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ARCHITECTURENOW

ARCHITECTURENOW
TOP TEN THINGS TO LOOK FOR IN AN ARCHITECTURAL IMAGE

THOMAS HOLTKOETTER
Why ARCHITECTURENOW
ARCHITECTURENOW ?

In Summer 2009 the Online Photocommunity OneX started a


project called „Top Ten Things to look for“. Members of the
community submitted their opinions and advices for various genres
of photography.
Architecture was one of the genres and I had the honour to
moderate the discussion and finally to provide a summary of the
„Top Ten Things to look for in an Architectural Image“.
At the end of the day a useful tool, for beginners and also for
advanced photographers, was created with the help of the
community members.
By nature this works got lost over the time in the depht of the
forum activities ….
Reason enough for me to provide this PDF as an advanced and
pictured summary.
Download and read it before you start your next shooting in the
fantastic field of architectural photography.

Thomas Holtkötter, December 2009


1. PREPARATION ?

Check out the opening times of the building/structure and if any


permits for a shooting are needed.

Have a look to the weather forecast, make sure that you have
enough light, if you want to make pictures of a certain part of the
building/structure. Nothing is more frustrating to arrive after a 2
hours drive and it is raining while you have started your trip with
sunshine ...

Plan your trip for early in the morning or late in the afternoon, if
possible as there is normally the best lighting condition.

Experience Music © Brent Mooers


II. GEAR ?

A wide angle or ultra-wide angle lens helps to get dramatic


compositions and is probably the most important lens type for
architectural shots.

A slight tele lens is also always good for isolating particular elements
of a building/structure.

A tripod for long exposure or night shots is a must, also UV and


Polarizing filters are often helpful.

Mumuth © Dragan Jovancevic


III. TIME ?

Take your time to explore the building/structure, stroll around,


study the subject and the lighting conditions, find the best, the
unusual POV.

IV. COMPOSITION ?

Keep the composition as clean as possible, avoid distracting


elements, less elements are often a guarantee for more impact.

Include repetitive elements, like lines, pattern or forms.

Direct lines into the corners.

Try to find an eyecatching point of view, a diagonal or tilted


composition often adds a dynamic to the picture.

If you are going for a strong symmetrical composition with


dominating horizontal and vertical lines make sure that all lines are
well balanced, eliminate all tilted lines.

An example for a clean, simple and effective composition :

Bridge © Lars Klottrup


Repetitive elements : Lines directed to the corners :

Pattern © Thomas Holtkötter Lines © Sven Fennema

The eyecatching point of view :

Swinging II © KPK
V. LIGHT ?

Light plays a huge role.


It’s interacting with the building/structure, creating plasticity, giving
the building/structure depth.
Shadows can provide contrast and can highlight the repeating
elements of the building/structure.

Check out the different lighting conditions.


The morning sun will be different to the evening sun.
Also rainy and cloudy days will provide a certain mood with
architectural pictures.

An example where light is playing a major role :

Cutout © Thomas Holtkötter


VI. CONTRASTS ?

Clearly defined contrasts often boost an architectural picture.

This can be a curved element in a generally angular shot, a


contrasting color, anything that breaks a symmetry, etc.

Sometimes also the sky supplies a good counterpoint.

Examples for pictures showing contrast :

Architectural composition II Divisions © jfsavage


© Frederick Lim Cung Wei
VII. THE HUMAN TOUCH ?

A person or a group of people may often point out the dimension


or perspective of a building/structure or can illustrate the
relationship between the building and the people living or working
there.
People can often strengthen the impact of an architectural photo,
but it‘s not a must - sometimes the clean shot is more meaningful.

Try simply both options during a shooting.

Examples for pictures with the human touch :

Loungers © Dragan Jovancevic


Examples for pictures with the human touch :

Hema ballons© Fernand Hick

Looking at Tokyo © Norbert Woehnl


VIII. COLOUR OR B/W ?

It‘s up to the taste of the photographer, but colour is often an


important architectural element of a building/structure and can add
a lot to the picture.

On the other hand strong graphical shots can work very well in
black and white - the contrast often comes out much stronger.

Round and Round © Scott Crouse

Urban Palace © Sven Fennema


IX. POST PROCESSING ?

Beside the „normal“ post processing such as increasing contrast,


colour correction or sharpness, also remember to consider lens
distortion, which can be eliminated with a suitable software like
DXO or PTLens.

X. THE UNIQUE SHOT ?

In our area respective locales there are always those


building/structures that are the typical postcard landmark structures
that everyone has photographed. Well....go there, consider items 1
through 9 - and make the unique shot, the breathtaking one, the
one with the WOW factor !

MC Escher Reloaded © Stefan Rigo