Monday, 26 May 2014

Photographing Buildings and Monuments

Photographing Buildings and Monuments
 by Alicia Cook and Diane Bohlen

Shooting buildings and monuments can be very challenging to get right. It's easy to stand in front of a building and take pictures, but are they exceptional photos?

Buildings depict a social and place in history. 
Historic Buildings

Many things need to be considered when it comes to this type of photography, such as Perspective, Lighting and Composition.

Look for different angles and move around to different points of your subject.
It can give you a completely different view.   photograph from higher up or even lower down.
Instead of making famous landmarks your main focus, place another object in the foreground and use the landmark as background detail for your shot. 
With this photo I was waiting to cross the street and turned around and saw a different view and perspective to the Empire State Building.
Looking up

The form of distortion is very common and often seen when tall buildings “fall” or “lean” within the picture.   There is a special lens one can purchase called a tilt shift lens.  Of course there is software like Photoshop, Lightroom or Aperture that can straighten vertical lines helping reduce distortion, but too much can blur your photo.   I also read that you can now get an app for your mobile phone.
Converging Lines 
Zoom corrects Perspective Convergence

As we have previoiusly learnt that lighting also plays a big part in our photography.   Visit early in the morning or late afternoon or even on a cloudy day or foggy day.
While photographing architectures in day light especially on overcast days enables you to capture fine details, textures, patterns and beautiful engraving, photographing buildings during the golden hour adds great colour to the sky while at the same time leaving enough light to have some details in the shadows of buildings.
Evening light highlights detail

Architecture photography is also about portraying the beauty and craftsmanship on older buildings, where you find curves, domes pillars and intricate carvings.  If possible go inside the buildings and look up at the craftsmanship and textures in ceilings, and stairways.
Intricate carvings


Building photography can also include anything different that catches your eye such as doorways, windows, arches, gargoyles and even door knockers.
Architecture includes narrow streets, bridges, industrial sites like power stations, dams and refineries. also include ruins, swimming pools and fountains.
Narrow streets and arches
Take your time and enjoy the monument to appreciate its beauty.  it will help in composing a better shot.  statues and monuments have a great deal of detail. to capture the detail either get up close or zoom in.   I always find the detail in statues and monuments amazing. Such intricate work and they always feel alive to me.
Capture details in monuments

Close up details

How can we make buildings come alive?  Try to make your shots different from just a building.
·                use what is around you to get a different shot like a reflection in a puddle or a lake.
·                 frame the building through an archway.
·                it doesn’t have to be pretty. architectual photography is at its best,  will convey the experience of being around a built environment whether it is an old concentration camp  or an old farm house.
·                Old buildings need space around them to convey context.
·                include a fence  to frame an old house.
·                tell a story
·                create patterns, include shadows
·                staircases adds drama
·                use a path, road or fence leading up to the building to lead the viewer’s eye.
·                include people to bring the building alive, to show the use of a building and to show size.

Through an arch

Doesn't have to be pretty
Need space and context
Show context 
Include fences
Find patterns 
Use stairways to lead the eye
Include people to show proportion and give life to buildings
Include Black and White

·                use low iso for low noise like 100.
·                use a long depth of field that means a small aperture and that will slow the shutter speed so using a tripod is recommended.
·                a wide angle lens is useful to be able to get the whole building to fit.
·                a zoom lens is handy too to correct the leaning in of buildings.

·                a special shift lens to correct perspective convergence.
·                a 50 mm lens will also compress perspective.

Compiled by Alicia Cook and Diane Bohlen