Most cities across the world are a piece of art that every photographer should try and capture at least once. From the hassle and bustle to the excitement that comes with a busy city, they undeniably produce some of the most compelling shots of all times. There is always something new and unique to capture because of their fast paced nature and breathtaking buildings. However, urban landscape photography is not only about the buildings but also about capturing how people live and how they feel about the cities.
Injecting a sense of personality to a shoot is one thing photographers have embraced since the photos become infinitely more engaging to viewers. With a little forethought, preparation and hard work, taking incredibly breathtaking urban landscape photo becomes easy.
Here are some few tips on how to take urban landscape photography to the next level.
Urban Landscape Photography Tip #1
The quality of light
Paying attention to the quality of light in the scene you intend to shoot is very critical. The color quality and angle of light will definitely either make the shoot great or completely destroy it. A high contrast light can change a mediocre everyday scene to a beautiful abstract. Simple things such as signs and reflective buildings can change the quality of light immensely.
The angle of the sun, which keeps changing throughout the day, has such a great impact on every scene. Taking the shoot right after sunrise is a perfect time as you will definitely get fantastic lighting.
Alternatively, you can choose to take these photos during night hours and twilight hours. During these times, photography is particularly most interesting because of the lights that are in buildings and street lights. Cities tend to come alive at night, long after the sun has gone down. Make sure you have brilliant light that will make your shoot stand out.
Urban Landscape Photography Tip #2
Capture the vibe of the city/town
To make an incredible urban landscape photographer, your photos should always be able to tell a story. It is about self-expression and giving your shots context. Since different cities and towns always have their own unique feel, it is important that the photographer captures this essence. Aside from the monuments and the impressive buildings in the city, capturing some details such as traffic jam, overflowing rubbish bin and cracked pavements is also essential.
Think about how that particular city makes you feel or the impression it gives you and look for creative ways to introduce that in your photography. The vibe can be anything from positive to negative. Since big cities are often fast and frenetic places you can focus on capturing images that show how chaotic these places are.
Urban Landscape Photography Tip #3
You are likely to encounter a number of people during your photo-shoot. This can be frustrating and can slow you down because they will clutter up your shot. If you want to have a peaceful shot, the best time to do it is either early morning when people are asleep or late at night when they are at their homes. This will ensure that you have fewer distractions and you can avoid capturing people in your photos if you didn’t intend to.
On the other hand, people can add interest to a photo and enable viewers to connect to the scene. They tend to add an element of life and vibe that could otherwise be lacking. Should you decide that you want people in your photos, make sure that they are not the subject of the photo but rather only serve as a storytelling tool.
Urban Landscape Photography Tip #4
Take variety of lenses and capture the details
In order to get a great shot, always be on the lookout for patterns, shapes, and intricacies in a city. To get a winning shot, you have to try and find the countless fascinating small details that normally go unnoticed. Find your subject, film the frame and isolate it. The subject could be anything from an advertising billboard, a set of windows to rugged brickwork. A high contrast strong light is ideal for capturing details because it will turn a normal shot of this subject into a stunning masterpiece.
For lenses, longer focal lengths are very useful for capturing the details of the scenes. On the other hand, wide angle lenses are ideal for capturing the big picture since they normally give a bigger depth of field making the shot more interesting.
Urban Landscape Photography Tip #5
Color and monochrome
It is a good idea to use black and white since it emphasizes on the loneliness and isolation of the city and makes buildings look older and brings drama to the photo. However, bringing color to it makes you stand out more. For most people, classic black and white is good enough but things have changed and trying new things like highlighting colors will give you a spectacularly unique photo.
Urban Landscape Photography Tip #6
Do an in depth research
While being spontaneous as a photographer can be daring, enticing and rewarding; planning and doing research beforehand will give you a winning shot. Putting in some effort to find out about the location and the most suitable viewpoint will save you a lot of time and money. If it’s a new location you want to shoot, it is prudent to familiarize yourself with the place first. Find out what time of the day is best to take photos because of the angles of light. Know which places you are not allowed to photograph due to their sensitivity and ask for permission first.
When done right, urban landscape photography can be a great opportunity and a successful career for many people. It is a richly rewarding experience but it has its own inherent risks. Most cities are not safe especially when you are carrying around expensive camera equipment at odd hours. To avoid such unpleasant situations, you should make sure you are not alone and that you are in the company of genuine friends or other photographers.
That aside, the novelty of urban landscape photography is incredible and the impressive buildings around can give you visually descriptive and interesting shots if you put some effort.
If you liked this tips, check out these article with tips for landscape photography for smartphone users as well.