Little gear needed.
The days where you had to lug a field or view camera with a tilt front and adjustable back to correct for perspective distortion in architectural photography are largely gone. Now any competent digital camera with a dose of Photoshop thrown in can see to it that verticals cease converging and squares are square. There are also limited perspective correction tools in Lightroom 3 but the Transform tools in Photoshop are far more powerful. Once the image is exported from LR to PS, hit Cmnd-A in Photoshop to select the image and then the Transform tools in the Edit menu will come alive. To show the grid, which greatly aids alignment, hit Cmnd-’ (apostrophe). The grid spacing can be set in Preferences.
Except for the last, every image accompanying this article was corrected using PS CS2->Edit->Transform->Distort. The Transform function in PS dates back to at least Photoshop 5 many years ago, so it’s not like you need the most recent version there is, and old versions like CS2 and before will run fine on modern Macs, automatically using Rosetta. As the perspective correction process will introduce some cropping of the original I purposefully include a good deal more in the snap than is otherwise required whenever I anticipate that perspective correction will be applied.
The Transform menu in Photoshop. This is CS2 but all later versions have it too.
When snapping architecture, an art form I greatly enjoy, I generally carry my Panasonic G1 with the 14-45mm kit lens and pocket that little wonder the 45-200mm zoom telephoto. This remains the only 400mm telephoto (full frame equivalent) which I think nothing of taking with me. Incredibly small, very sharp and with OIS built in to cut the shakes, it’s a miracle of modern optical and electronic technology. I may not use it that much but when I do, boy do I appreciate what it can do.
Mooching around San Francisco the other day I found more subjects with this little lens pair than seems decent. Splendid contrasty sun didn’t hurt, either.
Chevron Building, Stevenson and 2nd Street. 109mm.
The neo-modern flying saucer whimsy of the Chevron Building (1975) contrasts with the Beaux-Arts beauty in the foreground.
Bus stop on Fremont Street. 41mm.
Another touch of humor in what would just me another utilitarian municipal fixture otherwise.
Ooops! What was the architect thinking of here? 147mm.
Silly things like this can be picked out easily with a long telephoto lens. I added the vignetting in Lightroom – the 45-200mm does not vignette the corners, covering the frame superbly.
Old and new. 31mm.
The builders may have done a heavy handed job on the brickwork when they installed the new windows, but at least the old building survived. The monstrosity behind it just makes the oldie look better.
Reflections are always fun. A healthy dose of Photoshop to fix the leaning verticals was called for here when round-tripping the original from Lightroom.
Oakland Bay Bridge seen through a street car on Steuart Street. 34mm.
One masterpiece of depression era engineering seen through another.
Don’t lease me. 23mm.
How badly do they want to lease this place after painting a broken window on it? Very droll. On Annie Street, north of east Mission Street.
With decent modern sensors, a fast ISO (I use ISO320 on the Panny G1 which is a good compromise between grain and speed on the smallish MFT sensor) and OIS, no tripod is needed, even with long lenses. At the long end of the 45-200mm I will always try to find that extra bit of support, be it a lamppost or parking meter, but it’s quite amazing what you can get away with and still come home with a sharp image.