The perfect weather for architectural photography is when the sun is shining brightly on a clear blue sky with a few fair-weather cumulus clouds present. But such ideal conditions are not a common occurrence; rather than hoping for fair weather or making your decisions just by looking outside and hoping for the best, photographers need to develop a knack for predicting weather.
|Weather Forecasting for Architectural Photography|
Having the ability to predict which days are going to be great photo days and which ones aren't worth getting out of bed for will go a long way in making sure you get much better shooting conditions and as a result much better photographs. Also often the money shots (trade mark shots which carry the individual style/signature of the photographer) are all mostly about shooting in the right conditions, it requires a skill to predict what conditions will be, from where will the light hit the subject, the angle of light, color temperature of light, nature of shadows etc. the process also involves the inevitable wait for the right conditions to happen. Without the skill to accurately predict how natural light will behave, where the sun will be at any time of the day, presence of clouds, mist, fog etc., the process of getting everything right gets infinitely difficult.
Luckily the advancements in technology especially in the form of smart phones and tablets and the numerous apps designed to add a lot of functionality to them has made our life a lot easier.
Apps like the The Photographer's Ephemeris and Sun Surveyor which are available for Android and IOS devices offer prediction and tracking capabilities of both the sun and moon. You will find that there are a number of apps available for this purpose, we have only included two which we think are the most useful ones for architectural photographers.
The Photographer's Ephemeris
|The Photographer's Ephemeris|
The Photographer's Ephemeris uses Google maps to show the position of both the Sun and Moon as they rise and set for any given date (past, present and future) and location. This allows you to plan your shoot based on the direction of the light, you will know what portion of the building will be lit and what will be in the shade, both during the day and at night, days, weeks or even months in advance.
Sun Surveyor features an assortment of tools like the 3D compass complete with a handy slider to alter the position of the Sun for a given time of the day which is very helpful for predicting and visualizing the shadows throughout the day. It also has an option to show the Moon as well and the feature is available offline.
The ability to combine the 3D spherical compass with the handset’s built-in camera image gives a view of the Sun (or Moon) along with the predicted path so you can check to see if obstacles (buildings, trees or any other structure) might affect the light.
While the above apps give you sun and moon positions, angle of light and help you predict the way shadows behave etc., the actual weather is still very unpredictable and is not very accurate for more than a couple of days. Moreover knowing about the presence of clouds is another big advantage and for this purpose it is recommended that you check satellite photographs online for the desired location.
Scheduling your shooting as scientifically as possible will tremendously increase your chances of getting the best available weather conditions, however there still will be wasted journeys where you will find that in spite of predictions of fair weather the weather on location is just not congenial for the shoot. Similarly there will also be wasted days when you actually decide to stay on bed based on predictions of bad weather but the weather turns out to be pretty good.
However a good source of inspiration to get out there and start shooting even during bad weather is the realization that even on overcast days, there will be a few occasions when the sun breaks through all the cloud cover. No matter how short the duration is we will still be able to get our shot if we are prepared as all we need is a few short bursts of bright sunlight to create a picture that is going to freeze that perfect moment in time for ever.
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- Controlling Perspective in Exterior Shots Using Focal Length
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