Control of the Sun for Photographing Landscape Architecture

90Main-FinalLight Backyard Sanctuary

Let’s just start off by saying that the title is only wishful thinking. I have never been able to “control” the sun. It does what is does, and we only have the option of planning so we can take advantage of the sun, not control it.

When shooting any kind of architecture, if at all possible, I like to have a walk through with the architect, builder, designer, or whoever is the stake holder for the shoot. This is pretty much a requirement on larger jobs. On smaller sessions, sometimes we can get away with a phone call, but that can be tricky.

I’m going to lay out the process for a recent job, and show exactly what is lost in terms of efficiency when the preplan is skipped.

I had been asked by a landscape designer to shoot a project he had completed a while back, but hadn’t yet been able to get photos for his library. He wanted to use the photos for an upcoming event, so there was a bit of a time crunch. It was a cozy residential backyard patio design, and seemed pretty straight forward.

The first step in any exterior photo session is to see what direction the sun faces at various times of day. That way I can determine what will work best for scheduling. The light is always better at the edges of the day (sunrise or sunset), so we check sun direction, try to pick a decent weather day, and mark the calendar. In this case the sun came into the backyard early in the day, so I planned to be there in the morning.

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