Vademecum of exterior architectural photography

Just because is unable to move, the architectural building has always been one of the favourite subject of every photographer. Every architecture hides infinite meanings (sociological, historical, artistic, technological…), of its own context, and this reason always incentivized the creative, explorative and documentarist research of all photographers that approached this genre.
Nowadays architectural photography has been reevaluated, but historically there was who hated it: Frank Lloyd Wright, a name on all, never appreciated it because incapable of representing the three-dimensional character founding the architecture itself.
I’ve been always fond of it.
Montjuic Barcellona
Maybe because I’m an architect’s son.
Maybe it attracts me because there are many different reasons for taking a photograph of an architecture:
-because one wants to historically document the construction, demolition or simply the presence of a specific building;
-because one wants to investigate the “human” aspect or, however, the emotional one: the alienating or alienated aspect; the desert or metaphysical atmospheres; the abandonment or the  resignation; the uninhabitable or surreal aspect of the structure;
-because it might be a challenge and you can show squared also what was born rounded (and viceversa): in the sense that, investigating and taking a photograph of a single architectural detail, one  can argue the whole architecture to which it belongs (and/or viceversa);
-because there always be a scheme of perspectival lines to find out: catchy or comforting, it will depend on different points of view.
Corviale
What is essential for a good architectural photograph? Without any doubts, the use of a tripod. Regardless the moment of the day in which one is taking the photograph and, so, the light at disposal and provided that the subject is immobile, it is better to use low ISO to reduce the noise and a diaphragm quite closed to have a good depth of field. All of this involves a relevant extension of the exposure times and, as a consequence, the use of a tripod will be necessary.
It is better to make surveys to take a good architectural photograph. In order to value an architecture, it is recommended to well study the effects of light on it during the different moment of the day. For example, if a building is full of details to value, it will be better the side light in order to create light and shade contrast and, so, a more realistic three-dimensional effect. In case of a mirrored or glass building, it will be better a frontal light.
Vila Olimpic Barcellona
What are your favourite architectures to take a photograph? Do you prefer the architectural giants or details? Do you use the architectures as subjects or rather as frames?

Leave a Reply