There may be times where you can add lighting to the image, providing a certain look for the building. Other times, you'll have to try to make good use of the natural lighting in the area to achieve the look you want.
Try these tips to help you with the process of finding the proper lighting for a structure for an architectural photograph and in building photography.
When shooting in bright sunlight, a building probably almost certainly is going to have some harsh shadows. Your flash unit likely is not going to help much to combat the shadows, because of the size of the building. Instead, consider using the shadows to your advantage, creating a highly contrasted photo.
- If you just can't seem to shake the shadows, and they're going to cause a problem with the type of photo you want, you may need to photograph a different section of the building (where the shadows aren't as harsh), or you can wait until another time in the day (when the sun is positioned in the sky differently).
When shooting early or late in the day, with the sun low in the sky, any photo of a building or structure with windows may show a glare reflecting from the sun off the windows. Try changing your position to reduce or negate the glare. However, you may find that you prefer to have the glare as part of the photo, creating a cool effect.
When shooting in twilight, you'll avoid problems with shadows, but exposure can be tricky. An overexposed photo can have a washed out sky and flat colors in the photo. An underexposed photo can leave a lack of texture on the image of the building. You may want to shoot at a few different related exposures, using the technique called exposure bracketing, to make sure you end up with a properly exposed image.
If you have a strong fill flash, you might be able to achieve a properly exposed photo, if you're only shooting a small portion of the building, such as to show off a particular piece of architecture. However, you must make sure that you're close to the recommended range of the flash to achieve good results. Look through the camera manual, or the flash manual if you have an external flash unit with a DSLR camera, to see the recommended range for the light from the flash.
Another option for twilight shooting is to bring your own external lighting or large remote flash units. By placing flash units in various areas around the architectural structure, you can create some interesting lighting effects. The look of the building in a photo can change dramatically, depending on the type and positioning of the external lights or flash units. For example, using flood lights can have some dramatic effects on a building's look. Make sure that you receive permission to use large lights.
When shooting at night, a few windows in a large building may be lit up. Try to use this in your photo's composition to create an interesting look.
Finally, try shooting from a variety of locations. For example, you can make the side of a building look vastly different, depending on your location. Lying on the sidewalk and shooting the building while looking toward the sky provides a different perspective from shooting the same side of the building from a block away. Try a lot of different shots and be creative in the types of photos you shoot and the perspectives you use.