Want a free year on Tuts+ (worth $180)? Start an InMotion Hosting plan for $3.49/mo.
Architecture is an incredibly fascinating area of design. The seemingly impossible physics, the play of light, the masculine textures, it all comes together to create an incredible sense of fantasy and wonder.
The magic of great architecture is highlighted and even amplified significantly when presented by the right photographer. Today we'll take a look at five quick tips to keep in mind to help you shoot better abstract architecture shots followed by eighty stunning examples.
5 Tips for Better Abstract Architecture
Tip 1: Find the Fantasy
When you approach a structure, try to find a crop that makes the reality of the building seem impossible. To illustrate, consider how the image above feels like an optical illusion. It's as if Escher himself took a photo of one of the fantastical places that occupied his mind.
Also notice how the hard lines are positioned in such a way that it feels like the building is immense and could continue forever. For all we know the edges of the building are right outside the crop of the photo, but that illusion of infinite potential is strong.
Tip 2: Master Symmetry
The idea that symmetry is beautiful is an inescapable notion. When we see it in creatures, plants, art, architecture or anywhere else we are mysteriously drawn in and captivated. Whether it's that our brains enjoy the fun of spotting repetition or that there's just less information to process, we can't help feel that symmetry is good and right.
When you're shooting architecture, the simplest place to start is with the symmetrical aspects. Find something that repeats, stick two or more of them tightly in the frame and you'll have the potential for a great shot.
Tip 3: Look Up
Some of my favorite architecture abstracts instill a dramatic sense of vertigo not by looking downward, but upward. Impossibly tall structures have a tendency to fascinate and terrify us at the same time and images like the one above bring that fear to the surface. If you stare long enough to really let yourself get taken in, you almost feel as if you're going to fall into the sky.
Any time you're up against a tall structure, whether it be man made or natural, try taking a shot looking straight up from the bottom. Make sure to adjust your ISO and aperture so that the sky detail isn't blown out, it's often the texture and drama in that vast cloudy background that really makes the photo.
Tip 4: Twist that Camera
When you're shooting any sort of abstract, resist the tendency to level the camera as you would with a typical shot. Instead explore every angle and rotation to make the image that much more captivating.
The photo above uses an extreme rotation to add a lot of visual interest. It makes you want to twist your head to find the proper viewing angle, which isn't always obvious and can leave you wondering.
Tip 5: Lighting is Everything
Whenever you have the opportunity, come back to an interesting building at different times of the day to watch as the sun plays across the surface and shadows envelop or escape the crevices.
Consider the lighting exactly like you would in high and low key portrait situations. Sometimes you'll want strong prevalent shadows for a dramatic look while other times a bright, almost flat appearance will make a more powerful statement.
80 Amazing Abstract Architecture Shots
Show Off Your Work!
I hope the images above have inspired you to look at architecture in new ways and to think about how you can capture the beauty of the mundane structures you see every day.
As always, we want to see your examples. Leave a link below to a few of the abstract architecture shots that you're most proud of capturing. Also let us in on any techniques or special insight you have for taking this type of photo.