It’s really funny how things happen. Last week I taught a seminar in Houston and posted about how I met up with some photographers the night before and photographed the city skyline. In fact, just about every time I visit a city, I try to take a memorable shot of the skyline. Some are from the typical places, like when I was in Seattle or even Boston. But some are from some not-so-typical places like:
• New York
Anyway, I showed the photo during the seminar and I received an overwhelming amount of questions on it. Then I realized something… I get a ton of questions about the skyline photos at any seminar where I do this. At that point it hit me (yeah, I’m slow). I SOOO need to do a class on this. It was on the cab ride to the airport after the Houston seminar and I couldn’t wait to get to the airport to start fleshing out the outline for the class (I get car-sick or I would have done it in the cab) 🙂
After making the outline I realized there’s a ton of little tips and tricks that I use in searching for the right location, to the right day to take the photo, to actually taking the photo, all the way to the post-processing. I even called Scott to make sure that it wasn’t just me that thought the idea was good, and he immediately said “Dude, you need to do that class”. So there ya’ have it… Photographing Cityscapes. A new class is born, and really, it’s inspired by all of you.
So… I’m in the planning stages of the class but I want to try to get on it pretty quickly. If you have any ideas, suggestions, or cool locations at cities in the US please let me know here in the comments section.
Thanks and have a good one!
Hi Matt, any suggestions for a travel lens with a Canon 6D? Tamron has a new lens coming out but they have no idea in. I have a 24-105, 16-35. Using this for travel and landscape. Thanks.
May I suggest Minneapolis just after sunset. Beautiful skyline.
Orlando (Sunrise): 28.544428, -81.370665
DC (Sunrise): 38.888377, -77.069105
Charlotte 1 (Sunrise): 35.237496, -80.815689
Charlotte 2 (Sunrise): 35.220651, -80.827628
Charlotte 3 (Sunrise): 35.218399, -80.838109
(examples pending copyright registration)
Raleigh 1 (Sunset): 35.777609, -78.649476
(examples pending copyright registration)
Raleigh 2 (Sunset): 35.770139, -78.645167
(examples pending copyright registration)
Tips: More parking and less people at sunrise (less lights turned on in the buildings is the tradeoff.
Savannah, Georgia a must see city ! Filled with historic gorgeous architecture…
Dallas…even Prescott in AZ…Small mountain town, but could warrant some amazing shots…with all the classic “main street” looking buildings…
….there are so many amazing places around here…But you have to show diversity in shooting them, because some cities look better HDR’d than others…like DC…because of the many creases of those buildings creating thousands of shadows…and you can go all contrasty, but some may like to see the actual architectural details…I would love to see how you’d photograph the Smithsonian Castle right on the National Mall! That building is a PITA to photograph from perspective to shadows to time of day and the many people around it…or construction on it…
In my opinion few of those who travel get to actually get a good city shot. So many things can alter the view like construction…you never know when it’ll happen. Last year they were working on the Washington Monument in DC, and it was impossible to photograph that way because it was filled with scaffolding…so, now I had to be creative, and find new angles that didn’t include it…this is why it is good to be very divers in this class because most people don’t have the ability to travel, and “get the shot” on that trip…so, it would be nice to show “what else” can make a great city scape “in case” the shot is not available for whatever reason…
I think this class could lead to a few a.h.a. moments if you showed what “locals” can achieve “locally” with a little creativity. I know you love water skylines, and pillars sticking out of the water, but most folks won’t be getting that where they live, and remember downtowns are for business so even for us here in Tampa is not a comfortable place to get too, and of course no clouds…boring skies….etc…you know timing + time of the year is everything.
“Some are from the typical places, like when I was in Seattle or even Boston. But some are from some not-so-typical places like: New York, Toronto, Portland, Cincinnati”
What is “not” typical about NYC & Toronto? I am asking because there are a billion photos of the Manhattan’s skyline, I have a brush in Photoshop of it LOL, and Toronto is not too far behind NYC in popularity considering it’s amazing skyline…
What about Chicago? DC? (DC has a height restriction on tall buildings, so it would neat to see what you could do there)…or better, what about using a less popular city too, so the tips rich those living in less popular cities as well & also, cities without a water front…
BTW speaking water fronts, have you seen Jacksonville yet from I-95? You can get some amazing shots there at sunrise, and then at sunset.
When doing this class, it would be cool if you could also shoot older buildings too; those can make very nice idyllic looking cityscapes. I hope you have Pittsburgh on your list to photograph from Mt. Washington…at sunrise, sunset, and anytime in between, and especially with fog.
It would help a lot more people overall to have a variety of “visuals” and “tricks” considering that if someone travels to NYC they can just go to the same spot you were and take the same shot, when in fact, they could be gathering even more amazing cityscapes if they walked around the city a bit…in NYC if you get a hotel room around the 30th-ish floor on 42nd ave, you can get time square from the middle with all the cool lights…….what I am trying to get at is that it would be cool if you could enlist someone specialized in architectural photography for this class because these folks have the extra “eye” available for city images that create an impact and show diversity. JMO
Check her out too: http://nythroughthelens.com/
Do you have a Tampa one yet? with the lit bridges?
Matt, I think you should take some non-extraordinary skylines and shoot them too. The principles will hold when someone gets to a San Francisco, Las Vegas, Seattle, New York, etc. But not everyone lives there and I would suspect more readers live outside those areas rather than inside those areas, so remember them also when you make up the course.
Thanks John. How about I use an extraordinary place and explain that the same principles hold for any city 🙂
“explain that the same principles hold for any city :-)”
That won’t work necessarily, because you can’t shoot an 100 story skyscraper the same as you’d shoot an 100 year old 4 story brick building. Reflections, angles, and surroundings play a huge role when it comes to creating an interesting city scape. You know I am an architectural photographer right? LOL (I am not arguing with you at all here, I am simply pointing out that each building is different, it is facing something else, and this should all be taken into account. :)xo)
True. However, this isn’t an architectural class. I don’t plan on getting that close to buildings. I also don’t plan on talking about reflections, angles, age of buildings, etc… It’s more about shooting wide cityscape skyline photos 🙂
It doesn’t have to be an “architectural class”, but if you’re going to visit these cool places it might be a missed opportunity to have a more divers class on the subject…JMO
The best place I’ve found to shoot the Las Vegas Strip is from the top level of the long term parking garage at the airport.
Ok, you threw down the glove. I will be waiting for your post after your class in downtown Los Angeles. Janine has some excellent recommendations. If you are staying at the hotels next to the Convention Ctr, try for a high north facing view. But you are walking distance to the Nokia theater, Staples Center, a short hike to the Music center/Disney Hall, and the pointy bldg (city hall). With a little work you can find the planes landing at LAX a few hundred feet above the streets of Inglewood (at Costco) / Westchester (on Sepulveda Blvd).
There’s a park called the Kenneth Hahn Recreation Center in south Los Angeles. Go to the top, take a short hike to the north end of the park and get a panorama of LA including downtown, Hollywood (and the Hollywood sign), Sunset Strip, Griffith Observatory, Century City. Unique view of the city.
Sometime when you’re here, get a permit to shoot downtown in the Bradbury Building (and bring me!). It was the apartment building from the movie Blade Runner–spooky stairways in an 1893 office building. LA’s oldest landmarked building. OJ Simspon bought a knife (at Ross Cutlery on the first floor) that figured prominently in his murder trial. Open to the public on the first floor, but you can get a permit to photograph above that.
My street has the best view of the west side of the Getty Museum (we’re on the next ridge over, right at the same height). But I’m not telling you where we are. We get too much OJ tourism already (still!).
Thanks Janine! 🙂
I think that you’ll be surprised that there’s a great cityscape in Denver. I’ve taken many photos from a great place, just west of the city and elevated enough to be very interesting. There’s no water to add interest, but shooting for HDR with cars moving below on I-25 adds just as much interest. Also, if you prefer a sunrise shot, there’re many from the east side of Denver with mountains in the background.
I find that the more esoteric the location, the better. In San Francisco everyone has shot the Bay Bridge light show from Pier 14, but there are so many other little known locations that showcase the cityscape and the bridge much better. Nothing beats adventure while shooting cityscapes. Try to go places that are hard to get into or off limits. Sometimes a little kindness and playing dumb will get you a great shot.