As a photographer who loves architecture, you know that buildings are just as beautiful and interesting subjects as people. The lines, shapes, textures, and lighting possibilities are endless. Architectural photography allows you to showcase not only the design but also the environment and context of structures. Capturing stunning photos of buildings comes with its own unique set of challenges. You need the right gear, technical know-how, composition skills, and creative eye to truly do architectural subjects justice.

Use a wide angle lens

Investing in a high-quality wide-angle lens is essential for architectural photography. The wide field of view lets you get the entire building in the frame. You’ll capture more context and perspective this way. A lens in the 16-35mm range on a full-frame camera is ideal. Go even wider if possible. It prevents having to back up so far that you include distracting elements.

Watch for converging verticals

hershey photographer tall buildings head-on often results in converging vertical lines. It makes buildings appear to tip backward. To avoid this, position your camera so the focal plane is parallel to the building. Tilt the camera up and use a wide-angle lens. Or take the photo from an elevated position. It maintains straight vertical lines for a more dynamic, proportional look.

Use a tripod

A tripod is an architectural photographer’s best friend. Shooting buildings require long exposures to get the proper depth of field. It also allows you to take multiple exposures for HDR imaging. Tripods prevent camera shake for pin-sharp shots. And they let you compose the perfect framing without holding the camera. For best results, use a sturdy tripod and remote shutter release.

Shoot during golden hour

The warm, diffused light during the golden hours of sunrise and sunset accentuates architectural details beautifully. Shadows are softened and colors come alive. The low-angle light casts interesting shadows that emphasize shapes, lines, and textures. Position yourself so the building is front-lit, with the sun glancing off the façade. Golden hour light lasts only about 30 minutes so plan accordingly.

Compose with foreground interest

Creating a strong focal point is key in architectural scenes. Foreground elements like statues, fountains, gardens, or even people can help frame the building. Position subjects at one of the intersections of the rule of thirds lines. Keep lines straight using verticals like lampposts or other structures? Foreground interest adds scale and depth.

Photograph details

Don’t forget to isolate and photograph architectural details in addition to wide shots—Zoom in on stained glass, carved doors, wall textures, staircases, and more. Details showcase the thought and craftsmanship that went into a building’s design. They can make great abstract images as well. Use macro lenses and off-camera lighting like small LED panels to highlight details.

Shoot exteriors at blue hour

After sunset, take advantage of the deep blue hues of twilight. Blu-hour light provides beautiful color contrast against warmly lit interiors streaming through windows. Long exposures of 30 seconds or more will accentuate interior light as exterior blue light fades. Shoot into windows or silhouettes of buildings against the night sky.

Use HDR bracketing

High dynamic range (HDR) imaging combines multiple exposures to capture a wider tonal range. It helps maintain detail in very bright and very dark areas of high-contrast scenes. Use automatic exposure bracketing to quickly shoot 3-5 images at different exposures. Then blend them in HDR software. For best results, use a tripod and remote shutter release to limit variation between frames.

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