Six ways to shoot… Buildings
Creative ways to turn an architecture shot from drab to dynamic, including thinking about shapes and night shots
Close clusters of tall modern buildings can look really powerful when you zoom in with a telephoto lens to flatten the perspective and isolate a group into a series of shapes. The greater the range of shapes, sizes, colours and patterns you can isolate within your selection, the more effective your photo will be.
Shoot at night
Many buildings actually look better at night, when their artificial lights come on. A combination of external and internal lights can accentuate a building’s shape, transforming its appearance and really making it stand out. Use a tripod to allow yourself to shoot long exposures in low light.
Buildings are built for people to work, live and play in, so connect a building with the people who use it. Using a person or people within the frame can also help to give a sense of scale. Look for people inside looking out, or people exiting through doors.
The shapes and patterns of buildings both modern and old will frequently work really well in black and white. Look for buildings that have good contrast between reflective and non-reflective surfaces. If it helps, shoot in your camera’s raw format to get the best image quality but change your camera’s JPEG picture setting to mono, so you can see an instant mono result on the camera’s LCD.
Think about shapes
Architectural photography is all about shapes, whether these are straight-edged, curved, round or any one of the other myriad patterns that make up a typical building. Use these shapes in the abstract to compose your photograph, just as you would with a landscape photo. A curved entrance can act as a lead-in line, for example. Also consider how the structure of your subject might fall within the rule of thirds, the golden ratio or other visual guides.
A wide-angle lens is often used to photograph buildings, but watch out for distortion that makes tall buildings appear to lean in. Either use distortion like this creatively or try to avoid it. You can correct minor distortion easily in Lightroom – but remember to leave space around the building in your shot, as the correction will crop it.