The beauty with photography is you're not restricted with how you can take a photograph. You can play with as many lights as you can afford, add filters, gels and play with numerous other gadgets to alter the look of your photograph. But even though there's all these toys waiting to be played with, one of the simplest ways to change the way your image looks is to get up high.
A telephoto lens is useful for pulling distant scenes to you while a wide lens is great when you're trying to get a whole town/city in shot. A tripod's also handy if you're using longer lenses but not always a necessity and they won't be allowed in some locations. If shooting at night, a camera with good low-light capabilities will come in handy.
Don't look for your nearest skyscraper, get in a lift, ride to the top floor and start snapping shots of the city. You'll cause more trouble than it's worth, and there are plenty of other places that don't have huge panes of glass between you and the view.
If you're away you probably have a balcony you can get a few shots from or if your hotel has a roof terrace head up there with your kit and set up somewhere out of the way. Just ask if it's OK to do this first otherwise you could raise a few eyebrows. Look out for observation decks, bridges and even the big wheels that are popping up in cities. These usually take an hour to complete a full circle giving you ample time to get a few cracking shots.
Photo by David Clapp
Shooting straight down on a building that's been photographed hundreds and hundreds of time will instantly make your shot stand out and it will give you the opportunity to include the near by streets to highlight the shapes and patterns not usually seen. You'll also be able to see how shadows are elongated and help add texture to your image. If you're not far enough away from the town/city all the buildings could appear to be all on the same level so you'll have nothing that distinguishes between foreground or background interest. To combat this problem look for something you can have in your foreground to help break up the shot.
Not So High
If heights aren't your thing why not try climbing a few steps or even standing on a wall to escape the standard view we usually see in shots. Looking over the banister of a spiral staircase, for example, works well but it is something that's overdone and a little clichéd so be warned. Try taking a walk up a hill in the countryside near a city and you'll be able to shoot down to capture a cityscape.
Look out for buildings which stand out and use your telephoto lens to home in on them. These could be well known land marks, churches or even football stadiums.
Keep Your Feet On The Ground
If you want a series bird's eye view why not try a spot of kite photography? Some have even tried throwing their camera up in the air to put a unique twist on photography from a height. Although, this isn't something we'd recommend doing!
Photo by David Clapp
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