Just You Tour Manager and photographer Yvette Barnett shares her hints and tips on capturing great photos in and around the city
Try something different
Don’t just shoot from standing height - that’s the shot that everyone will have. Go for the low-level pavement shot. I have frequently taken photos of my group whilst I’m rolling around on the floor at the bottom of the CN tower! I’m not suggesting you roll around on the floor, but it’s worth considering shots from different levels. Just look for something a bit different – the rooftop of a building or a helicopter flight offer wonderful vantage points over a city.
Black-and-white photography offers a great alternative to capture the dynamic of a city, and while it seems most natural to capture a city in landscape, turn the camera around and make the skyline a portrait and capture a small part of it with the view more vertical. Patterns... these can be your best friend when shooting architecture. Whilst a river or any water can be a landscape photographer’s best feature, try to use a fountain as your focal point in a cityscape.
It’s about the ‘when’ as much as the ‘where’
Early in the morning, if you’re jet lagged, go out and photograph the city before it wakes up. Empty streets can be wonderful. Daytime photography is, of course, where we take the classic postcard shots but often the best time to photograph cities is just before sunset, when the lights in the building start to come on. Consider that older buildings can benefit from a softer light, for example just before sunset, whilst modern architecture can be at its best during the day. Then, of course, we have the magical time - once the city lights up and we get the night-time shots.
The city at night
Night-time photography is probably the most challenging. Of course we would love to have a tripod with us, but luggage limits usually prevent this so we have to improvise and rely on the capability of the camera instead. My advice here is to experiment. This is where digital photography comes into its own because we can see very quickly if the result is the desired one. Hold the camera steady. Use the night scene mode if the camera has one, or raise the ISO number on the camera if you have that option. However, a steady hand or a handy fence, gate or wall could prove to be the most useful tool. Just shoot and see if it works and what’s the worst that can happen... you delete the blurry shots and try again!
Capturing the hustle & bustle
Don’t avoid having people in your shots. These can help you to portray the hustle and bustle of a city. Movement can also show its pace. Longer shutter speeds can blur the movement of the people and faster shutter speeds can capture the moment without the blur. I remember on a trip to Vietnam, I took a small group of willing photographers to a busy roundabout in Ho Chi Minh City to photograph the people and traffic at rush hour. Perhaps a little crazy, but what everyone captured that evening - whether with a camera phone, a point and shoot or a DSLR - was the heart of the city, and what a wonderful memento from any trip, a photo with a memory attached!