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Have you ever been frustrated that your photos don’t do justice to the scene you observed? I know I was for a long time with my own photography work. As I started out as a landscape photographer I was also attracted to photographing cityscapes at night but it took me many years of trial, error, and studying to learn the camera settings and post-processing techniques necessary to where I was proud of my results.
As editor of one of the largest photography blogs I was shocked that I couldn’t find a training course that covered all these concepts. So after many years of research and readers asking for help in these areas, I started formulating this training eBook. It is the product of over a decade of adventures and misadventures in the photography industry as a landscape photographer. Assembled to help you learn quickly and avoid the mistakes that I made along the way.
This relentlessly in-depth eBook is designed to help you master challenging lighting conditions no matter your experience level, take more compelling photos, post-process them to perfection, and delve even further into long exposure tricks so you know all the possibilities. By knowing all the techniques possible, it is my hope that you will learn a lot faster than I did and start seeing hidden photo opportunities that others might miss.
Be confident you are capturing the full potential of any scene in front of you!
Once you are comfortable capturing all the light in a scene. We will show you how to harness light to your will! Photography tricks and long exposure techniques are very fun and also serve as very valuable learning exercises. From light painting in your landscapes to star trails in your skies, we will show you how to take the kind of photo that stops viewers in their tracks.
Extensive tutorials on light painting, panoramas, spherical panoramas, night sky exposures, infrared, fisheye, bokeh, timelapse and more. You will be taking steel wool light painting shots and star trail exposures in no time.
With all the techniques and shortcuts this eBook contains, you will avoid a lot of the frustrating amateur trial and error I had to go through over the years. It is designed to help you quickly become more knowledgeable and better prepared the next time you venture out with your camera.
In this section, we’ll cover some of the main gear expectations most landscape/cityscape photographers deal with. Don’t feel obligated to buy any of it, especially all at once; your gear will be an ever-evolving stream of equipment that you’ll buy, sell and upgrade over years and years. But it’s important to know what’s out there.
If you’re going to specialize in landscape or cityscape photography, a full frame camera is a great investment. We will explain why and what features and accessories are important to these types of photography.
A photographer shouldn’t be inhibited by their equipment though. I’ll use a DSLR with a good sensor when I can, obviously, but if there’s a gorgeous, spontaneous photo op and all I have is my iPhone, I won’t hesitate to capture the moment.
Landscape art is as old as art itself. Cave drawings, Chinese murals and Minoan Greek frescoes are all ways of portraying the world around the artist. That so many cultures across so many eons have portrayed Earth in different ways tells us that fundamentals definitely exist. Some photos may look spontaneous and lucky—a streak of lightning, a fish leaping up out of a river—but this game has rules, and if you know the rules, you can take as good a shot as anyone. You don’t need fancy technology.
Good cityscape photography makes the viewer feel both things: awe and terror. It should make them feel exhilarated at the endless possibilities tucked into every corner of downtown Tokyo, but also petrified at the enormity of Shanghai’s systemic twisting roads. From an aerial view we can spot all the boats in Toronto’s harbor, the landmarks of New York’s skyline, and the signature rivers coursing through London, Seoul and Paris.
Shooting cityscapes isn’t all that different from shooting landscapes. The same general rules apply: skyscrapers are mountains, roads are rivers and dramatic clouds make them look that much cooler.
The biggest difference is that cities change at night. A mountain is a mountain any time of day, but by night, a building transforms into a blaze of lights to challenge the stars, roads light up with moving dots of red and yellow, neon lights line the streets in attempts to catch your eye.
Visually, cities come alive at night.
All other settings constant (f/13, ISO 400) shooting in aperture priority, watch the effect of shutter speed length on traffic moving across a bridge as it gets darker in the evening:
Moving traffic is like a city’s bloodstream—it’s always moving, pulsating through veiny streets, bringing images to life. Capturing traffic in a city is almost inevitable, and while it’s hard to shoot it “wrong” by simply taking a long-exposure shot of any length, it can also be hard to control the exact shot you want.
Telling a story with people in it is a surefire way to increase human interest. Like I mentioned in the “Including People” chapter of the Landscapes section of this book, people love seeing people: it creates a sense of empathy, realism and perspective that pure cityscapes lack, and satiates viewers’ inherent curiosity about the lives of others.
While the same rules of artistic composition apply (rule of thirds, leading lines, and so on), you’re unlikely to have the time to set them up: street photographers move quickly, quietly and rarely have time for a second shot.
When it comes to intersections, some bigger cities—New York, Tokyo, Toronto—will have four-way crosswalks, where pedestrians stream across in all directions, stopping cars on all four sides of the intersection. These make especially great hectic shots, with cloudy masses surrounded by headlights and condo lights.
The world has grown beyond just Photoshop. Adobe is still the leader of the pack, with products like Lightroom and Bridge supplementing Photoshop in many photographers’ arsenals (including my own); I also use Photomatix occasionally, which is an industry leader for HDR processing.
Photoshop’s competitors (Corel’s PaintShop Pro, Serif’s PhotoPlus, Capture One Pro; there are many) are viable alternatives at sometimes as little as half the cost of Adobe’s mainstays, and if you already have one of those, the general rules of what we’re going to be discussing in this section will likely hold true, even if the tool names are different.
For our purposes, though, I’ll be sticking with Lightroom, Photoshop, Bridge and Photomatix. You don’t need to buy all these, but it’s still good to know what the possibilities are. If you only invest in one program, I would recommend Lightroom.
The first few pages in this section will cover the quick and effective processing methods using the Lightroom presets provided with the book, then we will dive in deeper if you want to take your photos further.
Photography has traditionally been the realm of the real. It documents things. You’d see something, snap a photo of it, and record that moment for as long as your photo exists.
Then people realized that the reality you capture is only as true as the camera’s perspective. Perspective could be toyed with. This changed the way people worked with depth, color and reality itself.
Today, capturing reality is half the battle. Playing with multiple exposures, HDR and perspective can create worlds beyond what we can see with our own eyes. Trick photography takes that pioneering kernel of photography—capturing reality—and takes it one step further.
Now, we capture the reality of our imaginations.
“This is a fantastic book for anyone who wants to expand their photographic horizons! Even if you’re just getting started in photography, this book will help you tackle every challenge. It covers such a wide range of information, from what gear is most useful, key tips on what settings to use, lighting and composition techniques, and absolutely tons of practical advice that will help you while out shooting. While these genres of photography can seem overwhelming, this book has everything you need to get out there and capture stunning photos of your adventures!” – Rob Lim, PhotographyConcentrate
“If you aren’t already a seasoned pro, this is honestly the number one book I would recommend to you.” -Patrick Lavigne, Founder of LearnPhotoEditing”
“This is the most detailed book on digital landscape photography I have ever come across. I can’t believe how many valuable techniques and tutorials you managed to fit in there. Wonderful layout as well. This eBook is a must for any experience level!” – Daniella Craig, United States
“Learning how to take multiple exposures and blend their best attributes is the holy grail of photography in the digital age. I very much appreciated your tutorials on that subject in the post-processing section of the book, thanks so much for this resource.” – Dan Hedgpeth, United Kingdom
“I just sent you one of my photos! The photography tricks section is amazing, the images I have been creating with these tutorials have been a big hit with my friends on social media and are now some of the most popular in my portfolio. I wasn’t sure at first but now I’m certain, this eBook is the best photography investment I have made so far!” – Angela Hunt, Canada
“This is now the top book on my iPad, I already read it cover to cover but I keep it open a lot still when I’m riding the train between locations or when I’m at home post-processing. I’ve been adding new photos to my portfolio almost daily with your help, I only wish I had found this book earlier.” – Peter Baker, Singapore
The eBook comes in PDF format that can be read on computers, phones and most tablet computers (works great as a mobile reference out in the field). It’s yours forever!