Tips for Cityscape Photography

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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.

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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.

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3. Settings

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.

 

Editing

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.

Fog, Tree, and Dress Series

Its Friday night and I am at home watching the Bomber game, when I noticed the fog start to roll into the stadium. I got excited because I love shooting in the fog and we don’t get a lot of foggy days here in Manitoba. As I was watching the game the fog got thicker so I started to get my gear and my dress ready for the next morning. I wanted to be in Bird’s Hill Park before the sunrise. The next morning just before I was ready to leave for Bird’s Hill Park I checked the webcams and didn’t see anything so I knew it would be foggy in the park. The minute I hit Highway 59 I got really excited, the fog was thick and it was gorgeous out.

I knew exactly were I wanted to do my shots. The minute I entered the park I felt like a kid on Christmas morning. I parked the car close to the trees that I wanted to use in my images and the minute I step out of the car I was greeted by this beautiful but slightly eerie silence. The morning air was crisp and cool with no wind, which is perfect conditions for fog. I gathered up my gear and walked to the tree to set up my first shot. What I didn’t expect that morning was the amount of moisture that was on the ground and I made the mistake of wearing my runners. By the time I got to the tree that I wanted to shoot my feet were wet.

The first idea that I wanted to try out was for me to be reaching up to the tree. I set up my gear and looked at the scene in front of me. The thing I thought was were should I position myself in the frame to achieve the image that I wanted. For me the right side of the tree had the perfect branches. As I was positioning myself in the right position I heard this dripping sound, when I looked up at the tree I notice a ton of tiny water droplets on it. Which made me realize I should have brought my macro lens with me so I could also shoot the water droplets! Next time I will remember to bring my macro lens with me.

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My next stop was to one of my favourite places in the park. I stopped at one of my favourite trees to try out a couple more shots but I wasn’t entirely happy with how they turned out. What did catch my eye was another scene, it was a trail that led into the fog with a tree on the left hand side of the trail. I thought this place would be a perfect place to try out a running shot. Only problem was that I was wearing my runners and I didn’t think that would be a good look with my dress! Since my feet were already wet I decided why not try running bare foot. It was a little chilly on the feet but once I got used to it I was fine. When I got back to my camera I realized that I didn’t have a towel to clean my feet so I dug into my camera back and found some kleenex! After I put my shoes back on I looked at the back of the camera and I liked the results but I wasn’t blown away by them. I decided to try a couple more shots with different poses and the image below was the result.

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The next scene that I was drawn to, was one that had large trees and then smaller evergreens. I love the different scales of trees in the scene. Another thing about the scene that I loved was the way the fog was making the smaller evergreens look, they were beautifully silhouette by the fog. I knew I wanted to place myself in between the evergreens and I wanted to be looking up at the taller tree. It took a couple of different shots to get the placement right but persistent paid off! I even got a little lucky with some wind, so there is a little movement in my dress.

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Before I left the park to do my errands I decided to head back to the same place I was when I first was in the park. I ended up walking out to a tree that was out further in the field. At this time the fog got even thicker. I wanted to do some sitting down shots for this one and I wanted to make sure that I face away from the tree so that the viewers eye would be first drawn to me and then out of the scene. I wanted the feeling of this image to be a bit of desperation, which is why I ducked my head into my knee. With the final image I ended up moving the camera closer to the tree as I found that I was getting lost in the grandness of the scene.

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I never had any intention of these images being part of a series but in the end that is what they became. I am extremely happy with the results and I look forward to more foggy mornings!

My Story……Living with a Mental Illness

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I have struggle with whether or not I should share my struggles with anxiety/depression. I have decided to be brave and share my story. My goal with talking about mental illnesses is to help break the stigma that there is towards mental illnesses. My hope with me sharing this is that it helps someone and if I manage to help one person then it will be all worth it.

I first notice some depression when I was a teenage but I didn’t really think much of it. I kinda of brushed it off as me just going through normal teenage things. I really started to notice in my early twenties how bad my depression really was. At the time I was going to school, working full-time and planning a wedding. It all got really overwhelming for me and I ended up slipping into a deep depression. I would spend most of my days on the couch unable to motivate myself to do anything. Having a shower was a chore. my fiancé at the time(now my ex) encouraged me to see the doctor. My doctor ended up putting me on anti-depressant pills, which didn’t help one bit. At one point my doctor had tried me on a wide range of different antipsychotic. I tried taking these meds for one day only. Why? I ended up being so drowsy that I spent the entire day sleeping only being able to wake up enough to eat a small amount of food. My doctors prescribe these to me thinking that I was bipolar – which wasn’t the case. She ended up recommending me to the mood disorders clinic. The wait list is incredibly long and could take up to 2 years to sit with one of the their doctors for half and hour. While I was on the wait list my symptoms got worse. It was to the point were I would lose touch with reality and try to hurt myself. I didn’t do this because I was suicidal I did it because all I wanted was to feel something anything was better than nothing. That’s the thing with depression sometimes is that you lose all feeling. You don’t feel pain, happiness or even sadness. It feels more like an emptiness that you are a shell of a person. Once I saw the doctor at the mood disorder clinic she ended up diagnosing me with borderline personality disorder. Which is what is now known as bipolar. I understood the borderline part because I do tend to keep people at a distance. It takes me a while to let people in. I ended up getting better slowly. The medication eventually started working and I was able to go back to work. Later on I would be told that I was miss diagnosed and that I had a generalized anxiety disorder.

I have found that as I have gotten older my depression has gone away and all that is left is anxiety which is a completely different beast. For those that don’t suffer from anxiety its like a never-ending movie that keeps replaying over and over in your mind. You over analyze everything to the point that you end up second guessing yourself. My anxiety began to creep back shortly after my ex asked for a divorce. It has been present ever since. There are days and times when I am able to control it. I tell myself that everything is going to be ok and it’s not as bad as I am making it out to be.

I recently took a 1 month leave of absence from work. Looking back on it my anxiety had been an issue for the last year and a half. I had symptoms that I ignored thinking that I had a handle on things when I didn’t. I would shake like a leaf at the slightest of confrontations. I had a lot going on with taking a college course, learning a new job, and trying to do my photography. The worst part of it was that I started to not sleep properly. The thing I have noticed is stress triggers my anxiety which then triggers fatigue because you don’t sleep. I ended up spending periods of the night lying awake worrying about things that I said or things that I couldn’t change and had no control over. Why do we do this to ourselves? In my case it’s because I have a mental illness and I am not afraid to own it anymore. I was so afraid to take a leave of absence as I was afraid I would be seen as weak. The moment I realized that I had to take a leave of absence was when I was at the cottage I looked into the mirror and didn’t recognize myself. I looked exhausted like I was fighting an internal battle with myself which I was. I had a lot of different symptoms the worst of which was the trouble concentrating and remembering things. I would talk with someone and instantly forget parts of the conversations. Once I finally went on my leave I had time to decompress. This allowed me to sleep and did I ever sleep. I had never felt so tired before. It took 2 weeks before I felt somewhat normal. While I was decompressing I hated leaving the house. I wanted to stay in my “safe” zone and not go out into the cruel world. I forced myself to leave the house even if it was just to get groceries.

My doctors recommend that I try taking medication again. Initially I fought going on the medication – my doctor told me that I couldn’t take a break from life which made me realize that I needed some help. The first medication started to help me until I had an allergic reaction to it.

Luckily I was able to find another medication that worked. I will say that the initial side effects of the medication can be difficult to live though but once you get though the side effects it is worth it. For the first week I was extremely agitated to the point that it felt like my skin was crawling.

I feel like my old self again. I have energy and my anxiety levels are almost nothing which is great! The medication helps with my anxiety but I have realized that I do need help with dealing with stress.

Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help. Whether that is asking a friend for help or asking your doctor. I have found that a lot of my friends are amazing and have offer to talk with me should I ever need it. I am lucky to have an amazing support system.