Fornebu Architecture (Architecture Photography Tips) / by Conor Cunningham

A few mornings ago the Statoil building at Fornebu was bathed in the orange glow of a clear morning sunrise. This presented a top moment to try and get a nice architecture shot, which at times can be difficult, but with a little forethought can be very rewarding.

In this entry, I'm going to walk you through the process I used to get the final image.

Framing

This was actual quite easy as there really is only a few angle to approach the building without encountering obstacles. I was limited to my 24 - 105mm and the building just fit into view from my position with the 24mm. I leveled the image and allowed for a good share of foreground and sky.

Focus and Depth of Field

There were plenty of trees in the foreground which in my opinion, had to be sharp. That meant a large depth of field. I chose f/8 at 24mm and focused on some trees approximately 20 metres away. This ensure infinity focus on anything behind the trees. 

For sharp focus, I used manual focus whilst using live view and a magnification of 10x. This allows for very accurate focusing and is the same method I use when focusing on stars in the night sky.

Exposure

To allow the image to contain plenty of information both in the sky and the foreground, I metered the light for the darker part of the building so I could get some colour in the foreground. The sky wasn't too bright at this time, but it was vividly blue so I believed I could get a lot out of it even if I over exposed it slightly to compensate for the darker foreground. The original unprocessed image is below.

The raw image directly from the camera.

Processing

By getting the image as above in camera, one can limit the amount of post-processing. I would rather get it in camera everytime, but I also insist on shooting raw so that any post edits are possible.

My goal was to recreate the image as I saw/remember it.

In post, I increased the exposure by +0.60, something I could have done in camera. I did this to brighten the scene overall. I dropped the highlights to about -50 to bring back some of the blue that was present in the sky and pushed the blacks just a wee bit to bring out some more detail in the windows. Finally, I added a touch of clarity to bring out the detail in the foreground and added some sharpening whilst masking (but not applied to) sky.

Now, this looks how I remember it, except for that I recall the orange sunlight being more saturated. To enhance this, I used Lightroom 5's selective saturation tool, moved onto the orange in the picture and slowly increased the saturation until I was happy.

And that's about it.

Final Result

I hope you like it.

Statoil's building during the golden hour not long after dawn. Fornbu, Norway, March 11, 2014