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Travel Photography

Lesson 22 of 32

Details: Buildings

John Greengo

Travel Photography

John Greengo

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Lesson Info

22. Details: Buildings

Lesson Info

Details: Buildings

Let's go in a little bit tighter now. Let's talk about shooting some details and not worrying about the big, big photo. We're looking to talk about little things that help tell the story of where you are and what this place is like. And so there's a lot of reasons why you want to go in tight. And there's a lot of ways that we can do this with different lenses, working with different types of depth of field, because we need to get in really close there to look at that. Ow, it's got my head! (laughing) And so we're not trying to show the whole thing. There is a place to show everything and then there is a place to go in and show details. And there's a lot of different ways in which we can do this, so, some quick tips to start off with here. Just find anything that's interesting, anything that helps tell a story. Clean surroundings. And so you don't want a lot of clutter that's not really a part of the subject that you're thinking about. And oftentimes, that shallow depth of field works v...

ery well. That's where that 50 millimeter, the Nifty 50, can come in really handy. I'm going to just kind of divert for a moment and talk about shooting buildings. Because it's not a big location but it is a specific area that you're trying to get. And so, there's a lot of different things that can be important. The Acropolis in Athens. The key thing here was getting up to a high viewpoint and getting there before sunrise. Because as the sun came up, it illuminated the Acropolis, but didn't get down to the city down below until after. So you have your main subject in bright sunlight and the other areas in shadow. And so it's a better lighting situation. But that requires getting up when it's completely dark and getting to that particular location. The Flat Iron building in New York. That was a lot of fun to work with because there's a lot of different elements. So, obviously, having some foreground, the taxi cab, and then going over to the crosswalk so that I have an additional pattern, color, and then an iconic building rather than just the building itself, which is interesting, but having those other elements is good. I found a spot that I could safely stand in the New York City streets and not get hit by a car. It's pretty rare. You'll look down here at the bottom of the photograph, there's a little bit of a V, and what that is, is there's a little angle where there's a potter plant and there's a road coming in and a street coming down. So I can stand behind the potter plant for protection and I can shoot photos kind of from a middle of the street position. And as I shot photos here, I was trying to figure out what can I do to make this - cause it's a good viewpoint of the building - but what other element can I figure out? And every once in a while, there'd be just a ton of people crossing the street. And then I remembered: subway. The subway lets off about every three, four, five minutes, or whatever it is, and when they let off, everyone comes across that next street and so if you want to show those crowded streets, you just wait for the timing of that particular shot. This is the largest adobe building in Mali. And it is in Djenné. And went out, shot it, nice, clean, basic shot one morning. Went out another morning and we had just slightly better light and we had these three boys out in front for scale. And they really help tell the story of how large that building is. And so, once again, multiple opportunities gave me a slightly better version of this. So, let's run down my top eight tips for photographing buildings. Figure out where you can get to and find anything that you can to your advantage. Shooting on the other side of a lake, that gives me a little bit of reflection to work with. What's the best point of view? A lot of times, I do like symmetry in my buildings, especially buildings that are very very symmetrical. The city light crew did not put in the lights symmetrically, which made me a little bit upset, but there's only so much you can do about things in life. I did the best I could. They need to just twist that one lamp post around about 45 degrees. (laughing) Choosing an unusual point of view. Once again, that looking up can be very good. Being there at the right time of day. So shooting in good light. We're talking about sunrises and sunsets where there's not as many deep, dark shadows and that heavy contrast. The Blue Zone, sometimes referred to as the Blue Hour, which is not an hour, which is why I don't call it that, it's this short period of time that I believe to be about 10-15 minutes in length. Either before sunrise or after sunset where the blue in the sky has gotten dark enough that you can see the building lights that are on. So you want to wait for the lights to turn on and get that nice, dark - not too dark - not too light. And so there's about a 10-15 minute window where you can shoot where there's this magic balance between the ambient light and the natural light. Talked about this a lot in those photos grabs you've seen. Adding foreground. It's fine to have an interesting subject - let's have a supporting subject in there as well. Adding people can be very good. And of course, I said look for water, and that way you can get all of those reflections. And so those are my top eight tips for shooting buildings.

Class Description

Are you going on a once in a lifetime trip and want to have photos that you can share with friends and family? Do the decisions of what to bring, where to shoot, and what to capture feel overwhelming? Travel photography can feel challenging, time consuming, and expensive. But with the right tools you can plan and prioritize to come home with images that you treasure.

Join photographer, educator and author John Greengo, who has photographed all over the world, as he guides you through all of the steps that you need to capture the photos that you want during your travels. This class will offer different plans of what to bring, and how to create a realistic agenda based on your priorities, whether it’s documenting your trip, telling a story through photographs, or simply capturing great images.

John will teach you:

  • What gear to pack based on your goals.
  • How to create a media storage plan and workflow while traveling.
  • Best practices on how to find and scout the best locations to photograph.
  • How to approach locals and build trust before taking their portraits.
  • Camera techniques and settings for different shooting scenarios.
  • Different types of travel photos, such as The Walk Away, The T-Shot, and Environmental Portrait.
  • What to do with your photos once you’ve returned home.

Don’t let the challenges of travel photography keep you from capturing images that will provide you with lifelong memories. Join John Greengo to learn the best techniques, tools, and technology to capture great photos no matter you limitations in time, money and resources.



As usual John has been an awesome instructor. He is so energetic and fun. I love taking his courses and this was no different. I absolutely loved it. I have learned so much by taking his courses. Thanks John for all you do to help us beginners out.

Melissa Maxwell

So inspiring! This class is so comprehensive and I look forward to applying all of Greengo's tips. He is a wonderful instructor and the example photos are breathtaking.

user 1399347749726793

John is fabulous ... and so inspiring! I can travel the world and live vicariously through him! I've watched John for years and always find that he teaches me something new every time! Thanks John and CreativeLive for another awesome class!