You have one of those wonderful city trips behind you and then you realize once more: All the great facades, walls and towers look far less impressive in your photos than they did on site. Not far from the thought: “What am I doing wrong?” The reassuring answer: Most of the time, all you need is a few basic tips that are easy to implement to make architectural photography easier for you.
The right technology for architectural photography
Do you need a specific camera for architectural photography? A full-frame 35mm camera is technically excellent for this purpose, but is not recommended for most due to the high costs. Basically: Even with an entry-level SLR camera, excellent architectural photos can be taken.
Do you need a special lens? With a wide-angle lens you can get a lot of buildings in one photo, but the distortions become stronger. With normal focal lengths around 50 mm you can reduce this problem, but then you only have a smaller image section available.
The tripod should be mentioned above all for other equipment for architectural photography. Make sure that it is able to swing your camera to portrait mode. In this context, a gear tipper can also provide valuable services. This additional equipment of the tripod allows the camera to be aligned in very small steps. If you have to resort to the usual ball head, finding the right position can mean more effort.
Tip: A polarization filter can be used to prevent reflections on non-metallic surfaces. In addition, the filter creates a deep blue in the sky.
Architectural photography: the right camera settings
Architectural recordings in particular require good sharpness in all areas of the image in order to do justice to the usually very large spatial dimensions. In order to bring as much sharpness as possible into your picture, you should use an aperture that is as closed as possible and set the focus point correctly.
To do this, set your aperture to f / 16 or a higher number. To be able to set the aperture manually, turn the mode dial of your camera to either M or to A or AV .
For information: M refers to the manual mode – here you have to set the aperture as well as the exposure time and the ISO value yourself. A or AV, on the other hand, is the so-called automatic timing. Here you set the aperture yourself, the camera then adjusts all other settings accordingly. An option that is especially useful for beginners.
More objects thanks to the wide-angle lens
In practice, you are often faced with the challenge of wanting to capture very large buildings in a photo. For this you need a lens with a small focal length or a wide-angle lens. Basically, lenses with a focal length of less than 50 millimeters are referred to as wide-angle lenses.
But note: If you have no camera with full-frame sensor, the image format is that of a 35-mm-mm film, does this affect the focal length. So if your camera has a crop factor that has reduced the width and height of the picture, your pictures will look more like you took them with a 70 mm lens. The exact conversion depends on the crop factor. How high this is can be found in the description of your camera.
When choosing a lens, you should not choose a focal length that is too high. But even a very short focal length can lead to problems. Because: the lower this is, the stronger the distortion. A focal length between 14 and 40 millimeters is ideal.
Use the camera in portrait orientation
Architectural photography is often associated with landscape format. But try to sprinkle photos of buildings in portrait format. Depending on the situation, this results in a special attraction, as the expectation of the viewer is played with. Pictures in portrait format often appear more dynamic and “powerful” than in landscape format.
Photographing buildings: tips for creating images
Small focal lengths and wide-angle lenses are often used to get a picture of large buildings. So-called falling lines are an unpleasant side effect. These are lines that are actually straight, but appear irregular in the photo. They arise when you point the camera upwards at an angle to get the most comprehensive picture of the building. The converging lines lead to a distortion of the motif, the building is not exactly reproduced.
That you can do to counteract falling lines:
Take a higher position and move away from the building so that you can photograph the subject with the camera pointing straight ahead. Use what is known as a shift lens. This corrects the converging lines when the image section is shifted upwards. Also, image editing programs such as Photoshop offers features such as transforming or distorting that fix the problem described.