Ever felt compelled to photograph the peculiar patterns, colours, shapes, and structures of buildings that surround you? Here are top tips which will help you capture stunning outdoor architecture shots as you navigate with your lens in the urban jungle.

Study Your Subject and Find a Unique Approach

Firstly, you will want to consider the location and type of architecture you are planning to photograph. Study the structure and the elements surrounding it to choose the subject you will focus on. You might even want to research on the history of the building to help you capture the rich essence of the structure.

<img src="Jurong Lake Pagoda.jpg" alt="Jurong Lake Pagoda">

Photo by Elvinardy Darwin
Canon EOS 6D | Canon EF17-40mm f/4L USM | f/7.1 | ISO 800 | 0.3 sec

Consider the perspective and angle when deciding how to take your photograph. Look at the unique lines, colours and patterns to decide how to capture the details. A vantage point will affect the lines that come out in the photo so be sure to scout for a good vantage point.

Photographing skyscrapers will shift the focus to the vertical lines in the frame. On the other hand, horizontal lines are crucial when framing your shot. Look out for curved lines that could help bring attention to your photo subject.

<img src="St Peter's Square.jpg" alt="St Peter's Square Vatican City">

Photo by Ronald Paras
Canon EOS 5D Mark III | Canon EF16-35mm f/4L IS USM | f/11 | ISO 100 | ¼ sec

Choose the Right Camera Settings and Gear

Before you start photographing, adjust your camera settings according to the lighting and weather conditions. Some basic adjustments include reducing aperture to achieve a greater depth of field and slowing your shutter speed to compensate for low light.

Do take note of the golden hour and blue hour which is when it is almost always flattering for architecture photography.

<img src="Cloud Forest Conservatory.jpg" alt="Cloud Forest Conservatory Singapore">

Photo by James Lim
Canon EOS 7D | ISO 2000 | 1/15 sec

Choosing the appropriate gear depends largely on the architectural structure you wish to shoot. Tilt-shift lens helps to control perspective and hence good for photographing tall buildings up close.

Wide-angle lenses are recommended to squeeze in a good shot in tight spaces. Having a tripod is handy as it stabilises your camera and captures highly detailed shots. You could also consider using a polarising filter to eliminate reflections.

<img src="The Hive.jpg" alt="The Hive Nanyang Technological University">

Photo by Matt Cheung
Canon EOS 5D Mark III | f/4.5 | ISO 400 | 1/30 sec

Focus on the Details

Photographing buildings as a whole showcases the full glory of the structure. However, old architecture is filled with intricate details that easily escapes the eye. To avoid this, opt to take up-close shots to bring justice to the unique details of the architecture. Consider the surrounding elements to see how you could add more depth to your image.

<img src="symmetry.jpg" alt="symmetry architecture">

Photo by Filip Noel Ogues
Canon EOS 70D | f/8 | ISO 100 | 1/250 sec

Pay Attention to the Patterns

The patterns of a structure are not limited to the designs built into a building’s exterior walls but also formed by the windows or the structure itself. Do take note to avoid diagonal distortions by ensuring your camera is level with the structure you are photographing. You may do this by using the camera’s electronic level or by the hot shoe bubble level. Also ensure that your camera’s sensor to be parallel to the plane of the structure. This is where a good vantage point is important – a higher vantage point allows you to shoot your subject without having to tilt your camera.

<img src="the star vista.jpg" alt="the star vista">

Photo by Ronald Paras
Canon EOS 5D Mark III | Canon EF16-35mm f/4L IS USM | f/8 | ISO 800 | 1/13 sec

Consider Long Exposure or Panorama

Take a panoramic shot or use the long exposure technique to give your architectural photograph the boost it needs to encapsulate the totality of a structure.

A panoramic shot is an effective method to capture an architectural landscape including the elements around it. This method is recommended when shooting skyline photographs. Ideally, you would need a camera that has a panorama mode or stitch mode.

Alternatively, there are software that can stitch multiple shots together. It would be good to keep this in mind for post-processing of the photographs you take.

<img src="singapore sunset.jpg" alt="singapore sunset">

Photo by Eric Chang
Canon EOS 80D | f/11 | ISO 100 | 1/15 sec

Alternatively, long-exposure is another technique that can bring an out-of-this-world feel and look to your architecture shot. Achieve an out-of-this-world photograph by slowing the shutter speed of your camera. Note that when shooting in the day, using filters can help to reduce the risk of overexposure.

<img src="Hong Kong Night View.jpg" alt="Hong Kong Night View Skyline">

Photo by Matt Cheung
Canon EOS 5D Mark III | f/16 | ISO 100 | 1/30 sec

With these tips, you are now ready to embark on an adventure in the urban jungle with your camera. Remember that practise and experimenting helps to perfect your skill. Now, go forth and click away!

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