A great cityscape shot has the ability to encapsulate the essence of a city. It's all about trying to capture the energy, architecture and life in one shot. Not everywhere in the world lends itself to cityscape shots, but larger, more built up areas, particularly in North America and Asia, offer an amazing array of architectural wonders that stand tall through the days and light up the sky at night.
First off, you'll need to do some exploring. Find your way around the city, keeping an eye out for particular points of interest and possible vantage points to shoot from. Decide whether you want to try to capture the whole of a city's skyline, of whether there are particular parts that you want to work with. If you can, find yourself a nice high viewpoint in order to give yourself the best chance of getting the shot you want.
Think carefully about the time of day that you want to shoot. My preferences would be either in the evening, as the city lights illuminate, offering a beautiful array of colours and points of interest. Alternatively, during the golden hours of sunrise and sunset, as the light feeds across towards the city, reflecting off the glass walled skyscrapers, could be the perfect scene for your shot.
It's also important that you have the right gear with you. A camera with extended shutter speed control is recommended, as you'll be working with high f-numbers in order to get the full frame in focus. A tripod is essential to ensure you avoid camera shake and it's also worth have a few graduated neutral density filters so you can work with the light more fully. Finally, if you have one, a wide angle lens will be extremely useful in ensuring you get as much of the skyline in your shot as you'd desire.
Composition is a key part of cityscape photography and there are a few decisions that need to be made before you start shooting. Do you want to fill the frame with architecture or would the shot be better suited to leaving lots of space for the sky? Think about the variety in heights of the buildings. Do they cut across the shot in a straight line or is there variation that you can work with?
Hopefully this has given you a bit of an idea of what's involved with taking cityscape shots. I hope you enjoy the amazing collection of photographic examples and get inspired to give it a try yourself!
Here are a few links to useful tutorials and articles that will teach you more about this type of photography:
- Quick Tip - How to take Multi Image Panoramas
- 110 Sensational Cityscape Photographs
- 50 Stupendous Examples of Architecture Photography
Share Your Own Images!
I hope you've enjoyed the above photographs and that they've inspired you to go out and capture something amazing for yourself! We'd love to see your favourite cityscape shots - just post a comment and link below. Also, feel free to link to any resources that you've found particularly helpful in this area.