What you need to know to improve your Architectural Photography

There are two goals for architectural photography

First – Documenting the project for the architect, developer or the client with the emphasis of planing, and execution of the project.

Second – Leveraging the images to create the interaction of the client motivating them into “call to action” and hiring the architect.

When we document the architectural project with the professional architectural photographer we must understand who’s the client and what are the goals of the project, what make the project special and how the architects work comes into play.

When we take it one step further, we will focus on the ultimate goal of the pictures and this is where we try to create those gut feelings of your potential clients of “ I want this “.

How to plan the photoshoot

No matter if you’re in New York or Berlin, architectural photography almost all the time starts from outdoor to indoor. 

Starting outside we should consider if to capture the space by it self or tie it to the environment.

When we capture structure its important to put a spot on the environment, location, views and incorporate all of them into one visual.

Don’t forget to address all the design and architecture elements that make the structure special, from the front, the side, try booth angels of each side 

It doesn’t end on the outside it continues to the inside as well.

Interior Design and Architecture go hand in hand, it always recommends to have booth visuals of the indoor and outdoor as well, booth design and architecture as it’s always best to have your project documented as a whole.

angled photos are the most hard to keep straight.

click the image to enlarge

click the image to enlarge

What equipment should you use for an architectural photography

The basic always starts with a good camera with enough resolution and a compatible lens. 

The professional ones uses a high-resolution camera, architectural lenses like tilt-shift that allows us to minimize lens distortion and keep the lines straight.

Studio light, transmitters, and receivers, light stands, and tripods and much more technology-driven gear that help us take it one step further.

Don’t forget that equipment is just a tool, the trick for good architectural image is a good angle and lighting.

If you are not working on the higher end level or you are just starting any good new mirrorless or DLSR full frame camera would be enough paired with a good lens typically 20mm and more on Full frame and 17 on crop cameras.

Here are a few tips on how architects can capture better photos of their projects

Shutter Speed:

The structure does not move, however, don’t forget the environment does (trees from the wind) also the camera it self moves slightly when making a picture. 

Lets start with the basic, a tripod is a must 

As possible try to work on M (manual) mode

If we want to capture people in motion within the frame go under 1/25 shutter speed, if you want to make sure your visual is as sharp and not blurry keep your shutter above 1/125

On night / twilight photoshoot you can go towards 1/25 or even 1 second if needed but make sure you use a shutter release remote wired or wireless.

An advance technique will be to lock up the mirror on DSLR as it can cause some blur on longer exposures (lowers shutter speeds)

Aperture

The aperture defines the depth of filed and also the sharpness in the image. 

Try to stay within F9-F11 to make sure we have the best sharpness as possible. 

If you use (A) – Aperture priority mode or Automatic mode the camera will choose the aperture for you, so it’s recommended to keep it simple and use the M (manual mode).

ISO – Keep your sensitivity to the minimum 50-100 the lower the better is for your picture quality.

Utilize the Sun – Big structures can’t be lit with studio lighting, we have to use the sun for it. 

Wait for the sun to come in front of your building/angle but it’s best that it will come from one of your sides and not behind you for the better gradient of light and shadows.

Choosing the right lens – it’s not always best to go wide as possible, as wide lens getting distortions, try to keep your focal length on 24mm and above unless you are using TSE lenses.

Keep it straight – Our professionalism leans on straight lines and proper ratio of the structure and space, keep your camera on a tripod parallel to the floor, use the bubblehead on the tripod or buy one for the camera if your cameras do not have one built it to make sure your straight to the object and from the ground.

Resolution – It is always recommended to photographer over 18mp (minimum i work on is 24mp) this will allow you to crop and modify the image later on in post production.

Although it make sense, but if you crop 40% of the image you lose 40% of your resolution. If you were photographing at 18mp you would end up with about 11mp, if you were photographing on 15 you will find yourself with less than 10mp.

For Pros – For the professional out there, I would recommend to shoot with 24mp and up, double check your focus each and every shoot, and use dual card cameras to multiple recored your work into two separate cards.

 

Work with the light

Capturing large structures or even multi level homes without additional lighting to control the light of direction can be difficult to achieve great pictures.

Work with the sunlight that is not directly in-front  of you and not behind you as it will create a flare or light the structure  evenly leaving all the depth in the photo.

Plan your photoshoot according to the sunlight, in the example on the right I was waiting about an hour for the sun to “hit” the building in the direction I wanted in order to create the gradient of light, enhance the shadows and create a higher range of depth.

Wait for Twilight:

If you find a great afternoon day time exterior image and you are finished with the rest of the photos, you should wait another hour in the same position to capture the same just in dusk.

Dusk pictures are always better Hero shoots creating more mood and atmosphere;

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

click the image to enlarge

Photographing with a phone?

  • Activate those grid lines from the settings for straighter images
  • Be parallel to the floor / ground
  • Don’t capture when the sun is not behind or to the side of you.
  • If you tilt your phone up or down you will have space out of proportions and not straight due to the distortion of the angle
  • Leave those “filters” a side, the goal is to focus on your work and not a “cool filter”
  • Make sure your smartphone is set to it’s highest resolution.
  • Active “Live” Mode, in some of the smartphone you can have the “live mode” on, this means the phone takes several photos in a single photo, in case you picture is blurry you can choose another frame to try save the day
  •  Avoid using the zoom feature as it is most of the time “digital zoom” which means the phone is digitally zooming and reducing the quality and resolution.

That’s all for now, good luck with you upcoming photoshoot.

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