Get creative with lens filters
If you really want to make your city pictures stand out from the crowd, then you need to use a lens filter. These are plates of glass or resin that attach to the front of your lens either via the screw thread if they’re circular, or with an attachable filter holder if they’re square, and modify the light as it enters your camera. The two types of filter most suited to enhancing urban shots are ND (Neutral Density) filters and Polariser filters.
ND filters are darkened plates of glass that reduce the amount of light entering the camera, and work just like a pair of sunglasses. They’re available in different strengths (‘stops’) and prices start at around £30. Because they let less light through to the sensor, it means you need to use a longer shutter speed for a balanced exposure.
With a ND filter it’s easy to shoot with a shutter speed of 30 seconds or longer during bright daylight. This means you can blur movement in the shot so clouds become intriguing smudges.
The biggest benefit for city shooting is that any moving people will be rendered invisible in your image.
A Polariser filter (from £40) screws onto the thread on your lens and works by cutting out reflected light. They’re great for boosting sky detail to enhance the drama, and also allow you to control reflections from glass and water so you can get really creative with your city shots.
Filters sit in front of your lens to modify the light passing through. Shooting with a Neutral Density filter lets you capture 30sec exposures during the day to blur out passing pedestrians.