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Photographing Buildings: A Guide

Updated: Dec 18, 2020


Buildings are one of humankind's greatest inventions. Towering as high as hundreds of feet into the air, they're a beautiful subject for your next photo-shoot. But capturing them is harder than it looks.


Light

Though we usually think of sunsets when we hear the words 'great light', harsh edges favor the midmorning sun. Get up early to find your composition and wait for the right amount of contrast, and, if you're lucky, directional light on the side of your subject, as above.

Try moving around the building that you're shooting to find the best angles.


Composition

Most buildings are boring. They're anonymous boxes, and if you took a photo of one, you'd likely be disappointed. Unless you can find a truly iconic building, like the Empire State Building or the Tower of London, the viewer would probably have no idea where you were shooting, and so you have to ground your image.


Take the example of this image. Not only is there a clear American flag in the center of the frame, but I've included a fire escape - an unmistakable symbol of New York. What's distinctive about your city? Try and find a subject and include it in your frame.

Gear

I've placed gear at the bottom of this posed, because I think that no matter what camera or lens you have, there's an architectural image to be made. I used my trusty 50mm lens for all of these images, though a 35mm would probably have given me more compositional freedom... and a 70-200mm more creative images. I used f/1.8, ISO 400, and around 1/1000 of a second for all of these images - the perfect balance of image quality, sharpness, and convenience.


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