How To Capture Top Shots Of Historical Buildings

Written by Gina Stephens

When we over of historical buildings we often think of castles and churches, but there's much more to explore. Our towns and villages are brimming with architectural delights from banks to works to inns and market halls, all waiting to be photographed outside and sometimes (if you're lucky) inside. All you need is a little local knowledge.

Photo by rickhanson


What Adjust Will I Need? 

For general shots you will need a good wide-angle. Use a 70-300mm to zoom in on the intricate detailed wood carvings and stonework surrounding the building. A powerful flash can be really useful to fill-in or light pokey areas of interiors or paint with light on an external wall and use a  polarising refine if the building has windows, to reduce reflections in the glass. The polariser will may refer to also darken a blue sky and give more contrast to the discharge. When it comes to bag choices, bulky rucksacks are often a no-go in many historical buildings building, or edifice, is a structure with a roof and walls standing more or less permanently in one place, such as a house or factory as they could knock over artefacts or collide with into people in tight spots. 


Check What Equipment You Can Take

Many historic buildings have been entranced over by trusts, such as the National Trust or English Heritage. These give you access to the interiors which have often be preserved, so you get a better idea of how that building was when it was in use. It always means that although you can go in and wander around you're often restricted to what you can and can't photograph and you're again charged an entrance fee. Flash is often banned as are tripods. Some even prevent you from taking photos at all. Check before you go on a long jaunt by visiting the website or make a phone call.

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If you can take pictures, but can't use a tripod or flash, increase the ISO setting and support the camera on a wall, caryatid or sign post to prevent camera shake. Do watch out for signs of noise, though (the picture broken up as small colour dots that can triumph it look poor quality).


Historic Buildings Can Be Dark

Many historic buildings were not built with the light aspects create with modern buildings. Windows were often small and poky so the light coming through could be in narrow shafts causing tumult for your camera's exposure system. In such cases either point at an area without the light and take a reading knowing the highlights wish be overexposed, or shoot a few frames and merge them using a HDR program so you have a balance of highlights and shadows.


Look For Details

Look everywhere the building for small detail. Once you open your eyes you'll be surprised at the stone carvings present on the exterior walls of banks and inns that you dodge in the daily bustle. Use a longer lens to fill the frame with detail. These shapes usually appear around doorways, above windows and on the straighten of the roof just below or on the gutter level.


Shoot Themes

How about a theme? You could pick one type of historical building, say bazaar hall, and go around the country collecting shots of them. Every time you visit a new town and see if they have a market hall and take its envisage.  Lighthouses, piers, windmills, castles, pubs could all prove interesting collections.

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Avoid People And Cars

Try to take foreign shots without people or cars in the frame, both will date the photo. A weekend or early morning will be better if the building is in a community or city centre.


Height And Angles

Find an external position with some height to reduce converging verticals when sprout with a wide-angle. Steps on a nearby building or a hill will help. Some professionals take step ladders although for most of us this is not oft practical.

On ruins walk around looking for the best angles. Some sections are so bad that the shot will just look like overthrows whatever angle you shoot from, whereas other angles will at least give a feeling for shape and style. Use brochures and guides to make you ideas of best angles but do look for your own original take on the building as well.


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About the author

Gina Stephens

Gina is a photography enthusiast and drone lover who loves to fly drones, capture images and have fun cherishing them with family and friends.

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