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  • How to take architectural photos that are a cut above the rest

  • With the right lens on your Nikon camera body, you will be taking great architectural photos in no time. To make your photos a cut above the rest, it takes understanding your gear and setting thoroughly. Read more to find out what to look out for when shooting, which photography gear will increase your angle of view, and how to avoid plunging lines and perspective distortion.

    It is always worth looking up. Play with the lines in the image to lead the viewer through your shot and increase the tension. Photo: Max Leitner

    Architecture and perspectives

    When you are looking to shoot a unique angle of view: a NIKKOR fisheye lens, a NIKKOR lens with perspective correction or a NIKKOR lens with manual focus can help you create image compositions in a whole new way. Whether you want to distort or straighten the subject, Nikon's special lenses give you the creative possibilities to take your personal point of view and express your vision of the world.

    TGV Terminal Saint-Exupéry offers many angles and facets. Photo: Max Leitner

    Setting the scene for architecture


    Architecture photography is particularly exciting because of the many interesting lines that buildings, bridges, railway stations, historical structures possess. Many of them are in our everyday surroundings, we just don't consciously take the time to notice them. When you slow down and focus to shoot architecture, you will notice many striking features. You can study the lines of historical or modern architecture to guide the viewer's eye and reveal new perspectives. Use them to show the everyday in a new light. By carefully framing these lines through the selection of details in the image, the perception of the space can be skillfully changed.

    Città dello Sport | Rom | Photo: Max Leitner

    Tips for perfecting architectural shots


    Pay attention to your position

    When photographing your subject, make sure that you position yourself parallel to the subject in order to avoid converging lines. If you're not careful when positioning yourself, it can cause the photo to "tilt back", which is not always intentional. When selecting NIKKOR lenses to help with this, those with perspective correction (PC-E) allow you to easily adjust the plane of focus without having to change the position of the camera. With this type of lens, you can correct the blurred lines that can occur when shooting architecture. For example, with the PC-E NIKKOR 24 mm f/3.5D ED.

    Urban Flow | Nuremberg | Photo: Formgestalter

    Time of day

    The light of day has a direct influence on the emphasis of lines and shadows on your subject, so when planning your day of shooting architecture, consider the time of day. The morning and evening hours are ideal, when the sun is lower in the sky and the light is softer.

    Perspective

    Take the time to play with perspective as much as possible when on location. For example, photograph from the bottom up to emphasise the size of buildings. Unusual perspectives create tension and attention. Diagonals suggest a spatial relationship in the picture. Include existing lines in the picture and use them to guide the viewer's gaze.

    Use a tripod

    It is also helpful to shoot using a tripod. This allows you to work with medium apertures between f/11 and f/16 and a correspondingly higher exposure time, while your Nikon camera records the best possible image quality at a low ISO value.

    Image composition

    Last but not least, pay attention to the foreground. Especially with small focal lengths or wide-angle shots, the front area of a photo dominates very strongly. Here, you run the risk of the actual subject being lost in the picture.

    Staircases in buildings are real architectural classics. Photo: Max Leitner

    Extreme angle of view with the fisheye

    The AF-S fisheye-NIKKOR 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED lens combines the creativity of an extremely wide angle of view with the versatility of a zoom lens. A simple change of focal length gives you two effects at once. At 8mm you can shoot circular subjects, while at 15mm you can shoot a full-frame fisheye view. The result is superb high-resolution images that are sharp all the way to the corners of the frame, even at an open aperture of 1:3.5. Coupled with the very fast and quiet autofocus and the reliable exposure control, nothing stands in your way of breathtaking architectural photos. What's more, the image quality is also top notch for close-ups. The closest focusing distance is 0.16 metres.

    The right lens

    When shooting, it's important to choose a suitable lens. The NIKKOR wide-angle lenses feature a short focal length and high depth of field that makes it perfect for sharp architectural shots. Unlike portrait photography, for example, architectural photography should not make use of the bokeh effect, i.e. a visible and intentional blur in the background. In order to capture interiors or large buildings both artistically and authentically, all areas of the image should be in sharp focus. In this way, leading lines of buildings and perspective cues are emphasised.

    The AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED ultra-wide-angle lens scores with its high resolution and great contrast. Ghost images and stray light are skillfully avoided. It also has a wide open aperture of f2.8 and a special nano-crystal coating. For Z cameras with a full-frame sensor, we recommend the NIKKOR Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S and NIKKOR Z 14-30mm f/4 S, and if you're shooting with the Z 50 or Z fc and DX sensor, we recommend the NIKKOR Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR.

    Reflections are a real guarantee for success in architectural photography. If reflective surfaces – such as reflective panes – are present: Use them and include them in your composition. Photo: Max Leitner