There are three parts to my photographing buildings simplified
- Taking the photos
In this post I will tell you the gear that I use. And it’s not a lot.
The gear that I use to take photos of buildings is the following.
- Canon 6D
- Canon 17-40mm F4L Lens
- Loupe Viewer
- Manfrotto Tripod with geared head
- L Bracket
- Or Manfrotto Magic Clamp
- Grey Card
- Memory cards
- Eclipse lens cleaning solution
- Pec Pads
- Peak Design Everyday Backpack
- Gaffers tape
And that it is. This is the gear that I use on 99% of my building shoots.
But first, who am I to tell you this stuff?
I am Rick. Hi. I am a professionally qualified photographer based in the UK. I am an Associate Member of the British Institute of Professional Photography, having the letters ABIPP.
And I am also professionally construction, I am also a Member of the Chartered Institute of Building – MCIOB.
I have been working professionally in construction for many years, and photographing buildings for just as long – so I know all about this good stuff ok? This is what I do. This is what I teach. This is what I practise.
Right – let’s get into these in more detail. More about the why than the what though. You can read all about the gear anywhere, I tell you why I use it.
Not the most cutting edge of cameras, but a great camera when released, and still a great camera now. It doesn’t do much fancy stuff, but it does take great photos. And it does pretty much everything that I want a camera to do, which is principally to take great photos.
Check out this blog post for lots more on the Canon 6D – Is The Canon 6D Still Worth Buying in 2022?
Yes this is my annual update on the Canon 6D, which I am still using in 2022.
Let’s move on
Canon 17-40mm F4L Lens
This is an excellent lens. I use the 17mm focal length most of the time, indeed I sometimes stick gaffer tape to the zoom ring so it stays at 17mm. Ahhh – I need to add gaffers tape to the list!
Done. I will come back to that.
The Canon 17-40mm lens is an L series lens, which is the Canon professional lens range. It is durable, weather sealed and has great optics. I have been using mine for years and love it.
And the maximum aperture of F4 I am fine with. I do not need a larger maximum aperture as I take most of my photos on a tripod. A larger maximum aperture means a bigger, heavier, more expensive lens. And I do not need that.
17mm is a great focal length. Buildings can be big, and I need this kind of focal length to get all of a building in. And it is great for interiors too, being not too wide to make the space look deceivingly large, but wide enough for me to get great interior compositions.
And composition is so, so important. Composition is king, so the right lens is important to me. And to you.
I attach a loupe viewer to the back of my Canon 6D. This encloses the LCD screen, which is not the best on to be fair. This shades the screen from the sun, and magnifies the screen at the same time. It also has a rubber eyecup which is great when it is really bright.
This device helps me to get the composition right in camera. And when I do that there are many, many benefits.
- I take better photos
- I take less photos
- I save time on a shoot
- I have less photos to sort
- I save time editing
- my photos are better
Yes this little device really does help me to take better photos. And having been in the over 50s category for some years now, I need a bit of help with my ageing old mince pies!
Manfrotto Tripod with geared head
I take most of my photos with my camera on a tripod. I do this for a number of reasons. Taking photos with my camera on a tripod helps me to
- Get the best composition
- Get the sharpest photos
- Get perfectly aligned bracketed sets
- Use the camera settings that I want to
- Look good (just kidding)
Which are all good things right!
Yes, get the best composition that you can with each and every shot and you will take less photos. When I forced myself to take every photo with my camera on a tripod the standard of my photos improved.
I attach an L bracket to my camera using the tripod thread on the bottom of the camera. This allows me to change my camera from landscape orientation on my tripod to portrait orientation quickly, and without moving the tripod head.
I take most of my photos in landscape orientation, but like to get the odd portrait orientation photo in as well.
And yes there are some compositions that suit portrait better too.
Why does this help me? A couple of reasons.
Once I have got my tripod head nice and level I don’t want to adjust it unless I need to.
And I often take a photo in landscape, and switch to portrait and simply take another photo. I might have to tweak the composition, but often I do not.
So this saves me time and helps me to take better photos.
Or Manfrotto Magic Clamp
Sometimes I can’t use a tripod. It is often when I am photographing on construction sites. Or I cannot get the composition that I want with my camera on a tripod.
So I use this little marvel instead, which attaches to
- Steel columns
- And anything else
Not cheap, but I have had mine for over 10 years now, and it has worked for me faultlessly for all these years. And it has helped me to get some great compositions that I could not have got with my camera on a tripod.
I use a grey card to get the white balance right. I take a photo with the grey card in. And then take photos without the grey card in until the light changes. And so on and so on. And then in Lightroom I click on the grey card with the white balance eye dropper thingy, and change the white balance to all the photos to that white balance, and 99 times out of 100 that is white balance all done.
Just to point out that if the light is constant on a shoot I only need to do this once.
But is not a card….
Yep – I always have three spare batteries fully charged just in case.
And I have a minimum of 4 blank, formatted memory cards with me just in case. In a hard case. Oh no another bit of gear!
Eclipse lens cleaning solution
The only thing that I use to clean my lenses.
The disposable cleaning cloths that I use.
Peak Design Everyday Backpack
All of the above goes in this little backpack. A twenty litre backpack that fits all this gear and has other storage for my keys, phone, drinks, anything.
I use a backpack so I can get around construction sites quickly and with both hands free to climb ladders if needed. And it doubles as my hand luggage for holidays.
Gaffers tape is universally useful stuff. I use it to
- Stick the focal length to 17mm
- Hold back curtains that are not behaving
- Tidy up errant cables
- Keep doors open
- Sort anything that is spoiling a photo
See gaffers tape sticks to anything but doesn’t damage the thing that you stuck it to.
Try before you do this mind, and check the manufacturers instructions as there must be something that you should not stick it to.
It is dead handy for fixing down things that are spoiling photos. And I use it at home for a variety of uses also.
And here is a bonus top tip for you.
Wrap some around a tripod leg and you always have it with you.
And another bonus tip
It comes in many colours. But I prefer black gaffers tape. I have two rolls of white tape but it is just not the same. In fact I am going to order some right now.
Buy this gear and help me
You can buy all of this stuff on Amazon (I have just bought some more gaffers tape) – well apart from the Canon 6D that it – it is too old for Amazon. These are affiliate links – you don’t pay any more, Amazon just get a bit less which comes my way. And you get my thanks.
Canon 6D – so old you can’t buy it new. This is the splendid replacement for the Canon 6D.
Canon 17-40mm F4L Lens
Manfrotto 190 Go Tripod
Manfrotto MHXPRO-3WG, XPRO Geared 3 Way Pan/Tilt Head
Manfrotto L Bracket
Manfrotto Magic Arm
Manfrotto Grey Card
Can’t get Canon ones any more on Amazon?
Eclipse lens cleaning solution
Peak Design Everyday Backpack
What if I just use a phone?
I have said it before, and I will say it again – if you just use a phone you are missing out on stuff. Check out my Photography Explained Podcast episode 141, Do I Really Need A Camera In 2022? Or Will My Phone Do Instead? for lots more on this.
But next year you will be missing out a little bit less, and in 2024 a little bit less again – the gap is closing.
What do I do?
Well I have already told you that, so I don’t need to go into that gain do I? Yes I do.
This is the point – I have spent many years refining my photography, simplifying everything to make it as easy as possible to get the photos that I want.
And this is really the point of all of this stuff that I teach you – it is all about simplifying down the complicated stuff, making it easier for you and me to take better photos more easily.
That is almost a strapline!
Helping photographers take better photos of buildings easier.
Or how about this.
I help photographers to take consistently higher quality photos of buildings by explaining and simplifying image capture, gear and editing the photos.
There is something in there that I need to work on and add to my website. But you get the idea I hope?
That is it.
Sorry – the point is this
I carry the gear that I need, the gear that I have used over the years for my work. I do not need any other gear. I have a bag of other stuff in the boot of my car just in case, but this is all that I use.
Gear is not a distraction to me, it is the stuff that I need to get the job done. Having my gear sorted means that I am not burdened with choices, not overloaded with weight. No, I have what I need in a small backpack which allows to concentrate on what is important – getting technically excellent great compositions quickly and easily.
OK nearly done here – just a few other things that I want to tell you.
My course – How To Become A Real Estate Photographer
I have created a course on, not surprisingly, how to become a real estate photographer, which you can find out more about here. My style of course, no frills, no bull, just me telling you everything that you need to know to become a real estate photographer, and no more.
The Photography Explained Podcast
I mentioned an episode that relates to my small but perfectly formed podcast.
I am the creator and literally all things at the splendid Photography Explained Podcast. In my podcast I explain one photographic thing per episode in plain English without the irrelevant details in less than, well less than 27 (ish) minutes these days.
I talk about all aspects of photography in my podcast, and welcome questions from listeners that I love answering.
Not only building photography, but general photography stuff. And all good stuff at that.
Well there is loads of related reading on my website, but there area couple of posts that I want to bring to your attention. Yes they are part of this series of posts.
And check out these other posts which are about taking photos of buildings. And particularly good, if I do say so myself.
My You Tube channel
Yes I have a You Tube channel, where I talk about what I have written on my blog. Broadly based on the blog post but there is normally something new that sneaks in there.
And there will be some gear in this one! Check it out here.
Just me telling you the stuff that you need to know.
Get a weekly email from me to you
Yep, if you want to receive an email from me every week then fill in the form on this page – there will be one somewhere. And in return I will send you a splendid Lightroom thing, and you will receive my thoughts straight to your inbox on a Friday afternoon. Which is nice.
OK – how can I find out more about this stuff?
Get in touch with me – email me – firstname.lastname@example.org
Get in touch, ask me a question that I can answer on my blog or podcast, or just say hi – it would be great to hear from you.
Thanks for visiting my small but perfectly formed website, and I look forward to hearing from you.
Cheers from me Rick