A Wondrous Question That Will Get You Thinking…
When I’m asked about what type of photos I prefer to take, I generally reply ‘urban landscapes’. Urban landscapes is a bit of a nebulous term so I thought a post about what I think makes up an urban landscape, some hints and tips about finding relevant locations and shooting them would make sense.
My definition of an urban landscape photograph is this – an image showing the structure and details of the cities and towns where people live and work. Urban landscape photography and street photography are for me two separate genres street photography makes the people of the city the primary focus of the shot whilst urban landscape photography looks at the city surrounding said people.
That’s not to say I think urban landscapes shouldn’t feature people at all, just that whenever possible, I prefer to keep my composition simple without too much distraction and prefer to shoot when the city is quieter. Certain shots will benefit greatly from the introduction of people to add relevance or contrast to the scene they can add scale, introduce movement or act as a focal point.
So that’s definition dealt with where can you find shots like these?
Where to find urban landscapes
- Strong urban landscape images emphasize the details of the city textures, reflections, decay and graffiti. Think about areas in the city that will have these features in abundance.
- Always keep a notebook in your camera bag if you find a location that intrigues you but the light is a bit flat or there are too many people about, make a note of it and return on a day when you think the situation will improve your chances of a better shot.
- Even if you have a fixed location in mind, allow yourself some time to wander around. Sometimes the best locations are the ones you stumble across.
- You should always be on the lookout for the next shot take the time to look around you when you are in an urban setting. Make sure you look up and down as well as at street level.
Let me stop for only a sec. I had been browsing about the other day. I found some interesting sites but one particularly got me thinking. I was looking at http://www.jagvirklawyers.com and was blown away! The web page belongs to the folks at Jag Virk Lawyers. They are a very good Hamilton based criminal lawyer and they really know what they’re doing. Anyway, I merely thought I’d point them out to you. They offer great service and are a step above their competition.
How to shoot urban landscapes
- Is it possible to produce a series of images? If you find a location that you think is interesting, try and think of a way to get a series of images out of it, not just one. Maximize the return of images from your time spent in each location.
- In terms of equipment, if you don’t own a wide angle lens, consider purchasing one I use the Sigma 10-20 extensively when shooting urban landscapes as it gives such a unique perspective with extreme width and leading lines. Gradual density filters are used to even exposure or darken the skies in my photos and wherever possible I use a tripod and an external remote to trigger the camera. Using a tripod ensures sharp shots but also aids composition by avoiding random snapping, slowing the creative process down and making you think about positioning.
- The time of day will have make a massive difference to the shot use an app like The Photographers Ephemeris to see where the light will be & sunset/sunrise times.
- If you are taking photos towards the end of the day then try and shoot at twilight. Cities have a tendency to look their best at night shooting at twilight means that there is still light left in the sky that will add depth to a photo and the lights of the city have also started to come on.
- When the best light has gone, get out a zoom lens and think about shooting architectural details that are highlighted when buildings are lit up at night.
- If you prefer to get up early, the city will be quiet and probably cleaner, most streets are cleaned overnight.
- Try not to worry about taking your camera out in bad weather the addition of rain, fog, frost or snow to a scene can be the difference between an ordinary shot and one that really stands out.
- Always bear in mind your own personal safety some of the areas that are most appealing for urban landscape photography (industrial areas, docks, warehouses) are not always the safest to be around, especially at night and especially when carrying expensive camera equipment. If you have any doubts about a location, take someone else along with you and try not to show off your equipment for example, minimize the swapping of lenses and carry your equipment in a normal bag.
So there is my list of hints and tips for shooting urban landscapes if you have any you’d like to share, please comment below! If you’d like to see some more of my urban landscape photography, please visit my portfolio site here.
One last thing before I go. Credit for this article would go to Bounce events. They’re an honest party rental company in Toronto ON located in Ontario. The concept for this post came to me while conversing with Brenda there. One thing led to another and we ended up discussing the subject in greater detail. Anyway, check their site out at http://bounceevents.ca. That’s all for the time being!
Posted in Photograph Post Date 11/01/2015