Prowl your town after dark to capture eerie architectural shots.
THE UK’S ABUNDANCE OF aged architecture means that you’re never too far away from fantastic examples of medieval design. Not only do we get to live among tangible historical relics, but we can incorporate these amazing buildings into our photography for a spooky effect. From manor houses to cobbled streets to churches, there are plenty of options for your ghostly architectural setting. However, just remember that you can’t shoot on private property without the express permission of the owner. As a rule-ofthumb, so long as you’re shooting from a public space, then you should be fine.
To make the most of your chosen location, you’ll likely want to be shooting after dark. Not only will this give the shot a mysterious vibe, you’ll also be more likely to be able to capture your architectural photo without someone walking through your frame. If you’re shooting at night then stay safe – ask a friend to accompany you and try to shoot as soon as darkness falls, so you’re not out too late.
Compose your shot
While your subject matter may be slightly spookier for this project, you’ll find that following basic landscape compositional rules will help you capture a great shot. Position your focal point using the rule-of-thirds, as this is a reliable compositional technique that will help you create a fantastic photo no matter where you’re shooting. Next, complement your focal point with an interesting foreground. If you’re shooting a church, there should be plenty of intriguing objects to place into the frame, such as gravestones or statues. Just make sure that you’re respectful of where you are – many photographers will avoid capturing gravestone details of anyone who has passed away within the past century. Ensure that you don’t stand, or place any equipment, on the graves, and try to stick to the paths where possible. If you’re shooting cobbled streets, search for lead-in lines of bushes, shop fronts or the cobbles themselves. No matter what exactly it consists of, a lead-in line will draw the eye through the frame and towards the focal point.
Set up your camera
Choosing your aperture will depend on the available light you’re working with and the composition you’re setting up. If you want front-to-back sharpness, then a narrow aperture will be best. Keep your shutter speed under 30secs, or you’ll require a remote shutter. Alternatively, if you want to capture blurred foreground interest, then select a wide aperture. If you’re working with leaves, this will also help prevent your foreground from blurring too much in the wind, as your shutter speed will become shorter.
Keep in mind that a tripod will be necessary for this technique, as working handheld will mean having to push your ISO up much too high, to the detriment of image quality. As you’ll be working with a slow shutter speed, try using your camera’s self-timer function. By setting a delay between the shutter being pressed and the exposure starting, you’ll prevent any risk of camera shake.
Create a ghostly figure
For a little extra occult appeal, go beyond the typical figure-in-a-landscape idea and transform it into something altogether
more eerie. For this technique, you’ll need a shutter speed of around 1sec, so you may need to widen your aperture and push up your ISO. Don’t forget that you’ll still need to use your tripod at this shutter speed, so keep your camera tightly locked off and the self-timer function turned on.
Once you’ve sorted out your settings, the next thing to do is ask a friend to move into your frame. Place them in a fairly well-lit area to provide some contrast. Just before the exposure starts, ask your friend to begin walking at a normal pace. This will provide the creepy blurred figure in your vista.
Above If you’ve got moving objects in your image, such as people or leaves, remember that you’ll need a faster shutter speed for this setup than for a static scene.
Kit choice Manfrotto Element Carbon Fibre Tripod Kit £149 This lightweight tripod is perfect for architectural photography where you’re unlikely to encounter much wind. It comes with a 360-degree ball head and offers an 8kg payload. manfrotto.co.uk