The title of this blog could collectively describe the majority of architectural photographic experiments that we receive every day. And the problem can be clearly understood by any of us, who has ever tried to get a building into the frame. The bigger the building - the bigger the problem.
And this is exactly the core of ill-looking architectural shots - we, and our cameras are so small compared to what we want to photograph. We have to step back quite a bit to get all into the frame we want, but this makes the building small in the frame. This physical exercise is welcome in the open air when taking pictures of a farm house or castle on a hill, but is somewhat impossible to achieve in tightly paced cities...
So what do we do? We get a wider angle lens, of course!
If it only were as simple as that... we would all be Ezra Stollers ( Article about, Wiki link).
Complex physics come into play ( Optical distortions explained
), but to keep things simple - tall building appear to be falling over in wide angle shots. And this is not pleasant to look at most of times. One way to remedy this situation, is to use costly Tilt&Shift lenses ( good article with fab illustrations
). In the old days, life was somewhat easier with the folding camera
Most of the distortion compensation can be done digitally nowadays, extreme distortions tend to make the image smaller, due to extremely stretched out pixels at the edges otherwise. But this can be done, and this is what I would like you to try out.
Regarding the image on the right, it has been taken with a 18mm lens, but all the verticals are nicely parallel throughout the frame. This is what we will be aiming for. This is also all true for interiors (scroll to the end for further reading).
Of course, not all architecture shots need to be without convergence, for example, it helps to convey perspective and might give an illusion of infinity (look at the wall on the left).
In a nutshell, images of architecture sell better if they are:
* Corrected for distortion, if it is not evidently intentional
* In ubran environments it is all about composition. Look for patterns and repeating features, strong lines and rows of windows. Use tilt-shift lens if possible or compensate later digitally.
* Truly interesting abstract images can be achieved with long telephoto lenses (300mm and up) where the perspective is extremely compressed and the sense of depth and spatial relation between objects is minimized.
* Rural images enjoy more context which tells a story (farm in the valley, church spire over the forest).
Tips for urban photography
Interior photography tips
Another great site with tutorials and tips
Dreamstime blog articles on the subject:
Right on the subject! by Bevanward
Good point about symmetry by Tanyae
A few good lines on interior photography by Retina2020
In depth, double edition blog on photographing architecture by Abdul Sami Haqqani
Photo credits: Madeleine Openshaw, Binkski, Matthew Valentine, Mmulligan, ภาณุพงศ์ พรหมยศ.