Capture a Cityscape - tyneholm
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Capture a Cityscape

Capture a Cityscape

Assignment L33

For many people, landscape photography is all about getting away from the hustle and bustle of town or city life and spending time somewhere peaceful. However, it may be that by doing so they are ignoring some fantastic opportunities in the form of urban landscapes. 

The urban environment can be a little overwhelming. Cities are busy, cluttered, constantly changing, with people and vehicles coming and going. Making sense of them can be a challenge, but good composition is all about creating structure out of chaos and the same principles apply to cityscapes: look for strong focal points and ways of directing attention to them, and divide the frame up to create harmony. 

There is an incredible variety of subject matter in the average city: modern architecture, classical architecture, green spaces, and interiors-there will always be something to inspire you. Urban photography is accessible, a little bit different, and can be a real shot in the arm for your creativity. 

This is a very straightforward assignment. Your brief is to spend a single day in your nearest city or big town, and to shoot a variety of modern buildings and old buildings. Think about the architecture. Be sure to include exterior and interior shots. You could also use this as an opportunity to practice using contrasts as the basis of your urban landscape compositions (see L15, Capture Contrasts). 

View the images

Technique

  • Look for interesting details and base your compositions on shapes, colors, and textures. 
  • Wait until dusk: cities often look their best in the blue hour (see page 32).
  • Be creative with modern buildings-shoot from interesting angles, use wideangle lenses, and exploit the effects of distortion. Buildings can look good in harsh light on bright sunny days, so use a polarizing filter. 
  • Old buildings look best in more traditional landscape light-the golden light first thing in the morning and last thing in the evening. 
  • Don’t ignore the indoors. Shopping malls and covered markets are often interesting, but you may need permission to shoot inside them. 

Field Notes

  • Finding the right viewpoint can help you to find a structured composition, and higher viewpoints are often successful. Bridges are another option, especially as shooting along rivers can bring a sense of order to a composition. Distant views toward city skylines also work well. 

Special Kit

  • Tripod 
  • A range of lenses 
  • Polarizing filter