Bringing out Feeling from Architecture Photos using Contrast and Color

Guest post by Franco Carbone, an architect from Buenos Aires. Working as an architect takes up most of Franco’s time but he still finds time for one of his passions, taking photos of architecture and cities from around the world.

Praga Cathedral, Prague by Franco Carbone, PhotographyBlogger.net

Praga Cathedral, Prague by Franco Carbone, PhotographyBlogger.net

Coming from a small town in Buenos Aires, Argentina, as a graduate Architect, I never thought about becoming a photographer. I couldn’t even dream about knowing so many places in the world up until now. I now know much more than I had ever thought I would.
Through many places of travel and a lot of experiences, I think it’s time to share some of these moments with you.

Dancing House, Prague by Franco Carbone, PhotographyBlogger.net

Dancing House, Prague by Franco Carbone, PhotographyBlogger.net

Astronomical Clock, Prague, by Franco Carbone, PhotographyBlogger.net

Astronomical Clock, Prague, by Franco Carbone, PhotographyBlogger.net

I want to share something that has been in my mind for a long time, it took me years to understand, which now defines my photography style, the colors and the contrasts.
If you are starting to take pictures as a hobby you may have realized that a lot of things could go wrong, or at least that’s what happened to me. The process to understand things like, focus, ISO, shooter speeds seem to be easy but instead they can become quite complicated. Thankfully the Internet is full of information about these subjects and you may find much more experienced people than me who is able to share their knowledge.

Buda Castle, Budapest by Franco Carbone, PhotographyBlogger.net

Buda Castle, Budapest by Franco Carbone, PhotographyBlogger.net

As an architect I spend most of my trips taking pictures of the cities and it’s buildings. I’m much more interested in the essence of good architecture picture than in the technical details.

Chain Bridge, Budapest by Franco Carbone, PhotographyBlogger.net

Chain Bridge, Budapest by Franco Carbone, PhotographyBlogger.net

My advice when you start taking architectural pictures is to use some time to know the place you are at, every city has it’s own architecture and all of them are different. When you find a building you’re interested in shooting, you should know that there’s always a best side of an architecture masterpiece. Also there’s a perfect hour when the building expresses its own feelings, and of course that’s when you want to catch them. However, it depends on the building that you’re taking photos of and what you want to show of it.

MAXXI Museum, Rome by Franco Carbone, PhotographyBlogger.net

MAXXI Museum, Rome by Franco Carbone, PhotographyBlogger.net

MAXXI Museum, Rome by Franco Carbone, PhotographyBlogger.net

MAXXI Museum, Rome by Franco Carbone, PhotographyBlogger.net

The first thing that I think of when I’m taking pictures of a building is the angle and the focus, but there are two things just as important which can make the difference between a good picture and a great one.

Ara Pacis Museum, Rome by Franco Carbone, PhotographyBlogger.net

Ara Pacis Museum, Rome by Franco Carbone, PhotographyBlogger.net

The first one is the contrast, the little untouchable substance that enhances the character of a building. If you’re looking for that, I find that the perfect moment to get this shot is around midday because that’s when the sun is stronger and the effect would be much more intense. For evening and night images the difference is the exact opposite, you may have some problems achieving a good night contrasted picture. Problem is caused by the difference between the inner light and the outside light of a building should be stronger and that’s not always possible because the exteriors usually are good illuminated, if you can find a dark place to put the camera to focus your target you may have a good shot, post production can correct that effect but we are not talking about that by now.

Saint Sepulcher Church, Israel by Franco Carbone, PhotographyBlogger.net

Saint Sepulcher Church, Israel by Franco Carbone, PhotographyBlogger.net

The second one is the color, which is related directly with what defines the impression and impact that the image will have. I prefer the strong colors over the soft ones, it adds a lot of character to the buildings. Colors could be cold or warm, this is a very important point because its associated directly with the feeling that you may have of a building.

Seagram Building, New York by Franco Carbone, PhotographyBlogger.net

Seagram Building, New York by Franco Carbone, PhotographyBlogger.net

If you re trying to achieve a cold scene it would be easy in winter. The morning times are the best time because the humidity in the air is denser and last longer until the sun can warm and evaporate it. With the correct light you can almost see it in the scene, making a little blurry and glossy blued light sensation.

One World Trade Center, New York by Franco Carbone, PhotographyBlogger.net

One World Trade Center, New York by Franco Carbone, PhotographyBlogger.net

If you’re trying to get a warm scene with yellowish colors, you may use the well known ‘Golden Hour’ time, basically that’s the time of the day when the sun has almost gone down. The rays trace a tangential  light effect in the sky which is reflected over the building, and at the same time, the electric lights start to shine onto the scene. Between these two things it makes for a very warm scene. The color and the light inside every bulding is mixed with the sunlight making a dreamy image with strong colors and good contrasts.

One World Trade Center, New York by Franco Carbone, PhotographyBlogger.net

One World Trade Center, New York by Franco Carbone, PhotographyBlogger.net

Photos may be defined in many ways, but these are just a some simple things which you have to think of when you go out taking pictures. The correct lighting may define a good picture, it may be the difference for a good image capable of showing the exact feeling that you are trying to achieve.

If you’re interested in viewing Franco’s photos in this article in high resolution or his other photos please visit www.carbonefernandez.com.




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3 Comments on "Bringing out Feeling from Architecture Photos using Contrast and Color"

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Nil Khara
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Great article with nice photos…

Jay Long
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Awesome information; very enjoyable read. Great images to match. A building’s mood and emotion are new concepts to me, but very enlightening thoughts. I sense that I will start viewing architecture in a new way.

Jordan Baker
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Great images, will send this round the office, we looking into building photography.

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