Creating CG images that look and feel like photographs of places that don't yet exist is a complex task. You can't just create a few 3D assets and "away we go". You often have to think like a photographer; where are you going to set up your camera? How are you going to light the location? What's the story? Framing? Perspective? Mood?
We have a few keen amateur photographers in our midst, but they're visual artists first, photographers later... and so we wonder, is operating a CG camera the same as a using real camera when capturing architecture? Do the same image making principles apply for both?
Recently an interesting opportunity to explore this question came up; a workshop held by architectural photographer Nathan Spencer, in which the group were to capture Two Snowhill (a place which we have previously envisioned in CG here) using real life cameras!
We thought it would be interesting to turn the tables on our own practices and send down a couple of Ryans from the arch viz team to see how they would view the building through a real camera. After an interesting day practicing new techniques and exploring their love for photography, they came away with a few simple truths that resonate whether composing images in your viewfinder or in 3DS Max...
...Start by stripping a composition down to its basic elements, focussing always on "what am I trying to achieve?" You can always build on this later once you've worked out the fundamentals.
Keep the end goal in mind. Considering the "edit" during the actual production will help to inform your choices on POV, composition, choice of lighting etc., and prevent too many false starts.
To create a composition that is easy on the eye use natural perspective lines to help guide the viewer naturally around the image.
Experiment with depth of field, taking control of where you want the focus to be. You are in charge!
Keep asking yourself questions throughout. Do you want a static image? Do you want motion blur? What are you trying to evoke?
Don't be afraid of vignettes; an intimate close up can often say a lot more than a broad sweeping panoramic...
Check out their blogs - Ryan Groves and Ryan Parker - to see the images they came away with from the workshop!