How To Shoot In Large Cities

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Big cities are a photographer's playground—with so many interesting sights and gorgeous views to photograph, one almost never knows where to start. Making your photos stand out can be difficult. If you'd like a head start, take a look at this posting on how shoot big cities.

Shoot Wide

The Purple Sunset

Shooting in the wide to normal focal length range (24mm-50mm) will allow you to tackle anything you might encounter. Using these focal lengths help your photos tell a better story by including more of the surrounding area into the frame. A wide angle will capture how a street performer enthralls a crowd, for example. The performer can be doing something unique and interesting that will draw in a large group of people or tourists. Looking for that right detail will make or break the shot.

Get High

The opening thumbnail in this story has quite a story behind it: in almost freezing weather, I took a Canon Rebel up to the top of Rockefeller Center. Proceeding to the very top, I climbed on one of the inside ledges, held my breath to prevent motion blur and pressed the shutter button. Mind you, I have an almost paralyzing fear of heights and I was wearing only a hooded sweatshirt.

The result: a wonderfully gorgeous photo of NYC at sunset. This is the reward for venturing up high and braving the elements to get the right photo.

Get Far

Toronto in the Mist

Sometimes to get the most unique photos of a city, you need to venture out of it. Understandably, this isn't in everyone's travel plans but I can promise that it is worth the effort. What you would really want to focus on are the defining features of the city. The photo above displays downtown Toronto, highlighting the CN Tower.

The Night Holds A Wonder of Colors

Chinatown Red Lights

Without a doubt, you are most likely going to be doing a lot of exploring throughout the day. However, keep in mind that nightfall and the evening itself can give you some of the most wonderful light and colors available. Knowing the right places to shoot though is critical. Choosing busy and lit up night scenes such as a street in New York City's Chinatown as shown above, can create a truly magical image.

Get a Fast Lens and Ditch Your Tripod

Serenity

Granted, there is one slow lens in there but at ISO 6400 and with Image Stabilization the combination can tackle nearly anything—especially when shooting in RAW. Ultimately, fast primes allow you to travel light as there will be less of a need for a tripod.

My city street shooting kit is:

Canon 5D Mk II

50mm F/1.8 II

85mm F/1.8

24-105mm F4 L IS