Architectural photography: post production workflow 

 May 21, 2015

By  Pascal Depuhl

Post production for architectural photography

Architectural photography is not just planning the shoot, nor is it only photographing the building. After the shoot is finished, the jobs not done. Now the assembly begins.

Architectural photograph of the Dilido house

Layers that make up an image file in today's architectural photography
Some layers in this architectural photograph exploded.

All the RAW files captured get fine tuned in Capture One, in my opinion the best image processor out there. Color balance, contrast, brightness, perspective, ect. are adjusted. Then the architectural photography files are processed and are retouched, where small imperfections and outlets are cleaned up.

Paths around all image details in my architectural photography.
Sky, building and window paths combined.

Then the images go through Photoshop where the individual layers are created and assembled into a master file. Each layer has detailed masks around the building parts, the vegetation, the sky, ect. which allows us to composite the image out of the separate exposures taken on location. In the image to the left you see a simplified view of some of the main layers: vegetation, garden and interior through the glass wall, outside walls lit by a strobe, house and sky. That’s how architectural photography is created today.

Finalizing the architectural image files

Then it’s a round trip back into Capture One, where perspective is adjusted, highlights and colors are tweaked and the final files are prepared to be delivered to the client. Metadata is added and the files are  uploaded int my photoshelter account and delivered to the client via password protected web gallery.
My favorite part of the whole shoot, is an excited client, who loves the images taken of her design. This image has taken quite some time to build, from scouting to shooting to spending time in post production, but the transformation from the scouting shot is a far cry from the final shot, don’t you think?

Scout snapshot to Final architectural photography
The snapshot I took on the scouting trip and the final constructed image on the right.
  • Mark,

    If you’re shooting architecture, you gotta get into Capture One my friend. Although I photographed this building with a tilt shift lens, I still went into Capture One to correct the perspective with their amazing Keystone tool. The color tool lets me define, adjust or even change colors on the fly – which means that once I’ve made an adjustment in the software (be that perspective, color, exposure, …) the next image will have these adjustments applied as it is being captured into the computer. Love that function when shooting with the client watching, that way I don’t have to explain half an hour later that no, we will adjust the perspective in post. It’s just done.

    If you are looking for the best training on Capture One – check out my friends at Capture Integration. Their main store is in Atlanta, but they also operate out of CA, FL and NH. Subscribe to their blog or call them and ask for their “Serious Technical Training” – last time they did this workshop in Florida, the guy that created Capture One was teaching. That’s about as good as it gets.

    When you speak with them, say hi to Dave from me. He’s one of the best guys I know in our industry.

  • This is great stuff Pascal! I did a similar shot with a low rise office building a few months ago (it’s on my website.) Started around 4:30 AM and got the building manager to turn on all the lights in the front of the building. It really does bring the soul of the structure to life. Without light on inside, it’s just dead. I used speed lights and pocket wizards to trigger mine and painted with flash in a couple of places. I love these kinds of images but it is so hard to get clients who will let you put the time in to do them. I lucked out because I actually worked for the company when I did the morning shot (the first time), then after they did some corporate right sizing and I found myself starting my own business as a result; they purchased the building and moved the logo so then hired me to come back and take the same shot again.

    You my friend live amongst some of the most stunning architecture in America, making friends with architects in your area is a very good thing. I’m jealous. My dad has a home in Kendall, I’ll be down for a week in the beginning of October to visit my brother (dad passed away 2 years ago).

    I’ve been shooting tethered as well with C1 but I’m still trying to get used to it. It’s a whole new world not being able to work with DNGs and profiling with a Passport. What I like most about it is it’s speed! It’s wicked fast to get an image to your iPad as well, but I’ve been doing my final processing in LR because I know it so well. I probably need to see someone work with C1.


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    Pascal Depuhl

    Miami product photographer, video producer, cinematographer and chief mindchanger at Photography by Depuhl I love to share the knowledge I've gained over the past two decades. Catching light in motion.