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The atmosphere of an architectural image can be enhanced in numerous ways. The most direct approaches are through composition and selective framing, but lighting and weather are also useful tools.

Careful selection of viewpoint can be used to reveal, or conceal, certain aspects of a building or structure. What is excluded from an image can be as powerful as what is included. Chhose to show only a dynamic modern glass extension against a clear blue sky, and exclude all the traditional architectural elements, and an image acquires a particularly clean, simple and modern feeling. However, if a new glass extension is shown as part of an older and more traditional structure, an image tells more of the real story and reflects an evolving situation.

Egyptian templeA similar principle of selective exclusion can be used in relation to the environment of a structure, and hence an element of context.  A wider view that incorporates quite a lot of a subject's surroundings might, for instance, tell a viewer whether a building is part of a modern development or a redevelopment in a traditional area. It might also indicate whether a building has spacious surrounding gardens, and perhaps a view over a valley, or whether is it squeezed in to a restricted location. A photographer must decide what message should be conveyed.

The addition of a human element to architectural images can change the mood significantly. A building surrounded by people is seen to have a more definite purpose and also acquires scale. The inclusion of people carrying flowers near a memorial might be used to add a sentimental element to an image, and the presence of formally-dressed people going about their business might be used to indicate a dynamic and successful business headquarters.

Light and weather are also powerful tools in creating atmosphere. Soft and warm light helps to convey a feeling of tranquility and might be appropriate for an image of a religious building or monument. A colourful sunset might be used as the backdrop for a military memorial to emphasize an atmosphere of duty, remembrance and the recognition of sacrifice. Weather conditions can also be used to create appropriate atmospheres in images. An image of a centuries-old fort might be shown against a stormy sky to suggest the ravages of past battles, and a low-lying mist could be incorporated in a picture of a ruined abbey to create an air of mystery and presence.


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