How to Create Amazing Urban Landscape and Street Photography Images

A stitched panorama in a city can make a great scene!

A stitched panorama in a city can make a great scene!

Many of us live in cities nowadays, in fact almost 80% of the world’s population lives in, or near, a large city. While it is fantastic to be out in nature, photographing the remote seascape scenes or the snow capped mountains, that is not possible for most photographers, everyday. That might mean that you don’t photograph for weeks at a time. As you probably know by now, to make big improvements in your photography you need to practice, practice, and practice some more.

Living in a city has its own scenes that are great to photograph, this is why street photography is such a popular genre of photography. These urban landscapes can not only be interesting, but you can make some very powerful images in an urban or city setting. Here are some pointers on how to create amazing urban landscape and street photography images.

1. Urban landscapes are the same as rural landscapes

Ok, not visually maybe, but in the way you approach them. In traditional landscape photography you will use a leading line to draw the eye into the scene. You will make sure that there is foreground interest that holds the viewers eye. You will use composition guidelines to set up your shot. This is all true for urban landscapes too. Visually design your scene as you would when you photograph a landscape scene. Be sure that the scene has a good background, a strong mid ground and a compelling foreground. This is not a rule, but it will help when you set up your shot.

2. The mundane becomes unusual

We have all seen pretty much all the objects in a city. The fire hydrants, the mailboxes and the scenes all look familiar to us city dwellers. In urban landscapes it’s not only about the architecture or the street scenes, it is about making those well know objects look different or interesting. Think of the time of day that you photograph. Late afternoon sunlight, warm light can make a fire hydrant or mailbox look somehow magical. Graffiti can look gritty, textured, and interesting in the soft light. Look at how you can change the angle or lines in a normal scene. Come from a different angle and see how that change makes all the difference to making mundane objects seem different.

Look for a way to make mundane scenes look different

Look for a way to make mundane scenes look different

3. Textures and close up

Every city has literally thousands of different textures, including: walls of buildings, cobbled streets, paved walkways, wooden walkways, benches, grass, the list goes on. Each of these surfaces has texture which are great for urban landscape photography. To emphasize texture, you will want to be shooting in side light conditions. The side light will emphasize the granularity of the surface of the street, or the grain in the wooden bench. Textures can be a whole theme on their own. Think of the textures on the sidewalks, the brick walls, the concrete buildings, the glass surfaces (reflections are amazing too).

Try this, go out into your city and try and shoot 24 photographs of different textures, at different times of the day. The range of different images will amaze you, and it will open up your eyes to what is possible when you focus on just one theme. Secondly, try and isolate some subjects in the scene. Get in closer to what you are shooting. By doing this, you will isolate part of the scene and make it look more intriguing.

This graffiti art looks amazing, but the textures and grittiness make the image more impactful

This graffiti art looks amazing, but the textures and grittiness make the image more impactful

4. Use colour

We all photograph in colour nowadays, and then convert that image to black and white (if you don’t, you should!) but shooting for colour in your city can be a lot of fun. Decide on a colour you want to photograph and go out and look for all the different scenes you can find that contain your colour. To make it more challenging, try and isolate that colour to make 80% of your image the chosen colour. This will help you see beyond subjects and look at colour in a whole new way. You can also try and get the different colours in a scene into a cohesive arrangement, your primary colours (reds, yellows and blues) will be immediately powerful in a shot. A fire hydrant can become more interesting because of the redness of it. A blue wall becomes an abstract image, colour is a good theme to use in your urban images.

Vibrant colours can make your image pop!

Vibrant colours can make your image pop!

5. Photographing people

Cities are built for people, there are lots of them in any city.  It is always fun to see how people interact with the city. Do they use the park benches, do they take time to look around them in the city or do they simply march on to work. Look for opportunities to capture photos of people doing everyday stuff, but try and find a great backdrop to shoot against. A graffiti wall or a moving bus can make the perfect setting, good architecture too! Always be aware of people’s reaction to being photographed. I generally try and photograph people when they are not camera aware. If they spot me taking the shot, I will walk over to them, show them the image and explain why I shot it. Sometimes, people are not happy to be photographed, be respectful of this and be friendly. It’s amazing what a smile and a relaxed attitude can do.

Use the city buildings as a backdrop to the people in the image

Use the city buildings as a backdrop to the people in the image

Your turn

Photographing in your city can be fun. Of course, always be aware of your surroundings. Be careful not to step off the sidewalk into the street without looking at the traffic (trust me, this happens). Also, be aware of where you are wandering. You may have innocently wandered into the “rough” neighbourhood which might be a bad idea with a large SLR around your neck.

Apart from being aware of your safety, photograph with abandon. Try and capture the essence of the city. Try and photograph the well known places in a new and fresh way. Above all, get out and photograph. As I said earlier, it may not always be possible to go out and shoot in some amazing natural setting, but you can get some really great images just outside your front door, in your home city.

Here is a fun exercise, choose a time to go out and get some urban shots. Select a theme and shoot five images, choose another theme and shoot another five, and so on. Once you have done this a few times, upload your favourite image to the comments below and let’s see how creative the shots are. I look forward to seeing your city through your eyes!

Look for refections, shapes and everyday life!

Look for refections, shapes and everyday life!

The post How to Create Amazing Urban Landscape and Street Photography Images by Barry J Brady appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Voll[er]Pfosten



» Original shoot attached

Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Lens: Canon EF 50mm F/1.4
Aperture: F/2
Exposure: 1/400s
ExposureBias: 0.7 EV
Sensitivity: Iso 100
Cropped: minor (4x3)

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A Lensbaby Adventure



English: Based on my last post Carlos wanted to see more of my trip "Disturbia". On that day I also had to relieve my mind - thats why I choosed the Lensbaby Composer for getting some "other" captures. For all who are interested in (I receive many questions on postprocessing), I used Apples Aperture 3 for this series, no Photoshop or anything else. In the past I used Aperture only for archiving - It was time to check out his opportunities. I'm not really fascinate yet of Aperture, but it worked for me on this collection. What do you think, I'm very interested in your thoughts!

German: Bezogen auf die letzte Aufnahme wollte Carlos mehr von meinem Trip "Disturbia" sehen. An diesem Tag musste ich meinen Kopf ein wenig "auslüften" und deswegen bin ich auch gleich mit dem Lensbaby Composer losgestreuselt um auch "andere" Bilder zu schiessen. Für die Interessierten von Euch (Ich bekomme immer noch viele Fragen), hier habe ich nur mit Apples Aperture 3 gearbeitet, kein Photoshop oder Ähnliches. In der Vergangenheit habe ich Aperture lediglich zum archivieren genutzt, also war es an der Zeit endlich mal herauszufinden was für Möglichkeiten zur Verfügung stehen. Auch bin ich immer noch nicht richtig angetan, dennoch ganz gut um eine Bilderserie zu überarbeiten. Was sagst Du dazu? Ich bin gespannt!

» This is a collection of 13 pictures, click on the image to see all.




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My Disturbia



English: As I told you - I'm still in process moving to my new apartment. But this day I was burned out a little bit, thats why I took doggie Mila and the Lensbaby Composer for a walk. And? I could not resist showing you a scene I really like. It's fascinating - sometimes I think my soul put his finger on the trigger, not me. And sometimes such shots are the result. I love life, I love so many things - but sometimes I'm looking for something more ... sometimes.

German: Wie schon angekündigt - befinde ich mich mitten im Umzug in die neue Wohnung. Aber an diesem Tag stand ich nur noch unter Strom, deswegen bin ich mit Hündin Mila und dem Lensbaby Composer zu einem kleinen Spaziergang aufgebrochen. Und? Ich konnte schwer widerstehen und zeige nun doch eine neue Aufnahme. Irgendwie ist es faszinierend - manchmal glaube ich mein Geist hat seinen Finger am Auslöser, nicht ich. Und manchmal sind dann solche Bilder das Resultat. Ich liebe das Leben, ich liebe so vieles darin - aber manchmal suche ich nach etwas mehr ... manchmal.

» If you are interested in, this picture is as print available
» Original shoot attached

Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Lens: Lensbaby Composer
Aperture: F/4
Exposure: 1/160s
ExposureBias: 0.0 EV
Sensitivity: Iso 640

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Ruegen-Island / Outlook



English: Welcome in 2011! I'm so curious where and how I am blown away - I'm thinking of some projects I would like to perform, a new lens and some exciting travels, concerts and events. For this capture: It was the first shot I took on Ruegen after a long trip by train and car, overall 18 hours. But this view compensated the whole effort.

German: Na dann mal los in das neue Jahr 2011. Ich bin so gespannt was da alles auf mich zurollt und wo es mich hinverschlägt - dabei denke ich vor allem an einige Projekte die ich schon länger vor mir herschiebe, vielleicht fällt mir auch ein neues Objektiv in die Fototasche, Konzerte und andere Veranstaltungen sowie aufregende Reisen. Zum Bild: Dies ist der allererste Schnappschuss den ich auf Rügen aufgenommen habe, nach 18 Stunden Fahrtzeit mit Zug und Auto. Aber dieser erste Blick entschädigte für den heftigen Aufwand.

» If you are interested in, this picture is as print available
» Original shoot attached

Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Lens: Canon EF 70-200mm F/4 L IS
Focal: 121 mm
Aperture: F/4
Exposure: 1/125s
ExposureBias: 0.3 EV
Sensitivity: Iso 800
Cropped: minor (rotate)

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Game #18



English: This is the image for Game #18. It was taken by Jason while he was shooting with David on his old home turf of St. Annes Pier/Blackpool. I could not score points in this game - but it was a good act challenge to bring out some details and tone it to associate a fine evening-mood.

German: Dies ist die Aufnahme aus Runde #18. Das Bild wurde von Jason aufgenommen während er mit David dessen alte Heimat um den St. Annes Pier in Blackpool fotografierte. Mit meiner Version konnte ich in dieser Woche nicht wirklich punkten, dennoch war das Bild ein gute Herausforderung um verlorengegangene Details herauszuarbeiten und mit Farbe eine hübsche Abendstimmung zu zaubern.

» Original shoot attached

Camera: NIKON D3S
Focal: 31 mm
Aperture: F/8
Exposure: 1/250s
ExposureBias: 0.0 EV
Sensitivity: Iso 200
Focal: 31

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This Is Truth



English: I stood so long in front of this stoned angel, and I cannot believe yet that this beauty was made from stone. That's why I want show you her face, a face which has more truth and feeling than some living people I meet every day.

German: Ich stand so lang vor dem steinernen Engel und kann immer noch nicht ganz glauben, dass dieser tatsächlich aus Stein ist. Deswegen möchte ich dieses wunderbare Gesicht zeigen, ein Gesicht das mehr Wahrheit und Gefühl in sich trägt als viele Menschen die täglich meinen Weg kreuzen.

Wallpaper: If you are interested, this shot is as wallpaper available (resolutions included: 1920x1200 | 1280x1024 | iPhone/iPod Touch).

Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Lens: Canon EF 70-200mm F/4 L IS
Focal: 200 mm
Aperture: F/4
Exposure: 1/125s
ExposureBias: 0.0 EV
Sensitivity: Iso 640
Cropped: to 1x1

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Bloody Pleasures



English: With a small delay, my latest shot arrived. The last days where so funny and exciting - real life rules! But the main reason for posting this one is, that I decide to give you something back, for your comments, mentions and critique. This and some future pictures will be a giveaway as wallpaper, maby you like it? Don't ask me what happens on this shot - I planned doing some landscape stuff, but on my daily walk I found this bloody scene. I know, a little bit tricky, but also real life.

German: Mit ein wenig Verspätung ist soeben die letzte Aufnahme gelandet. Die letzten Tage waren einfach so lustig und aufregend - das echte Leben ist einfach toll! Aber der Grund warum ich ausgerechnet dieses Bild ausgesucht habe ist, dass ich Euch etwas zurückgeben möchte, für die vielen Kommentare, Empfehlungen und Kritik. Dieses Foto und einige andere in der Zukunft, gibt es nun als Wallpaper um den Desktop anzuhübschen, vielleicht passt es ja in Dein zu Hause? Und fragt mich nicht was genau auf diesem Bild passiert ist - eigentlich wollte ich ja Winterlandschaften fotografieren bis ich dieses Stückchen Erde entdeckte, mitten auf dem Weg. Ich weiß schon, ein wenig "abgefahren", aber auch das ist das echte Leben.

Wallpaper: If you are interested, this shot is as wallpaper available (resolutions included: 1920x1200 | 1280x1024 | iPhone/iPod Touch).

Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Lens: Canon EF 50mm F/1.4
Aperture: F/1.8
Exposure: 1/3200s
ExposureBias: 0.3 EV
Sensitivity: Iso 400
Cropped: 20 percent to 16x9

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