Many photographers do not go head first into the wild jungle of concrete urban photography in metropolitan environments have to offer, simply because there is so much information going on out there that you it is quite hard to focus on something. However, there are some brave photographers that are not afraid of the challenge so if you are among them, here are some great tips which may help you out with your urban landscape photography.
Given the fact that you either do not have a lot to work with or quite the opposite, you have too much, you need to get creative. All the rules that apply in general photography, apply for urban landscape photographers as well so make sure you know everything about focal points, exposure, ISO and light before you embark on the trip of an urban landscape photographer.
1. Avoid Areas with Billboards
When talking about urban photography, the average person immediately thinks about portrait photography. You can see these huge billboards with portraits everywhere and they take up so much space that you cannot see anything that is happening beside them. If you want to be a true urban landscape photographer, focus on the word landscape. Try finding areas where you can mix together different architecture styles, where you see buildings blending with the color of the sky or where you find buildings which simply work well together. Don’t be afraid to experiment!
2. Be Careful Gear-wise
You will most likely have to have more than one lens when going outside to take some great photographs. Choose a wide angle and a zoom lens for urban photography. The wide angle adds depth of field and is great for capturing the big picture while the longer focal length allows you to capture details.
3. Choose a Theme
It is easier to accomplish a goal if you have one from the beginning. Of course you can be spontaneous and just go out and start taking pictures but if you have a theme in mind, it is going to be easier to focus on the small things as well. When you search for something specific, you will also notice what happens around it.
4. Find Mirrors
Many modern buildings choose reflective materials as their outside surface so why not take advantage of that? Think on those beautiful landscape photographs which show a scene reflected in water, you can have that in an urban environment as well, by using buildings instead of water.
5. Find the Best Angle
Given the fact that buildings usually have lots of lines you can work with, be careful when it comes to your shooting angle. A photograph with no sense of perspective is something you want to avoid at all cost. If possible, try taking photographs of buildings or city streets from a level that allows you to create a good looking perspective. If you want to shoot a building from bottom to top, be careful that the edge lines of your photograph are parallel with the edge lines of the building; otherwise you will end up with a distorted perspective.
6. Shoot at Different Moments of the Day
You will be surprised on how urban photography of random objects, street scenes or buildings can turn out during different moments of the day. Try going out one day in the morning, capture some photographs of your favorite building, coffee shop or street. Come back and take the same photographs in the afternoon and during the night and see how light influences not only your photographs but also the subjects of your photography.
7. Use Contrasts
If you want to attract the human eye into a certain point of your photography, you need to use contrasts. This also works if you want to make a statement or make a certain idea known, through your photography. By using contrasts, you can make people see a whole new part of their city, one that they may not be even aware of. For example, if you want to attract people’s attention on how much garbage they produce daily, try capturing pictures of overfilled trash cans around your town and of people ignoring it.
If you want to see how urban environments blend it with nature, try finding the perfect angle from where you can shoot a building blending in with the sky. See how the building changes depending on the color of the sky (this works amazing with buildings with a reflective surface). There are countless of ways to make people see what you want them to see by using contrasts.
8. Do not Focus on People
Whether it is you intention or not, if you shoot a picture of an urban landscape and it happens to have people in it, the focal point will automatically be set on the people. That it is just how the human mind works. You need to choose what exactly you want: an urban landscape blurred out by the people or simply an urban landscape photograph. An urban landscape photograph means that you will have to exclude people from it.