An Architectural Wonder in My City - The architectural wonder that I chose was Humayun’s Tomb located in Delhi.
Camera kit: Canon 80D. Lenses: 18-135mm, 50Mm f/1.8, 24mm f/2.8, Macro Filter Kit. Software used: Adobe Photoshop 2014
In my opinion, in a tropical country like India, the best time to capture a monument is either early in the morning i.e. around 6-8 am or maybe later in the evening like around 4-4:30 to 6 pm. This is because, during the daytime, the light is too imposingly harsh to let your camera capture the exact colours. Moreover, the details of the buildings like the edges are not captured properly.
On the contrary, the early morning and evening light is tender which helps the camera to capture the real colours allowing better colour saturation along with the nitty-gritty details.
However, the evening time witnesses crowds of people around which affects your flow and framing. Therefore, I went to shoot the monument early in the morning.
DO SOME RESEARCH WORK
Before going for the shoot the first thing I often do is do some research work. Research work as in look for some of its photographs on the internet imagining how the subject looks like and what could the good angles be. In addition to this, you will also identify the mistakes other photographers made during their visits and how you can prevent those and create better photographs.
ISO APERTURE SHUTTER SPEED RELATION
When it comes to outdoor photography, the relation between ISO APERTURE and Shutter Speed becomes very important especially if you are someone who shoots in the manual mode. Well, I would suggest that you should keep a shutter speed of around 1/50-1/60 if you are shooting early in the morning or even in the evening. The Aperture value should range between f/10 –f/22 and ISO should not be more than 250. You should not follow the other pattern of high shutter speed and low aperture value because low aperture values provide you with a very shallow depth of field, whereas, in case of large aperture values you’ll get a really good depth of field thereby keeping everything in focus. Don’t increase your ISO beyond 250 because it starts reducing the colour accuracy and increases the noise in your picture.
Avoid negative spacing in your shots. You should be aware of the fact that the surroundings are important but at end of the day when anyone sees your photograph, he will try to look for the subject in it. If you are taking long shots, you can include a large part of the sky and surroundings but when you are not, try to adjust the frame in such a manner that the subject is highlighted followed by the sky and the landscape around it. Your subject is and shall remain primary whereas the sky and the surroundings are secondary.
At the monument, there is only a single source of light that is the natural daylight. Therefore, using flash or artificial light is out of the question and the only option left is to do some post-processing of the photographs. Monument Photography doesn’t require a lot of post-processing but still, in order to achieve better results, you have to give some touch ups. Here’s an insight into what I did using Adobe Photoshop 2014.
The biggest challenge while shooting any building is to do justice with its beauty. Walking into its premises and capturing the monument in all its architectural glory as I first laid my eyes on it was no mean task. One of my personal favorites, I call this My window with a View!
The Distant View
In this picture, I wanted to show a long shot of the Humayun’s Tomb highlighting how this monument is nested within a city. It stands tall amidst the green surroundings awaiting the arrival of the first rays of the Sun. It indeed makes its presence count in a city which is too busy in itself.
The Story in Angles
We often see photographers just standing and clicking pictures in front of buildings as a result of which they only get very simple pictures which almost anyone can click. But I strongly recommend looking for different angles. Bend a little try to take a picture with the same framing but a different angle.
For example, I clicked two shots of this monument. In the above photograph, I was just normally standing in front of the monument and clicked a simple photograph which probably every tourist clicks. But in the one below, I kept my camera on the drainage pipe and tried to take a low angle shot creating an impression that one is wading through the drain into some mysterious door to reach the tomb.
Don’t angles change the story a picture tells?
Samples of Symmetry
Most of the architectural wonders across the globe are known for their well-built symmetry. Try to play or work with that symmetry in order to achieve great results.
The first one here is a wide-angle shot with trees partly covering the structure’s top.
The second picture, honestly speaking, was something that I had seen on the internet but that photograph was not taken with such a low angle. The photographer was standing while he had taken that shot. I realized that this shot would come out better if it was taken from a low angle.
It reveals the perfect symmetrical stretches extending their arms in the opposite directions. The picture also captures the overcast mood of the clouds as they watch over the dome!
This symmetrical close-up establishes its strong foothold on the spectator. It undoubtedly appears domineering and awe-inspiring almost as if telling its enemies to not step too close.
The Intricate Interior
Monuments are often adorned with wall carvings, wall arts and other forms of drawings which highlight the designs and skill-sets prevalent at the time of their construction. They reflect the uniqueness of the era they represent. Both these photographs display beautiful intricacies of the Mughal architecture.
For particularly the picture on the right, I kept my aperture at f/3.5 because the shot was taken inside the building and the light was not very supportive.
Rest in Peace!
You should always remind people of why a particular wonder was built. This monument was built in the memory of the Mughal ruler Humayun by his wife. The white stone is actually his grave. The photograph is captured in monochrome to retain the solemnity of death. Humayun’s tomb is placed in such a manner that only natural light falls on it and this photograph is an earnest attempt to not perturb the original thought.
Through Alice’s looking glass
Even after exploring all the different angles, there’s room for experimenting. I attempted to capture the monument just as Alice would see it through her glass peephole. This photograph was actually taken with the help of a +2 macro filter.
The monument within a Monument!
Even though you have captured the monument, keep looking for attractions that are a part of the main structure. For eg., Burj Khalifa in Dubai is not only famous for its height but is also famous for the water fountains and the Dubai Mall through which you enter into it. Similarly, in this case, within the premises of the Tomb, there is this famous Isa Khan Tomb. Its beauty gives a tough competition to the splendor of the Humayun’s Tomb.
Always watch out for various other spots of attraction around the monument!
The Decay: A Reminder
Behind the veil of monumental glory is a sordid tale of decay. The withering interior of the dome is an appeal to the city and its people to not turn a blind eye to what our rich heritage has bestowed on us......History, after all, is a reminder of where we’ve come from and where we might be heading!
EVERY PHOTOGRAPHY PROJECT IS AN EXPEDITION, A JOURNEY BOTH WITHIN AND WITHOUT. THIS PROJECT LEFT ME ENRICHED AND GAVE ME SOME VERY CRUCIAL LESSONS THAT I WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH YOU:
- ALWAYS TRY TO VISIT THE ARCHITECTURAL MONUMENT EITHER IN THE MORNING OR IN THE EVENING.
- DO SOME GROUNDWORK. GOOGLE THE OPENING AND THE CLOSING TIMINGS OF THE MONUMENT. REMEMBER, ALLTHE MUGHAL MONUMENTS ARE CLOSED FOR PUBLIC ON FRIDAYS.
- AVOID NEGATIVE SPACING BUT TRY TO LET YOUR MONUMENT BREATHE.
- DON’T CARRY TRIPODS AS THEY ARE NOT ALLOWED.
- DON’T USE WIDE APERTURES AS THEY DO NOT PROVIDE A WIDE DEPTH OF FIELD.
- ISO SHOULD NOT BE MORE THAN 250.
- DON’T BE DISTANT FROM THE MONUMENT YOU ARE CAPTURING. BECOME AN INTRINSIC PART OF ITS PAST AND PRESENT. FROM THE FIRST TILL THE LAST SHOT, BE ENGAGED IN THE STORY IT’S TRYING TO TELL YOU AS THAT WILL AFFECT THE NARRATIVE YOU ARE TRYING TO CREATE THROUGH YOUR LENS!
All photos clicked by and the blog is written by Dhruv Gupta for WPC project Photographing An Architectural Wonder In Your City