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Do you want to learn more about architectural photography?

Book Review: Architectural Photography: Composition, Capture, And Digital Image Processing by Adrian Schulz

There is a lot more to architectural photography than choosing a subject and pressing the shutter. It takes the ability to manage a lot of factors in order to produce an accurate reproduction of a building or series of buildings. The goal of an architectural photograph is to show the form and appeal of a building. The goal of Architectural Photography is to show you how to accomplish the task.

The digital age has brought with it a lot of new opportunities and technologies that not only make this a much more exciting field, but gives both photographers and architect’s the ability to present and market their work in new and more exciting ways. Architectural Photography is 232 pages in length and is divided into four chapters.

Chapter One, “Fundamentals,” starts off with an examination of what architectural photography is, where it came from, and where it is going. In this short chapter you will look at the early history before photographic technology developed. You will follow through some of the first known photos all the way into modern digital imaging. Then you will explore what it takes to create a true, authentic architectural photograph. Finally, you will explore the different forms of architectural photography.

Chapter Two, “Photographic Technology,” describes the technology that is available to you today for taking architectural photographs. First, there is a comparison between film and digital imaging, lens qualities, and cameras. Then, you get into a detailed examination of the equipment that you need to accomplish your goals.

The first thing is the camera. You begin with a discussion of the pros and cons of different types of cameras and formats. Then you look at the different types of lenses, focal ranges, and optical qualities. You’re then shown all of the different types of accessories that are helpful such as filters, tri-pods, adapters, memory cards, flashes, and batteries.

Chapter Three, “Shooting Techniques,” is about how architecture should be photographed. This includes all of the different aspects that need to be addressed. There are a wide range of factors including composition, existing light, and weather. In this chapter, you will see that different approaches will produce different results.

You start off with what makes a good architectural photograph and then you begin to break down the parts of the photograph. Topics of this chapter include perspective distortion and converging verticals, camera position, image frame and composition, photographing interior spaces, creativity tips, and how to solve problems.

Chapter Four, “Post-Processing Techniques,” looks at the techniques used after the shoot has taken place. You begin with a discussion of digital formats. This is primarily between JPEG and RAW formats. Next, you look at a workflow in Photoshop, using RAW images and the Adobe Camera Raw converter.

You then get into post-processing to fix problems that have to do with distortion and perspective problems from the lens. Other topics covered are balancing colors, reducing noise, optimizing contrasts, sharpening the image, and saving your file. Finally you will look at crating panoramas, working with High Dynamic Range (HDR), and other creative tips.

Overall, I think that Architectural Photography provides a good overview of what is really a complex topic. One could spend an entire book on just one of the topics covered in chapter three such as shooting interiors, but the author gives you a good accounting of what you can expect from each technique. He does a very good job of explaining the problems one can encounter especially with perspective.

The book itself takes you through a logical set of steps as you move from history, to technology, into shooting, and post production. While Architectural Photography is not for the complete novice, it is a pretty easy read for those comfortable with basic photography skills. It will also appeal to architects who need photographers to photograph their buildings. It will give you the fundamentals of what it takes to get an appealing and artistic architectural photograph. If you want to learn more about architectural photography, then I can easily recommend this book.

About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.

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