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As touched on in the paragraph above, architcetural photography is also used as a form of historical reference for future years to come.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.