I wish this was a video on how to remove distractions from architecture photos instead of a few photos and some type. My planning of an article like this one is terrible and very much on the fly. I guess it’s better than no content and missing out on a quick behind the scenes edit of one of my architectural photos.
Instead of this being a ‘how to,’ it’s more of a ‘what to’ or a ‘what I removed that was distracting me.’
My approach is to not remove too many elements that exist within my architecture photos. Some things do need to be removed because they’re things that you don’t notice in person. It’s like how you remove some blemishes on a bride in wedding photography. I enjoy the most natural portrayal possible and eliminate as many distractions as possible while shooting.
Only to remove
It’s important to me to not add things to a photo but really only remove them. This approach of mine is definitely a challenge while out shooting, but saves some time within the post-processing. If you go check out the photos of Arcane’s The Cube, I tried to use sun elements, camera positions, and focal lengths to minimize distractions that existed in the area.
Clarity is important
All of this work was for the most aesthetic natural portrayal that I could get at that moment in time. Clarity is important. I’m looking to help showcase how well the building looks in it’s built condition and that means within the real world. Remove too many distractions, or refraining to plan, I wouldn’t be providing any clarity in how the architects solved some design and building challenges.
Where my approach to Removing Distractions Comes From
The desire and approach to removing distractions came from my experience in wedding & portrait photography. While I very rarely will shoot weddings or portraits, some editing approaches are transferable as I specialize in architectural photography.
What we remember
With photographing people, there are edits that need to get done to make them look amazing. These are not huge edits to the point that you don’t even recognize the person anymore. I’m talking about edits that remove distractions and present an image that is linked to your memory. As mentioned, a blemish on a face is temporary. Leaving it in the photo is only a distraction and not something that is going to be remembered. If we compare this to architectural photography, we might remove a shadow or some rocks on the ground, or something we missed that could have been removed before shooting.
The concept is the same: remove the little things that only distract us from seeing the architecture in our mind and how we most likely remember.
The Photo Distractions
Here is the image from my exploration of Forest City Community Church that I decided to work with for this specific before and after post and I’ve noted my main distractions at this point:
Sprinkler water on pavement
Askew no parking sign
Not Quite Perpendicular
More sprinkler water
Dust spot 🙁
I’ve highlighted my main distractions to fix so that we end up with the top image you saw. We’ve got issues like:
- Sprinkler Water and different colour asphalt
- Shadows from my tripod and sign due to sunrise
- A couple of dust spots
- A crooked sign
- The building isn’t quite perpendicular. I need to fix the positioning.
- The pumps are debatable
Ways I fixed these distractions:
- Cropped the image to 16×9 format and eliminated most of the sprinkler water and shadows.
- Used Lightroom’s perspective and lens correrction to set the chuch in the proper positioning and not look like it’s sinking to the right.
- Used a number of features in Photoshop to remove the sign and shadow figures (tripod and other sign).
- Used healing tool in Photoshop to remove dust spots
- More cropping and healing tool to remove the water to the left (#4) and remove asphalt lines I forgot to label.
Feel free to compare the two with the tool below:
Hopefully, you can see the improvement in the after image, but also see that I’ve done nothing crazy to drastically change the holistic image of the church from this vantage point.
I could go a step further and remove the pumps in the bottom right corner. I still find them distracting, actually.
Ideally, I’d probably have arranged to retake this photo with the sun behind the building during sunset and water all dried up. It would be worth comparing to see which has more impact. Being local in London allows me to easily get to a site like this and take some photos at a different time of day. Sometimes a different time of day will eliminate distractions on its own. Example – Shooting a night photo could hide power lines or cables.
Let me know what you think in the comments. Did I go too far in editing this image? Should those pumps be removed? Did I miss something?