Capturing the life and essence of urban life is one of the most breathtaking experiences.
The urban environment and urban photography delve into the soul of the city, moving beyond the impression that cities are limited by skylines and cityscape.
Urban photography is an art, one that can reveal the innermost expressions, emotions, and details, if done right. This can only be achieved with the best lens.
It is not possible to lug around large and heavy lenses and get high-quality videos as well. Simple features like silent shooting can capture subjects, entirely at ease and carefree.
How to Get the Best Urban Photos?
Using a great camera is the first step to become a good urban photographer. The ideal camera for this purpose would be something light and compact, like a micro four thirds.
With reasonably priced equipment available with a ton of features, your choice can ensure that you enjoy continuous burst shooting, quick mechanical shutters, or even faster electronic ones.
The built-in image stabilization allows mobility.
In addition to an excellent micro four-thirds system, the subject of your photos can also be a significant factor. Make sure they convey the message you wish to portray.
In case you want to make other people your subject, make sure you always ask them for permission. Make sure you know the rules with regard to photographing monuments or buildings.
Tips to Get That Perfect Shot
A few tips to improve your urban photography game, and a few things to keep in mind during your quests.
Prepare the right equipment, and settings to capture your surroundings. Ensure that you have a small, lightweight, handy camera, which is not highly intrusive.
An excellent choice of lens would be a micro 4/3s lens like Rokinon 7.5mm f/3.5 UMC Fisheye, if you are into manual focusing, in combination with art filters from E-M1.
For portraits, one could opt for Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital 75mm/f1.8, which is a great lens that takes terrific portraits.
Avoid shooting above ISO 800, as you could be compromising the overall quality, color depth and texture of the image, unless you have ideal lighting and a fast lens.
A shallow depth of field can be obtained with fast lenses, and some can get it to open up to around F0.95, such as the Voigtlander.
Also, it allows for more light to hit your sensor, especially while shooting at night, which allows for lower ISO settings. Invest in the right equipment, so that you have high quality.
- Urban Photography Is All Around You
Since the term applies to any image that was shot in the confines of a built-up area, you can focus on whatever tickles your fancy, be it architecture photography, street photography, or human interaction with the surroundings.
Many prefer to take pictures on the border of abstract, involving modern glass architecture, and light, or minimal designs and symmetry.
Get involved in your environment, and actively seek out good moments to capture. They will not seek you out.
If possible, always carry a notepad around to write down your ideas. This helps you keep all your thoughts in one place, and pull them out at will.
Reflecting on these ideas can help you in your quest for the perfect picture.
Start close to home, and keep your eyes open for new experiences and situations that can create good photographs.
- Understand the Impact Weather Has
Understand how weather affects the mood and setting of a scene. Make sure you know what impact it has on the viewers. Sharp daylights are great for shadows, while moody skies can set the backdrop to a brooding image.
Rainy skies are a sign of introspection and reflection. Make sure you plan according to the weather so that your plans for the day are not ruined later on.
- Use the Right Filters
A piece of everyday advice is to invest in the Lee filters system, or something similar. With the Lee Filters system, 6 or 10 stop filters can be used, either individually, or in combination.
You get to work with long exposures, capturing the effect on something like dynamic clouds and the motion they produce, while a building remains static. The right filters can convert an average picture into one of substance.
- Gain a New Perspective
Capturing a scene you see every day from another angle from a whole new perspective, giving it a new lease of life. Sometimes, the difference might be as simple as color vs. Black and white.
But there is always a new way you can look at a familiar scene, which changes the image.
- Be Safe at All Times
Make sure that if you are shooting in an unfamiliar environment, you find out from locals or tourist offices, what places should be avoided. Streets vary between day and night.
Make sure to avoid hazardous areas. Avoid walking around with heavy equipment. The micro four-thirds are a valuable asset, as they are relatively compact. You can go about without attracting much attention to yourself.
Try to keep in a group, or travel with a friend, for extra safety. Take note of your surroundings, and know when to leave a place. Make sure you do not walk unprepared into an area, especially at night.
- Pay Attention to Details
Look all around you, and scan the area for minute details. The details are what make the difference between a good photo, and a great photo, particularly so in urban photography.
Something as simple as concrete bollards, if shot at the right angle, lighting, and weather, can be a great photo, with attention to detail.
If possible, get candid pictures of humans around you, and their reaction to something in the environment. If you do intend to get these shots, be respectful, and no boundaries.
Invest in a silent shutter micro four thirds, to avoid any jump scares for your muse.
A particularly useful form of urban photography captures images of the same object or area over the others and combining it to display the passage of time.
This is ideally done on vast cityscape, and you will have to occupy the same position for long hours, but the end result is definitely worth it. Make sure you do not block the path or access and be respectful of the people.
If this seems like too much effort, you could always opt for the Golden2Blue. This, in combination with the right filters, could create a memorable urban photograph.
Try to bring out the magic of colors through your photograph, be it through matching colors in the same scene, or contrasts, or even bright graffiti.
All this adds to the beauty of the image captured and makes for a memorable picture.
- Get Involved in Competitions
Don’t just sit on your pictures, get them entered in an urban photography contest. This is a way for you to improve your skills, and get familiar with others with the same interest.
Figuring out what someone did to get the picture that impressed you so much also helps you in improving your technique. Using this method can help you to get better at urban photography over time.
- Capture the Movement
Cities are chaotic and busy. A dynamic environment is a perfect place for you to experiment and convey this frenzy through your picture.
Urban photography with the right micro 4/3s can be a very satisfying experience when done right. The right lens and lighting are crucial factors for shooting a great picture.
With the right amount of research and planning, you are bound to have a successful shoot, even if you are shooting in a familiar environment, like your hometown.
Your aim with urban photography must be to show the world through new perspectives and interactions. Try capturing the human element in your photos, even the effect of humans on the environment.
Often, a crowded marketplace or a message scribbled in the walls speak volumes about the legacy people have left behind.
The hustle and bustle of the urban scenario ensure you are never at a loss for a subject. Make the best use of it, and get a sense of all the movement.