in Photography

5 Useful Tips For City Photography

For many of us photography doesn’t come naturally, we all think we need a top of the line camera with all of the bells and whistles in order for us to be able to capture special moments perfectly. Although digital camera technology has come on leaps and bounds in recent years, those of us still using film aren’t at a disadvantage and you certainly don’t need a state of the art camera to take a good photo.

Cities offer a unique and compelling environment in which to capture life and those ‘special moments’. From high buildings, throngs of people, stunning views and unique vantage points, if you don’t have your camera with you and at the ready it’s all too easy to miss that perfect shot. Here we look at five different ways to help you make the most of your camera on your next vacation.

1. Gain Some Height

To gain a unique perspective on the city you are in try gaining some height to give you a view of the skyline. Buildings such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the London Eye in London, to the Rockerfeller Center in New York will allow you to see the city through your view finder in a completely different way. The best time to do this is without a doubt as the sun is going down and the city lights up. Using a slow shutter speed (around 2.5 seconds) and a wide aperture (around f4.5) will let lots of light in to your lens. With these settings it’s important to use a tripod in order to achieve a focused picture.

2. Preserve The Action

With so much going on in cities it’s easy to miss the action and it can be even harder to translate action to film (or memory stick). Street entertainers, vehicles, moving attractions and light all provide motion that can be very hard to capture. In order to capture fast moving objects such as cars or street performers a fast shutter speed is required in to produce a sharp shot. A shutter speed of 1/160 will capture most moving objects with accuracy.

3. Turn On The Lights

Light can bring a completely new dynamic to your photos and experimenting with light before venturing out in to the city is recommended. When the sun goes down and the city becomes illuminated with neon and advertising a slow shutter speed (1/5 of a second) and the wide aperture will allow maximum light to enter your lens. If you have a detachable flash you can use this to your advantage to maintain contrast and to light you subject in order to give the shot more depth.

4. Framing The Photo

Framing a picture is a simple and very effective way of leading the eye, adding emphasis and structure, or simply just adding a different dynamic to what would otherwise be a flat image. There are many opportunities in a city that can be used to frame a photo. From structural elements such as building, billboards and trees to natural and organic elements such as trees, grass and even people, you can frame an images with what ever takes your fancy. With a little bit of forethought and spatial awareness you can create a frame to lead the eye from just about anything.

5. Get Close & Personal

Landscape and portrait compositions will serve you well during your next vacation, but to capture the fine details try getting close to your subject matter. Food always makes for a popular close up picture and you should extend this to capture the little things that make your trip extra special. From the mint on the pillow in your hotel room, to the reflection on a swimming pool, getting close will help you to capture the detail. To add a bit of flare to your images employ a wide-angle lens to get in very close and add a sense of connection.

Image Credits: Francisco Diez


Bogdan is the founder of Top Design Magazine. You can find him in Bucharest-Romania so next time you want to drink a beer there and talk about web and stuff, give him a message.