Set up and shoot pictures of buildings like a pro

How to set up your camera to shoot pictures of buildings both old and new

Set up and shoot pictures of buildings: work out what time of day the light will be best

When architectural photographers take pictures of buildings, their aim is to capture it at its very best. They try to shoot it in the best light, at the best time of day and from the best possible angle – and preferably without any pesky people cluttering it up (find out how to remove people from photos)!

What they’re trying to produce is a perfect, almost idealised view that’s all crisp, clean lines and pristine surfaces (for more tips, download our free architecture photography cheat sheet).

Of course, when most of us photograph buildings we’re not doing it to keep a client happy, so we don’t have to be so particular, but the same principles apply: the idea is not to just fill the frame and hope for the best, but to try and explore every angle until we find the best viewpoint.

And before we even get our cameras out we need to work out what time of day – and even what time of year – the light will be at its best for our chosen view.

If we do decide to include pedestrians in our image, or if there’s simply no way of keeping them out of shot, we need to set a slow shutter speed to blur them slightly – if they’re sharp, there’s the the risk that they, rather than the building, will end up becoming the focus of our image.

Set up and shoot pictures of buildings: how to fix converging verticals

Vertically challenged
That aside, one of the biggest challenges facing the aspiring architectural photographer is ensuring that any verticals are actually vertical!
If you shoot a building from straight on, all of the verticals will appear vertical and the horizontals will look horizontal, as the architect intended.

Set up and shoot pictures of buildings: use a tilt-shift lens to fix converging verticals

If, however, you point your camera upwards – to get the top of a building in the frame, for example – the sides of the building will tend to lean in, or converge.

The way round this is to try to correct the converging verticals in Photoshop, or to use a tilt-shift lens.

PAGE 1: Getting started
PAGE 2: Essential gear for taking pictures of buildings
PAGE 3: Getting set up to take pictures of buildings

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