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Discussion on how to shoot architecture


The Practicing Photographer

with Ben Long

Video: Discussion on how to shoot architecture

I have the great good fortune of getting to travel a lot, which means I often find myself in some beautiful architectural spaces. And I'm sitting here, right now, in a pretty nice, outdoor architectural space with Richard Klein. Richard does something that I can't do. He takes really nice pictures of architectural spaces. So, on The Practicing Photographer this week, I wanted to talk to you Richard, about What can I do? An ordinary photographer, a non-architectural photographer. What can I do when I get into a really nice architectural space somewhere, to get a nice picture? A picture that's something in the essence of the place.
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  1. 20m 3s
    1. Pulling stills from a timelapse NEW
      6m 8s
    2. 1m 35s
      1. Introducing The Practicing Photographer
        1m 35s
    3. 12h 10m
      1. Choosing a camera
        5m 27s
      2. Looking at light as a subject
        2m 22s
      3. Using a small reflector to add fill light
        5m 45s
      4. Editing photo metadata with PhotosInfo Pro for iPad
        6m 30s
      5. Let your lens reshape you
        7m 26s
      6. Compositing street photography images with Photoshop
        7m 44s
      7. Expand your filter options with step-up and step-down rings
        3m 56s
      8. Shooting without a memory card
        3m 6s
      9. Give yourself a year-long assignment
        5m 28s
      10. Working with reflections
        1m 26s
      11. Exploring mirrorless cameras
        7m 25s
      12. Batch processing photos with the Adobe Image Processor
        7m 30s
      13. Limiting yourself to a fixed-focal-length lens
        2m 13s
      14. Creating tiny worlds: Shooting technique
        4m 15s
      15. Creating tiny worlds: Post-processing techniques
        11m 41s
      16. Shooting macro shots on an iPhone
        3m 18s
      17. Using a tripod
        3m 33s
      18. Wildlife and staying present
        5m 58s
      19. Batch exposure adjustments on raw files
        6m 52s
      20. Why Shoot Polaroid
        11m 12s
      21. Seizing an opportunity
        4m 4s
      22. Four photographers do a light-as-subject exercise
        12m 24s
      23. Shooting macro bug photos with a reversed lens
        4m 54s
      24. Varnishing a photo for a painterly effect
        13m 36s
      25. Shooting wildlife
        7m 24s
      26. Discussion on how to shoot architecture
        12m 27s
      27. Using a lens hood
        4m 48s
      28. Working with themes
        2m 48s
      29. Setting up an HDR time lapse
        7m 55s
      30. Processing an HDR time lapse
        7m 55s
      31. Two perspectives on travel photography
        12m 28s
      32. Scanning Photos
        5m 37s
      33. Photo assignment: shooting an egg
        3m 13s
      34. Reviewing the egg shot images
        6m 47s
      35. Shooting in your own backyard
        4m 38s
      36. Jpeg iPad import process
        3m 17s
      37. Shooting a product shot in open shade
        9m 34s
      38. Reviewing the product shot images
        4m 5s
      39. Warming up
        3m 26s
      40. Taking a panning action shot
        10m 17s
      41. Scanning polaroid negatives and processing in Photoshop
        8m 17s
      42. Shooting a silhouette
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      43. Going with an ultra-light gear configuration
        5m 29s
      44. Working with masks and calculations in Photoshop
        12m 38s
      45. Working with flash for macro photography
        4m 56s
      46. Colorizing a black and white photo in Photoshop
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      47. Using duct tape and zip ties in the field
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      48. When the on camera flash is casting a shadow
        3m 4s
      49. Using Lightroom on the road
        6m 28s
      50. Listening to your camera to get good exposure
        2m 20s
      51. Shooting a successful self portrait with a phone
        7m 18s
      52. Switching to Lightroom from another application
        9m 48s
      53. Photographing animals in wildlife refuges
        6m 41s
      54. Shooting level
        2m 42s
      55. Photoshop and Automator
        8m 54s
      56. Shooting when the light is flat
        3m 23s
      57. Discussing the business of stock photography
        9m 48s
      58. Shooting tethered to a monitor
        3m 21s
      59. Making a 360 degree panorama on the iPhone
        4m 45s
      60. Understanding the three flash setup
        3m 34s
      61. Shooting a three flash portrait
        4m 6s
      62. Understanding the differences with third party lenses
        4m 43s
      63. Understanding why files look different on depending on device
        5m 25s
      64. Working with a geotagging app on the iPhone
        4m 43s
      65. Using high speed flash sync to dim ambient light
        7m 29s
      66. Using your iPad as a second monitor
        5m 46s
      67. Understanding exposure with a leaf shutter camera
        3m 28s
      68. Photography practice through mimicry
        8m 8s
      69. Canon wireless flash with built in radio control
        5m 59s
      70. Posing and shooting pairs of people
        5m 35s
      71. Shooting with a shape in mind
        3m 15s
      72. Shooting tethered to a laptop
        4m 40s
      73. Softboxes vs. umbrellas
        2m 55s
      74. Getting your project out into the world
        6m 25s
      75. Exploring how to think about shooting a new environment
        3m 56s
      76. Discussing the book "The Passionate Photographer" with Steve Simon
        6m 4s
      77. Highlighting iOS 8 updates on the iPhone5S
        10m 46s
      78. Exploring manual controls with iOS 8 and ProCamera
        5m 30s
      79. Understanding how to compose with an empty sky
        4m 54s
      80. Using an iPhone to make a print in the darkroom
        7m 16s
      81. How to use glycerin as a photography tool
        2m 16s
      82. Understanding micro focus adjustment and Lens Align
        11m 19s
      83. Working with hair in post
        3m 28s
      84. Taking a quick portrait and directing a subject
        5m 50s
      85. Getting inspired through the work of others
        11m 22s
      86. Taking a flattering portrait with flash
        4m 21s
      87. Creating an unaligned HDR image
        3m 3s
      88. Exploring how to use Bokeh
        5m 38s
      89. Shooting stills from a drone
        6m 57s
      90. Using a monitor to get a first person view of the aerial camera
        8m 0s
      91. Understanding lens profile correction
        5m 33s
      92. Working with models
        2m 40s
      93. Understanding the labels on SD cards
        10m 32s
      94. Setting up a macro time lapse of a flower
        6m 18s
      95. Taking a portrait that's tightly cropped or slightly obscured
        3m 24s
      96. Tips for shooting panoramas
        7m 16s
      97. Carrying a point-and-shoot camera
        4m 44s
      98. Adjusting the color of shadows in an image
        5m 35s
      99. Evaluating camera-strap options
        4m 42s
      100. The 100th Practicing Photographer
        3m 31s
      101. Using light-pollution maps for planning night shoots
        3m 26s
      102. Shooting a series of star shots for a stack
        8m 32s
      103. Stitching together stacks of stars
        8m 59s
      104. Understanding how to clean sensor dust
        10m 27s
      105. Dry sensor cleaning
        6m 23s
      106. Cleaning the sensor with moisture
        7m 32s
      107. Composing in the center
        2m 48s
      108. Working with an electronic shutter control
        2m 50s
      109. Understanding how to use the Wi-Fi feature in some cameras
        2m 56s
      110. Exploring the software equivalent to graduated ND (neutral density) filters
        7m 8s
      111. Don't be predictable in your framing
        10m 21s
      112. Shooting with ND filter and flash to balance subject and background exposure
        2m 42s
      113. Understanding when to go low contrast
        3m 15s
      114. Reasons for shooting images alone
        4m 5s
      115. Working with colored lens filters and converting to black and white
        14m 4s
      116. Waiting for a subject when the light is good
        5m 2s
      117. Understanding options for tripod heads
        7m 23s
      118. Shooting a slow-shutter zoom-and-spin shot for light effect
        4m 47s
      119. Shooting and processing a long exposure at night
        10m 0s
      120. Getting creative with image curation
        4m 12s
      121. Why equivalent lenses don't always meter the same
        5m 42s

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Watch the Online Video Course The Practicing Photographer
12h 32m Appropriate for all May 16, 2013 Updated Aug 27, 2015

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In The Practicing Photographer, photographer and teacher Ben Long shares a weekly serving of photographic instruction and inspiration. Each installment focuses on a photographic shooting scenario, a piece of gear, or a software technique. Each installment concludes with a call to action designed to inspire you to pick up your camera (or your mouse or smartphone) to try the technique for yourself.

Ben Long

Discussion on how to shoot architecture

I have the great good fortune of getting to travel a lot, which means I often find myself in some beautiful architectural spaces. And I'm sitting here, right now, in a pretty nice, outdoor architectural space with Richard Klein. Richard does something that I can't do. He takes really nice pictures of architectural spaces. So, on The Practicing Photographer this week, I wanted to talk to you Richard, about What can I do? An ordinary photographer, a non-architectural photographer. What can I do when I get into a really nice architectural space somewhere, to get a nice picture? A picture that's something in the essence of the place.

>> Well Bill, what I like to do first of all, is to walk around the space And look for the one big thing. What is it about that space that really compels me, that draws me into it, that makes me want to be there? >> So you don't mean, necessarily, literally the biggest thing in the space, but the, the thing with the most impact. >> There will be an aspect of the space. I mean it might have, you know, soaring volume. There might be windows with light streaming in. There might be a beautiful view out of the window, there might be cantilever structures that defy gravity.

>> Okay. >> You know, there just might be beautiful finish out surfaces, marble floors, and you know beautiful things like that or the furnishings might be what it is. But there's always an aspect that I find most compelling. >> Okay. That's interesting because I feel like a lot of times when I walk into a space I, I do what I tell novice landscape photographers not to do. I go well I don't know this whole space is nice. I have to have all of it. So I shoot a panorama of it. I get my widest angle lens or something like that. You're talking about something very different which is not having to worry about the entire space.

>> Exactly, exactly, and what I find is many times if I represent just pieces of the space in the image. >> Mm-hm. >> The person can construct the space in their mind's eye. And I actually think it's more interesting to do that because fantasy is always better than reality. >> That's true. Particularly when hotel rooms are concerned. >> Yeah, I mean think of it in the way a movie is edited. You know we don't need to see the person drive up, turn the car off, get out, walk to the door. All we really need to see is headlights in the distance and the door opening, the front door opening.

And we connect all that up. And it's the same thing when you're shooting architecture. So I many times, don't try to get the entire space in unless it's the scale that is, is really doing it. Then it's a short lens, and capture that scale. But if it's not that, then no. >> Okay, so how many pictures do you typically take, and I know this is kind of an ended question. But so, I, I, check into some beautiful. Little chateau on the Mediterranean or somewhere. I've got a really nice room with a great view, you're talking about half a dozen nice shots to represent that space, or? >> The room itself, you mean? >> Yeah.

If I'd walked in and gone, wow I really love this place where I'm staying. I want to be sure that I take something home of it visually. >> Okay, okay. Well as, as a person shoots hotel room typically what I'll do in a case like that, anytime you're in paradise. Normally the shot is the view. >> Okay. >> So you want to look out, You want to include enough of the room to get a sense of the surfaces and the finishes. Maybe a slice of chair, a chunk of bed. >> Okay. >> Right? Or a lamp. >> Okay. >> But really, it's going to be, open up the curtains and let's see out.

If the, if it's got doors, open the doors. Let the breeze in, let the curtains blow. Get a little bit of motion, or a little bit of something else happening. >> Mm-hm. >> >> And then expose for the exterior. >> Okay. >> and, and if you don't have any lighting equipment with you. If you're really traveling on vacation. Then you might have to take a couple of exposures and combine them together with HDR. >> Yeah. >> Or some other method later if you really want to have that detail on the inside showing up, sometimes you can just turn a lamp on. >> Right. >> And that will give you just enough. A warm glow down the edge of a chair.

>> Right. >> Is just enough to indicate what that room feels like. But it's really, in that case would be the view. >> The, with the view in the background. >> The view in the background. >> Right. >> It's really the primary aspect would be the view. >> And the room is probably built that way on purpose. >> That's exactly right. >> So that you're actually capturing the intent of, of the architect. >> Of the architect, yeah. And, and in the beginning, and you might then spin around and take a look back towards the bed as a detail shot. >> Okay. >> Or you might look for any other little architectural detail that really jumps out at you. >> Okay. >> And then just detail it. >> So do you follow this through the sorry I'm on vacation, and I'm in Florence and I walk into the Duomo' and it's this beautiful arching space.

Do you follow this same the same procedure there of I'm just looking for the thing that's really the essence of it for me? >> Exactly, always, always. See for me it's all about making a commitment. And you want to commit to the strongest aspect there is. And then you're going to build your shot around that. You don't want something that's so diffused that when the viewer looks at the image, they don't really know what you were taking a picture of, right? You want to point it out. You want to say this is it. This is what I'm driving at. And it makes a much stronger composition.

>> So you say that you had this impulse, you identified the thing that is the really compelling thing. And then you build the shot. So what is, what do you building from there? Or, how are you building, rather? >> Well, for me, I like to walk around the space. >> Mm-hm. >> And just, take a look, once I've got my, I've figured out where we're going. Then, it's the question of taking that three-dimensional space and compressing it to a 2D picture plane and when I'm doing that in my mind's eye. What I'm really thinking about is how can I have really bold shapes. >> Okay. >> And how I can make it graphic? How can I make it an interesting even if I don't understand what is in the picture.

>> Right. >> If I looked at the picture with my eyes, slightly squinted and off all I can see were shapes. >> Right. >> Would it be interesting? >> Okay. >> So you want to make those interesting shapes and then use that as the basis of your composition. >> And in that regard it sounds like exactly what I do when I am landscape shooting. I'm, I'm looking for geometry. I'm looking for geometric compositions that I like in place of lights so. You are, you are taking. The landscape of the, of the interior space, in much the same way that I tend to shoot exterior landscapes, I think. >> Right, right. >> So, I typically don't travel with lots of lighting.

So what are my options there? If I'm, if I'm in a place that's kind of flat or not working? >> Well, the first thing to do, is, after you have found your camera viewpoint and you've made a lens selection a focal length selection that really serves what it is you're trying to do. Then it's a question now of looking at the available light. >> Let's back up one step. It's focal length selection that serves what I'm trying got do. So I'm looking for camera position and focal length that's going to give me the the proportions and, and depth compression or stretching that I want.

>> Yeah, it's really simple. People like to make this whole focal length thing really complicated, but it's really easy. And, and what it all breaks down to is, whatever's closest to the camera's going to be the biggest. >> Right. >> Right? So you use a short lens, its going to then exaggerate your foreground. Your foreground elements are going to be bigger. >> Right. >> They'll become more important than the background. >> Right. >> You use the longer lens, the foreground is smaller and the backgrounds bigger. >> Right. >> Right. So you're emphasizing the background. That's all there is to it. So it's really a question now. You have to make that decision yourself.

And this goes back to, what it was, what's your big thing. >> Right. >> Right? And then whatever that big thing is, then you're going to use the lens, that really points out that big thing. >> Okay. So I made that choice, and now we're moving on to the lighting. >> Right. So, so the next thing to do, once you've got that ready to go. Now is the question looking at the light. >> Okay. >> And the way we create, and really we're at the point now, we've got our flat 2D plane worked out. So now we want to put the depth in it. >> Okay. >> And we put the depth in it with the lighting and composition but primarily the lighting.

>> Okay. >> And it's the shading that actually puts the depth in it. >> Okay. >> So if everything is flatly illuminated there's no depth. >> Right. >> But, if the light falls off a round surfaces, and across surfaces, now we start having depth. >> Right. >> Right? And many times that means waiting for the correct time of day, for the sun. Right? You may need that sun streaming in, or maybe you don't want that sun streaming in. But what you really want is the light bouncing off the balcony. And then shaping a column just on the inside. >> Okay. >> Right, so that, that the light then would wrap and fall off.

I tend, whenever I can to try to put the darker items on the sides of the frame >> Okay. >> To naturally vignette so you don't have to fight the eye tracing right off the edge of the frame, right. So, but it's really a question of being sensitive and looking at what's there. And trying to decide is the sun in the correct place, would it help to turn a lamp on or not. Many times you can take the shade off the lamp, and just turn the bulb on, get it off frame, and that'll give you more fill. Right? Or you might want the lamp in the shot, and if that's the case you'll have the shade on and have it illuminate something like a chair down below or A table, or something like that, and personally, I like the style.

>> Okay. >> So, I'm always looking for whatever little props or magazines or things now can also be part of the interest of the shot, and place them on the table or you know something like that, just to soften it, to put a human touch in. >> So it may be that I want to try either taking the same shot over and over at different times of the day to see how I get different light or at the very least wait a few days before I worry about tackling this problem and watch the light in the mean time. And. >> Absolutely. I think, I think watching the light that's my favorite solution. >> Okay. >> I prefer to watch the light.

When I go on location to shoot, I schedule a couple of the days prior to the shoot in order for me then just lap the place at different times of day and really watch what's going on. There are apps you can have for your phone. >> Right >> That will help you figure out the angle of the light, >> Right >> That can be really good, but it really means you gotta visualize what's going to happen. If you haven't looked at the lot, >> Right >> Then you really won't know what's going to happen. The easiest way is to work in reality. >> Right >> And to just take your time. And take a look around. >> Alright so let me see if I got this. I come into the space, and I find the thing that is, just personally for me, the compelling the thing, the thing that has made me think this is a beautiful space.

The thing that has made me want to go home with a reasonable image of this. Once I've identified that, I think about camera position, and focal length to, emphasize that thing, but I'm working as a flat two dimensional composition, just the way that I personally do when I'm shooting landscapes. I'm looking for just good solid composition. And now it's time to pull that back into three dimensions by turning lights on here, lighting this, shading that, and so and and so forth to get planes of depth. >> You're right. And using the sun because the sun is really going to be your major light source so you've got to be. Sense of what it's going to do.

And there's one last little thing you want to keep in mind. And this is in, in terms of composition. And that is, is that you don't want lines in your image to line up with each other. So you wouldn't want, than the edge of a table to line up with the edge of the railing. >> Right. >> Right, you'd separate those two out just a little bit and same vertically. >> Right. >> Right, so you just want to spend a moment, look around your frame and look for the things that are tangent with each other. Because that will flatten the image. Now if you want to do a really flat geometric image. You would purposely line those thing up. >> Right. >> And you would purposely flatly light it.

>> Right. Right. That's fantastic, Richard. That actually makes a lot of sense to me. And it is interesting. I do think about, there's a lot of similarities there to the way I work, when I'm shooting things that I am. More custom to shooting like landscapes or, or other things. so we've just given you a five step process for perfect architectural photography and the fact is that it's much more complicated than that. And >> Well and those are actually the steps I go through. It's a question now of sensitivity. >> Okay. >> And taking the time to really look. And to pay attention.

And to also and, and what I find is really important, is that you really want to express who you are in the process. And I find that the longer I work with it, with a particular shot. >> Yeah. >> And the more of the things that I put in the shot that I like, personally. >> Yeah. >> Then I imbue myself into that photograph. >> Mm. Right? >> Right. >> And over time, that becomes my taste. >> Right. >> Right? Cause I framed it. So obviously I'm talking about myself, right? Every action that I take I'm really identifying who I am. >> Right. >> As a photographer. >> Right. >> Right? So I think that its really.

If you have the time, or you can make the time. >> Right. >> Then you really want to imbue yourself into the space, too. >> That's fantastic. Richard's got a couple of things in the Lynda library that you really ought to take a look at that go much deeper into this. Thank you very much, Richard. >> You're very welcome, Ben. >> This has been really interesting. >> Great.

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