horizontal lines most of the time.

Finally, after the picture is taken, some editing can help set it apart. Some steps that can help improve your picture are white balance adjustment, exposure tuning and distortion and vignetting removal. These three steps are a part of the raw processing. Photoshop can then be used for correct small mistakes like the perspective and contrast adjustment. The image can also be straightened with Photoshop for a more accurate image.