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City Streets
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City Streets

For sheer variety of subjects—architecture, open-air markets, historic landmarks, parks—nothing competes with the urban whirl of a city for a great photograph. Best of all, you can change subjects as your mood or your ideas evolve, and usually just by turning another corner. In Manhattan, for instance, the glamour of the United Nations, the glitz (and grunge) of Times Square, and the cool shade of Central Park are mere blocks apart.

Unlike zooming through the countryside in a car at warp speed, hoping that a wonderful vista will pop up beside you, trekking a city's streets immerses you in its most intimate details. The kind of photographs you're likely to find will depend a lot on the personality of the city. If your stay is brief, take a short bus tour to find out exactly where you are and hatch some good ideas for pictures.

In cities where old and new live shoulder to shoulder, look for scenes that reveal that contrast. In frenetic hubs like Tokyo or London, you can catch the energy by using a very long telephoto lens to compress crowds or a long exposure to intentionally blur the bustle.

Whatever the locale, the advantage of city photography is that you can—and should—travel light with respect to equipment. A zoom lens in the 28mm to 85mm range will embrace wide views and still let you close in on interesting faces or architectural details.

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