• Architecture Photography Camera Settings, Tips & Tricks

Architecture photography is taking photos of structures, buildings, or other man-made designs.

Do Your Research

Background information can lead to inspiration. Research how other photographers have worked. Explore as many photographs that you can that have been taken before.

This is a great starting point that may help you find a unique image.

Walk Around

Look up. Look down. Go inside. Find details, angles and unique lines. If there is an elevator, take it to the top and look. If there is a building across the street, see if there is a view from over there. The top floor of a parking structure is a terrific place for urban views, skylines and architecture photography.

Go Back

Revisit a location multiple times in different conditions. You may learn something on your first trip that’s important for a second trip.

A photo of a bridge in the middle of the day, with harsh light and crowds of people, makes for a dull image. That same bridge just before a storm, with one person running across it with a ripped umbrella, makes for a dramatic photo!

Camera Gear

It’s easy to overthink this. Start with your favorite camera and a wide-angle lens to capture the scene. Just go!

Perspective & Distortion

Often in architecture photography, you will be shooting with wide angle lenses. The wider you shoot, the more perspective and distortion issues you will have.

Example – Key-stoning.

Do to the distance between your camera and the subject, and the camera's low position relative to the subject, photographs of buildings can look like they are leaning over. This is called key-stoning.

You can try getting up higher, or use lens correction tools when editing. Lightroom & Photoshop have filters and tools to correct many of these perspective issues.

Camera Settings: ISO

Use a lower ISO for a higher quality image. More quality means you will have room to edit and process images in post-production. Lower ISO settings will reduce noise, offer better color depth, and gives great dynamic range.

Camera Settings: Aperture

Close your aperture and get the whole scene in focus. Open it for close-up, more detailed shots with some bokeh (blur in the background).

Camera Settings: Shutter Speed

Low light shots of the interior of a building or an exterior shot at night are possible. Try slowing down your shutter speed and using a tripod.

Color Balance

Especially in downtown areas. Be mindful of artificial light sources and compensate with color balance settings.

Framing Tips

  • Think on a large and small scale.
  • You can photograph the whole building or part of the building.
  • You can create tension/drama by shooting at a very close distance. Then relieve that tension by shooting from further away.
  • Architecture shots offer plenty of opportunity to FILL THE FRAME: Lines, details, angles, colors & shapes.
  • Stay Level. Watch your horizon line.
  • Having lots of people in your scene can clutter up the image. However, a lack of human element may fail to tell the story of what’s going on there. Try adding just one person or a small group of people for scale or to explain the purpose and function of the building.
  • Add to the frame with reflections. Don't get caught in one!

Get Out & Shoot

Not all of us work every day on paid photography assignments. Most of us do not have a camera bag full of expensive gear. Do not get hung up on this! Some photographers have all the gear in the world but lack an idea.

Focusing too much on cameras & gear can keep new photographers from ever leaving the house. Finding the motivation to continue shooting is as important as any tip listed in this book.

For some photographers, the hardest part of any project is simply starting. Well begun is half done. Charge your batteries up and get out there.

Article By

John McLenaghan

ThemeSong Media - Orlando, FL

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