When you visit a city it is very easy to pickup on the hustle and bustle, how energetic it can all be, the way in which the city flows and how dynamic it all is, but sometimes for a photographer who is a first time visitor, it can be a daunting prospect and easy to get lost in the power and the many options to explore and visit. Many cities will have different districts to photograph, and to add to this, at different periods of the day there will be different options available, the first being the night, that offers contrasting bright lights, vibrancy, energy and the potential for dynamic images. Secondly, the morning, that will give more of a passive and calming feel to pictures of the cityscapes, less traffic and it will be as if the city is just waking up and coming to life.
Many of those who live in cities will take for granted the skyscrapers that they work in or walk past. For those interested in cityscape photography, there are endless possibilities and a wide choice of subjects. It is important to pack the right equipment and be ready. Take backup memory cards. No photographer wants to be taking pictures and then run out of memory half way through shooting. Some photographers prefer to have large memory cards that can fit a lot of images on, and others to have several medium sized cards, just in the event of the card failing or cards being lost or stolen. In this event at least all the images will not be lost and can be spread on to a variety of cards.
A wide-angle lens is also a good idea to have. A recommendation for focal lengths could be between 12-35mm. This allows for the option of wide-angle city scenes and to compliment this, the use of a tripod. When shooting night images, a tripod is useful for long exposures. This allows for greater clarity and detail and to shoot with a lower ISO. This helps decrease the amount of noise that may start to appear as the ISO increases. Most cameras also have the option for bracketing, which means taking a selection of the same image but with varying exposures, ranging from lighter to darker. This allows for the option of combining these images later in post processing and creating a HDR (High Dynamic Range Image). Should there be no option for a tripod, it is always possible to improvise. Rest the camera on a flat surface and take the picture. By putting the camera in timer mode, this can also help reduce the amount of camera wobble experienced when pressing the shutter release button.
When taking pictures, especially of cities or natural environments, there is always an optimal time with regard to lighting. This tends to be earlier on in the morning or later on in the afternoon. This is due to the fact that at these times the sun is lower and provides more dramatic shadows. This can work well when looking to capture and certain mood or contrasting images. Around midday the sun sits too much overhead and in most instances, the lighting in cityscapes comes across as quite mundane and boring.
Filters are very important and provide options that are not always replicated well in post processing software. One of example of this is a polarizing filter. This will help to remove light reflecting from windows as well as other shiny surfaces, but also work well when taking pictures of skies. It will improve the detail and contrast of the clouds and provide more of an interesting picture.
Ultimately, it is essential to choose an interesting subject in the first place. The picture wants to captivate and interest the viewer, so possibly pick a scene with some people that can provide some energy and interest to the picture. If crowds of people are something that is of no interest, look for patterns that exist in the buildings or use the lines created by the skyscrapers to provide strong, powerful and dynamic images. These lines can add symmetry to the photograph, help lead the viewer around the picture and stimulate their interest and intrigue.