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9 Tips on Photographing Architecture During a Walking Tour

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Every city has its secrets: hundreds of years of history unfold in front of you as you scout the streets in search of the best images. Knowing the background of a building in front of you may fuel a great deal of inspiration and help you compose a stronger image with a story. One of the ways to get to know the location better is to take a walking tour with an experienced local guide. You may find, however, that during such a guided walking tour there is not enough time for a proper photographic exploration as the group moves quickly from one location to another. Not all is lost though. Here are 9 tips on how to make the most of a guided tour and get some great architecture photos along the way.

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1. Equipment

Since most of the time you will stop right in front of the building or a place of interest, a wide-angle lens will be of great help. A versatile lens in the range of 24-70 mm will give you the opportunity to capture both the edifice itself, as well as its details. Do not overload yourself and leave your longer zoom lens at the hotel.

2. Camera settings

When photographing the whole building or a bigger part of it, you most likely want to make sure that all of it is in focus. Opt for a high depth of field: choose the aperture in a range from f/8 to f/11. Remember to use exposure compensation or use the exposure lock button to add more light into your image when photographing buildings against the sky, especially on bright sunny day.

3. Look for natural frames

Most of the time, those guided walks take place at the wrong time to day for good light, leaving you in the difficult situation to deal with flat light and washed out skies. One way to manage this is to look for elements such as trees and use the green leaves to cover part of the bright sky. This will not only reduce the contrast between the building and the sky, but also will bring the attention back to the architecture while adding some colour into the scene.

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You can apply the same technique indoors when bright light comes from windows which bring too much contrast to the room or church you want to photograph. Here the arches hide part of the large windows and add architectural interest to make a stronger image.  

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4. Use strong lines and diagonals

Use the distortion of your wide-angle lens to create visual tension within the frame: this will add strength and energy to your images. Reinforce diagonals in your composition by coming closer to the building and tilting the camera.

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5. Include street names

Think of including the street name into your image: there may be a link between the history of the building and the name of the street where it is located. It may also be helpful if you decide to come back to the same spot for some photos later on. Besides, some of the street signs are quite decorative and make interesting subjects on their own.

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6. Look for reflections

To add more depth and interest to your photos, look for reflections: get creative with windows of buildings on the opposite side of the street, scooter mirrors or puddles. Any reflective surface will work!

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7. Look under your feet

When photographing architecture, remember not only to look up at edifices towering around you, but also under your feet. Tilt your camera downwards and include ornate tile floors in your composition.

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8. Pay attention to details

Architects can be very creative and include many details in their work: pay attention to  the delicate stone carving and zoom in for some close-ups.

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9. Include your guide

For a fun and "interactive" photo, include your guide in it!

Architecture 04 So next time you find yourself in a new city or decide to re-discover your own on a walking tour, grab your camera and share your architecture photos with us!

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About the Author

Nadia Gric

Nadia Gric

Nadia is passionate about the visual aspect of life and the personalities she meets along the way. Living in the heart of Paris, Nadia never stops exploring the City of Light through her camera and readily shares her knowledge and love for photography.