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Architecture Photography Tips for Getting Great Results in Adverse Weather Conditions

On many occasions when shooting to meet a deadline, architectural photographers are forced to shoot in less than ideal weather conditions. In this article we will discuss some tips to get satisfactory results even in adverse weather.

Architecture Photography Tips for Getting Great Results in Adverse Weather Conditions
Photo by: Jijo John

One major problem when shooting buildings is that of overcast sky that is dull and boring and also presents the photographer with an exposure problem (the clouds now act as the light source, meaning the light source is now part of the composition, creating all sorts of problems). One may use white balance adjustment thus giving the picture some much needed warmth. Also a graduated neutral density filter will be useful to reduce the contrast between the clouds overhead and the building. One trick that works is to shoot RAW, process the image using two different white balance settings, one for the building (warm up) and one for the clouds (cool down / add blue) and then combine them both in Photoshop. This will give you a deep blue sky with the building appearing warm and inviting.

One technique that always works in adverse weather conditions is to shoot the building late in the evening. These are generally referred to as Night shots, though they are taken during twilight, the time after sunset and before the sky turns completely dark. The trick is to shoot at the right time when the interior lights and exterior light levels balance evenly. By shooting at the right time one could capture a view that shows detail in both the exterior and the interiors, refer the article Getting Timing and Exposure Right for Night shots of Buildings for more on this technique. The beauty of this alternative is that as it darkens the sky appears deep blue even under overcast conditions.

On certain occasions, conditions might not be overcast but blank un-interesting sky with no detail makes image making difficult. Even though such conditions are unfavorable for general photography, it might be a good time to shoot black and whites and infrared images of the buildings.

In general shooting when there is rain is not recommended; even if it’s a small drizzle. Wait for the right moment, there will be breaks in between showers when the sky actually brightens up lighting the building and its surroundings beautifully, and this is the right moment for you to seize the picture. Stormy skies could in certain cases make the building more attractive by adding to its character. It is up to the photographer to decide what works best in each situation and make the most of whatever conditions that are prevalent during the time of the shoot. A skilled photographer takes the very negative thing that makes image making difficult and uses it to his / her advantage by capturing the structure in an entirely different setting, one which people don’t normally see thus making the shot interesting.

Related Reading

  1. Infrared Architectural Photography
  2. Panoramic Architectural Photography
  3. Using Fish Eye Lenses in Architecture Photography
  4. Using Reflections in Architectural Photography Compositions
  5. Creative Composition Tips for Architectural Photographers - Framing the Building

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