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Today’s column is by High Sierra Workshop’s faculty member Rick Hulbert, Architect MAIBC, FRAIC, AIA, RCA.
In addition to running a highly successful architectural firm in Vancouver, B.C., Canada, Rick is an incredibly talented photographer with an unheralded vision for the urban landscape.

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“One of the essential issues of great urban and architectural photography is how to convey the impression or “Illusion” of 3-Dimensional Space in a 2-Dimensional image.

If we turn to lessons learned from the movie industry, we can learn some valuable lessons and some simple to facilitate techniques. The field of Cinematography has been exploring ways to portray the “real” world on the silver screen for well over half a century.

As just one of the many learning experiences offered as part of my upcoming 2013 Summer Urban Adventure Photography Series Workshop in Vancouver, BC, Canada, you will be introduced to the notion of  how to recognize and use “depth cues” in photographing buildings and streets.  You will learn how to use these “depth cues” to better portray the built environment including the plazas, pathways, and open spaces between buildings.

I will discuss 3 of those “cues” in this brief post. They include A: vertical and horizontal planes, the edges of which recede to one or more vanishing points in the distance; B: subject or object overlaps; and C: the size progression of like elements.


A: Think of the walls and floors of buildings and rooms as physical planes that, if composed appropriately, can make a huge difference in creating a feeling of 3D space. The location of the camera relative to building “Planes” has a significant effect on the creation of the sense of depth for the prospective buyer.


B: Overlapping objects add to the feeling of depth.  The  “Staging” or placement of furnishings or “street furniture” in a photograph can increase the perception of depth. Windows and doorways can be used to further provide a sense of depth. Photographing through portals from one space to another can also foster a sense of movement through the 3-D world.


C: When a viewer of a photo senses like or identical elements that become progressively smaller or larger, the notion of “depth” is enhanced. These elements might be columns, windows, or repeating patterns in the floors, ceilings and walls of buildings that can be used to advantage. The same can be said for a row of trees along a street or the people, cars, street lights, and other repeating elements that “inhabit” the street.”

For a far more “in depth” hands-on photography experience covering this topic, join Rick in Vancouver, BC next August for a fantastic workshop on Photographing Cities and City life. From Buildings and Bridges, to People and Parks, you will have an unparalleled opportunity to learn about Urban Photography … plus you will go home with some great images!