Los Angeles Out of The Darkness


This is not a revelation or breaking news but the more I try to hone my photography skills by reading and applying the more I learn.  Before the architecture I enjoyed landscape photography and HDR.  Most of my kit was dedicated to that type of photography with a 17-40 wide angle lens and a 15mm fish eye lens.  I enjoyed them both and I still have the 17-40 but I realized that the distortion from each lens when it came to architecture didn’t give me the warm fuzzies as a matter of fact when it came to cityscapes or straight on building shots.  The distortion started to really bug me.  I wanted more of what I was seeing with my eye and I just wasn’t getting it through the lens.  I read a few articles about the Tilt shift lenses out there.  Mostly positive articles a few that gave me pause because they stated they were not easy to use, sharpness and clarity was an issue and not an overall sense of confidence.


One day I decided to just find out for myself what the deal was and for $25 I rented a tilt shift lens for the weekend and see what all the hubbub was about.  Most of the articles I read about architecture photography a tilt shift lens was part of everyones kit and a must have. Well to make a long story longer, I rented the lens and instantly saw a pleasant difference.  The difficulties and unsharp results didn’t happen.  Maybe that was because of having a comfortability with my camera, tripod and remote trigger.  Either way, the results made me happy.

No longer the tilting back and in of buildings which the wide angle gives, no more trying to correct for distortion in post processing.  Which no matter how much I corrected the buildings didn’t have a natural look.  I wouldn’t go as far to say I had this zen moment but I was pleasantly pleased with the results and there was no going back.  I sold the 15mm fisheye and picked up an older model Canon 24mm Tilt shift L series.  One area of concern to get over was the T/S lens is a 72mm lens and all my other lenses are 77mm, so all of my round screw on Neutral density filters where to the 77mm size.  These filters are not cheap with 2-6stop, 10 stop and the new 16 stop firecrest (really like this filter) anyway, this was an easy fix with purchasing a step up ring for less than $10 to go from 72mm to 77mm.


I have been out shooting with the tilt shift more than a few times and I really have a tough time taking it off the camera (I shot with a Canon 5D Mark II)  The lack of distortion is perfect for my needs and really does give you a new perspective for shooting and new ideas.  The 17-40L is still in the kit and when I want to shoot straight up and get that wider perspective that the t/s can’t give the 17-40 is there.  But for straight on building or cityscape shots you can’t beat a tilt shift and is well worth the purchase.  In my case it was well worth the trade in.


The photo above was taken this past weekend on a Sunday morning, it just so happened to be the same Sunday morning they were running the LA Marathon.  Lots of streets were closed so this shot here was not my first option as a matter of fact it wasn’t an option at all.  But when street closures give you lemons…you make lemonade.  I shot the above from the 5th street bridge, very little correction was needed for the angle of the buildings and you get such a great feel right out of the camera.


The photo below was shot both with the T/S as well as the wide angle and the difference is definitely noticeable.  In the T/S shot the building is straight up and gives you the demand, size and presence you want in the composition.  With the wide angle, the leaning back and angle in the building losses some of its command and doesn’t portray an accurate rendering.

I only processed the T/S shot because to go through all the post processing steps on both would have been a waste of time when the T/S shot comes out so much better.

Abandoned MCAS Tustin

In conclusion, if you are looking to take the next step in Architecture photography, you can’t go wrong with a Tilt shift lens.  My recommendation is to rent the lens to see if you like the handle, feel and results. (I actually will rent any lens before buying to see if I like it).


My next posting will be about the 90 degree angle finder diopter adapter that I attach to the camera to make shooting low POV’s and straight up POV’s so much easier, until then…

Have a great day and happy shooting!!



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