In this new article I will share my experience as a cityscape photographer. Why did I take this photo? What settings did I use? What difficulties I encountered? I am a professional photographer, but also love to inspire and educate amateur photographers. So I hope you like this article, let me know by leaving a comment. And if you have a question, please let me know.
THE OLD HARBOUR IN ROTTERDAM (THE NETHERLANDS)
The Old Harbour in Rotterdam is very close to where I live. It is just a few minutes by car or 10 minutes by bike (yes, we Dutch people love to cycle). I know this area very well and love the scenery from this spot. In autumn the sunrise is at the left side, while in winter the sunrise will be in the middle of the photo. Since I like to have some color contrast in my photos autumn is perfect, because you will get the warm tones at the left side of the photo and the colder blue tones at the right side. The night before I checked the weather forecast in the WeatherPro Lite app. Between 07:00am and 10:00am 120 minutes of sun and barely any wind. A lack of wind means good reflections, especially if you shoot before sunrise.
I arrived 1 hour before sunrise to give myself enough time to get the right composition and to enjoy the fast changing light. This photo was taken 10 minutes before sunrise. I love the colors in the sky and the warm light in the clouds. This is the main reason for me that sunrise shoots have to be with some interesting clouds! You have to be a bit lucky with the shapes of the clouds, but at least you can check the night before if any clouds are forecasted.
In general I like the sunrise shots that are taken before the sunrise than the shots taken after sunrise. Once the sun is visible the magic is already gone. And with magic I mean the pink and purple colors you sometimes see in the sky and clouds. Also the increased contrast between bright and dark makes it harder to balance the light. You have to use HDR photography to get a balanced exposure or work with gradual ND filters. The only problem with gradual ND filters in cityscapes is you not only darken the sky but also the top of the buildings and bridges. Before the actual sunrise the contrast is less and neither options are needed to get a balanced exposure.
On one third from the right side of the photo I placed the old building (it is called Het Witte Huis, translated: The White House. Pretty different from The White House in Washington DC). Usually I don’t like to place the horizon in het middle of the photo, but I think this is a good example that it can work out pretty well. Because of this decision you can see the whole building including its reflection in the water. I also wanted to include the red bridge in the photo, another interesting sightseeing in Rotterdam. In the perfect situation I would have moved more to the right to leave out some boats, the poles in the water and the leaves at the left side of the photo, but that isn’t possible. The view will be blocked by a wall. I you go even more to the right you will have this great view back, but then the masts of some boats will overlap the white building.
For landscape photos I prefer to use an aperture of f/11. Smaller apertures (so higher f-numbers) can lead to diffraction and that will make your photo look less sharp. In addition f/11 with a wide-angle lens and subjects quite far away will make everything sharp in the photo anyway. I shot this photo from a tripod, because it was taken before sunrise and not much light was there yet. Because of the tripod I was able to use ISO 50, the lowest ISO setting of my camera. With ISO 50 I know for sure no noise will be visible in this shot. f/11 and ISO 50 gave a shutter speed of 2.5 seconds. I didn’t want this any longer, because the little movements of the boats will be visible. In case the shutter speed was longer I would have increased my ISO a little bit to avoid blurry subjects.
This is a new type of article I wrote. My plan is to write more so let me know your thoughts and if any essential information is missing. I would love to give you the best photography tips and help you to get better photographs yourself. Leave a reply at the bottom of this page 🙂