This is how you photograph cityscapes

Strolling around a beautiful city is a popular pastime. Photos of cities, also called cityscapes, are a popular subject for Xpozers. And we totally get why. Your sofa, dining room and office get a whole lot more style and atmosphere by hanging a beautiful cityscape on the wall. New York, Tokyo and London are amongst the most popular cities for skyline photos. And even if that makes some photos a bit similar, all photos are unique. Before making your own cityscape wall art, read our tips below to make sure to get an interesting and beautiful photo.

The word cityscape is a combination of the words city and landscape. Though making a cityscape photo sometimes works like a landscape photo, there are some differences.


Composition: Cityscapes are all about lines

When shooting a skyline or cityscape you’ll have to think about the lines in your photo. You’d probably want the lines in buildings to be straight, to make sure that the buildings don’t look like they are leaning like the Tower of Pisa. Also carefully consider whereto you want to draw the viewer’s attention. Choose the main subject of your photo and create the composition accordingly. Create lines that draw the eye towards that main subject.

In the example below, you can see a very clear line in the photo. Your attention gets drawn to the orange-looking sunlit road first. Then the road takes your eyes towards the skyscraper, then the sun and sky. It’s a very clear path the photographer guides you along through the lines in the photo. Now imagine the photo without the road. It’d probably be very flat and maybe a bit boring even.

Reflections in your cityscapes

Reflections are miracle workers for your photos. After rainfall, use puddles to get awesome reflections. If there hasn’t been any rain, create a puddle yourself or use a fountain or any other water you can find. Could you imagine the example photo without the reflections?

Make sure to keep your shutter speed fast, so that the water remains clear. If your shutter speed is too long, the movements in the water are captured, which makes the water look cloudy.

Using the sky in your cityscape

As weather changes, the colors and atmosphere of the sky change with it. The colors and shapes in the sky determine most of the atmosphere of your photo. Using the sky in the right way helps make your photo unique. Use a boring sky as residual space, or some heavy clouds that give your photo a cool, dark atmosphere. Capture more or less sky depending on what’s needed to support the main subject.

Choose the amount of sky you show consciously. If you show too much of it, the sky might turn into your main subject, which is probably not your goal. Not enough sky in your photo might make it feel a little awkward, a bit ‘suffocating’.

Study examples to learn from

The best way to learn, besides practicing, is to study your own and other people’s work closely. Determine the quality of the shot by asking yourself: what about this photo is pretty, and what is not? Why does the composition work, or why doesn’t it? Just practice this for a bit on several photos. It makes you look at photos differently, and it makes you a better photographer.

Below are a few skylines. Which one do you like best, and, more importantly: why?

Our tips:

Don’t forget about your lines – Lead the viewer through your photo with clear lines that add to the viewer’s experience.

Use reflections – Reflections make almost all photos more interesting!

Watch the sky – The best cityscapes have pretty light. Make your cityscape into something special by using the sky in the right way.