Shooting Cityscapes with Tom Wagner

What is it about the city that excites us as photographers? And not just any part of the city, I’m talking about capturing the entire city.

This is Latitude Photography Podcast, Episode 86 for June 28, 2020

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Find Tom’s website here: and on Instagram at @tomwagnerphotography

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Introduction and Announcements

I am your host, Brent Bergherm. Welcome to Latitude Photography podcast, the place where we seek to learn, grow and inspire, all in the context of travel-outdoor photography of course. We’re all on a journey to create more images and to do so with purpose. Thank you so much for being here.

Today I’ve got Tom Wagner here to discuss shooting cityscapes, Tom, welcome to the show!

Main Topic: Cityscapes

  1. Intro, what exactly are we talking about here?
  2. Preparations for Cityscapes
  3. Finding a Spot
  4. Trying to find a good overlook – Elevation can help provide a better view of the buildings as opposed to a street view
  5. Try to include water reflections
  6. Look for leading lines (water features, roads, sidewalks, etc.)
  7. Google Maps
  8. Google Earth
  9. Time of Day
  10. Best time for cityscapes is golden/blue hour – this is when you get best light in sky, and building lights are on, which makes for a more interesting photo
  11. Sunrise – Less lights on buildings and less busy
  12. Sunset – More lights on buildings and more people
  13. Avoid shooting into sun – washes out buildings
  14. Gear
  15. Tripod
  16. Blue hour shooting has reduced lighting, leading to longer shutter speeds
  17. Makes it easier for blending in post-processing if all shots are aligned
  18. Wide Angle Lens
  19. Zoom Lens
  20. ND Filter
  21. Helps with getting smooth water
  22. Helps with getting light trails from cars

Setting Up and Shooting Cityscapes

  1. Arrive Early
  2. Allows for trying different compositions
  3. Allows for analyzing light and how it will interact with scene
  4. Long Exposures
  5. Can add light reflections to water, which provide leading lines into cityscape
  6. Can add light trails from cars to provide leading lines
  7. High Aperture Number for Star Lights
  8. Stay Late (if able and safe to do so)
  9. Allows for most lights on buildings (for sunset)
  10. Leads to easier long exposure shots (water, light trails)

 Post-Processing Cityscapes

  1. Distortion of buildings, can correct using “Transform” panel in Lightroom or “Transform” tool in Photoshop
  2. Can use “Lighten” blending mode in Photoshop to add lights to scene
  3. Color Management
  4. Combination of man-made lighting and natural lighting leads to lots of colors in the photo.
  5. Too many colors can clash and ruin the photo

Example 1 – Charleston, SC Battery Sunrise

  1. Smooth water for reflections
  2. Star burst on lights to draw attention to the buildings
  3. Colorful clouds adds interest to sky and reflection

Example 2 – Golden Gate Bridge

  1. Light trails
  2. Blend of golden hour and blue hour, accentuates color in sky, on bridge, and on trees

Example 3 – Chicago Ferris Wheel

Chicago, IL, USA

Example 4 – Hong Kong, Victoria Harbor from Lugard Road

Example 5 – Chicago River

Chicago, IL, USA, The Chicago River with boats.


  1. Find us on the web at
  2. Find me on facebook at
  3. Find the podcast facebook group at
  4. Find me on instagram @brentbergherm
  5. Find me on YouTube at
  6. Find me online at
  7. And finally, my online learning platform for photographers is found at
  8. Find Tom’s work here: and on Instagram at @tomwagnerphotography