Howard B. Dearstyne, 74, a retired photographer, architectural historian and teacher, died of cancer Wednesday at Circle Terrace Hospital in Alexandria.

He was assistant architectural records editor for Colonial Williamsburg and lectured on architecture at the College of William and Mary from 1946 to 1957. He then moved to Chicago where he was a member of the faculty of the architecture department of the Illinois Institute of Technology for 14 years before retiring in 1971. He moved to Alexandria in 1972.

Mr. Dearstyne photographed "things that people would not ordinarily see," according to a friend. His pictures might portray the ripples in a puddle or the detailed design of leaves.

He had a number of individual shows, and exhibited his photos at the Art Institute in Chicago in 1962 and Howard University in 1964. He also took part in such exhibits as the Photokina in Cologne, Germany, in 1970.

He contributed articles to a number of magazines and was the coauthor of two books, "Colonial Williamsburg: Its Buildings and Gardens," published in 1949, and "Shadows in Silver -- A Record of Virginia, 1850-1900," published in 1954.

Mr. Dearstyne had been director of the Society of Architectural Historians. His other memberships included the American Institute of Architects, the Society of Architectural Historians, and the College Art Association of America.

He was a native of Albany, N.Y., and graduated in 1925 from Columbia University with a degree in architecture. He earned a postgraduate degree at the Bauhaus School of Design in Germany during the early 1930s.

He worked as an architect in New York City from the mid-1930s until joining the faculty of Black Mountain College in North Carolina in 1941. He later was architect in residence and a member of the faculty of Lawrence University in Appleton, Wis., and then head of the design department of the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan before joining the faculty of William and Mary.

Mr. Dearstyne's wife, the former Barbara L. Timmins, died in 1973.

There are no immediate survivors.