Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Architectural Exterior

Architectural photography is a specialised form of photography that focuses on structure and form of architectural buildings and exteriors. The main focus of this genre of photography is to represent architecture in proper perspective and with an accurate portrayal of the buildings rather than approaching the photographs with artistic value or means.
Exterior architectural photography usually utilises specialist lenses such as tilt shift lenses to minimise abberations and portray the structure as accurately as possible. The use of such specialist lenses also minimises converging lines.

The most common use for this type of photography is generally in the real estate industry to advertise houses for sale or rent. The shots are typically taken straight on and the majority of them aren't even taken by a professional but the agent themselves. These pictures are genererally placed online or in adverts in the newspaper and have many photographic issues as they are taken by amateurs with amateur equipment. On the other end of the scale, up market real estates that sell up market properties usually utilise professional architectural photographers that produce structural photographs that are 'detailed studies' of the buildings, appealing and technically correct due to the use of knowledge, skill and professional technology. These photographs hold the power to sell a property, so much care is required in the photo taking process to portray the structure accurately but in a flattering manner, after al this is at large an advertisement for that structure.

Besides use in the real estate industry, exterior architectural shots can be used to advertise architectural services and design concepts as well. Architectural firms tend you choose their most innovatively designed structures to self promote, so good quality images are needed to portray these designs effectively. The innovatory designs of an architecture can prove to hold complications for the photographer however, as their most innovative designs are generally large commercial buildings that are bordered by other buildings in the city, causing difficulty with framing and light etc. as there is not much manoeuvrable space to work with causing the photographer to use different angles of view and perspectives etc.

Architectural photographers may also be used in the building progress of a sight to document different production stages of a structure. This sort of photography is mainly utilised for structures where there is lots of public interest in the structure at hand. They're also used to publicise builders, building practices or different materials used in the building process as a historical record and also a publication.

As touched on in the paragraph above, architcetural photography is also used as a form of historical reference for future years to come. Survey teams can be sent across the country or world to record all types of buildings. A record is made of both interior and exterior of the building, all the materials used in the contsruction of the buildings and any different types of architectural practices that have been used. Photographs are additional to technical studies and are a great reference when refering back to older building practices and industry processes in different places.

As learnt in class; the use of compositional values can be applied heavily within architectural photography as it is concerned highly with composition to make the structure appear as accurate as possible, some of these compositional qualities include:

* Balance: Balance is concerned with the equality of elements within a photograph. Balancing a prominent subject in the image with another point of interest within the picture. It also helps to fill empty space.

* Rule of thirds: The generic compositional rule of thumb which divides the picture into thirds. Use the grid in the viewfinder to help break up the image into thirds and create balance.

* Symmetry and patterns: Symmetry can make an eye catching image. It can also be used to introduce a focal point within an image. Symmetry can be created with in the structure itself or by utilising reflections etc.

* View point: Using interesting view points to change the audiences perspective of the structure. Show the viewer the building from a place they've never seen it from.

* Experimentation: Trying different things to think outside the square such as different DOF, viewpoint, filters, framing, shutter speeds and shooting at different times of day to the give the structure a different perspective.

* Repetition: Can be incorporated into symmetry and patterns. Look for repetition within the structure and highlight it.

* Depth: Used to help ensure a three dimensional look. Use lots of focal points to create depth.

* Framing: The framing of a photograph within architectural exterior photography is very important as structures are concerned with parallel lines and angles.

* Time of capture: Affects light, colour, shadows. Think about shooting at different times of day to create different effects within the image and to compliment the structure.

* Lead in lines: Use lead in lines to lead your viewers eyes around the images or to a focal point which has been determined by you.

* Background: Important as well as the forground, be sure to look at the background to ensure there is nothing out of place or distracting against the structure that is intended to be the focus.

* Design elements: States that shadows can add dramatic element to the picture.
It is also important to remember to capture the structure in a sympathetic and appropriate way to it's historical value.

As previously stated, one of the problems with architectural exteriors concerned with photography is the converging of lines, where parallel lines seem to come together from different directions at a given point in the photograph. This type of visual error can be corrected with a tiltshift or PC lens or by using photoshop.

Additional equipment to these professional large format lenses are things such as wide angle lenses, which are used to capture the type of space their name alludes to - a wide angle. These lenses are great for capturing a large space, but difficulties can arise in the lens abberation that occurs in the corners of the image (fisheye/vignetting) These abberations are pretty much inevitable but can be corrected or at least lessened in photoshop.

Telephoto lenses are also important aspects of an architectural photographers kit. They can be used to zoom from a long distance to fill the frame and get all the information required in the frame, as well as correct distortion. They are also good to capture high buildings as you can stand a long way back and still capture all the structure.

A tri-pod is essential to minimise camera shake and ensure straight lines within the image by removing human error. Additional equipment to this could be things such as polarising filters, light meters and speedlights to add extra light where texture or crevices need highlighting.

In conclusion, we can see that architectural photography surrounds us in everyday life, perhaps more than we realise! It can also be incorporated into lots of other genres of photography such as portraiture, fashion and landscape work and can take on its own form of artwork within itself.

Architectural interior

I hate doing this kind of thing.
Interior design in a public place was really challenging. Manouvering your way around people/trolleys/kids and trying to remain moderately inconspicuous photographing inatimate objects with a giant SLR is kind of hard.
I've produced some abstract pictures. My vertical panorama however did not work out, which I didn't realise till I got home, but there was too much lens flare from the sky light which I didn't see on screen on my camera and only discovered when I got home to merge my images.
I think if I were to go back I would take a different approach... and a tripod.


Landscape Landscape Landscape.
You were cold but interesting.

Vertical panorama of Dean
HDR's aren't so fab on a hazey overcast day.

Light sources, colour balance and filters.

" In photography and image processing, color balance is the global adjustment of the intensities of the colors (typically red, green, and blue primary colors). An important goal of this adjustment is to render specific colors – particularly neutral colors – correctly; hence, the general method is sometimes called gray balance, neutral balance, or white balance. Color balance changes the overall mixture of colors in an image and is used for color correction; generalized versions of color balance are used to get colors other than neutrals to also appear correct or pleasing. "
- Taken from Wikipedia.

Colour balance is extremely important within the photo taking practice and has many influential factors that can affect it. The main factor to be considered is light source. Different light sources have different colour temperatures which generate different coloured lights for example tungsten lighting produces a yellow light, fluro's can come in many different colours and speed lights are generally blue. The higher the k number the cooler the light source is.

Colour balance needs to be adjusted in order to render a correct colour temperature within in an image, almost counteracting the light source so the image produces accurate colour.

The help of additional filters and gels can assist in this process.

We went to the Canberra Convention Centre and took an abundance of photos in different light sources, daylight, fluro, tungsten and mixtures of the three in order to make custom white balances on our cameras. Apparently this is something we should be doing, using a grey or white card whenever we shoot, which to be honest I had never done properly before. But now I know how to do it.

My images have since been lost as my housemate borrow my SD card and formatted it. However I can display pictures from within my group (Taken exactly the way I had anyway) You can see those images courtesy of Sarah Lanham on her blog here:

I don't know how beneficial using an expo disc would be EVERY time you had a shoot.
Using a grey card isn't as complex and time consuimg as the expo disc. I think it's important to produce colour correct images and using custom white balance is a guaranteed way of producing these; if you do it properly.

Lens Testing

Lens choices, performance and testing.

The lens component is arguably the most important component of our cameras. The glass will time and time again be chosen over any other piece of equipment in a photographer's kit, and many a photographer will tell you they would take a dodgy body with a good lens over a top of the range body and a dodgy lens, and will fork out the money to prove this theory.

We know there are hundreds of different type of lenses you can invest in (fish eye, wide angle, fixed, macro, telephoto, tilt shift, PC etc) for hundreds of types of cameras (canon, nikon, pentax, sony etc), so it is important to do research on the lens before purchasing it and make sure it is right for your specific needs. We've learnt that each and every style of photography will have a lens that can enhance the photograph and compliment the style so you get the photograph you visualised every time.

The main component that differentiate lenses is their focal length. The focal length of a lens determines the amount of scene that is recorded. The bigger the focal length (1200 mm) the less image is recorded (close up) as apposed to smaller focal lengths (15mm) which capture a wide angle of view. Different focal lengths are appropriate for different styles of photography (however boundaries can always be pushed).

Portraiture generally utilises lenses with a focal length of around 80mm and above to ensure the frame is filled, however lately zoom lenses have become increasingly popular and are a good choice as they guarantee that you can stand back and not be in the subjects face (which some subjects find intimidating) and use a greater depth of field to blur out the background and ensure the focus is always on the subject. Focus is essential in portraiture lenses as the eyes of a model are often the most important aspect of the portrait, so you want them to be sharp.

For interior architectural shots, wide angle lenses (not fisheye) are appropriate as they have the ability to capture a whole scene at once. We've learnt that prime lenses will give the photographer an advantage in low light situations as they have the ability to shoot 'faster' and control linear distortion. External architecture is similar to interior but a little different. Wide angle lenses are an obvious choice to capture the whole scene and prime zoom lenses are good to control convergence of lines.

Landscape photography is easy to please in the lens department. Basically anything can be used depending on what type of shot you're after. Wide angle lenses are good to get sweeping shots, a zoom lens to capture a section of the landscape that you find interesting and to create depth of field or a standard 50mm lens to create multiple shots that can be stitched together in a panoramic way.

Additional to these generic sort of lenses, there are specialist lenses that appeal to a niche type of photography. These lenses can become quite expensive so it's important to be able to justify buying one of these by using it regularily. Perhaps just borrow one if that's not going to be the case ;).

Lenses have the ability to change perspective of an image, you can compress an image or create the illusion of space. It's important to know your lenses limits and it's faults (if any) and how to correct these. Of course as photographers, we are taught to try and fix everything on camera and use photo editing software as a last resort. So learn to counteract your lenses weaknesses.

Lenses can come into contact with many types of abberations: Chromatic abberation, spherical aberration, barrel and pin cushion distortion, resolution, transmission and vignetting.

There are two types of chromatic aberration: Axial and lateral. Lateral aberration is more common in longer lenses and harder to correct. You can't just stop down to reduce this aberration but it can be minimised on photoshop. Symmetrical lens design can reduce aberration, but let's be honest. There's no such thing as a perfect lens.

Spherical aberration is where the lens cannot bring marginal and axial lines to the same point. This results in a loss of contrast but can be reduced on camera by stopping down. Soft focus lens utilise this aberration.

Barrell distortion is where the image appears to be barrelled out from the center. This is because the lens cannot maintain the same shape across the image plane. This type of aberration does not affect sharpness just the shape and appearance of the subject and cannot be reduced on camera by stopping down.

The opposite of barrell distortion is pincushion distortion where the image looks like it has been squished in the middle. Funnily enough a lens can create both ends of the spectrum and cause both barrell and pincushion distortions. Again, this type of aberration does not affect sharpness and cannot be reduced on camera by stopping down. However, both of these distortions can be fixed in post production.

Transmission is concerned with the accuracy of the f-stop stated on camera. It effects exposure.
Vignetting is the darkness that appears in the corners of an image, can be corrected in photoshop however it does appeal to some people aesthetically and can even be added in photoshop for those who's boat it floats.

The shiny nature of a lens can affect it's performance. Light gets trapped and bounces around the glass and can cause ghosting and lens flare. This can be corrected by angle of view you choose to take but again, pleaases some people aesthetically and can be added in post production.

Lens testing is an important way to test for your camera's "sweet spot" It can be quite easy and beneficial, this is the general process.

Place 5 targets on a black flat surface, one in each corner and one in the center of the frame.
Set the lighting and make sure the exposure is set correcting.
Set up your tri-pod and ensure that it is balanced and level and then place your camera on it ensuring it's levelness on both planes aswell.
Focus auto or manually on the scene.
Using cable release take exposures at different stops and different zooms and critically analyse all your images.

We've learnt that you can find tonnes of information on different abberations and how to correct them or at least minimise them. This time of lens test is always going to produce different results because of different camera settings and different physical settings in which it is taken. You can utilise manafacturers resources which generally provide a means of testing your lens for its sweet spot as per maufacturers settings. As previously discussed no one lens is going to be perfect, it's basically impossible, but there are means and measures we can use to minimize these aberrations both in camera and in post production editing.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Industrial photography takes place within or on behalf of an industrial organization. It documents production processes, products, work organization, employees, the layout, equipment, culture or enterprise.
It started out in the 1850's and 60's when photographers would generally document the railway industry.
Industrial photography is a very broad photography space and can coincide with other styles of photography such as documentary, architecture, portraiture etc etc, basically anything.
Generally industrial photography uses only available light, and excess and additional lights are not used. Hence tripods are a good tool to bring along on industrial shoots to cater for this.
OH&S is another important factor to consider when going on an industrial shoot, often excess safety gear will need to be worn or utilized.
It is also important to consider the safety of your equipment, for example bringing long lenses when shooting dangerous or messy jobs so that you can remain a safe distance from the scene but still get in on the action with your lense.
Here are my six shots from our industry shoot at the Fyshwick CIT campus.

Interior space including ceiling and floor. Horizontal & Vertical.

Chiaroscuro techniques

HDR: Have to admit I've never done one of these because I absolutley HATE the way they look.

Detail shot


Other stuff

Thursday, March 3, 2011

WEEK 3: Large Format Cameras

* Better Resolution for a given print size
* Sheet film = control of processing
* Full control of; - Lens position, image shape, depth of field, film back position, perspective

* heavier and nearly always require a tripod
* cumbersome and require more preparation

Different types of formats:
* 3.5 x 4.5
* 4 x 5
* 5 x 7
* 8 x 10
* 11 x 14
* 20 x 24

Different types:
*flat bed
*field cameras