Cityscape photography can give us a spectacular view of some of the cities we’ve created. There are several ways to make sure that your cityscape photos look the best they can. Follow these 15 tips:
TAKE TIME TO RESEARCH YOUR LOCATION
First things first, take time to research your location. In many places, you will probably have to shoot from an interior location. In other areas, you may need to gain clearance to access a rooftop. You can also research the city’s quirks. There may be a location with a cool statue you want in your shot, or maybe an old building. Take time to find a great location!
PLAY WITH REFLECTIONS
When looking for a location, consider finding a spot with water. Cityscape shots that include water are breathtaking. In some cases, you may want to stay away from water. If the water you want to include in your shot moves a lot, you should consider keeping it out of the shot. Moving water defeats the purpose of having reflections in your shot, as it doesn’t give a clear reflection of your cityscape. If you really want a clear reflection in small rivers or lakes it is recommended to wake up early.
ALWAYS, ALWAYS USE YOUR CAMERA STRAP
Many photographers take issue with using their camera straps because they can flap in the wind and make it annoying to set up a shot. But, with whatever location you choose, be sure to use your camera strap to keep you from dropping your camera. Only remove it when you shoot from a tripod and you are really sure the camera is fixed.
INCLUDE PEDESTRIANS IF YOU MUST
Don’t be afraid to get pedestrians in your shot. If anything, it shows the hustle and bustle of a city that cityscape photos usually showcase. People are part of the city right? So why not include them.
USE MANUAL FOCUS
Many photographers tend to use the auto focus feature on their camera because it takes less time and isn’t much of a hassle. However, if you’re photographing a cityscape, you will have time to use the manual focus. Sometimes it produces a sharper image than auto focus will. Auto focus also performs more poorly the darker it gets.
USE A TRIPOD
For a steady and straight shot, set your camera up on a tripod. It will ensure that you don’t move suddenly and throw off the manual focus you’ve set up. Taking photos with a tripod also brings another advantage. You will look much better before you take that shot. This results in better cityscape photos.
USE THE CAMERA’S TIMER OR A REMOTE CONTROL
Stage the perfect shot and set your camera’s timer for between two and 10 seconds. Combining this step with using your tripod will keep you from jostling your camera and risking the focus of your shot. Instead of the timer you can use a remote control also.
GET TO YOUR SHOOT LOCATION EARLY
Wherever you decide to shoot your cityscape, be sure to arrive at your location early. You never know what issues you may run into. You could have problems getting to your location, and you also need to have time to set up any equipment you need for your shoot. Make sure all your settings are right because the perfect moment happens. Being early at the location also gives you time to think about how to frame the cityscape.
SHOOT THROUGH GLASS
In most instances, you will have to shoot through glass. Most buildings tall enough to get your cityscape in the correct frame will require you to stay indoors on the upper levels of a building. Shooting through glass can be tough, especially because it is easy to catch your own reflection in the glass. Use a black tee-shirt and place it on the glass beside you and on your lens to reduce flares and reflections. You can also use a polarizer that helps to reduce the reflections.
USE BAD WEATHER AS AN OPPORTUNITY
If it’s raining, don’t fret. Use the rain as an opportunity to capture your city in a unique way. The rainy streets reflect like crazy, so look for reflections. Especially during the night you will get spectacular shots.
USE A WIDE ANGLE LENS
To be sure you are getting the entire scape, lenses with focal lengths between 16 and 35mm (10mm and 20mm for crop cameras) are a great option. This keeps you from having to travel miles and miles outside of the city to get a great cityscape view and can get the tallest of buildings in your shot without any problem.
BE READY TO SHOOT RIGHT AFTER SUNSET
There is a time during the day called the golden hour where the sun sits just right to get some sun soaked photos before sunset. While this time of day is the great for some photos, you’ll want to wait around twilight to shoot cityscapes. Waiting until later make the lights on and in buildings in your cityscape pop against the night sky. The website The Photographer’s Ephemeris helps you to find the right time at any place in the world.
FIND LEADING LINES
Leading lines can help you frame a striking photo. Try using parallel streets or bridges to align your shot and make it dynamic.
LEAVE ROOM FOR CROPPING
Leave some area on the sides to crop. This can come in handy during post-shoot editing.
REMEMBER YOU CAN TOUCH UP IN POST-SHOOT EDITING
If all else fails, don’t rule out post-shoot editing. You can use this to adjust exposure and saturation among other things.