Cityscape photography is dynamic and fun to shoot. It can also be challenging to shoot but I am here to help you out with those challenges!
Let’s get started!
Before we dive into the tips for shooting cityscape photography, I want to make a suggestion that will help you with your craft. When I first started out in photography I was told to read my camera manual from front to back. Yeah I know that sounds boring, so why am I recommending it? Well, it helps you understand what your camera can and can’t do which makes you a stronger photographer. If you know what your camera can/can’t do it will help you when you are out shooting.
1. Lenses to use for Cityscape Photography
My favourite lens to use is my Canon 24mm-105mm lens. It’s the perfect walking around lens for shooting cityscape. It gives you both a wide angle lens and a zoom lens. Having a walk around lens is perfect when you are doing cityscape photography, as you aren’t carry a bunch of heavy lens around.
If you want to go even wider then the 24mm lens then I would recommend using a 16mm-35mm lens. When you are shooting with a wide angle lens you need to remember that the edges on a wide angle lens are curved, which will result in making any straight lines curved. We will talk about how to fix that later in the blog.
A zoom lens would be a great lens to use particularly if you are wanting to do abstract or more detailed shots of the buildings. The great thing about a zoom lens is it compresses the scene that you are shooting so it makes objects look closer then what they appear to the naked eye. Keep in mind that these lenses tend to be heavy and I won’t recommend walking around with them for a long period of time.
2. The best time of day to shoot
The Golden Hour – Happens after sunrise and before sunset, it’s a beautiful time of day to shoot. The sun being lower on the horizon create’s beautiful long shadows in the scene. This time of day adds a beautiful golden tone to the image. It’s truly a magical time of day to shoot.
The Blue Hour – Happens before sunrise and after sunset, this is the perfect time to do cityscape photography because the lights will be on in the buildings. The best part about this time is that there is still detail in the sky and your images will have a wonderful blue tone to them.
This is the tricky part of cityscape photography and its also the personal preference of the photographer.
While your settings will very depend on the lighting and time of day you are out shooting. Here are the settings that I tend to us the most. I generally shoot in manual mode and adjust my shutter speed as needed.
- Aperture – My go to aperture setting is usually between f/8-f/11. The higher the aperture number, the greater the depth of field, meaning more of the image will be in focus. The lower the aperture number, the shallower the depth of field, meaning more of the image will be out of focus.
- Shutter Speed – This will very greatly depending on the lighting and the effect that you are going for. The shutter speeds that I use are fast enough to freeze the motion and that allows me to walk around without a tripod. They are generally between 1/200 & 1/400 second.
- If you are wanting to show motion in the image then a shutter speed of 1/8 second or lower is perfect. You will need to make sure that your camera is on a tripod for these types of images.
- ISO – Keeping your ISO low will reduce the noise in your images. I usually keep one at 100-200.
I do most of my editing in Camera Raw and Photoshop. I prefer spending more time shooting then behind the computer so I do minimal editing with my photos. I generally teak the exposure and add some clarity to bring out the details in the image.
The biggest thing with cityscape photography is to make sure that the buildings are straight. This can be done with the Camera Raw Filter in Photoshop. This video is extremely helpful and it’s really easy to correct the distortion.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog! If you have any question about photography please feel free to email me.