Urban landscape photography is a modern and famous genre among shutter-bugs. Therefore, this genre intends to portray the essence of a scene. In that sense, it’s like classical landscape photography. However, urban landscape photography frames human-made interventions, structures, environments, and documents, unlike landscape photography.
Although shooting urban landscapes is undoubtedly fun for photographers, but there are a few points you should be mindful of to get the most out of it.
Dig deep to know all the traits of a perfect urban landscape photo.
Table of Contents
12 Urban Landscape Photography Tips for Beginners
The Urban landscape is linked mainly to city landscapes, street photography, and architectural photography. In today’s time, urban landscape photographers capture the exciting and dynamic contexts of any city. Similarly, in urban landscapes, photographers want to avoid too many people in the image. Because including people in the landscape image merges it into the street photography genre.
Nevertheless, urban landscape photography is not so separate from city landscape photography to us. In that case, photographing urban landscapes is a fundamental means of capturing artificial creations within the city like buildings, streets, and bridges.
Moreover, it is all about portraying the character or personality of a city. However, urban landscape photography is photos showing an overview of the whole city like the skyline.
Here we present you with 12 exciting landscape photography tips for perfect shots.
1. Research before you go
2. Explore the urban environment
3. Find out the best time to shoot
4. Look for new perspectives
5. Guide the eye with leading lines
6. Embrace repetition for striking shots
7. Use small details to create the whole picture
8. Use photography apps to find the best light
9. Think composition, change perspective
10. Choose the right lens for the correct capture
11. Know how to deal with people in the fame
12. Do not forget the telephoto
Research Before You Go
First, it would be helpful to preferably look out the area where you plan to shoot the urban landscape. This is how you can get the most out of that place.
Besides, if you plan to shoot at night, it is better to research at night-time also. Doing proper research on the spot beforehand will protect you from any surprises to begin with.
In reality, some areas are not open to the public to photograph. In that case, if you are unsure, check before entering and get permission if required. Similarly, it is becoming impossible day by day for photographers to set up their tripods in many public spots. The security guards may approach you instantly and ask you to pack your tripod away.
Security guards think- the giant camera you have in your hand, the more likely you are a professional. The more pro you will look, the more likely the security guards will ask you to leave. So you can use a secret method here! Shooting with a more miniature mirrorless camera or iPhone rather than a DSLR with a long lens will keep you safe from guards.
Explore the Urban Environment
It doesn’t matter which corner of the world you are in; the primary key to photography is exploration.
- Macro photography requires photographers to examine minute worlds of fine detail.
- Street photographers cross the street, seeking random bits of life.
As a matter of fact, exploration is more than crucial in urban landscape photography. Alleyways, shopfronts, old buildings, busy streets- exploring them will reveal the heart of an urban landscape for a photographer.
In fact, every corner and space, every street, every skyline is a visual record of the world for the world. After all, it represents the glorious history and evolving culture of an urban environment.
Whenever you get the chance, grab your camera or mobile and leap urban exploration for a few hours.
Who knows what you might discover!
Find Out The Best Time to Shoot
Meanwhile, you might already know that urban landscapes look dramatically changed at different times of the day. But these distinctions can extend even further to things like traffic intensity, the number, and the type of street people.
For example, you’ll discover primarily commuters during the rush hour. Whereas shoppers in the middle of the day and pleasure seekers or party people at night. And each of them will give your shot a different feel and atmosphere.
Likewise, light is an essential factor for urban landscape photography too. Consequently, early morning is best for the soft golden rim of light. And, late afternoon is the second-best time to photograph if you miss shooting in the morning for some reason. Although you can have similar light situations in the late afternoon, you can expect more mist and air pollution in the morning. Because of the sun, the city during the daytime causes this effect.
If you choose to shoot in the dark after sunset, you must be aware of the high dynamic range in the scenes. If most streets are dark, the lights inside buildings will likely be brighter than the shadow areas.
If you plan to do urban landscape photography, the best time to do it is early in the morning. Because at this time, the streets are cleaner; less rubbish, and paper on the road. Also, there are fewer boards on the streets.
Another reason to shoot early in the morning is that there will be fewer people on the streets. With fewer destructive components, you can focus on your main subjects easily, like the buildings. Early morning is often the only time when the roads are almost empty, and you can capture any corner of the city without rushing up. And also, an empty city can give you a unique, almost uncanny scene and allows you to focus entirely on your subject rather than the surrounding people.
The best time to shoot urban landscapes is early Sunday morning to avoid disturbances and distractions.
Look for New Perspectives
A professional photographer doesn’t look left and right only while crossing a busy street. As photographers, sometimes we might get stuck by clicking only what is in front of us.
As an urban landscape photographer, you should keep in mind that many things are happening at once. So it is vital to be conscious of what is going on around you.
Keep your camera moving with you no matter where you look. Consider your camera as the second pair of eyes. Try a worm or snake’s perspective by taking a picture with your camera on the ground.
Adjusting your point of view will create imagery that will speak to the essence of urban life.
Guide The Eye With Leading Lines
An urban photographer uses leading lines to guide a viewer’s eye around an image. Leading lines are a compositional technique in landscape photography.
The human optic is naturally driven by the order that lines suggest. Bridges, buildings, roads, and architecture all of them are an example of strong leading lines.
Try to photograph bold lines in an urban landscape to funnel the viewer’s consideration. It is one of the critical components of urban landscape photography.
Embrace Repetition for Striking Shots
Urban landscape photography is overflowing with repetition and pattern. Living life on repeat can be tedious, but in urban landscape photography, repetition creates a strike.
Look for repetitive patterns like colour schemes, overhead wires, architectural features, or people. In this way, photographers can capture the expansion of the urban landscape itself.
Another way of creating eye-catching urban landscape photography is breaking the repetition.
Have you ever noticed that a disruptive pattern influences a viewer’s eye to focus straight on the disruptive focal point?
Be mindful and look out for repeating subjects, and don’t be hesitant to add a bit of disruption for emphasis.
Use Small Details to Create the Whole Picture
By the term urban landscape, we tend to imply taking a step back to capture a view in its entirety.
But this urban landscape genre also includes the microcosms of details of the subject that makes the entire image.
Signs, architectural elements, graffiti, colours, textures, and more- all these elements contribute to exciting imagery.
You can build a habit of practising macro photography in your urban landscape photography genre. Be free to dive into the building blocks of the urban world.
Use Apps for The Best Light
We only get ten to twelve hours of sunlight in 24 hours. Urban landscape photography can make use of every minute. But what about the rest hours?
Luckily, there are some lighting calculator apps such as ‘The Photographer’s Ephemeris’. By using these apps, you will figure out optimal direct lighting states for your chosen location.
Now you know that you don’t have to be resistant to heading out on a day when the lighting condition isn’t at its highest. You will see that some of the most significant urban landscape images happened in harsh light or dusky weather.
You can get up early in the morning and stick around rain, hail, or sunshine. That’s how you can reveal the most remarkable images that the place has to offer.
Think Composition, Change Perspective
Photography is a creative job, so be imaginative and look for the best viewpoint. Shooting subjects orderly from the front will not give an imposing image. You can move to the angle and take a picture to get two sides of the object in one frame. This way, you can compose a much more exciting photo.
And some photos have been shot in precisely the same way multiple times by different photographers. This is especially true of famous landmarks like the Eiffel Tower. Here, people are so used to seeing the tower shot in a particular way that they automatically do the likewise themselves. And as a result, people begin to lose their interest in an Eiffel Tower image.
Always look out for unique, artistic ways to photograph any well-known landmarks, rather than getting lost into the same trap. Look at the subject as if you have never seen it before, not even in a photograph. Spend some time there, and think about how you want to capture it. And also, what story you want to tell the world about it. Or take this concept even one step further by forcing yourself to be more creative. Entirely prevent yourself from taking the typical clichéd shots.
Choose The Right Lens for The Right Capture
But, which lenses?
For city landscape photography, wide-angle lenses are the most useful. This is because you can get more of the scene in the frame with wide-angle lenses. However, there are some problems with wide-angle lenses, and one of them is distortion.
If you bend a wide-angle lens upwards, you will notice that converging verticals appear. Combining lines makes images of tall structures interesting, like skyscrapers. Although it changes the reality of the subject, everyone already knows tall modern buildings are straight.
However, excessive converging lines on the older architecture may cause some problems. You can use Photoshop and fix converging distortions and verticals.
Know-How to Deal With People in The Fame
Urban landscape photography is no different from other landscape photography. You must be able to create harmony from chaos. A lot is going on in a city, so you must separate your subject by pleasingly composing your photos.
People are not the main focus in urban landscape photography, so try to avoid including them in your shots. The goal here is to photograph what people have made and their impact on the city, not the people themselves.
It is, of course, a challenging job to avoid people in a city area. If you cannot shoot at times when there are fewer people, one solution for this problem is using photoshop apps. Using photoshop apps is one of the fastest methods too.
Don’t Forget to Use The Telephoto.
Remember to try your telephoto lens as well. You can capture details of the city’s interior with this lens, an exciting part of urban landscape photography.
10 Most Brilliant Urban Landscape Photography Ideas for Beginners
Below are the 10 most extraordinary ideas for those who want to take photography as their profession or for people who are enthusiastic about urban landscape photography.
1. Shoot details of buildings like textures and colours
2. Look for contrast
3. Capture colours
4. Include the sky
5. Capture windows and reflection
6. Graffiti and street art
7. Modern architecture
8. Light trails
9. Light signs and illuminated advertising panels
1 Shoot Details of Buildings Like Textures
Move close and capture features like doors and windows. Look for shades and reflections. Depending on the light, light and shadows can form exciting patterns and textures on the subject.
2 Capture Colours
Some cities in Europe are well known for their brightly coloured houses. Many older cities are very colourful and different from the steel and modern glass constructions. Capture them and spread all the colour in your image.
3 Look for Contrasted places
Find out the corner where contrasted between new and old constructions. Many cities are a mix of ancient architecture and contemporary modern style. Try to catch old and new in one composition. Most cities are constantly changing. Old buildings are being torn down and replaced by shiny new buildings. Whether you see this as the tragic destruction of history or a needed development, look for a shot that carries your perspective.
Another exciting benefit of having new and old buildings next to each other is that you can click some great shots showing their juxtaposition.
4 Include The Sky
If you decide to include the sky in your urban landscape photos, the atmosphere must have exciting clouds. With delicate clouds in the sky, you can have some long exposures images by angling your camera up. Or try something new that better describes your perspective. These images are often suitable for Black and White conversions.
5 Capture Reflections
Modern buildings nowadays are made with a lot of reflective surfaces like glasses. Look precisely around you, and be artistic. And you may find exciting ways to use reflections. By changing the camera angle, you can make a significant difference. So move a lot and try different vantage points until you find the perfect shot.
After the rain, reflections from the wet streets can create exciting photo possibilities.
6 Graffiti and Street Artwork
Add this controversial form of art to your urban landscape photography. Graffiti is often considered vandalism. However, these creations are wonderfully unique and a good source of interesting photos. You can embrace graffiti readily as part of your composition. Try to make it blend casually into your frame.
7 Modern Architecture
When looking at modern constructions, bridges and buildings, almost all of them comes with straight lines. Straight lines are not what we find in nature when shooting landscapes. However, some modern constructions are built with a curve or crescent pattern. Look for these and, if possible, fuse curved lines with straight lines for a contrasting and exciting urban landscape composition.
8 Light Trails
For beginners, taking pictures of car lights at night is the first experience with long exposure photography. At night, car trails are fun to photograph and completely worth trying.
If possible, you should find a higher vantage position as the outcome is best when from above. But don’t worry, you can shoot car light trails down from the ground as well.
9 Light Signs and Illuminated Advertising Panels
Do you know that different types of light play an essential part in the urban scene? These are often colourful, versatile and can be a great subject, especially in nighttime photography.
Through photography, document the developments that are taking place in a city. Follow the development of the city or town you live in. You can find a construction or remodelling site and take a shot per day or week. This type of image can be valuable after some years when the “old” city is history.
Towns and cities often have a unique “essence” of their own that separates them from one another. Successful urban landscape photography is when you can capture this essence in your camera. However, it is easier said than done. The point is to think about how the place makes you feel, what it means to you, and what places are unique. Thus, presenting them to the world. Look around for a way to inject this feeling into your photo.
Don’t forget that the vibe or image of a city needs to be real rather than positive. Sometimes, you may just want to show how dirty and dangerous a place is. The bottom line is, your photos should always tell a story and represent your point of view. After all, urban landscape photography is all about self-expression as well as presenting a town or city.