Urban living defines much of our daily lives. Most of us never leave the cityscapes in which we live, which is, for some, a great loss. Think of all the wonderful sights, not to mention photo opportunities, you’re missing in the great outdoors. But while the natural world has its merits, we believe that the city can provide just as stimulating an environment, with some equally breathtaking images waiting to be captured on the streets or from the rooftops. This article should give you some expert ideas on how to use the city to your advantage, and how to seek out the best shots.
Things to Consider
- What’s your theme? There is far more opportunity for storytelling in the city than out in the woods. Everywhere around you people are rushing about living their lives. Take note of all the sounds and voices you hear. Be vigilant for those standout moments that can happen only in cities. How will your pictures resonate with the viewer? What aspect of human experience do you want them to reflect?
- Architecture is everywhere. You won’t find art deco in the hills. There’s no gothic revival in the valley. Don’t let these unique opportunities slip through your fingers. (The upside about photographing buildings is that they aren’t liable to run away if startled!) Look at the contrasting patterns, colors, and textures. Simple everyday things like reflections in glass and water, funneling of light, urban shadows are all powerful subjects for great city photography. Don’t underestimate them.
- Pack everything you need. The tripod is your friend and a variety of lenses can help unburden your shots. Also, the good thing about working in the city is that, if your camera runs out of battery and you forgot to pack a spare, you can always pop into the nearest Starbucks to recharge (providing you packed your charger).
Big City, Great Photos
- The wide-angle lens should be your go-to lens if dealing with limited space or an extremely large subject. For example, if looking down over the city from on top of a large building, anything less than a wide-angle will be too restricting, as though trying to squeeze too much into the frame. The appropriate lens can be incredibly freeing. Remember, cities are huge entities, and if this is what you want to capture, don’t try to contain them.
- Landscape photographs without a tripod are tricky business. If, for example, you were taking a shot of a bridge and the cityscape from above the cloud-line, then shutter speed is the key factor to success. Inversing your ISO while selecting the shutter speed (i.e. 300 ISO = 1/300 of a second at f/16) will ensure clearer, more distinct photos that truly capture the subject in its entirety.
- Perspective can make a world of difference to otherwise uninteresting photos. Get up close to your subject, bringing things down to their perspective. Match that perspective or simulate a different one by using interesting angles to put a whole new spin on the familiar.
What is it about landscape photography that we find so appealing? Is it the way it can capture the sheer grandeur and beauty of the natural world in a way that move and provoke awe in the viewer? Is it the way it juxtaposes us as humans against the sublimity of nature, i.e. the micro against the macro? Or is it simply a method of escapism, a way of creating beautiful images that can take us to places unknown and unexpected? This article will present a few musings on the subject, with some ideas for your own work.
Why They’re Good
Who hasn’t had the experience of just having to stop and look at a beautiful scene? There’s something overwhelming about the natural world, something that evokes great feelings of serenity and pleasure. A field of flowers, a verdant hillside, a lush country valley. These are the images that might spring to mind when we think about nature, but a barren desert or arctic tundra can be just as moving and beautiful. Landscape photography can evoke feelings of the sublime, i.e. a sense of wonder with a little bit of terror, when confronted with the grandiosity of the natural world.
The Romantic poets wrote about this feeling in their poetry, and a good landscape shot should achieve the same effect. But landscape photography isn’t exclusively bound to the natural world. In fact, cityscapes can be just as powerful and awe-inducing as any mountain shot. The sheer scope of human ingenuity can be captured in just a single image if you’re lucky enough. There’s a reason the New York skyline is known all over the world.
The following subjects make for great images when captured properly:
- Running water – A large, slow-moving river is an altogether different subject than a sprightly, fast-flowing rocky stream. Both can work very well in landscape.
- Mountains – There is perhaps nothing more awe-inspiring than a rocky mountain range. Those jagged peaks are both menacing and enchanting. Capture them well, and you’ll have yourself a remarkable shot.
- The sea/coastal areas – Sandy beaches lapped by waves, windswept cliffs that overlook the sea, an ocean horizon stretching over endless miles. The sea can provide some truly wonderful images just waiting to be captured by you.
What is it about portrait photography that we find so fascinating? There’s a reason that selfies have taken over the world, after all. The portrait medium allows you the unique opportunity to truly capture the essence of your subject, of the human being in the frame. This article will offer some expert ideas on what how portrait shots are hard to beat, along with a few useful tips for how to make the most of them.
Why They’re Good
Portraits allow us to gauge the subject as a person and an individual more effectively. It’s no wonder actors use headshots when auditioning for film parts. Not only do portraits create a sense of trust and openness, but it can also generate feelings of warmth and affection. There’s something so intrinsic and familiar about the face that appeals to all of us. It tells you everything you need to know about the person and can reveal a lot about a person, including what their most intimate thoughts and feelings might be. If you can effectively capture a person’s true self on camera, you’ve nothing to worry about.
The following tips can help you create some truly standout portrait photos:
- Exposure Compensation – Light skin tones can often trick your camera into underexposing a shot, and your metering system may struggle to create the best shots when in areas that are brightly lit or severely under-lit. By dialing up your exposure compensation by 1, you can lighten your subject’s face with minimal effort.
- Shutter speed – Focal length can sometimes become a problem when camera-shake is taken into consideration. Using a higher shutter speed than your focal length will allow you to consistently capture clearer, more distinct shots.
- Choice of Lens – Lens choice impacts on all the photos you take and if you want your portrait shots to make a big impact, a wide-angel lens is a necessity. Low angle shots can make a subject appear taller, though an inferior lens can cause distortion and even make them appear wider, which (if it’s a person) isn’t very flattering.