Don’t tilt that camera unless you mean it. With the proper perspective, the Konstruktor DIY 35mm SLR camera can be turned into a killer arkitekture kamera.
When photographing architecture it’s all about perspective. No, not the kind of perspective where a critic expresses outrage over a proposed museum by iconic-architect Zaha Hadid. Rather, this perspective is the kind that is determined by camera-to-subject distance. And armed with a superior waist-level finder and a high-quality 50mm lens, the Lomography Konstruktor DIY 35mm camera is an excellent candidate for giving you the low-down on architectural perspective.
You see, it doesn’t matter whether you’re using a wide-angle lens, a telephoto lens, or a 50mm lens; the perspective will remain constant as long as the camera-to-subject distance remains the same. We Lomographers tend to use this constant to our favor by distorting close-up subjects with wide-angle lenses. Unfortunately, this distortion can lend an increased or “unreal” distance between close and distant objects which can be unfavorable when photographing architecture.
Likewise, since many buildings exhibit strong vertical, parallel lines, this distortion results in a convergence of the vertical lines. Yes, there are times when you may wish to exaggerate a building’s dimensions through this convergence of lines, but, in other cases, your photographs might look like the architecture is “falling down.”
The flip-side of this distortion issue is compression. Compression is the bedfellow of telephoto lenses. The narrow angle of view that is inherent with telephoto lenses causes your subjects to seem to be “squished” together. This effect is distance compression. Unless you’re interested in shooting architectural details, a telephoto lens is not the best solution for building an architectural album.
Using the 50mm lens or “normal” lens on Konstruktor presents a natural looking perspective along with an angle of view that closely approximates our eye’s central focused vision spot. This is the “sweet” spot that your Konstruktor architecture photos should be striving to achieve.
Architectural photographers will cry foul about this nod to the Konstruktor’s 50mm lens and cite that a perspective shift lens is the only way to shoot buildings. This is a valid argument, except that Konstruktor is presently limited to only one official lens: a 50mm “normal” lens. So we must work with the tools that we have at hand.
Coupled with the Konstruktor’s worthy lens, however, is this 35mm camera’s real gem feature. A feature that is perfect for taming perspective convergence: that feature is it’s built-in waist-level finder.
The waist-level finder is ideal for leveling the camera and squaring all vertical lines prior to releasing the shutter. On the other hand, the small ground glass (err, ground plastic) magnifier is not needed when photographing architecture, so leave it retracted during composition.
Additionally, set the 50mm lens to its infinity focus setting; most buildings will be further than 2 meters from your vantage point.
Finally, if you can’t seem to get all of your subject building’s lines parallel and square, try holding your Konstruktor upside down over your head. This “killer” feature will enable you to elevate your camera’s location almost 2 meters above the ground. Ha! Take that, Nikon and Canon!
Luckily, most buildings are stationary. So move yourself around and change your composition with an eye towards achieving the ideal perspective.