The Practicing Photographer

Discussion on how to shoot architecture


The Practicing Photographer

with Ben Long

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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. 4m 47s
    1. Shooting a slow-shutter zoom-and-spin shot for light effect NEW
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  2. 1m 35s
    1. Introducing The Practicing Photographer
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  3. 11h 46m
    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
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    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
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    18. Wildlife and staying present
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    19. Batch exposure adjustments on raw files
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    20. Why Shoot Polaroid
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    21. Seizing an opportunity
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    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
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    29. Setting up an HDR time lapse
      7m 55s
    30. Processing an HDR time lapse
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    31. Two perspectives on travel photography
      12m 28s
    32. Scanning Photos
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    33. Photo assignment: shooting an egg
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    34. Reviewing the egg shot images
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    35. Shooting in your own backyard
      4m 38s
    36. Jpeg iPad import process
      3m 17s
    37. Shooting a product shot in open shade
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    38. Reviewing the product shot images
      4m 5s
    39. Warming up
      3m 26s
    40. Taking a panning action shot
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    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
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    44. Working with masks and calculations in Photoshop
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    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
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    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
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    55. Photoshop and Automator
      8m 54s
    56. Shooting when the light is flat
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    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
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    60. Understanding the three flash setup
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    61. Shooting a three flash portrait
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    62. Understanding the differences with third party lenses
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    63. Understanding why files look different on depending on device
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    64. Working with a geotagging app on the iPhone
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    65. Using high speed flash sync to dim ambient light
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    66. Using your iPad as a second monitor
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    67. Understanding exposure with a leaf shutter camera
      3m 28s
    68. Photography practice through mimicry
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    69. Canon wireless flash with built in radio control
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    70. Posing and shooting pairs of people
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    71. Shooting with a shape in mind
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    72. Shooting tethered to a laptop
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    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
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    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
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    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

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Watch the Online Video Course The Practicing Photographer
11h 52m Appropriate for all May 16, 2013 Updated Jul 30, 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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