Architectural Photographer Discusses the Sun and Lighting for Architectural Photography

In photography, as well as in any other aesthetic art form, light takes on an important role and it should be viewed as a critical compositional element. Light for architectural photography, as well as with home photography, can be very demanding, because the sunlight defines the space or structure of the building. Lighting for interiors is much more controllable in contrast to exteriors, however, in both situations the new photographer must be able to “take control” – even when dealing with the sun. more information

Working as a Chicago Architectural digital photographer over 30 years, My spouse and i have learned patience! In the Midwest, and Chicago , il in particular, the required conditions for architectural outdoor photography may come infrequently as one must work around unpredictable weather and cloud formations that develop very quickly due to the lake effect; not to mention the high dampness which produces grey air. Many times I have had to wait days and nights or even weeks for the proper conditions through which to photograph. A few years ago, I also set up the workplace in Arizona with the predictions that now as a Phoenix architectural photographer, my weather woes will be over. However, I experienced to learn of the weather idiosyncrasies of these area as well; namely the monsoon season, when most every afternoon, from September through August, the atmosphere becomes cloudy, the the sun is gone and in theory, there exists a high likelihood of rain. I bring this as a backdrop so one could better understand the challenges and variables in which high- quality architectural photographs are made. Inside the studio everything is controlled; the system photographer one the other side of the gold coin hand, must learn to deal with unpredictable and what would seem to be unmanageable circumstances in order to produce the dramatic images that the client needs.

Sunlight is essential when photographing architectural exteriors and the architectural photographer, as any professional photographer, must be able to “control” the light at all times. This is one of the challenges for the architectural photographer, because the only light source he must work with is the sun and “controlling” the sun can seem to be paradoxical! Obviously, no person can control the sunlight, however, one must control that which they can control in order to produce the strongest executive photograph possible; that being the time of yr, type of day, time and quality of light. Directional light is always very important when taking photos of architecture, so that it stands to reason that one must wait for a best conditions to photograph; the clarity of the sunshine, the sort of atmosphere, the direction of the sun and the caliber of the light (hard or diffused) are all critical factors when photographing architecture and should be given serious consideration.

Direction of the elevation to be took pictures of with respect to the sun is important in order to separate the airplanes of the structure and bring out the smoothness and details of the building. Front lighting, or light that is in back of the camera, is not acceptable in most instances. You ought to always select the time of day when the sun is at approximately a 45-degree perspective to the elevation being photographed. Usually, the best light is at a time frame of a few hours after sunrise or a couple of hours before sunset (as long as the positioning of the building allows for it). The “golden hour” – that light, which is either soon after sunrise or perhaps before sunset, is even better because the sun’s low angle will add warmness, mood and drama to the photograph with long deep shadows; something I actually like to use in the foreground if possible. The quality of this “golden hour” light is also mush softer as opposed to the harsh sunlight in the middle section of the day. A north elevation (north facing view) can only be photographed within a brief time span throughout summer; as near the summer solstice (June 20) as possible. During those times of year the sun are at its’ maximum position in fact it is also the greatest day of the season.

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