Canals were once used to transport goods to towns and cities right across the UK and as a result, there are still plenty of waterways running through our city streets. The long canals, bridges and lock gates that once supplied goods now supply ample photography opportunities and as they all have public walkways, you're not going to upset anyone if you spend an hour two with your camera at the side of one.
When you're heading out of the door make sure you have your wide angle and telephoto lens with you. A tripod would also be handy if you want to try and smooth the waterfall of water that sometimes flows over the lock gates. You may also want to check you've got your polarising filter as this can help eliminate the problems you get with reflections when photographing water.
If you want to include some of the homes, offices and bars in your shot take out your wide angle lens. You'll be able to capture the urban setting and also exaggerate the length of the canal or any of the long boats that are on it. If the canal's your main point of interest use your telephoto lens to bring the boats, locks or any other background interest to you. You can get a great shot by standing on a bridge over the centre of the canal.
Look For Locks
Locks are an attractive feature on the canal so try and focus your attention on one as a boat passes through or slow down your shutter speed and make the water gushing over the lock your focus of the image. If you have a series of lock gates they're perfect for bringing symmetry to your shot.
As the canal's a straight line of water you've got several leading lines to help you with your composition. Try framing up so you have the canal entering from one corner, leading the eye into and through the image. It's a great way to guide the viewer to a particular focal point in the city. You can use the bridges that stretch over the canals to frame parts of the city too just watch your exposure and bracket if you need to.
It's trendy to have a bar or home by the water which gives you the opportunity to include people in your scene. Places such as the Victoria Quays in Sheffield or the more famous Camden Lock have bars, restaurants and apartments surrounding the water and they're often buzzing with activity. Try shooting some candids of people relaxing by the lock or take a walk around, shooting from the hip as you stroll.
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