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City Vistas
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City Vistas

Cities that seem chaotic and intense up close often appear surprisingly elegant and orderly from high above or viewed from a distance. From on high, patterns emerge in the grids of streets and rows of buildings that are all but invisible at street level; distant shots often reveal a graceful skyline.

The most difficult part of photographing cityscapes is finding vantage points. Most major cities have observation decks that offer good overviews. Or if you're lucky enough to get a hotel room on an upper floor, you can shoot from your own or a hall window (turn off the room lights to keep reflections down if you have to shoot through the glass). Surrounding hills and bridges provide good vantage points for more expansive views, such as the classic views of San Francisco shot from across the bay.

Midday pictures are usually pretty dull, but twilight shots (within 10 to 20 minutes after sunset) are especially glamorous because there is plenty of blue light left in the sky and the buildings and streetlights have begun to glimmer. A few moments before sunset, try to shoot from the west to catch the last rays of the setting sun igniting the skyline. Use a fast ISO setting (ISO 400 or 800) to provide a shutter speed that is safe for handholding (1/60 second or faster).

Next: "Historical Dwellings"

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