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.'
I don't like to remove many elements that exist within my architecture photos. I enjoy the most natural portrayal possible and eliminate as many distractions as possible while shooting. This approach of mine is definitely a challenge while out shooting, but saves 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. 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.
All of the architecture photos were shot on July 31, 2017 while in the Western campus area. Along with these photos, I've added some thoughts on why high-quality photos are important and what they mean to me.
Where my approach to Removing Distractions Comes From
My 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.
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. For example, 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.
Here is the image I decided to work with for this specific article 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 color asphalt
- Shadows from my tripod and sign due to sunrise
- A couple dust spots
- A crooked sign
- The building isn't quite perpendicular. I need to fix the positioning.
Ways I fixed these distractions:
- Cropped the image to 16x9 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, but that would be something I'd see if the client wanted done specifically. Inclusion of the pumps might be something beneficial.
Ideally, I'd probably have arranged to retake this photo with sun behind the building durning sunset and water all dried up. It would be worth comparison to see which has more impact. Being local in London allows 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.
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?