Taking stunning cityscape photos may appear hard, but it’s actually pretty easy – once you know a few tricks, techniques, plus secrets.
In this article, I share my best advice for cityscape digital photography, including:
- How to keep your images consistently sharp (even in lower light)
- How to cope with pedestrians in your cityscape moments
- How to capture beautiful compositions using front-end elements
- Ways to get incredible cityscape night photography
- Much, much more!
So if you’re ready to capture cityscape images like a pro, then let us dive right in, starting with:
1 . Take during the blue hour
If you want breathtakingly beautiful cityscape photography, then I recommend you pay careful attention towards the light.
Now, you can create spectacular cityscape photos at any time of day (or night) – but if you want the absolute best of the best results, I suggest you head out just after sun.
(You can also go out before sunrise, but many photographers struggle to stand up early enough! )
You see, this time is known as the
Working during the azure hour is very rewarding, yet you’ll need to bring particular low-light gear (see our next tip! ), and you ought to also be careful; always tell someone in advance where you plan to be, keep an eye on your surroundings, and carry a mobile phone just in case.
second . Use a tripod and a remote control release for sharp cityscape photos
If you need to shoot during the blue hour, at night, or even during the golden hours (i. e., the hour or two just before sunset and just after sunrise), you’ll need to carry 2 essential pieces of equipment:
- A sturdy tripod , which keeps your setup supported while shooting.
- A remote launch , which will let you bring about your camera without pressing the shutter button.
Once the fantastic hour sets in, the light will begin to drop, and you’ll have to lengthen your shutter speed if you want to keep your photos well exposed. Unfortunately, longer shutter speeds lead to camera obnubilate – unless you can keep your own camera completely still, which is what the tripod and remote release are designed to do!
Simply install your camera on the tripod, dial in your preferred shutter speed, then use the remote control release – not your finger! – to result in the shutter. (Pressing the particular shutter button with your little finger will create camera tremble, which will blur your images. Withstand the urge! )
One more tip: If you don’t want to purchase a remote release, you can always use your camera’s self-timer . If your tripod is sturdy and your setup is light, a two-second timer should do the trick.
3. Bring a wide-angle lens
It’s possible to create stunning cityscape photography with a telephoto lens – you can use this to zoom in plus highlight individual buildings and small details – but I’d really recommend you begin out with a wide-angle zoom lens. A good wide-angle field associated with view will let you capture sweeping scenes, and you can even combine foreground and background layers for a three-dimensional effect:
What type of wide-angle lens is best? Beginners should try out a 24mm perfect lens, which will cost very little yet still offer a wide industry of view (and crisp optics). If you’re willing to spend more and you want extra versatility, a 16-35mm lens is a great bet; it’ll let you catch various wide perspectives as you zoom from the ultra-wide 16mm to the tighter 35mm.
4. Incorporate top lines into your compositions
Beginners often stage their camera directly in city skylines and fire away – but whilst there’s nothing wrong along with such an approach, it can obtain repetitive after a while, plus the pictures tend to look flat .
On the other hand, if you can incorporate a foreground line (or three! ) that leads the eye into the picture and toward key background elements, your shots will have tons of three-dimensionality. They’ll also be far more interesting, as they’ll take the viewer’s eye on a journey from foreground to background. Check out this next picture, which uses a path to guide the eye toward the incomprehensible light in the background:
I’d furthermore mention that leading lines can help create order within an otherwise chaotic scene. Should you be shooting in an area with a lot of pedestrians or cars, for example, a nice leading line – such as a road – can trim through the confusion and assist bring the composition together.
5. Shoot very long exposures at intersections
Do you want to capture cityscape photos like this next example?
The good news is that it’s not as hard as you might think, also it doesn’t require any Photoshop wizardry, either!
Simply find a busy intersection in a city, and get upward high . You can shoot from a good observation deck, a roofing, or a parking garage; just make sure you have an unobstructed look at of the high-traffic areas.
Bring a tripod, bring your remote discharge, and capture some
(Pro tip: Make certain that your scene features several curves. Traffic moving in a straight line can look okay if you include interesting structures in the composition, but if you’re focusing on the roads from above, I highly recommend a person include some bends and corners. )
6. Look for fountains
I love fountains in cityscape photography. These people look great when incorporated in to long-exposure shots – water will turn into a beautiful obnubilate – and they’re furthermore just stunning points of interest to increase your compositions.
Happily, most cities are full of fountains. If you’re not sure where to find a fountain or two at your next cityscape destination, pull up Google Maps and do a fast search.
Then, when you’re out there shooting, look for ways to range from the fountains in your compositions. For instance, you can use the water to frame buildings, like this:
Or you can use fountains as interesting foreground topics to add three-dimensionality to your images.
7. Make use of patterns to improve your cityscape compositions
Should you be after more subtle cityscape photography, you don’t need to capture stunning vistas of skyscrapers at night; instead, take a walk during the day, observe simple city scenes, and look for patterns.
You see, patterns are able to bring a sense of visual tempo and harmony to an picture. And when you incorporate all of them into the overall scene – here, a wide-angle lens is a big help! – you are able to create a calming, even meditative image.
Look at how the two patterns, made from the trees and the pedestrians, elevates this shot:
And by the way: The majority of scenes feature patterns of some kind, even if they’re not immediately apparent. So if you’re drawn to a scene but you can’t find a pattern, stop, take a deep breath, and look about. I’m guessing you’ll be able to find some repeating graphical elements, such as shapes, ranges, or even colors.
When you do, include them in your composition, and allow them to add interest to – or even unite – the overall scene.
almost eight. Use long shutter rates of speed to blur pedestrians
Many beginner cityscape photographers struggle to deal with people. After all, if you like the surrounding scene, you may view pedestrians like a distraction.
And it’s true: Pedestrians can be a distraction when made in sharp detail.
But if a person lengthen your shutter swiftness to 1/5s and beyond, pedestrians will blur . They’ll begin to lose detail, and they’ll appear as an interesting ghostly presence:
Note that you can always experiment with different shutter speeds here, and your results will vary depending on the quickness of the pedestrians.
Pro tip: In order to blur pedestrians but you are shooting in bright light, I’d recommend mounting a neutral density filter in front of your own lens, which will block lighting from the sensor and prevent overexposure.
9. If you can’t use a tripod, then improvise
Whilst tripods are allowed in most places, certain areas – such as city parks, company plazas, and city statement decks – may have the “no tripod” rule. (Alternatively, they may require you to pay to create in a tripod; it’s under your control to decide whether this is worth the money. )
Before heading to a new place, I recommend you call ahead to find out whether tripods are allowed. And if they aren’t , don’t give up; just be prepared to do your best with what you have.
For instance, you might bring a hard-shelled backpack, or look for tables, pillars, benches, and anything else on location that is flat and safe.
Then position your camera stably and safely, and use a remote release or self-timer in order to trigger the shutter. As you won’t have the same level of compositional flexibility offered by an actual tripod, you can still get great results, even at night:
10. Don’t be afraid to shoot in bad weather conditions
Many photographers stay indoors during poor weather, but stormy skies, rain, and snow can provide plenty of cityscape photography opportunities.
For example, a foreboding sky might act as a moody backdrop to a skyscraper, while snowfall will create plenty of environment as it falls around city buildings.
Personally, I like photographing during and after rain, as the humidity causes the city streets plus buildings to glow (especially at blue hour):
But if you would like to capture beautiful cityscape photos in rough weather, a person must take steps to keep your own equipment (and you! ) safe. Use a waterproof cover up to protect your camera and lens, and never change lens out in the open. Also, make sure to wear a coat of your, and if things get actually bad – for instance, you observe lightning – then head inside. No shot may be worth jeopardizing your safety!
Cityscape photography guidelines: final words
Hopefully, you now feel prepared to capture some beautiful cityscape pictures.
Just remember the tips I have shared, and you’ll end up with stunning images!
This article is based on my ebook,