Architectural Photography

Photographing architecture is often a lengthy project as it requires time to view the building from all sides to find the angle that captures something of what the architect was trying to achieve in his building.  Watch the light as it falls on the building at different times throughout the day, to find the lighting that shows the building at its most impressive. Most photographers find that early morning or late afternoon sun is best, as the long angles of the suns rays creates shadows that emphasize architectural detail. It is also important to consider lighting at night .

 Shooting Architecture at night requires a tripod and camera that allows you to use long exposure times – sometimes up to 15 minutes.  Usually you should shoot at dusk, around ½ an hour after sunset and bracket your exposures starting at 2 minutes and doubling the times as you go.  This should allow you to have an exposed building with light from the windows and street lights being brighter.

Tools for Architecture photography

  •  A wide angle lens of 24mm or even less (keep in mind that distortion can occur with this lens)
  •  Lens hood for wide angle lens to avoid lens flare
  •  Tripod and shutter release cable
  •  Slow film or ISO setting (on digital) for good sharpness of detail
  • Shift lens if possible
  •  Polarizing filter to reduce glare from reflective surfaces and deepen hue of sky etc.

Convergence of lines

The converging lines that occur when photographing buildings is because of the upward angle of the lens from below the mid line of the structure, and a wide angle lens exaggerates this.  One way to overcome this problem is to shoot the building from a view point more in line with the centre of the building (perhaps a hill or building nearby)  Or you can try shooting further away with a telephoto lens which may flatten the appearance of the building. Thirdly you can use a shift lens (valuable tool for the professional architectural photographer) which enables you to control perspective by moving the lens to straighten converging lines. (you need to be mindful of the aperture ring entering your image.)

Exposure readings

Bright backgrounds and/or window reflections can cause unreliable exposure meter readings.  To overcome this problem use a photographic grey card to correct your reading. If one side of your structure is much darker than the other you may want to adjust your exposure ½ to 1 stop more to get some detail into the shadow areas.


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