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Architecture Photography Tips


No question, buying a camera and learning
how to use it has been one of the best investments I think I’ve ever made. Photography is one of the meta skills I think
every creative person has to cultivate, you know, it teaches you about light, and composition,
contrast, color; all these things that are linked to our experience of, not only architecture,
but the world. I think it’s helped me see the world more
objectively, you know viewing it through the lens of a camera, it’s just a really valuable
skill set to have in your toolkit. So, I’m not a professional architectural photographer
but I’ve learned a few things having shot a lot of architecture over my professional
career. So I wanted to share with you some of the
mistakes that I made when I was first starting out so you don’t have to make them to. One of the underlying style elements of architectural
photography is maintaining parallel lines in your image and especially parallel vertical
lines. So to achieve this you have to keep the focal
plane which is basically your camera sensor in here perpendicular to the ground plane. Now, once you tilt the camera you start to
introduce a forced perspective in your image which creates converging lines rather than
parallel lines and it also tends to make the building look as though it’s falling backward,
which can admittedly be a good thing if it’s exaggerated or that’s the effect that you’re
going for, but if it’s just subtly off it’s sort of a tell that you’re an amateur. So the pros use tilt shift lenses for perspective
control which allows them to physically move the lens by tilting and shifting it. Now this corrects the distortion right in
the camera it bakes it into the image. But those types of lenses come at a really
steep price. You can also correct for this in programs
like Lightroom Photoshop or even Snapseed on your phone. Once you get used to correcting for it you’ll
probably start to notice it everywhere. Now correcting this in Lightroom is really
simple and I’ll show you how. Okay here we are in Lightroom I have this
photo of this church in Quebec City and I’m just going to show you how to correct the
verticals. We’re in the develop module I’m not going
to go through any of – all of – these settings at this point I’m just going to keep those
as they are. And I’ll go to the transform panel here and
you’ll see I’m off level and also my verticals are converging. So there’s a couple of ways to do this: the
first way is just to choose auto and that’s gonna make its best guess and you can see
here it’s corrected our verticals. If we come over here to the grid our verticals
look pretty good there still converging just a little bit and then our horizontals, it’s
pretty close again. The other way you can do this is you can choose
purely vertical. So here it looks like it corrected our verticals
a little better, you can also choose level which doesn’t look like it did a very good
job. The vertical looks good but the horizontals
here look a little tweaked. Now the other possible way that you can do
is guided and so we’ll choose a couple of verticals here – you pick your vertical lines
in the image – and you can be as precise as you want to be here I’m just getting it roughly
close. And then we’ll choose our horizontals like
this, you can see it gives you a zoom box so that really pops it into place. And if you had more horizontal lines – I don’t
have a lot of horizontal lines here that I can work with – but if you had more you could
adjust this with more granularity. One last thing I want to mention and this
is sort of a compromise solution because when you’re doing this it’s modifying the pixels
so it is destructive in some sense. That is the compromise when you use a tool
like Lightroom or even Snapseed’s tool it will distort the image and the pixels in it. So you’ll want to plan for this because you’re
gonna have to crop the image in crop it in like this. You’re losing a bunch of information on the
sides which is fine actually because I think it actually just focuses on the subject of
the photo even more. White balance has a big influence on the feel
of your image whether that’s warm or cool and it can be tricky to get right if you’re
mixing light between inside and outside. Now this is another thing that once you start
correcting for it in your images you’ll start to notice when people don’t white balance
their images. So you’ve probably seen the classic white
balance mistake where an interior has a really orange or yellow or green cast to it. So daylight, incandescent light, and LED lighting
they all have different color temperatures and they each introduce a different color
cast into your image. So changing the white balance allows you to
correct for this and it allows you to choose which one represents the scene most accurately. So I sort of view it as an artistic decision
in my workflow as I’m editing the image in post. Shooting your images in a RAW format will
give you the most flexibility to change things in post but you can modify white balance even
if you’re not shooting RAW. If you’re shooting on your phone just hop
into an app like Snapseed and give it check what the auto white balance feature does for
your image you might be surprised how much more polished it starts to look. Using a tripod rather than hand-holding your
shots allows you to push your camera’s manual settings exactly where you need them, say
that’s a long exposure for a low-light environment, or to focus stack, or to blend multiple exposures
of a scene to capture a higher dynamic range. Let’s say you’re shooting an interior room
which has a window with lots of exterior light coming in. If you were to expose for the interior the
window area would be just way overexposed overblown. And if you were to expose for the exterior
– for the window – the interior would just be way under exposed. So professionals will usually expose for the
window and bring the light level up inside to compensate with supplemental lighting like
strobes. But if you’re lacking that kind of professional
gear – and you probably are since you’re watching this – you can simply lock off your camera
on a tripod and take a series of multiple exposures. You’re going to bracket the same scene and
then combine those bracketed images in Lightroom or Photoshop to capture a broader dynamic
range for that scene and a more accurate rendition of how the eye actually experiences the architecture;
that’s what you’re after. Now I mentioned tilt-shift lenses as the standard
go-to for serious architectural photographers but most of us don’t have the budget for those
they’re in the multiple thousands of dollars. Most commonly you’re going to want to use
wider angle lenses for architecture but if you go too wide you’ll get lots of distortion
it’s just not gonna look right. For interiors and tight spaces I’m usually
using the 16 to 35 which is a zoom lens and that’s on a full-frame Canon 6d mark 2 now
if you’re using a crop sensor like a 70 or an 80D you can pick up this 10 to 18 zoom
for not a lot of money and for those cameras the crop sensors it covers roughly the same
focal range like 16 to 28 millimeters so still fairly wide. Now, I also have a 24 to 70 zoom for longer
focal lengths longer focal lengths tend to compress or flatten the image bringing the
foreground and the background closer together. Many phone cameras just have a fixed focal
length I think the iPhone that I have is about a fixed 28 millimeter so not too wide but
it’s not too bad either so if it’s all you have that’s what you can use. And there’s also a host of sort of lenses
that you can clip onto the top so if you don’t have the budget for a DSLR, check out Moment
lenses for some good options. Having a zoom lens for architecture is nice
because much of the time you’ll be working with some kind of space constraint, having
the zoom function allows you to reframe and change perspective; a fixed focal length wouldn’t
allow you to do that. Ultra-wide shots can appear unnatural so you
don’t want to capture only ultra-wide shots, save those for when you’re not able to get
back far enough or you just don’t have another option. Use these to help tell the story of the larger
building: materials, intersections, joints, these are all the touch points of architecture
and I like to use the 50 millimeter 1.4 for detail shots. It’s fast enough to create some nice background
blur which isolates your subject and it means you can hand hold these detail shots and kind
of move quickly from one thing to the next you know pick up handrail, fittings, fixtures,
materials, connections; capture all the things that lend context, texture, and interest to
your work. The more you shoot the more you’ll gain an
intuitive understanding of how light affects your final image. Backlighting, front lighting, side lighting,
and night lighting, all produce vastly different effects. Now I try to avoid really flat lighting situations
where there’s an even amount of light on the subject coming especially from the direction
you’re shooting from now this doesn’t allow you to capture any shadow or texture because
you’re aligning your view with the light source so you’re not going to see any of the shadows. You want to move around a space or outside
a building and get a real feel for what light is available and you want to always be aware
of your aspect in relation to it. Position yourself in a way that tells the
true story of how the architecture is influenced by and how it changes in varying light conditions. Now this is an important one you want to get
rid of everything you possibly can especially in interior spaces and really focus in on
your subject. If your shot is of a workspace there’s actually
very few things you need to tell the story of that space: computer, keyboard, chair,
desk; you know that’s probably it you want to take out everything else. Now when you take the shot have a peek at
it on a larger screen if possible and you really want to scrutinize it, it’s completely
possible you forgot to remove something obvious in the frame, like I’ve left the lenses on
shelves before or there’s been a tripod in the back corner that I missed until I looked
at the image on a separate screen. Now these are just a few tips to get you started
and they’ll go a long way to helping your images look more professional especially the
first two, focus on those if you don’t know where else to start. But all of this is in no way a substitute
for working with a professional architectural photographer, they have better equipment,
training, and they have connections to publications which you probably lack. Now having the skill of knowing how to use
a camera and what all the manual settings do is really useful because it can be a long
time between when a project is completed and when you’re able to professionally photograph
it and it’s nice to have some high quality images you can use in the interim. And often the detailed photos that you take
on your own – as you’re on the site, the things are finishing up – leaves flexibility in your
photography budget for the person you hire to capture scenes and perspectives that you’re
not able to get because of your equipment limitations. Now links to all the gear are in the description
below and they’re linked up in the cards go ahead and smash that like button below and
help me out by sharing this around with someone you know. Is there someone who’s not subscribed to this
channel yet? And tell me in the comments: what kind of
camera are you using? We’ll see you again next time, cheers my friends!

100 comments found

  1. Thanks for the videos Eric, I use a Fuji X-Pro1 and here are a couple photos I took in Antigua Guatemala! https://imgur.com/a/gPCX5

    On another note, what video editing software do you use? Specifically for your title and text overlays.

    Thanks!

  2. I'm working on a senior project (for my last year at high school) related to architecture and I just want to say how helpful your channel has been! You're someone I aspire to become one day. 🙂

  3. Great content… Exceptional delivery… As usual! Thanks! I am using a cannon m3. Works well for video tutorials/vlogs, and its been a great intro to photography for me.

  4. Just got a Canon 70D with a 24mm pancake lens to get some decent video for my channel, thank you for this, the timing couldn't be better!

  5. Thank you so much for your wonderful videos… I am applying for Masters in architecture, and in such a perfect time I found your such inspiring and educational videos… Cheers!

  6. I love this channel, is like you read my mind… LOL I just got into a photography class and this is quite handy!

  7. While having used both 70D and the 6Dmark2 what would you recommend getting? I’m pushing my 1300D to the limits and I’m looking to upgrade really soon since I have a trip to Paris coming up. I would like to know what you would recommend. Keep in mind that I’m on a (architecture)student budget 😉

    Greetings from a Belgian 3rd year architecture student!

  8. I love your channel. Your channel inspires me to draw and design!! Hopefully one day I become an architect greater than you!

  9. EOS M, 60D, 5D2, 10-22mm f3.5, 18-135mm f3.5 , 50mm 1.4, 70-200mm f4 L, 24-105mm f4 L, and a 24mm TS-E with Manfrotto 055XproB and 351MVB2 with 501HDV head, ProAim Spark13 Slider, DJI p4p & p3A, Tascam DR-100mkii field recorder

  10. I have been looking for DSLR’s for about a week now and then you release this video. Destiny… PS: I really love your videos

  11. Hey, a great selection of tips! I wrote my dissertation on professional architectural photography and how it is changing by the means of Instagram and would like to add to the statement you made about using a tripod – I interviewed Iwan Baan and found out almost all of his shots are handheld – others like Helene Binet and Nick Guttridge with medium and large format cameras use tripods. However, Instagram and other social media are influencing the profession in a way that turnaround times are getting shorter and thus more people are handholding. This of course only applies for shots which are in sufficient daylight and non bracketed. I'd love to have a personal discussion with you so please drop me message if you are interested!

  12. Thanks for the video man! I'm developing a big interest in photography, especially architecture photography. The tips in this video will definitely come in handy when I start!

  13. Nikon D300 just starting on with the hall photography thing still have my training wheels on but thank you for the tips really appreciate it

  14. Great series – nothing better than a cup of coffee and watching and learning. I am a loving the titling on your video segments. Would you mind sharing the font you use? Please.

  15. Watching your videos I got motivated to start doing architecture photography.I am using a Nikon D3400 equipped with the kit lens. You can check my progress on my Instagram profile arch_it_o_graphy

  16. Thank you so much, your videos are not only inpiring but also teach so much professional advice. Definatly going to buy such a camera. Also, i wonder – which camera do you use for your videos?

  17. A very interesting video, dear colleague. Personally, I get the most out of the camera of my cell phone. Sometimes I use a couple of accessories. However, the tips you mention work very well for a mobile device. Thumbs up!!!

  18. Love your channel! Always inspiring and informative! It's very clear you have a passion to share the profession and your knowledge of it in many different aspects. I'm a bit of a late bloomer and will be starting school this fall as an adult student (37 yoa). I look forward to learning more from your prospective and sharing your videos with other friends and students. Thanks!

  19. Great video and content Eric. Thanks once again. I’m using my Pentax K2. I’ve had Pentax most of my life so stuck with it on the new gear. I do wish I could switch to the Canon kit though. It’s like working on an Oldsmobile when everyone else has a Chevy! Ha. Anyways, cheers my friend.

  20. I have a cannon 1200D, im a total amateur so thank you for inspiring me to up skill!. Is my camera sufficient for arch photography? and also what lens can you recommend? thank you Eric! always look forward to your videos!

  21. FYI – "DxO Photo-Lab" is excellent for creating rectified photographs suitable for use for publications and documentation. It's the best software I've found for correcting my photos when I've not been so careful levelling the camera on the tripod or not using the tilt-shift lenses.

    I recommend adding one of the 70-200 Canon series of lenses to complete your kit – they'll get you up close if you need a detail up close like a chimney cap or for architectural detail. It's a natural companion to the 24-70 you've already got.

    I have a different take on flat lighting – for documentation purposes (like in heritage work where the photo is acting like a drawing for notes etc.), an overcast (flat light) day is highly preferable, otherwise the deep shadows block detail and areas of the building that I want to see and potentially note up. For showing off built work in a publication or online,… yes, sunny and deep shadows create interesting and dynamic photos.

    Another great video!

  22. what the hell, i was wondering if you took a long break or something because I hadn't seen any uploads in my sub box and i just realized my acc got unsubscribed hahahaha

  23. Wait, is photography needed in architecture? I'm only in high school and I don't really have a clue about what subjects do architecture students study. Is it needed? Or is it just to enhance your skills?

  24. Made the big jump from a 60D to a 5dsR after booking lots of jobs. This required me to upgrade all my glass to Tilt Shifts & L's. My next learning curve is learning 10-bit editing for publications.

  25. Hey great video. I liked the way it was edited and made easy to consume the information. A+
    Also liked that you didn't have or recommend super expensive lenses (that are awesome btw), but encouraged using what a person has access to at maybe a lower cost.

  26. Hey mate, I use a 5D Mark 4, got a 24-70 2.8 II IS and aiming at purchasing a 16-35 as well. Looking to get into real estate and architecture photography as well 🙂 Thanks for the tips!

  27. The camera i use is the Pentax KP, with a 18-135mm lens.
    Photography is a hobby and if you want to see how i see the world visit my site, www.mroubos.com

  28. If you want to improve the quality of your photo's the time of day is important. Early morning of in the evening. There are apps that show you the right light and direction of the light.

    You can even use that app for information as you are creating a building, were is the sun coming up.

  29. Excellent video! I like how you cover the fundamentals of architecture photography with simplicity and stylistic presentation. I still love my Nikon D7100 with Tokina 11-20 2.8 (usually in the 14-20 range) and also use a Nikon 35mm 1.8 prime for detail shots.

  30. I’m using a Nikon D500 but want to upgrade to full frame, D810 is an option but ultimately I’d like to get a 4×5 field camera with a digital back.

  31. I just recently started subscribing to your channel and I really enjoy it. I decided to take an architecture class this last semester and it was one of the best things I've ever done. I found that I really found it interesting and love it. I really appreciate the art of it and just got a camera to start shooting. Thanks for all the tips!

  32. Currently using a Sony A6000 with stock lens kit. It's been great but after traveling for 3 months I find I now need to buy some better lenses… lower aperture and also a wider lens. I did borrow a telephoto lens for a bit which was really fun… using it to focus in and crop an image in real time. However, the aperture was terrible on it so only good in broad daylight!

  33. Hello buddy, texting from Egypt! I own a Canon 6D, 50mm f1.4, 70-200 f2.8L USM, speedlites, lighting gear, and tripods. Meanwhile during my photo shoot I use in addition, 5D iii, 60D, 16-35 f2.8L.
    Before I go, thanks for the video, its good.

  34. Just came across this. Thank you for making this video! I am by no means a professional photographer but I am a hobbyist. I photograph for a couple stand up comedy shows but personally love architectural photography and am laughing at all the mistakes I've been making that you address in your video. Shooting on a Sony A7iii. Definitely going to watch more of your videos (and have subscribed)

  35. Right now I'm using a Panasonic G85 for my videos and photography. I like the 4K, the colour, and the price. It's a very easy and fun camera to use. But, I like your Canon 6D MII for the image quality and rock solid autofocus. So an upgrade is in my future. Thanks for the great work! I really enjoy your channel.

  36. Really enjoy watching your films, they are so well made and this information is excellent. I know how much work goes into making these. I am not an architect, but my daughter is and she said on first seeing one of you films, "I wish this had been available when I was studying".

  37. I own a painting and decorating company and we specialise in architectural builds. This has helped me so much in understanding how to get good quality images to use for my company.

  38. Rebel T4i, and I rented a 15-35mm Tamron for my next gig… nice advice as I, especially, will now document more of the details, as well as the big picture. Thank you!

  39. Canon 5D mark iv + (canon 16-35 – Canon 8-15)
    nice helpfull video
    I wonder if you have any accurate way to de-fishing fish eye photo

  40. Canon 700d but hate its not got a level in it like my Panasonic gx7. But thinking canon will still be better quality than m4/3 but is hard to say. Thanks for video was great!

  41. Great video and photography for the resources that you have. I'm (I guess you could call me a beginning photographer). I'm told that I should be a photographer by all my friends but I just want to be an Architect. I usee our family's camera which is quite old it is a Canon 450D with two lenses that came with it but I'm not sure exactly what they are. What would be a good camera to continue taking photos with that is on the cheaper side of things? I'm thinking of investing in something new.

  42. Hello,
    I am beginning to explore my photography skills with a DSLR and this video is really useful for anyone.
    However for the camera, I am thinking of buying a Canon 80D.
    Should I still go for it or is there a better updated one ?

    Thank You.

  43. I've been slowly upgrading my gear since I also realized how much photography complements architecture. I have a fullframe Nikon D600 with a 50/1.4 and an 85/1.8. And a 18mm Sigma which is the worse lens I have ever seen. No zooms yet, why is Nikons lenses so expensive compared to Canons that sucks. Anyways if I get richer someday will definitely switch to Sony's Alpha series with it's Carl zeiss ultra sharp lenses and it's unbeaten ability to shoot in the dark.

  44. Thank you for the video! I would love to see people post more videos about architecturally based photography. Camera I have is a Fuji GX 680 w a 150mm lens. I also have a Canon T3i. I'm far from professional grade, but I do take what I do very seriously and feel we never stop leaning.

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