Styles of architecture mirror the culture and sensibilities of each generation. New architecture reflects the hopeful aspirations of the times, while older structures reflect earlier cultural norms and sensibilities. For photographers, photographing both new and old architecture provides rich photo opportunities to document changes in culture and urban development. The versatility of the Rebel XSi/450D and the color-rich 14-bit files make the XSi/450D a very capable camera for architectural and interior shooting. The rich color of the camera's files provides excellent tonal transitions and rendering of color nuances especially for interior shooting.
Tip If you're shooting RAW images, the Rebel's 14-bit files provide significantly richer color than previous Rebel files. And the files can be converted and saved as 16-bit files in conversion programs including Canon's Digital Photo Professional and Adobe's Camera Raw and Lightroom. If you're shooing JPEG images, the camera converts the 14-bit files to 8-bit mode before storing them on the SD card, but the 14bit files still provide better tonal gradations and richer color for JPEG conversion than previous Rebel files.
Architectural photography is about capturing a sense of place and space. Given the sensor size, the challenge with the XSi/450D is capturing the full scope of exterior and interior spaces. Canon offers a range of wide-angle lenses, from the ultrawide EF 14mm f/2.8L USM lens, which gives the equivalent of approximately 22mm on the XSi/450D, to wide-angle zoom lenses such as the EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM, which is designed for the smaller sensor size, to the L-series 16-35mm f/2.8 USM, which is equivalent to 25-56mm on the XSi/450D.
If you're new to architectural shooting, begin by choosing a building or interior space that interests you, and then study how light at different times of the day transforms the sense and character of the building or space. Look for structural details and visual spaces that create interesting shadow patterns as they interact with light and surrounding spaces.
Most buildings are built for people, and people contribute to the character of the building. In a compositional sense, people provide a sense of scale in architectural photography, but more importantly, they imbue the building with a sense of life, motion, energy, and emotion. Include people and their interactions with the exterior and interior as you shoot.
9.13 To help show the relationship of the winery to the landscape and to show the sweep of the building, I chose to shoot at a moderate angle and include a tree on the left side as a framing device. Exposure: ISO 400, f/11, 1/200 second using an EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM lens.
Wide-angle lenses are a staple in architectural photography. When you use a wide-angle lens, and especially when the camera is tilted upward, the vertical lines of buildings converge toward the top of the frame. You can correct the distortion in an image-editing program, or you can use a tilt-and-shift lens, such as the Canon TS-E24mm f/3.5L, that corrects perspective distortion and controls focusing range. Shifting raises the lens parallel to its optical axis and can correct the wide-angle distortion that causes the converging lines. Tilting the lens allows greater depth of focus by changing the normally perpendicular relationship between the lens's optical axis and the camera's sensor.
To use a tilt-and-shift lens, set the camera so the focal plane is parallel to the surface of the building's wall. As the lens is shifted upward, it causes the image of the wall's surface to rise vertically, thus keeping the building's shape rectangular. For details on tilt-and-shift lenses, see Chapter 8.
The umbrella of architectural photography includes interior photography of both commercial and private buildings and homes. With interior shooting, lighting plays a crucial role in communicating the style and ambience of the space. It's usually possible to get pleasing interior shots by using existing room lighting and window lighting, but you can also consider using portable strobes or multiple wireless flash units to add light and reveal details that might be lost using ambient-only light.
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