Home / Articles / Photo School

Amazing spaces

Image of the January 2019 Wilderness Magazine Cover Read more from the
January 2019 Issue

A guide to architectural photography in the backcountry

New Zealand’s hut network is second to none. Whether an old musterer’s shed or purpose-built
backcountry palace, our huts play an important role in our tramping stories. The following tips will help you capture better photos of remote refuges.

It’s all about the symmetry
Built structures in nature add geometric shapes to an otherwise chaotic environment. Putting the structure into the horizontal centre of your frame adds to the impact of these shapes. Make sure the hut is perfectly level and centre.

Context, context, context
Put the hut in context with its environment. Your choice of focal length can help to emphasise its connection to nature. Distant mountains will appear larger when using a telephoto lens, while a wide-angle lens will allow you to better capture a hut in a dense forest.

Hit the ground
Shooting low to the ground will give the viewer a better impression of the environment. In addition, grass, rocks or autumn leaves in the foreground will add a strong, emotional viewpoint by adding texture to the frame.

The Breakdown

When you picture a typical Otago backcountry hut, something like Meg Hut comes to mind. I really loved how the soft browns of the grass are repeated in the rusty spots in the corrugated iron structure. The gentle blue hue of the sky further emphasises the warmth of the landscape.

I decided to shoot this hut as a classical head-on shot (architectural photographers call this a single-point perspective) and made sure the building was perfectly centred. Since I had to point my camera slightly upwards, I had to fix converging vertical lines in post-production so the building does not look like it’s about to fall over backwards.

The terrain did not allow me to shoot through the grass, but slightly darkening the bottom of the image achieved a similar effect of guiding the viewer into the frame.

Camera: Fujifilm X-T2
Lens: Fujifilm XF16-55
Settings: 28mm, ISO200, f8, 1/500s

Support Wilderness

Since 1991, Wilderness has had one simple goal: to help Kiwis ‘See more, do more, live more’ of New Zealand.

If you value our mission, please consider subscribing. As a loyal supporter, you’ll receive these benefits:

  • New Zealand’s best outdoor journalism We’ve won multiple awards for our journalism and magazine production.
  • NZ’s best trips. Browse more than 610 trips with downloadable maps and route notes.
  • Trustworthy gear reviews. Each month we review gear we’ve been bashing and thrashing for months so you can determine if its worth your money.
  • Web exclusives. Each week we publish stories you won’t find in the magazine. View our latest web exclusives.
  • Member benefits. Our WildCard provides discounts at more than 20 partners throughout New Zealand.
  • Your support goes a long way. Your subscription will help us fund NZ’s best outdoor journalists and writers and ensure Wilderness will be there to inspire the next generation of outdoor Kiwis.

A subscription costs as little as $7.00/month for instant access to all articles, trips, gear reviews and gear guides.

View all our subscription options and join the club.

Already a subscriber? Login Now.