Photo Tips - Straight Walls Please

I always encourage clients or potential clients to reach out to me no matter the size of a project. I'm always happy to try and help in any way I can.  However,  I understand that not all projects have the budget for a professional photographer but I still want my clients to have great shots of their hard work!   So I'm here to provide some easy tips for better photos!

These tips will focus on using your camera phone but the same principals apply no matter what kind of camera you use.   For our purposes we will discuss two main topics: Lighting and composition.   These are just tips and shouldn't be taken as gospel.  Some of them are my personal preferences. 

Lets tackle a quick composition tip first - architectural/design photography focuses a lot on lines. In this case the walls, floors and furniture create very distinct lines.  When you compose a shot of a room you want to try to keep all those lines straight.  This can often be a struggle because rooms aren't always level/perpendicular.   But try your best .. pay special attention to the vertical wall lines.  We want straight up and down not leaning.  Check out the examples below

 

See how the walls aren't straight ?  The bottom of the walls are being pinched in ... this happens a lot when photographing buildings.  Also see how it tends to lead your eye to middle of the chair?  So we miss out on seeing how the chair fits into the space.  It feels more chaotic. 

See how the walls aren't straight ?  The bottom of the walls are being pinched in ... this happens a lot when photographing buildings.  Also see how it tends to lead your eye to middle of the chair?  So we miss out on seeing how the chair fits into the space.  It feels more chaotic. 

Here we are a little bit more pulled back so we can the rest of the area and get a better sense of how the chair exists in the space.  The chair gets a little more breathing room and the area feels more organized.

Here we are a little bit more pulled back so we can the rest of the area and get a better sense of how the chair exists in the space.  The chair gets a little more breathing room and the area feels more organized.

 

Next on the list : tough lighting scenarios.   The one I believe is most challenging for people is when the light is really harsh and directional.  Examples would be, a couch with a window behind it,  a window with streaming light coming from the side.  In both these scenarios what the camera sees isn't the same as what the human eye can see.    So how do we fix it?   

The easiest way is to use an HDR app on your phone.   I don't use HDR but it can be a life saver in when facing tough lighting conditions for the layperson.   In case you are wondering what HDR is,  it stands for High Dynamic Range and it refers to a range of tones beyond what is normally captured in a single shot by a normal camera.  The app on your phone accomplishes this by merging several exposure into one image.  But don't worry about that part.  For this post all we care about is that it can help us with the blown out windows and really dark shadows.   A word of caution with HDR - you want to be as still as possible when taking the photo otherwise it will be blurry.  Additionally the native camera app on your phone my have an HDR option.  These situations are the perfect time to use it.  See Below.  

 

This is close to how your regular camera might take this photo.  There isn't much detail in the highlights/windows. 

This is close to how your regular camera might take this photo.  There isn't much detail in the highlights/windows. 

Here we have the same shot .. same time of day but shot with an HDR app.   You get better colors and better detail in the windows. 

Here we have the same shot .. same time of day but shot with an HDR app.   You get better colors and better detail in the windows. 

 That wraps it up for these quick tips.  If you have any questions or comments feel free to drop me a note via my contact page.