In this article I want to talk to you about the use of perspective in architectural photography and how I use it. To make things as clear as possible I shot a few photos of the town hall in my hometown IJsselstein, The Netherlands. It was designed by Ben van Berkel of UNStudio (before he became really successful internationally).
Perspective and positioning your camera
As you can see I positioned my camera a little to the side of the building. By choosing this position the front and the right side of the building are visible. I show you as the viewer of this image that you are looking at a 3 dimensional shape, a building. Look at the yellow lines I added to the picture. While the lines in the front of the building stay parallel, the ones on the right side converge. This effect shows the viewer perspective.
Notice also the way the sunlight falls on the building. You can easily see that by looking at the shadows(at blacks arrows) of the posts in the foreground. Because of this angle of the sunlight, the texture of the façade shows of nicely.
As you can see I have an enormous foreground, that doesn’t add value to my photo (the darkened part). This picture was shot with a 24 mm lens, which is a pretty big wide angle (on a full frame camera). How can I get rid of this foreground? Well I a have a very special 24 mm lens: the Nikkor PC-E lens. This lens is a tilt-shift lens. As an architectural photographer I use this lens to photograph buildings, while keeping vertical lines straight.
Here you see this lens on my camera. As you can see I have shifted the front part of the lens up with 1 centimeter (yellow arrow)
In more detail: left the front part that has been shifted up and the right part with the strong white line as the neutral position of the lens.
And this is the result: a photo with less foreground and all vertical lines straight. This wouldn’t be the case if we tilted the camera and the lens backwards to get rid of the foreground.
I hope you learned something of this article about the basic but key principles of photographing architecture.
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