Setting up your camera for pictures of buildings
As with landscape photography, when you’re shooting pictures of buildings you generally want your scene to be as sharp as possible from front to back.
The best way to ensure this, of course, is to set a small aperture to provide a decent depth of field, but that’s not to say your should set the lens’s smallest aperture (learn more about when to use a small vs wide aperture).
This is because at very narrow apertures, light rays passing through the lens are bent – or diffracted – by the edges of the aperture opening. This results in a softening of the image, even at the point of focus.
Because of this, most architecture pros tend to use an aperture of around f/14 or f/16 rather than f/22 or f/29.
It’s also worth noting that you don’t necessarily want to focus a third of the way into the scene (learn how to use – and break – the Rule of Thirds).
With pictures of buildings, a better rule of thumb is to focus on the most important edge or detail, and then switch to manual focus to lock it.
Against the grain
Another consideration when it comes to sharp images is the ISO. The lower the ISO, the less noisy or ‘grainy’ the final image, so try to stick ISO100 (or 200 if that’s your camera’s native ISO setting) whenever possible (find out when you should increase ISO).
And finally, there’s the optimum shutter speed to consider. To blur pedestrians so they’re still recognisable as people and not just smudges of colour, you’ll need to set a shutter speed of around 1/4 sec.
This should blur them just enough to ensure they don’t distract from the main subject, which is obviously the building itself.
Other things worth thinking about include setting mirror lock-up to minimise the risk of camera shake (due to the mirror moving up and down when the shutter is released); and using a remote release to enable you to time your shot.
This is very important where pedestrians are concerned, as you’ll get a more balanced shot if they’re spaced apart.