Wednesday, 23 April 2014

How to Photograph Tall Buildings from Close Up

While photographing tall buildings in a crowded neighborhood, we often find that there simply isn't enough room for us to move farther away from the building. The possibility of finding a vantage point from a distance will be next to none as other buildings surrounding the one we wish to shoot will surely obstruct our view from the distance, at least partially.

How to Photograph Tall Buildings from Close Up
Photo by: Kenny Mc Cartney

From a very close distance even out widest lens will not be able to capture the entire view in a frame. In such cases the best alternative you have is to shoot a vertical panorama of the scene and stitch the images together using a rectilinear projection in Adobe Photoshop. This allows you to correct the distortions caused by converging verticals in the scene.

A vertical panorama is exactly like a regular panorama (horizontal) one difference being here you move the camera up or down instead of moving from one side to another (moving sideways). Vertical panoramas could be easily done with a tilt shift lens with little or no perspective distortion. All you need to do is shift the lens all the up or down and shoot the scene and then shoot different frames shifting the lens in the opposite direction with at least 25% overlap between frames.

The picture given at the top of this article shot by Kenny Mc Cartney is a good example of a Vertical Panorama (Vertorama) created using a tilt shift lens. The 165m (541ft) tall building was shot from a mere 20 meters distance. It is stitched together from 5 different images, all shot with the camera held horizontally for maximum resolution.

Now you can shoot vertical panoramas with normal lenses too, but you will need to correct for perspective distortions while post processing; it is a bit more work at the computer, not as tidy as the results produced by a tilt shift lens and distortion correction causes a loss of resolution, but still a very effective way to photograph tall buildings from a very close distance.

Related Reading

  1. Tips for Removing any Obstructions and to un-clutter the Front Elevation
  2. Architectural Photography Tutorial – How to Put the Camera At a Higher Angle
  3. How to Photograph Tall buildings? How High Should I Position My Camera For Best Results?
  4. How to Effectively Convey a Sense of Scale in Architectural Photography?
  5. Architectural Photography Tips – How to Photograph North Facing Buildings