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Hi all! Dave Williams here, coming at you this week from a very cold Chicago where I’m spending a few days shooting in the city. Perfect timing, it seems, to share some top tips for shooting a cityscape.

When we shoot a cityscape, we can often relate it to landscape photography, applying similar camera settings to achieve similar results. What differs in the main is the objective of the photo. We are quite often seeing a faraway land and putting our spin on its appearance by making notable points within the scene stand out, by bringing something in focus (whether that be one element or the entire skyline), and sometimes reflecting the local culture within the shot.

Yesterday, I was shooting Chicago with KelbyOne member Kevin Scott, who I know reads this blog daily.

Tip 1: Golden hour and blue hour are the best times for shooting a cityscape. As the sun rises, the city is quiet, as it begins to wake up. The changing colour of the light can bathe the city and warm it up, ready for the day ahead. In a similar way the sunset changes the light of the city, but the difference here is that the lights that are probably switched off at sunrise are being switched on for sunset. The tones in the sky are usually quite beautiful and there’s a harmonious balance between nature and the influence of people.

Tip 2: Change your perspective! The city is usually shot from a handful of good locations, over and over again. If you get the opportunity to shift perspective and shoot from somewhere else, you should absolutely make the most of that.

Tip 3: Bad weather = good! So, yesterday, I was moaning quite a lot about the cold—I won’t lie about that. That cold weather did something for the city, though, and the ice was an extra element. This translates to a rainy day, too, where the rain gives nice, shiny, reflective surfaces to shoot within a scene. The reflection not only adds a mirroring effect or a deeper element to the photo, but it also adds a level of saturation and an often overlooked location can look really great!

Tip 4: Consider the foreground. Speaking of bad weather, the ice was my foreground yesterday and it’s a foreground that isn’t permanent, so it gives my photos an edge over the rest of the market. I won’t go too much into the subject of foregrounds, save to say that they’re a good thing!

Tip 5: Lead in with leading lines. Leading lines are a powerful compositional tool because they force depth and they cause the viewer’s eye to move exactly how and where we want it to. What can potentially be a messy scene can suddenly become coherent with this simple addition.

Tip 6: Stabilise. To get the length of exposure we need, in order to keep the entire range in focus for such a deep scene, we often need to use a tripod, or where tripods aren’t allowed or are too heavy to carry around, a Platypod.

Tip 7: Use your imagination! Look for patterns, look for light, think about movement, such as water and vehicles, and capture the essence of the city as best as you can! When planning your city shoot, use the tools available to you to get the best shots in the best locations: – Instagram, 500px, Pinterest, Flickr. Take a look at what everybody else is doing, so you can decide on your location. And, most importantly, have a great time!

Do you notice from the photos I’ve shared that there’s no real right or wrong? It’s more a case of considering what’s there and how to make the most of it, whilst keeping the photographic principles we know in mind!

Much love

Dave

I’m Dave Williams, and I’m back again, right here on Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider for my weekly #TravelTuesday post—straight from across the pond in (not so) sunny England. Today, I’m going to lay down some tips for shooting wide, which have come from my realisation that I’ve been carrying around a 14–24mm, 24–70mm, and 70–200mm lens almost everywhere I go, but haven’t actually used the 24–70mm for a very, very long time! Instead, I’ve opted for the 14–24mm to take in a much wider scene.

 

 

The most important points to note when shooting with such a wide lens are these:

It will make big things seem smaller! This can mean that our point of interest can be lost amongst the larger scene and we really do need to consider this when we’re composing the scene.

It needs a foreground element to work well. This is because there’s so much in the frame that if we didn’t have a foreground, we’d risk creating a confusing mess of a photo, with the viewer’s eye wandering around a large scene and getting lost without anything, in particular, drawing their attention around the edges. When setting up and composing our shot with a wide angle lens, just the smallest movement can make a huge difference to the foreground element. Whatever foreground element we choose, be it a road or some other leading line, or perhaps something like water to support the atmosphere of our composition, it must support and direct to the background to work just right. Because the foreground is so much more emphasised with a wide angle lens it really must be carefully considered and composed.

It will put more of the scene in focus. The depth of focus from a wide angle lens is so much greater than other, longer lenses and, therefore, it’s easier to catch a lot more of the image in focus. What we can potentially lose in distortion, which we can, of course, deal with in post, we are going to gain in overall sharpness throughout the scene.

 

 

Having a wide angle lens in the arsenal is a fantastic thing for many genres of photography, but in particular for landscapes. When it’s used carefully and properly it can help us create some truly powerful and dramatic images, so use it right and step your photography up a gear!

Much love

Dave

#TravelTuesday sure does come around quick! That means that I, Dave Williams, have a slot for the day to spread cheer and joy. What a responsibility! Well, today is no different, and I have some killer info for you right here, right now!

This weekend sees the annual Scott Kelby’s Worldwide Photowalk land in a town near you, and I certainly hope you’re signed up for one! Today, I want to lay down a few top tips to help you enjoy yourself and make some great images while you’re at it. The accompanying images, by the way, are from my previous walks. Largely selfies. Deal with it. Ready? Go!

 

 

Be comfortable

I’ve run photo walks where there’s been a lot of moving around, and if you’re going to be doing that, you must be comfortable! Check the weather ahead of time and dress for it, and please make sure you have the right footwear on. Nothing ever goes to plan, and I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but if your walk is scheduled for 2 hours, it’ll likely be about 3. On top of that, if you’re carrying gear around, you want to be comfortable while you’re doing it.

 

 

Be all over your settings

If you’re doing a walk which involves a different type of photography than you’re used to, make sure you check and double-check your settings so that you have tack sharp, well-exposed images at the end of the walk.

 

 

Make friends

The Worldwide Photowalk is a fantastic way to meet photographers near you, and I’ve met many this way. It’s a great opportunity to see who else in your area is shooting. On that note, forget about having competition! In fact, forget that altogether – we should all be learning from each other. If there’s a secret to share, share it! There are a lot of photographers out there who keep things to themselves because they fear a competitor will “steal” their tricks, however, when you really think about it, there isn’t truly any direct competition. Everybody shoots different genres, and even those who shoot the same genre have a different style, and further to that, those who shoot the same style and genre as you are likely to work a different area anyway. So, nobody’s going to steal your clients if you share some secrets. It’s how we learn and develop.

 

 

Think composition

It’s easy to see a shot waiting to be captured and simply raise the camera and click, especially on a fast-paced photo walk. Take a moment to be conscious of your composition, perspective, timing, and then go ahead and shoot. There are prizes – win one!

 

 

Slim your profile

Sounds cool, right? What I’m saying is, simply, go light. If you’re going to be moving around a lot, both in terms of walking and body movements, you want to make it as easy as possible. If you can get away with it, take just one lens. If you need to take a camera bag, don’t cram it full of heavy gear that you won’t use.

 

 

Know the rules and be aware

As a big group of photographers, you’re going to stand out, most notably to thieves and security guards. Make sure you know what’s happening around you all the time and keep a close eye on your important gear, as well as other things like traffic and other people. As well as this, be aware of the rules – perhaps you’re going to a place that doesn’t allow tripods, for example. Platypod… just saying. If you’re confronted about any photos you’ve taken, don’t make it worse. Not today. ;)

 

 

I hope you all have a great walk! If you haven’t found one yet, you can find one here.

I’m not running a walk this year, but you can keep an eye on my Instagram Story to see the walk I end up on. ;)

 

Much love

Dave

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