Posted by: larnymackblog | May 25, 2011

Architectural Photography Tips: Lines Are Your Friends

When shooting architectural photography, there’s a few tips you should know that will make your job much easier. If you don’t care about getting the best photo you can then don’t bother reading. Anything I suggest from here on assumes you are willing to invest a little time and brain power.

Don’t look up: If you’re shooting the outside of a tall building and you fall over backwards before you see the top of it in your viewfinder, then you’re doing it wrong. Find a vantage point that is either further back, higher in elevation, or preferably both. Shooting up at your subject causes “key stoning”, a term architectural photographers use to describe when vertical lines merge closer as the distance gets further from the camera. There is currently nothing built into consumer cameras to correct this, but it can be corrected later in Photoshop or a similar program.

Watch your vertical and horizontal lines: This is different than key stoning. This is a simple warning to make sure your camera is level horizontally before you shoot. There’s nothing worse than all your thanksgiving dinner settings sliding off the left side of the table.

Be sure of what you’re focusing on: If you’re shooting interior architectural photography, decide what you want in focus. Yes, I’m sure you want everything in focus, but that’s not usually possible without a tripod and a much slower shutter speed, which will increase depth of field. A good general rule is to focus on something that is 1/3 in from your camera position. Without going into a long explanation, everything 1/3 in front of and 2/3 behind your focus point will be in focus.

Lens distortion: Have you ever seen or produced a photo where a door frame or a roof line looks bowed? This usually happens when you are using a very wide angle lens. This is called barrel or pincushion distortion. It is caused by the actual lens construction. Even the most expensive lenses have some, but the cheaper cameras understandably use cheap lenses, and the distortion can be very pronounced. The easiest cure is to move back and zoom your lens in a bit.

I hope these little tips help you out, and feel free to contact me if you’re interested in San Diego architectural photography!

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