Why Camera Shift is Important in Architectural Photography

Written by Robert Lowdon

Robert Lowdon is an internationally published commercial photographer based out of Toronto, Canada. He spends his time photographing architecture and industrial projects for the most part.

Published December 3, 2022

Calgary Architecture Photography

If you’re an architect, then you know that the devil is in the details. And when it comes to photography, one of the most important details is perspective.

In architectural photography, camera shift refers to the process of moving the lens relative to the sensor in order to capture a wider field of view. This is often necessary when shooting interiors or exteriors with limited space.

While camera shift may seem like a small thing, it can make a big difference in the final image. So if you’re looking to get those perfect shots of your buildings, make sure you keep camera shift in mind!

What is camera shift and how does it affect architectural photography

When it comes to capturing stunning architectural photos, camera shift can make all the difference.

Camera shift is the visual effect achieved by shifting the camera parallel to its optical axis while keeping the lens unchanged – essentially allowing a photographer to capture different parts of the same image in one shot.

This technique can be used to expand the field of view and reduce perspective distortions in architectural photography. Compared to tilting upwards shifting prevents keystone distortion – or simply making the building look like a triangle.

All this makes it an extremely useful tool for architecture photographers aiming for dramatic images that showcase the beauty of their subjects!

The benefits of using camera shift to create interesting compositions

We can often improve the composition of our photos by shifting the camera angle. For example, when taking a photo from the ground, if we keep everything straight we will end up with a lot of foreground in the frame.

It is usually more pleasing to have more sky in the frame. So we will shift the lens up to reframe the building giving a more pleasing composition.

How to use camera shift to your advantage in your own photography

If you’re looking to take your photography to the next level, camera shift could be just the ticket. Camera shift is a photography technique that is pretty simple but does require special equipment.

Most photographers will use a special lens called a tilt-shift lens which will shift up and down. You could also use a large format camera which will have bellows that will allow you to use a multitude of camera movements.

What is a Tilt Shift Lens?

A tilt-shift lens is a special type of camera lens that allows for shifting the optics of the lens in relation to the image sensor. This allows for more creative control over composition, depth of field, and perspective.

Tilt-shift lenses are often used to correct distortion or create more interesting compositions in architectural photography, but they can also be used for other types of photography such as landscape and portraiture.

Some examples of great photos that have used camera shift to create amazing shots

Camera shift
Mississauga architecture – Marilyn Monroe tower
Fairmont hotel - ottawa architecture
Fairmont Hotel – Ottawa architecture
L building in toronto
L building
Toronto's downtown core is home to some of the tallest skyscrapers in the country. The skyline is a major tourist attraction, and the area is a major business district.
Downtown toronto buildings.


Camera shift is a great way to create more interesting and unique compositions in your architectural photography. By using camera shift, you can create more interesting compositions in your photos, which can make them more visually appealing to viewers. Try using camera shift to experiment with your own photography and see how you can create even better shots. Thanks for reading!

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