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Architectural Photography Composition Tips - How to Photograph Long, Low Buildings

In the previous article we discussed how to photograph tall buildings from close up; now let’s discuss how can we photograph long, low building such as industrial parks, warehouses, retail parks etc.

Architectural Photography Composition Tips - How to Photograph Long, Low Buildings
Photo by: Dylan Toh

By their very nature, these structures are very un-inspiring and so it is very difficult to make an interesting photo of them. When confronted with such a situation we photographers basically have three options.

1. Shoot the structure from a distance so as to include the immediate surroundings also in the picture.

This technique will work if the building is situated in an attractive landscape which could add interest, drama or contrast to the shot. Also you need to be able to move a distance from the building and be able to get a clear unobstructed view of the structure. The trick to make it work lies in the placement of your main subject.

For example

Imagine you are photographing the front elevation of a long, low building from a front on position. By using a wide angle lens to include the full width of the building and placing the building just above the central horizon line, one could use the receding lines in the image to show the dynamic structure and fill the remaining top third of the frame with a clear blue sky.

Alternatively you could compose your picture by placing the building a little below the central horizon line so that more area of the frame is now occupied by the exaggerated clear blue sky which adds drama to the picture.

2. Photograph the building at an oblique angle from close up.

The idea here is to exaggerate the line dynamics of the building and use it to add interest to the picture. Get very close to the structure, compose your frame from an oblique angle using a very wide angle lens to include the whole building in the frame. Shooting from close up using very wide angle lenses exaggerates perspective thus adding interest to the otherwise dull scene.

3. Shoot from a high vantage point overlooking a corner of the building and shoot low level aerial pictures

This is one of the best ways to make interesting photographs of long, low buildings. One requirement is that you need a high vantage point to shoot from which overlooks a corner of the building. With such low level aerial shots, it appears as if we are looking down on the structure from an angle. This creates strong line dynamics within the image and also significantly expands the area of the picture taken up by the building. Also in such compositions some portion of the roof is also visible which adds to the three dimensional nature and also gives viewers a better sense of scale of the whole building. One thing that contributes to the interestingness of such shots is that, it is one angle that we normally don’t see and it puts things in an entirely different perspective.

Related Reading

  1. Tips for Removing any Obstructions and to un-clutter the Front Elevation
  2. Architectural Photography Tutorial – How to Put the Camera At a Higher Angle
  3. How to Photograph Tall buildings? How High Should I Position My Camera For Best Results?
  4. How to Effectively Convey a Sense of Scale in Architectural Photography?
  5. Architectural Photography Tips – How to Photograph North Facing Buildings

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