Specialist Technique & Process 3 – Architectural photography

13th October 2015

Equipment used:

Canon 650D
Spirit level block (attached to top of the camera)
New I.C.T Building at Bradford College

In this session we took a trip over to the new building in Bradford College. It is very modern with everything square and straight, so as a result we had to make sure our camera was completely accurate and straight – we used a spirit level on our cameras to make sure every shot was set up level – vertically and horizontally.
We also compared the quality of the image when shooting at 100 ISO vs 3200 ISO, and observed the differences and how these settings affect the aesthetic of the architecture.
When shooting we had to consider all the components such as looking at corners, horizontal and vertical lines, parallel lines, lighting, distance and view point… yet also comparing this set up to photographing architecture free hand/using quirky angles. Highlighting and focussing on features that are usually documented within architectural photography e.g if the images were in a brochure advertising the building – fittings, handles, signs, directions and furnishings.

Here are my images (using the tripod):

^ [Images zoomed in at 66.7% on Photoshop] ^
ISO 3200 is much more grainy, details aren’t as visible. The colours seem a tad muted/dulled and there isn’t as much contrast. ISO 100 is much clearer and crisp, details are visible. The colours are more vibrant and the contrast is greater.

I found that through this exercise I definitely prefer shooting free hand and doing quirky angles rather than having everything on lock down – to me shooting on a tripod feels quite restrictive and doesn’t give me chance to shoot creatively (as I shoot in a creative way usually). However I appreciate that for architectural photography specifically it is essential for everything to be square and correct.

How this type of photography/exercise applies to me as a people photographer:

  • Highlights the fact that composition is extremely important
  • The use of angles is essential because of the huge differences with the lines just by changing the angle slightly
  • Different angles (e.g low or high) show the same object (or subject in my case) in an extremely different light and this can distort our view of the subject, as the viewer. For example a high view point looking down on someone can suggest the viewer is dominant over the subject. However a low view point could suggest the subject is dominant over the viewer (and photographing portraits from a low view point isn’t always very flattering) – just a few examples
  • This taught me that getting the settings/composition right in camera first is important because there is less editing afterwards
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