Making the most of bright light
While the blue hour, around sunrise or sunset, is often best for atmospheric city break shots, don’t despair if your schedule means you have to shoot in the middle of the day. Yes, the strong sunlight can be very ‘blasty’ and unforgiving, but you can turn this to your advantage if you shoot in black & white or infrared. The strong shadows you get at midday can add mood and drama to a lot of street photography, for example, while a bright blue sky can look very dramatic against buildings. If you’re less confident when it comes to choosing subjects for black & white photography, try changing to the Monochrome mode if your camera supports it, so you can see if a scene has enough tone and contrast to work well before you take the picture (shoot raw and all the colour information is retained). As for infrared, this is quite a complicated process that needs a specialist conversion, so most people tend to get an older camera converted, as we did here with our Olympus PEN. It can cost several hundred pounds and involves sending your camera away, so an easier option is to buy an infrared filter that blocks out visible light and allows infrared light to reach the camera’s sensor. Silver Efex Pro is good for infrared black & white editing, while Photoshop layers give you surreal colours. Don’t fall back on sloppy technique just because you’re shooting black & white; fixing underexposure, for example, can generate noise.
This unique building in Rome’s EUR district was shot in very harsh sunlight in the middle of the day