Cities are not as interesting for me to photograph as nature and landscapes are but from time to time they catch my attention. Getting some practice and tips will be useful at these times so this experiment is worth taking some time to perform. As luck would have it, I have a nice city to photograph relatively close by too. Some of Peter Carey’s advice includes a little bit of research to determine when and where to photograph which ever city you’re visiting. To read more of his advice about shooting cities with your favorite camera click here…
The first tip is to avoid taking pictures of a city during the middle part of the day when the sun is higher in the sky with the most light intensity reflecting off of buildings. I didn’t follow that very well taking pictures of New York this past summer. Using a polarizing filter on this particular picture may have helped even though I don’t think it turned out to bad thanks to a nicely timed cloud blocking some of that sunlight.
Here is a good example of why shooting during the middle part of the day may not work out so well because of all the reflections. In this case I did that on purpose because I liked the idea of the new World Trade Center tower appearing as the beacon of New York. It provided a sense of brightness for a city that was horrifically attacked. That is not an effect I would like to have with most cities when trying to photograph them.
This photo of Seattle was taken just before sunset providing a nice opportunity to capture the city towards the end of a day. Direction was less important because of the clouds covering the sun preventing any reflections from the glass but also prevented the warming effect of the setting sun against the buildings. Those same clouds enhance the picture with their shapes and colors though. Since this was taken from the top of the Space Needle it was difficult to put this identifying landmark in the picture.
Later that evening I had the chance to take this nice panorama of Seattle. That is probably my favorite picture of many cities – the life of a city after dark. This is also the same picture that I don’t often provide time to take.
This is taken from Pier V in downtown Baltimore. I was playing with the aperture settings in order to get the starburst effect on the lights. I think I may have gone a little too far and should have found a more intermediate setting.
My main objective that night was to catch some of the numerous strikes of lightning over Baltimore. There were very few visible bolts of lightning so I had to settle for the sky lighting up. Still, I like the picture even though it does not show the whole downtown area but a small portion of it.
One final piece I think is worthwhile to photograph are special events occurring in a city. In this case it was the Baseball All-star Game in Minneapolis this past summer. Earlier in the day I heard about a fly over of F-16’s over the stadium before the game. It wasn’t until I arrived at this park to photograph it that I was informed the fly over would be performed by the Thunderbirds. Unfortunately I could only capture this moment with video or still photographs. I chose to use video and this was one frame from that video making it a lower quality picture. Even with that being the case, I saw a picture from a different vantage point on top of one of those taller buildings in the newspaper the next morning. This picture is better than the one in the newspaper simply because of the direction of the sun. I was shooting with the sun at my back while the newspaper photographer had the sun in front of them catching the reflection on the planes washing out most of the color from the picture. I thought taking a picture from the top of a building looking down on the stadium as the Thunderbirds flew over would be great. After seeing it, the picture didn’t work out all because of the placement of the sun. A good learning experience for me in this situation. Had I decided to take still photos I may have had one of the best pictures of this event anywhere all because of the location I chose for this picture.