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Architectural Photography Book Review

Express Summary

Architecural PhotographyRocky Nook's Architectural Photography by Adrian Schulz is a 229-page soft-cover book entirely devoted to the photography of architecture, both exterior and interior. It covers this topic end-to-end, starting with camera and equipment choices and going through composition, technique and even image processing. As a specialty book, this one logically assumes the reader is already comfortably with the art of photography and that it needs to teach only the specifics of architectural photography.

The second edition, published earlier this year (2012), is a book with the luxury of covering a type of single photographic subject with great depth. This means that every facet of the topic is precisely covered to minute details, similarly to actually performing architectural photography. It may be that buildings do not move but that very fact demands greater effort and thoughtfulness from the photography in order to produce exceptional images from such common subjects.

Architectural Photography is written in easy-to-understand language, using simple terminology and explaining itself well along the way. The book contains a great number of images, diagrams and illustrations to visually support the text. Full color example of architectural photography appear on most pages, many times with variations on the subject to make the reader understand better.

Architectural Photography is available for purchase from Amazon.

Book Review

Architectural Photography aims to be a complete stand-alone guide to - obviously - architectural photography. As such, it really has a lot to cover despite the apparent simplicity of its subject. It even covers the peripheral topics such as choice of camera and lenses, as well as image processing for architectural photography.

The book is divided into 4 large chapters, each with between 4 and 14 sections which are further broken up into sub-sections. The organization is clearly chronological and quite logical. Chapter 1, Foreword, puts things in context by defining architectural photography and going through its history.

Chapter 2, Camera Technology, is all about understanding the choice of equipment for this type of photography. It starts by contrasting digital and film cameras and then starts breaking down camera types. Here it clearly shows the book to be modern with references to some of the latest mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras, also know as SLD for Single Lens Digital. With any interchangeable lens camera, the lens is of tremendous importance and so an entire section is devoted to all types of lenses suitable for taking pictures of architecture.

No camera setup would be complete without accessories which are also covered in the second chapter. Tripods and heads are given great emphasis, as they should of most photography subjects but particularly so with architecture were utmost precision is required while composing. There are subsections for remote, hoods, filters, adapters, focusing screens and more. The only things missing are camera bags which you can read about in our Gear Information articles.

The core of the book is chapter 3, Shooting Techniques. In you have not guessed it, this is the chapter with 14 sections. This is also where it becomes clear that this is a very specialized book as it covers basic aspects of photography but from the perspective of architectural subjects. A lot of very familiar topics such as perspective, focal-length, image formats and even camera settings are given their own sections. Reading though all these familiar topics make the book seem rather slow. The level of writing is very simple, perhaps too simple in parts, yet every detail gets covered.

For those not sure about taking on architectural photography, it is important to know that photographing a static subject demands much more discipline and attention to details than many other types of photography. Events and photojournalism are completely different where the moment is fleeting and takes more important than the art. On the other hand, buildings are not moving and require a much more disciplined approach to photography. The visual is the entire message in architectural photography and any flaws will immediately affect impact.

The final chapter is devoted to Image Processing. It starts with an explanation of RAW files and compares them with JPEG images. Like the rest of the book, this comparison is done almost clinically without the usual opinions surrounding the debate. Another section is devoted to RAW conversion before leaving the topic behind. A section on post-processing follows.

The two sections after are considerably more interesting and particular to architectural photography. The first one is about panoramic photography which is a very useful tool for this topic considering the size of subjects and frequently tight spaces to photograph them. While some of this is generic, architecture poses a tough challenge for stitched panoramas because such images easily introduce distortion which affects perception of geometry and therefore architectural features of buildings. The second one covers the creation of HDR images in both Photomatrix Pro and Adobe Photoshop.

The final section of the fourth chapter is entitled Tips and Tricks and covers several miscellaneous topics such as Graduated Filters, Black and White images and even Fake Miniatures, all there for complete coverage of architectural photography.

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