Architectural Photography

Author: Adrian Schulz

Publisher: Rocky Nook

Review by Conrad J. Obregon

Architectural photography is an area full of competing factors that affect the picture. Architects want their work reproduced accurately. Photographers want it presented in a photographically artistic manner. Wide angle lenses and telephoto lenses offer different results. Photographing from close to the building emphasizes different elements than photographing from a distance. Author Adrian Schulz recognizes all these countervailing forces and discusses each of them so that the reader can make the choices that will be in keeping with his of her vision.

After a brief introduction, the book first explores the applicable photographic technology, including capture media, cameras, lenses and accessories. In doing so the author seems to have a preference for large format cameras but recognizes that, with the exception of compact cameras, all cameras have a place in architectural photography.

Next the author reviews shooting techniques, where a major problem is perspective distortion, and explains how to deal with problems. He finishes the book with a review of post-processing techniques that will help the photographer overcome problems that could not be dealt with in the field.

The author’s writing is straight-forward and clear, easily understandable and lacking in humor. The book reads like a textbook. One thing that it scants is discussion of how to achieve artistic images that go beyond the architect’s goal for such photographs. (This certainly is difficult, given the nature of the subject, but my own experience is that, at least to a limited degree, it can be done.)

I had a mixed response to the chapter on post processing, which emphasizes the use of Photoshop. The discussion of Adobe Camera Raw was a nice summary of the plug-in’s use, but seemed applicable to almost any type of photography, although it lacked the depth of comprehensive instruction. On the other hand, when the author turned to the tools of the main Photoshop program, he did not try to be comprehensive, but rather focused on those tools with specific application to architectural photography that one might not use for other genres. I was struck, however, by his disregard of such a simple tool as the use of perspective cropping.

The author recognizes that architectural photographers will probably want to use tools like high dynamic range imaging and panoramic stitching, and while he provides an introduction to these techniques, one will need to explore other materials to fully utilize them.

The book provides an excellent introduction to architectural photography. I only wish there had been a little more emphasis on the possible artistic elements of such images.