Week 2: Architecture

We will today look at architecture photography, specifically using compositional techniques to evoke awe.

The homework is to produce one or more photographs that makes Birmingham look sublime.

  • Find the angles to make Birmingham’s architecture look awe inspiring.
  • Put buildings in context using foreground, midground and background.
  • Create a sense of calm by removing extraneous details.

Please upload your photos here - if you have problems you can send them by some other means to pete@peteashton.com

You can view all the uploaded photos on Dropbox here.

Photographers mentioned in the slides include:

I also mentioned Bernd and Hilla Becher, personal favourites of mine, who made awe inspiring photos of industrial structures, raising them out of the ordinary. Images

Week 1: Basic Composition

All the following can be done with any camera, from a smartphone to a DLSR and everything inbetween.


The camera’s light meter will default to a “Goldilocks” brightness - not too dark, not too light. Boring! Override this by adjusting the Exposure Compensation, using the +/- button on your camera or tapping the screen on your phone.

Use this to increase shadows or highlights to brings focus or add drama. Don’t be grey!

Rule of Thirds

The simplest and most effective way to give your photo balance and focus.

Put the horizon on one of the horizontal lines, not in the middle.

Put the subject of the photo on one of the intersection points to draw the eye to it.

Google “rule of thirds” for endless examples.

Frame and Crop

Photography is a much about what you exclude as include. There’s never only one way to frame a subject. Try a variety of crops to change the context your subject is in.

Find the Lines

You’ve got your subject, but what’s in the background? Look for simple lines and shapes which assist the subject, rather than distract.


I would like you to send me the following:

  • A photo where you’ve changed the brightness to sculpt the shadows.
  • A photo where you’ve used the Rule of Thirds to draw attention to a subject in a busy scene.
  • Two or more photos of the same subject which feel radically different due to your framing.
  • A portrait of a person where the background is as considered as the foreground.

Appendix: Snapseed

Snapseed is a surprisingly powerful photo editing app for mobiles and tablets. It has the simplicity of Instagram but you can also dig deep and learn a lot about photo editing.

I’d recommend it as a starter tool before approaching something like Lightroom or Photoshop.

Google’s help pages for Snapseed are here.

We will work through this together in class and I’ll put any useful notes up here later.