A Guide to Capturing Better City Skyline Photographs

Most of us see a city skyline every day of our lives, but capturing a photograph that does justice to it can be a little tricky. Here are a few ideas that can help you get that unforgettable shot of your home town skyline.

Tip 1 – Turn Off the Flash! – If you’re shooting a skyline photograph there is absolutely no reason to have a flash, unless you have the entire city under the world’s largest matte box. Light will bounce off nearby reflectors, shiny things, and even the balmy night air if the flash is bright enough.

Seattle Pan HDR

Photo by Papalars.

 

Tip 2 – Tri-pod – Unless you want your picture to be a blurry mess of sodium vapour streaks then I strongly suggest using a tri-pod. A Tri-pod allows you to take long exposure and time laps photographs. This one is a no brainer folks!

 City Flow

Photo by Pear Biter.

 

Tip 3 – Spot Metering – If you have a decent DSLR then you should have the option of putting your camera in Spot Metering Mode. What this does, is let the camera know what to properly calibrate for proper exposure. Do this with the most prominent feature in your composed photograph and the rest of the shot will fall into place.

 

bleakon

Photo by Mugley.

 

Tip 4 – Compose Your Shot – Look for major landmarks in the skyline that will draw the eye – maybe a crane, or bridge or large building. Sometimes, getting out of the box will give you a unique shot, like focusing on a lesser-known subject or even a bird flying high above the city lights.

 September 11, 2006  New York City, NY

Photo by Sister 72.

 

Tip 5 – Use A Remote – Use a remote to trigger the shutter on your camera for night shots. You may not know, but just pushing the shutter button can allow enough shake to blur night shots. By using a remote, you can avoid this.

 Boston in Red

Photo by Werkunz1

 

Tip 6 – Use The Natural Gradient – Have you ever looked at a sunset or sunrise and wondered why the hell it was so beautiful? Well one of the reasons is because the gradient of the sky is so colourful and unique that you can’t take your eyes off it. Try shooting a city at dusk for dramatic effect, or even use the natural light pollution as a gradient for your photo.

 Sunrise over the city that never sleeps

Photo by Joisey Showaa.

 

For more more help on cityscape photography and skylines, check out these great articles:

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~ by LightStalking on June 11, 2009.

31 Responses to “A Guide to Capturing Better City Skyline Photographs”

  1. Thanks for sharing these tips! I’m a novice SLR user and really learning from this!

  2. Now I wish I lived near a city! Beautiful photos. Thanks for the tips.

  3. Also – use a low iso to get a long exposure with low noise.
    thanks for the other tips!

  4. If you don’t feel like buying a remote, use the 2 or 10 second timer, gives you enough time let the camera get still.

  5. good photographs the tip 4 city is really Beautiful.

  6. Good tips, esp the one about the flash. drives me crazy when people try and take a landscape with the flash on!

  7. Very good guide.. however I would say that Tip #4 is most important here. Composition is key with such wide open landscape shots. If your shot is not well composed or lacks interest.. doesn’t matter how well exposed or blur free it is, it just won’t be that interesting.

  8. One more tip that works well in place of a remote–use your camera’s self-timer, which gives the camera an opportunity to stabilize before the shutter opens. Works like a champ with no extra hardware required!

  9. An alternative to using a remote is to use the timer function. Set it for a short delay between press and shutter and you will eliminate the shake introduced by your hand.

  10. wish i had a city skyline like those to shoot.

  11. […] A Guide to Capturing Better Skyline Photographs (Timed Exposure) […]

  12. examples are like, all HDR.

  13. […] A Guide to Capturing Better City Skyline Photographs « Timed Exposuretimedexposure.wordpress.com […]

  14. Also, if you do not have a remote, consider using the timer feather on most cameras. This will allow time for the camera to stop shaking before taking the shot.

  15. You don’t mention HDR, yet a few of those pics are obviously HDR’d.

  16. If you don’t have a remote release (Tip #5), use a time-delay shutter setting with your tripod.

    My pretty low-end digital camera has a both a 2 second and a 10 second delay. The idea is to release the shutter without vibrating the camera, so it accomplishes the same thing.

    My ancient 35mm SLR (legacy silver media) also has a mirror lock-up feature, combined with a mechanical delay timer, so there is no vibration added from the mirror swing when the shutter releases.

  17. Here’s another great example:

    Spaghetti Junction

  18. […] A Guide to Capturing Better City Skyline Photographs « Timed Exposure (tags: photography tutorial tutorials guide inspiration photoshop art architecture skyline) […]

  19. […] A Guide to Capturing Better City Skyline Photographs « Timed Exposure Awesome Skyline Photographs! (tags: inspiration tutorial tutorials photoshop howto photography art) […]

  20. […] A Guide to Capturing Better City Skyline Photographs « Timed Exposure Awesome Skyline Photographs! (tags: inspiration tutorial tutorials photoshop howto photography art) […]

  21. […] Skyline photos 12 06 2009 Article on how to shoot better skyline photos. […]

  22. wow! the photos on your blog are breath-taking!

  23. […] A Guide to Capturing Better City Skyline Photographs A few tips on improving your skyline photos. Most of them have to do with taking the photos at night, while the last one (spot metering) is a little iffy. An interesting read though. (tags: skyline landscapes improve tips guide technique) […]

  24. […] A Guide to Capturing Better City Skyline Photographs « Timed Exposure (tags: photography howto) […]

  25. […] A Guide to Capturing Better City Skyline Photographs Most of us see a city skyline every day of our lives, but capturing a photograph that does justice to it can be a little […] […]

  26. These are really nice night shots. Night photography is the hardest area to get good at because of the low lighting.

  27. Hey, can somebody else leave another reply suggesting we use the timer instead of a remote? I don’t think there are enough comments on it yet.

  28. Keep it up!! Nice pictures there!!

  29. wowww!awesome photographs!!!tip#4 is really great!!very informative.thanks for these great tips!!!!!!

  30. GREAT POST THANK YOU !

  31. Two years later, I too would like to suggest the aforementioned use of time-delay! Lol

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