Ex­plore cities at night

Make the most of the light and colour of the ur­ban land­scape as it trans­forms af­ter dark

Digital Photograper - - Techniques -

Cityscapes at night have to be the most pop­u­lar type of low-light sub­ject. Although wild land­scapes have a def­i­nite al­lure, ur­ban ar­eas are so much more ac­ces­si­ble to most pho­tog­ra­phers, since many of us live in or within the im­me­di­ate vicin­ity of a city or town. This not only ex­poses us to more sub­jects, at the most ap­pro­pri­ate times of day, but also al­lows plenty of time to plan, visit and re-shoot im­ages, with the min­i­mum of travel. All of these fac­tors are nec­es­sary in abun­dance in or­der to suc­cess­fully cap­ture night land­scapes free from light pol­lu­tion.

Low-light cityscapes en­com­pass a broad va­ri­ety of im­age types, from street and doc­u­men­tary-travel pho­tog­ra­phy to ab­stract ar­chi­tec­ture and long-ex­po­sure light trail imag­ing. Of­ten the best times to ex­plore this area of pho­tog­ra­phy are win­ter evenings, since the sun sets ear­lier, pro­vid­ing more op­por­tu­nity to ex­plore com­po­si­tions at more con­ve­nient times. Fur­ther­more, poor weather of­ten ben­e­fits ur­ban scenes, by adding re­flec­tions in wet streets or at­mos­phere in the low vis­i­bil­ity of misty morn­ings. This en­ables pho­tog­ra­phers to cap­ture im­ages in all con­di­tions, pro­vid­ing mo­ti­va­tion to keep shoot­ing through­out the win­ter months, but also act­ing as a de­sir­able cre­ative as­set.

One of the big­gest chal­lenges of pho­tograph­ing in ur­ban land­scapes is the den­sity of po­ten­tial sub­jects, mak­ing it more dif­fi­cult to iden­tify what to fo­cus on for a suc­cess­ful com­po­si­tion. Key as­pects to form the ba­sis of cityscape im­ages are sky­lines, move­ment and con­trasts of colour and bright­ness. These are the defin­ing fea­tures of most cities, how­ever they must be used in con­sid­ered pro­por­tions if suc­cess­ful im­ages

“The eye is drawn to the bright­est ar­eas of a scene… in­cor­rectly placed bright­ness will break down the ‘di­rec­tion’ of a frame”

are to be made – if in­cor­rectly com­bined, they can be­gin to com­pete for at­ten­tion, pro­duc­ing an overly busy scene. The low lev­els of am­bi­ent light cre­ate de­fined con­trasts which can be dif­fi­cult to con­trol. The hu­man eye is in­nately drawn to the bright­est ar­eas of a scene, mean­ing that in­cor­rectly placed bright­ness will quickly break down the ‘di­rec­tion’ of a frame.

Start by de­cid­ing how much of a scene you want to show – do you want to cap­ture an en­tire sky­line or pro­duce an im­pres­sion of the larger scene? The lat­ter is an ef­fec­tive ap­proach for well-known lo­ca­tions, where you want to cap­ture a unique per­spec­tive. Next try to look for how the colours in the scene in­ter­act, to en­sure they com­ple­ment the fram­ing and cre­ate a bal­anced pal­ette. Fi­nally look to in­tro­duce en­ergy to the im­ages by cap­tur­ing lit­eral or im­plied move­ment, through cre­ative shut­ter speeds or through the use of the strong shapes that can be found in mod­ern ar­chi­tec­ture.

COLOUR CON­TRASTS Look for and em­pha­sise vary­ing hues to cre­ate added in­ter­est and led the viewer’s eye HOLD­ING COLOUR While still dark, this sky is not true black. Look for clouds to re­flect city lights MOVE­MENT Em­ploy longer shut­ter speeds and com­pose so mov­ing sub­jects leadinto and through the frame

BAL­ANCED CON­TRASTAim for deep shad­ows and bright high­lights but try to avoidclip­ping of de­tail

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.