The built environment can provide endless
photographic opportunities—the problem is not in
finding subject matter, but in reducing it to a
manageable scale. At the same time, digital techniques
make it easier than ever to create stunning images.
For example, we can work with a wider range of
lighting options than ever before, thanks to tone-
mapping software, which blends different exposures
into a tonally compressed image (see pp. 266–7).
Technical considerations
You can approach photography of buildings in
broadly two ways—artistically, in which you treat the
architecture as a subject for free interpretation; or
you can attempt to be faithful to the architect’s
design intentions. For technical renderings, you
need to ensure that straight lines appear straight
and, where possible, that parallel lines are also
recorded as parallel. This means using lenses with
accurate drawing; that is, those that produce images
with minimal distortion. A secondary requirement is
that the illumination of the image is as even as
possible, so that the corners of the image are not
darkened. In practice this is achieved with medium-
Dramatic highs
The architect may not thank you for this vertiginous
view (of Singapore’s first high-rise apartment building), but
it effectively conveys the structure and its height. Wide-
angle views looking directly upward or downward are
usually quite disorienting, but added to the strongly
converging lines, the result is visually powerful.
Areas open to the public such as shopping malls,
or even landmarks such as Londons Trafalgar
Square, may be privately owned, so if you intend
to publish pictures of a particular building, you
may need to obtain permission first. Avoid using
professional-looking equipment, and make your
shots swiftly to avoid drawing attention.
Fears that photographs may be used for planning
terrorist acts have caused some police and security
forces to prevent pictures being taken in certain
urban locations. In many countries you cannot
be made to delete your images or to hand over
your memory card without being charged with
an offense, but it is always best to cooperate with
the authorities when you are abroad.

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