Perfect lighting is the key to photographing great architectural structures. Most structures are designed around efficient use of lighting and aesthetics. Whether you are photographing a bridge, building or home your understanding of light and time of day will affect your images overall quality and color accuracy.
Have you ever photographed a scene and the colors and photo just didn’t come out right? First, you could have set an incorrect white balance, or you may have not used the best exposure value for the color saturation and contrast, or you could have missed the timing of the perfect light all together. There are other considerations but this is a good starting point for issues that produce the less than desirable results.
According to photographer Ken Rockwell:
“Lighting is the most important technical issue in photography. Pro photographers pay close attention to it, while hobbyists sadly ignore it.
In all fairness to the hobbyists, there are still some Pro’s who fail in their ability to see light and how it can enhance an image or scene. Light does not discriminate. For our purposes it doesn’t matter who you are, learning to understand lighting is the key to creating a compelling image. The more you understand the direction of light and shadow the more your images are going create a visual stimulus.
The time you choose to photograph a structure is one of the most important decisions you will make. Depending on light and time of day the structure you are photographing will look different in color, shape and texture. In addition, the time of year will play a factor as well. For example, a warm summer night or a cold sunny winter can affect your decisions and outcome when photographing a scene.
Visit the location you intend to photograph at various times of the day to see how the sunlight is affecting the color, texture and overall aesthetics of the structure. If the structure has been photographed in the past review those images to get a feel the position and timing. The difference between a photo and great photo is prior knowledge, preparation, and the ability to technically apply what you have learned from your preparation.