Holiday snaps don’t have to be all beaches and bikinis. In fact, a poll by ABTA found that we’re just as likely to take a city break as a vacation on the beach these days, so before you head off on your next trip, why not brush up on your urban skills, with our photography tips 101?
What a cityscape should capture
If you have a passion for architecture buildings may ordinarily dominate your images, but there’s a lot to capture beyond the buildings. A cityscape can bring in the energy and sense of a place, and while we get lots of requests to print cityscape photos onto large canvas prints, some of the best images seen have a narrower focus. Here’s how to make sure you are happy with your city snaps:
Photographing cities during the day
Shoot with the sun behind you to stop your view from looking flattened. Most people start wide with a sprawling view, which means you always have the option to crop. Keeping to the rule of thirds will give you a nice balanced picture and leading lines – think diagonal roads or paths – will lead the eye into the photograph. This is why there are plenty of photographs of New York taken at crossroads! Shooting during early or late light is often easiest and, if you can, use a tripod and remote cable to take the photo, so that you don’t create a quake when you press the button!
Photographing cities at night
The ambience of a city can completely change at night – just think of busy Bangkok, lights in London or paths along the river in Paris. Start shooting at twilight and take advantage of artificial lights such as signs that can give some really striking shots. As lovely as the bright lights of the city are, they can confuse the camera, so make sure you switch to metering in a mode that you can control, shoot at a slow shutter speed and take a tripod along with you. If you want to capture the movement of the masses, turn your mode dial to manual and gain a greater depth of field with a small aperture – something between f/11 and f/32. Next, flick your ISO to 100, which will keep digital noise to a minimum. Want to capture the sun going down?
Capturing cityscapes on your smartphone
If you’re out on the town or in the midst of the action, a smartphone will actually do a fairly decent job of taking cityscape photos. Select the grid option to line up diagonals and help you proportion your photo and enjoy the movement effect from the natural flash-blur when you use it after dark. With a little cropping and help from a simple filter, you’ll be surprised what you can produce and transfer to a canvas print!