15.1 CAMERA TRIPOD

Architectural photography is an art form that requires less spontaneity and more contemplation. While most photographers prefer the freedom of composing images without constraint the reality is that a tripod is essential for a number of reasons. One way to overcome this problem is to walk around without the camera to determine the best composition. I use the ALPA ACAM Super Wide Converter on my iPhone with Mark II Artist’s Viewfinder that frees me to decide on the general composition and lens before unpacking all my equipment.

Architectural photography is a slow process that requires careful composition, leveling and critical adjustments of camera. To achieve this a tripod is essential. Furthermore the tripod provides a sturdy base to keep the camera steady during exposure and this results in higher resolution images. Vibration becomes critical with higher resolution cameras and it is also advisable to use a shutter timer to reduce mirror vibration. A sturdy tripod is then a worthwhile investment for high-resolution images required for architectural photography.

Aligning and leveling the camera is an important task for architectural photography. Tripod ball and swivel heads are not ideal for the sort of micro adjustments that are needed in architectural photography.

I use a carbon fiber Gitzo GT5561GT Systemic Tripod with a center column that is sturdy as a rock and rises to 2.6 m that will get you above most obstacles. For architectural photography the ideal tripod head is the Arca Swiss Cube Head with built-in spirit levels that allows precision adjustments. The Cube incorporates a two-level head that once leveled allow the photographer to pan for final composition adjustments without re-leveling. Finally on the Hasselblad I use a mirror-up 3-second timer to reduce mirror vibration. The end result is the ultimate high-resolution image.