Essential gear for taking pictures of buildings
A tilt-shift lens isn’t essential for photographing architecture, especially if you know your way around Photoshop, but it definitely helps!
Like any camera lens, a tilt-shift lens produces an image circle that’s significantly bigger than the sensor (see diagram, above).
The difference with a tilt-shift lens is that it enables you to move, or ‘shift’, the lens up or down, parallel to the sensor, so you can effectively choose which portion of the image circle you want to capture.
Instead of angling the camera upwards to get in more of a building, you can shift the lens so that the sensor is in the upper part of the image circle. As the lens itself will still be pointing straight ahead, the verticals will remain vertical.
Of course, you can still get great images without a tilt-shift lens, but whatever sort of lens you use, there are a few extra bits of kit that are worth considering…
Remote shutter release
Using your digital camera’s timer function to avoid jogging the camera during long exposures is ok, but it’s a bit fiddly. A better option is a remote shutter release, as it allows you to release the shutter at the precise moment that any passers-by are evenly spaced out.
Hotshoe spirit level
Hotshoe spirit levels only cost a few pounds, but are worth their weight in gold when it comes to getting your horizons level and your verticals vertical.
A three-way level is best, as it will enable you to level the camera in both the horizontal and vertical planes to minimise converging verticals.
Equally beneficial, especially if you’re shooting from below eye level, or pointing your camera straight upwards, is a right-angle viewfinder.
This simple device enables you to preview images without having to crouch down and peer through the viewfinder.
The Seagull model pictured will set you back around £40 (learn more about how to use a right-angle viewfinder).
Quick release tripod head
Enables you to take your camera off your tripod, and put it back on, without jogging it and potentially spoiling a carefully considered composition – when you want to attach a remote cable release, for example.
The sturdier the head the better, as one of the keys to successful architecture shots is capturing pin-sharp detail.