Sunday, 20 April 2014

Architectural Photography Tutorial – How to Put the Camera At a Higher Angle

The average height of a human being is around 5’3” and shooting from approximately this height replicates the scene in front in a way that feels most natural to us. However in the case of architectural photography there is often the need to put the camera at a much higher angle.

One such situation is when photographing tall buildings, we discussed in our previous article - How High Should I Position My Camera for Best Results? That the right height to shoot tall buildings is from 1/3rd of the height of the building from the ground. 1/3rd height of tall building means a height of several feet / meters from ground level. Even when we are not photograph very tall buildings we might need to raise the height of the camera when there is some obstruction in front of the building which we would like not to be included in the shot.

For example

Imagine a situation where there is a low rise gas station (any building) directly in front of the building that we wish to shoot. If we cannot find a suitable spot from within the buildings compound from where we could get the whole structure in view using an ultra-wide angle lens, our only option is to position ourselves in front of the low raise building, raise the camera to a height which is well above the low rise building and shoot.

How to Put the Camera At a Higher Angle

Architectural Photography Tutorial – How to Put the Camera At a Higher Angle
Architectural Photography Tutorial – How to Put the Camera At a Higher Angle

Depending on how high you need the camera to be there are several options available; the range of options available are varied.

If you only need to raise the camera a few feet you can shoot from a step ladder, or the roof of a motor vehicle. This will help you get sufficiently high to shoot over parked cars, or short fences or walls and get much cleaner shots than shooting from ground level.

Attaching a tripod head to a very sturdy and tall light stand would also work. You could easily see the live feed from the camera for composition and focus and remotely control the camera using your smart phone, tablet or laptop by using wireless controllers like CamRanger .

To raise the camera even further you may need a scissor lift, a scaffolding tower or a hydraulic platform, better yet you can shoot from another building if one is situated in a convenient position, with a clear unobstructed view and if permission could be obtained.

In situations that require much more height than these conventional methods one need to hire a helicopter or even a small air plane to shoot from. These options have the added benefit that we could now shoot a unique ‘whole-site’ perspective which is not possible from any other angle.

Related Reading

  1. How to Photograph Tall buildings? How High Should I Position My Camera For Best Results?
  2. How to Effectively Convey a Sense of Scale in Architectural Photography?
  3. Architectural Photography Tips – How to Photograph North Facing Buildings
  4. Right Weather For Photographing Architecture
  5. Finding The Right Time of the Day to Photograph Exteriors