10 Tips for Taking Great Cityscape Photos

Cities are not only home to many people’s residences, businesses and offices – they are also full of energy, power and vitality. There are many things that make a city great and capturing the true essence of a city in one single photograph is a very hard thing to do.

how to take amazing cityscape photographs

Photo by Vinh Pham

The main thing that encapsulates and defines a city can actually differ depending on the time of the day and even the season. During the morning cities can look peaceful and calm, whilst during the evening or nighttime they can come alive with activity and purpose.

Most of the people that call a particular city home don’t take the time to stop and marvel at the magnificent landmarks and sights that make their own home city such a wonderful place to be a part of. A really good city photograph not only shows off the majestic buildings in the heart of the city centre, but should also showcase some of the more enthralling aspects and delights that day to day city life has to offer.

1. Choose an Interesting Subject – Make sure you have an interesting subject for the photo, either in the middle section of the photo or in the foreground.

2. Have a Mix of Foreground & Background – Ensure that you have a good mix of interesting foreground and background areas in the entire photo.

techniques for capturing cityscape photography

Photo by Luc Mercelis; ISO 100, f/4.5, 1/1500-second exposure.

3. Leave Room to Crop – When you are framing up the photo in the viewfinder make sure that there is some room around the edge of the photo to crop the final image.

4. Use a Level Tripod – Before taking the photo make sure that you use a level tripod so that the horizon is straight. Even though you can fix this later in photoshop it is easier to do it right in the first place to save yourself the hassle.

5. Keep the Sun Behind You – Try and keep the sun behind you so that you get the most amount of light on your the city and the sky has a brilliant blue look to it.

6. Choose the Right Time of Day – Try to take photos as early or as late as possible in the day, as these times generally give the best light and produce more shadows and detail on your photos.

7. Use the Correct Exposure – When setting the exposure for a photo make your reading is taken on the brightest part of the photo so that there is no overexposure.

cityscape photography methods

Photo by Kat Northern Lights Man; ISO 1000, f/3.2.

8. Use a Timer or Remote – Always use a timer or remote control to take the photo so that there is not any camera shake caused by you when you depress the shutter button.

9. Use a Polarizing Filter – On your SLR camera use a polarizing filter to remove the light reflections that bounce off of windows and metal objects.

10. Use a High Quality Wide-Angle Lens – In order to get crisp results from your SLR camera invest in or rent a good quality lens. They may be expensive but it will be well worth the money in the cityscape arena.

By using all of the above tips you are sure to see a noticeable improvement in any photo that you take of city buildings or skylines. Not only will your cityscapes be clearer and well defined, but they will also have a wide spectrum of color and light, which is the sign of a great photo.

take better cityscape pictures with these tips

Photo by Alexey Kljatov; ISO 93, f/2.8, 1-second exposure.

About the Author:
This article was written by Rueben Hird, his site on landscape photography also has a range of city photography displayed from interesting metropolitan areas around the world.

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11 responses to “10 Tips for Taking Great Cityscape Photos”

  1. I started my photography “career” with taking cityscape photos.

    Here is one of the first ones I took – http://www.ilanbresler.com/2008/07/simcity.html

    There is something simple yet fun in these kind of photos

  2. dok says:

    Just FYI, the second picture is not Paris. It is “La Défense” in the city of Nanterre. Not very far from Paris, but not Paris.

  3. pt1337 says:

    A polarizing filter does NOT remove reflections from metal objects. It helps REDUCE most reflections but does not help at all with metal reflections…

  4. Michael says:

    Polarizers are good but if you have a blue sky in your image a polarizer on a really wide angle shot may create an uneven colour in the sky.

  5. af says:

    Thanks for these great tips. I never thought of leveling my tripod…

  6. Privat Bruger says:

    Nice article, but I see nothing that is particular to cityscapes. They’re just the same old, same old and trusted bullet points.

  7. Les says:

    If you keep the sun behind you, which is good advice, a polarizer won’t do anything for you except cut down the light by 2 stops.

  8. Sneha says:

    You have given such a wonderful information about night photograph. Having a good Photography equipment which has a fantastic flash feature that’s very vital thing for doing impressive night photography.

  9. Namen says:

    Nice article, but I see nothing that is particular to cityscapes. They’re just the same old, same old and trusted bullet points.

  10. SSC result MTS 2017 updates says:

    Having read this I believed it was extremely informative. I appreciate you finding the time and energy to put this content together. I once again find myself personally spending a significant amount of time both reading and leaving comments. But so what, it was still worth it!

  11. Steven says:

    The one thing I ALWAYS have to remember is to leave room to crop. Thanks for these helpful reminders.

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