How I photograph a building - micahhighlandphoto

October 7, 2013

This is my first photography blog post, I hope you find it helpful!


I was hired to photograph a commercial building. I know what you’re thinking, “How could that be fun?” Well, I actually find it a challenge to make a sometimes-average building look its best. I’m not here to take my zoom lens at pull it to 16mm and fire away. I’m going to bust my hump to make whatever I’m shooting look it’s best.


I rented my trusty Nikon 24mm PC-E from Calumet and started my two-hour drive south. If you are going to photograph and exterior or interior, a tilt shift lens is something you should have in your bag. This lens is an amazing piece of glass. I spend no time in post correcting lens distortion. This lens is easy to use and I suggest you give it a try if you haven’t already.


I was informed the building faced west so I decided to arrive at the location at around 12:30PM. When I arrived I met with the manager to make sure she was aware I was photographing the location and to not call the police on me.


My set up was my Nikon D700, 24mm PC-E and my bogen tripod. The small bubble level on the top of the D700 is very important part of my set up. This keeps my camera level so the lens can do it’s job. If you are not level then you’re asking for more post work.  So make sure your camera is level! You zero the lens out and get your exposure set before you shift the lens. I also took a custom white balance reading before every series. I shoot on F8 and adjust my shutter speed for bracketing. 


I moved around the parking lot trying several angles and waiting for people to not be in my frame. I had one car pull up right in front and park for 10 minutes. Really? 


When I’m shooting an exterior like this, I bracket the crap out of each shot. I take about three to five shots on either side of what my camera thinks is the proper exposure. I check my levels on the back of the camera to make sure I’m not totally clipping any highlights. I shot around three to four hundred images. On this job. After I review the images on my computer using LR, I select the three to four bracketed images and process them in Photoshop’s Merge to HDR Pro.  Photoshop did a great job and I do a quick save as j-peg and I’m done. I wound up with 19 final HDR images. Hey, I want to make sure the client is happy!


I hope this post was helpful! 


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