Finding urban photos

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Being out in the city is a chance to find some great photos if you know how to look.

Urban photography is an encompassing phrase for taking photos in the town or city. It’s about finding beauty amongst the architecture and structures on city streets.

When I first started wandering the streets of our city it felt a bit odd. I’d spent a lot of time shooting landscapes. You look for natural beauty and symmetry. Strong colours and tones and all that jazz.

Down on the streets you have to adjust the way you see the buildings and structures. And you have to let the light show you the design that architects came up with.

That’s why I like hitting the city when there is sunlight available. The light bounces of buildings and creates contrast. That’s a good start point to revealing the buildings in a way that many people don’t see.

But even when the light is wintery you can expose the structures to show off their strong shapes.

Arched bridge over the canal

You can also find scenes where there is a blend of old and new. And if you move your feet, there’s ways to capture both in one frame.

old and new

As I walk through the city, I like to look for vantage points. Where you get some height there will be photographic opportunities. Like the main photo above. I was halfway down some steps when I saw the scene.

Being down among narrow lanes is an opportunity to use wide angle focal lengths. If you seek out narrow lanes in the older parts of the city, you’ll get shots like this one:

cathedral lanes

I used a 13mm focal length for that one. Wide angle focal lengths are often useful. This next one uses 25mm (one of my favourite focal lengths):

Coventry cathedral

And yes, sometimes you get converging verticals. I like it, though. It helps to create a sense of the height of a building.

There will be times when longer focal lengths come in useful. I shot this one at 50mm:

Coventry University

There’s another point here. Like landscape photography, these scenes would look different when the light is different. Which means, you can go back and make a different photo each time.

Also, since they are buildings, approaching from different directions is worthwhile. It will give you whole new way to shoot the scene.

So, urban photography is different from being out in places of natural beauty. But man-made structures present photographic opportunities, too. You need to train your eye to see them.

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