Living in L.A., the most frequent landscapes I see are of the urban variety.
And though driving along the 405 doesn't afford me the same views as someone driving through Yosemite, there is still something to appreciate about the concrete jungle.
The lines, textures, colors, and lights of the city are certainly great subjects for compelling photos. The people in the city are great subjects, too.
Photographing urban landscapes is a challenge as well. And challenging yourself as a photographer is how you get better!
With that in mind, consider these tips for improving your photos of the big city.
Don't Just Shoot at Eye Level
There's a tendency for some photographers - particularly new ones - to shoot everything from their own eye level.
And though that's a great place to start because it's a familiar view, you should strive to mix it up a bit and throw in a few different perspectives.
There's a wealth of perspectives you can utilize to create a more compelling photo, like getting low to the ground as seen above.
Taking a low point of view, in this case, helped bring in the texture of the street while also making the bridge and buildings seem larger in the frame.
Conversely, you might also try to find a high perspective for your city photos.
That gives you an opportunity to provide viewers with a completely different take on city life, like the image above.
Instead of the shot being about buildings and cars and roadways, this image highlights the hustle and bustle of the city sidewalk.
It's a much more specific view, but an intriguing one nonetheless.
Use Different Lenses
Another way to get creative with your cityscape photos is to try different focal length lenses.
Typically, cityscapes are photographed with a standard lens, which affords a view like the one above.
And while that's perfectly fine, you miss out on different interpretations of city life by not using different lenses to tell a different visual story.
For example, you can capture the entirety of a cityscape with a wide-angle lens.
This field of view takes a look at the city on a macro level, incorporating elements like the skyline, highways, and bridges, which help give viewers the lay of the land, so to speak.
Think of a wide-angle view as the "postcard" shot you often find that has the entire city on display in one photo.
Alternatively, you can use a telephoto lens to find interesting vignettes in the city to put on display in a micro-level shot.
In the case of the image above, note how all the different lines, angles, and textures make for a visually stimulating shot, even though the individual elements aren't necessarily that identifiable or discernible.
By that, I mean that few people would know in what part of the city this photo was taken, let alone the city it was even taken in.
But where a wide-angle view like the previous image is intended to give viewers those clues, a more intimate cityscape like this one is intended to help people see the beautiful details that can be found by zeroing in on a specific spot in the city.
Do Your Homework
You wouldn't head out for a weekend of landscape photography without doing a little research beforehand, nor would you head to a portrait photo shoot without having a few ideas in your head about posing, lighting, composition, and so forth.
Yet, a lot of photographers tackle cityscape photography by just hitting the streets and walking around without much of a plan, shooting photos left and right as they go.
While there's something to be said for spontaneity, the chances are that you'll get better photos if you put some time into researching before you head out.
Find out what makes a city special. Learn about its neighborhoods and monuments. Find places off the beaten path so you can highlight parts of the city that a tourist might not typically see.
But don't think that your homework needs to be sitting on your couch Googling things, either.
Whether you live in a big city or you're just visiting, take an afternoon to just explore the area around you, perhaps even without your camera.
Look up, look down, notice how the light reflects off buildings, find interesting shadows, shapes, and lines, and take a minute to talk to people.
By putting your feet to the street and exploring the urban landscape, you'll not only get familiar with the area and identify potential subjects, but you'll also have a chance to learn what the city is about.
And by doing that, you'll be able to tell a more compelling (and complete) story of the urban landscape.