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Creative Architecture Photography Compositions - Shooting Upwards - Deliberate convergence of verticals

We humans are accustomed to looking forward, the horizon is always there in our view guiding our sense of balance. It is only when we either look up or down that we let the horizon out of our view. Since this is not what we do very frequently, simulating the process of looking up in architectural photography could produce interesting shots that are intriguing to our senses due to lack of spatial relations.

In case of exterior shots the sky acts as a large uniform background that perfectly offsets the features of the building, while shooting interiors such a shot could easily convince the viewer that a wall is a ceiling or vice versa.

Deliberate Convergence of Verticals

When shooting from the ground with the camera pointed upwards, verticals in the picture will start to converge. The trick to make this work is to take it to extreme levels, where any one viewing the picture could easily identify that it was done on purpose. Anything less than extreme could make the image appear as if it was an error on the part of the photographer, an unsuccessful attempt to keep verticals straight.

Creative Architecture Photography Compositions
Photo by: Simon & His Camera

There are basically two situations where one might want to try tilting the camera up, one such situation is when photographing a building with a perfectly symmetrical front elevation. Here we shoot from a very low angle, often as low as our tripods go, tilt up so as to include the full height of the building and shoot. Using wide angle lenses in these situations could help produce some very dramatic effects by enhancing those diagonals that result from shooting up close. The important points to remember here are to keep the horizontal base of sensor plane parallel with the wall and to make sure you have aligned your shot (by positioning the camera in the perfect center of the structure) while composing the frame.

Another common application of this technique is when photographing very tall buildings. By shooting from a relatively close distance, tilting the camera up to include even the top of the building one can truly dramatize the sheer height and scale of the building. Remember one might have to tilt the camera a great degree in order to cover the entire building from such close distance. Depending upon the height of the building, the shooting distance and the intended effect one might either use a normal lens or a wide angle lens; wide angle lenses exaggerate the linear perspective, there by emphasizing the height and presence of the building, make the shot more dramatic.

Deliberate convergence of verticals in Architecture Photography
Photo by: Simon & His Camera

However this technique of deliberately converging the verticals for effect does not work for buildings that have long, low front elevations. Structures that are wider than they are tall will appear as if they are both falling over backwards and on itself if photographed by tilting the camera upwards; needless to say this makes for a very uncomfortable viewing experience. Hence this composition technique should only be used on tall buildings.

Related Reading

  1. Architecture Photography Tips for Getting Great Results in Adverse Weather Conditions
  2. Infrared Architectural Photography
  3. Panoramic Architectural Photography
  4. Using Fish Eye Lenses in Architecture Photography
  5. Using Reflections in Architectural Photography Compositions

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