Photographing homes and buildings takes a special craft, but it’s something that can be easily acquired. Here are a few simple ways you can make your architectural photos stand out from the crowd!
1.) The structure should tell a story without any artificial lighting, etc. Try to photograph it just the way it is. If the house is a little on the dark side, don’t use too much light to show how bright it is. Similarly, if it’s too bright, don’t shut out the windows and portray something it’s not.
2.) Wait for the right time of day. Avoid rainy or cloudy days when there isn’t enough natural light to boost your picture. Sun rays coming from the windows and doors are something you cannot do without in inclement weather. Much of the home’s character is lost without the sun.
3.) Shoot, shoot and shoot some more! Don’t worry about the number of pictures you take. Try to play around with different exposures, shutter speeds and angles. The more you shoot, the more chances you’ll have for better quality photos.
4.) Use 12-24mm ultra wide angle lenses for maximum effect. Using wide apertures and long shutter speeds will provide warmth and give your shots some character. Add a touch of flash (1/64th) to combat color shift and to add highlights to the scene. Try to keep your ISO at 400 or 640, because anything faster will be too grainy and anything slower will shift the colors a little too much.
5.) Stand back. Hold the camera to your eye and back up until you have the widest shot you can get. You can then set up your tripod and compose your shot.
6.) Always shoot below eye-level to give the building an imposing persona and an overwhelming presence.
7.) Always keep your sensor clean!
8.) When you do your light measurements, metering the dark part of the scene and exposing it will overexpose the remainder of the scene, but not underexpose it.
9.) Be passionate. Only then will you gain enough experience to define your style of architectural photography.
10.) With RAW images, you can nicely pull back detail from an overexposed image within a stop or two, but in an underexposed image, you cannot increase the exposure without introducing noise. It’s better to overexpose with digital than underexpose.
11.) Lastly, while some photographers advocate the expensive Expo Disc for maintaining white balance, there’s a cheaper alternative: a white coffee filter. It does the same thing, but it doesn’t cost nearly as much. Just place it over the lens and take your pictures. Your camera needs to be set on manual and you can then adjust your white balance settings. Have fun and good luck!
~ Zahid H. Javali