Often, shooting a city at night can create the best photos. Save the daytime for shooting other things, like the landscapes, the people and everything else. Especially when the city is a place full of lights. I figured what better place to help explain different things you can do with photographing cities at night than Vegas. So, this past weekend I went to Vegas to captures some cool shots to write this blog.
Events and Their Location
Spend time getting the settings right for your camera, before something important happens, so that you are ready for the perfect shot. It will most likely be beneficial to switch your camera to manual mode to control the exact lighting. Also, don’t use flash. Just rely on the lights from the city to light your scene. This photo was shot with a high ISO (2500) and a low aperture (f2.8), so that I could get a fast shutter speed (1/640) to freeze the action. Also, make sure to show the location of the event, to better tell the story of what is going on and where it is happening.
Shoot From The Cab
Often it is a cool experience to drive through the city. See if you can get a seat in the front of a cab. Not only will you see more, get to interact more with a knowledgable driver; but you can also get great shots out of the front window of the city you are driving through. It helps you to remember your experience of going through the city, but it also has a cool benefit I bet you never thought of – if you ever get lost you can look at the pictures to see where you were, and show the pictures to locals and find your way again. Exploring a new city for the first time can be so overwhelming, and the more photos you have, the more you will remember and the better you can plan your next trip.
No matter where you go, there are buildings that are “traditional” and others that are very unique. It is important to capture not only the main-feature buildings, but to also find the unique, different buildings, and portray the experience you have seeing them. It is always cool to show how the lights play on the structures. Use the natural light that is caused by the nightlife to light your subject. This way you have captured the experience in its more natural environment. Other times, a building will have its own lights to illuminate the architecture. What ever the case may be, you can create awesome images.
Shops and Architecture
Often some of the coolest places for architecture are the shops. Spend time finding not only the best angle to show off the unique design of buildings, but also how the light bounces off the walls. Also, don’t forget to take pictures of the places that you shop… or wish you could shop.
If you have a tripod, use it. Set up your camera on your tripod and play around with long exposure shots. This way you can have car light-trails, which convey a sense of motion. Also a long exposure does not distract the photo with cars, but instead makes the image simpler and unique, in turn making for a better photo of the event that you are experiencing. This shot was taken with a small aperture of f18, which creates the star pattern from bright lights.
Overlook the City at Night
Find a way to get to the top. Look up, and find a tall building near the edge of the city, and find a way to get to the top of that building. Right after the sun has gone beyond the horizon, you have a little light left if the sky, and most of the city light will begin turning on. It is not only a really cool experience, but also makes for some awesome photos. This way you can show the city that you are visiting, and convey the size of everything. Take either a panoramic shot, or use a fisheye lens to get the widest possible angle. Also, when booking a hotel room, you might consider finding a room on the top floor, and make sure that your room faces the city. That way you can just shoot out the window all night long.
Important City Attractions
Of course, every city has its important attractions. Do some prior research, ask locals, and find out not only what is important to experience, but at exactly what time it takes place, and where is the best place to stand. For example, one of the most popular attractions here in Vegas, is the Dancing Fountain water show. It takes place every 15 minutes, exactly. So, if you know that, you can arrive a few minutes early, before the crowds start to form, and get yourself to the perfect spot to take your picture. Also, play around with long exposures, especially of water, as it conveys the motion, but also makes for a more unique shot.
Now go shoot!
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