Archive for October, 2015

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Vanier Park and Vancouver BC, 2015 Composite of Multiple Images EOS-M 11-22mm @11mm

I have always been a fan of the urban landscape. Back in my younger days when I had everything to gain and nothing to lose, I would find myself scampering out on a 23rd floor fire escape trying to get a unique perspective on a downtown urban landscape. Sometimes I had to duck the security guard to make my way up to the 40th floor of some miscellaneous office building. Today’s world is less forgiving however and I recommend following proper procedure rather than ending up on the wrong end of a taser.

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Victorian Square, Port Townsend, WA 2014 EOS-M 11-22mm @ 11mm

Effective urban landscapes can be made in the simplest of places and with the right tools and a little patience a unique perspective can be imaged without undue risk to life and limb. It may be as simplistic as a dusk sky and a waterfront scene. Maybe a ultra-wide angle upward view of a downtown area. Walking around in a city as big as New York or even as small as Port Townsend, WA can yield an urban landscape worth framing. While my lovely wife was shopping in all the quaint little shops in Port Townsend, I was walking around snapping photos like a tourist.

I have always been a fan of ultra wide-angle lenses. They can be tricky to work with but the rewards are usually amazing. Wide angle lenses take in so much information that it is easy to get undesirable elements in the photo. Sure we can always edit them out in Photoshop, right? Well, not always and often the effort is too exhausting. Paying closer attention whilst composing the image is the better solution. Wide-angle lenses require close proximity to the subject. Sometimes uncomfortably close. A wide-angle lens can offer an exaggerated scale between close and far objects. It is important to have a defined clean and simple foreground to compliment the background. Wide-angle lenses tend to have great depth of field so objects in the background may be only a little soft rather than really soft and then can look like poor resolution rather than beautiful bokeh. Use caution and stop down to get everything sharp or be certain the background is sufficiently blurred.

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Columbia Center and Municipal Tower, Seattle WA 2015 EOS-M 11-22mm @11mm

Sometimes I just walk around with a ultra-wide zoom on one of my cameras and just snap away. Sure I delete 60% of the photos but the remaining 40% often have fantastic gems among them. The nice thing about an ultra wide is the amazing depth of field allows for quick focus acquisition and detail from near to far without much effort by the photographer. Keeping unwanted elements out can be a hazard.


Mount Hood looms over the Port of Vancouver, WA 2012 EOS 50D with 200mm 2.8L

Another useful lens for urban landscapes is the long telephoto. A long telephoto can also exaggerate the scale of near and far objects but in the exact opposite manner of the wide-angle. Here in the Pacific Northwest we have majestic snow-covered Cascade
volcanoes on the far horizon. A wide-angle lens makes those gargantuan peaks seem diminutive rather than gigantic. Using a telephoto lens and standing way far back the urban landscape and distant horizon become compressed together. This can create amazing illusions of size and scale.

One need not hike through the mountains and across the divide to get great landscapes, but for the urban landscape you’ll fight traffic and busy streets. Urban landscapes and people watching can be a great fun and can test your photo skills. The nice thing about images that have a candid nature is that the viewer will be more forgiving when unwanted or undesirable elements are in the photo and disrupt composition. When the shot is a grand landscape even of the urban variety, the anticipation for great composition and design elements is greater than when a lifestyle or action oriented scene is captured.

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Lunch at Embaradero Center, San Francisco, CA 1985 Canon New F1 with FD 7.5mm on Kodachrome 64

I have written about the fish-eye lens and various fish-eye adapters here on this blog and they can be an effective tool to produce interesting urban landscape photos. Along with the urban landscape one might be able to shoot images of people in an urban environment. The nice thing about urban landscape is the casual style of capturing them. I have used simple cameras like a Canon G9 or an S120 to get fabulous shots. I have even used my phone! Perish the thought, that’s blaspheme!

Take pictures with whatever tool you happen to have on you. I will not likely ever be a phone photographer. But sometimes a moment presents itself when you are not expecting it and maybe the only imaging device you have is your phone. Better use that than allow the magic to go un-captured. Ooh, that was a really good save 😉

It’s better to always carry a good camera. I have written about the Canon S120 and that is but one of dozens of great compact cameras. I try to take that with me whenever I can’t carry something better. So remember to carry a camera and be ready, the urban landscape can just pop out at you in a moment’s notice.

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Wayne’s Drive In, Lawton, OK 2015 Samsung S6 Phone

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Vancouver, WA from Pittock Mansion, Portland, OR 2013 EOS 50D EF 200mm 2.8L

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Portland, OR 2013 with color mods in Lighroom. Canon EOS 50D EFS 17-55/2.8 at 55mm

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Vanier Park, Vancouver BC 2015 EOS M with 11-22mm @11mm


Vancouver WA, 2009 Canon G9

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Columbia Center, Seattle, WA 2015 EOS M with 11-22mm @11mm

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North Beach, San Francisco, CA 1985 Canon New F1, FD 200mm 2.8

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Gas Town, Vancouver, BC 2015 EOS M with 11-22mm @11mm 6400 ISO

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Mount Rainier form 73rd Floor, Columbia Center, Seattle, WA. 2015 EOS M with EF 80-200mm at 200mm

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Mount Rainier from 73rd Floor, Columbia Center, Seattle, WA 2015 EOS M with Olympus Pen 38mm/1.8 at f8

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Downtown Seattle from seaplane, 2015 EOS M with 11-22mm @11mm


Vancouver Center, Vancouver WA 2015 color work in Lightroom. EOS 5DmkII Sigma 8mm


George Propstra Statue, Esther Short Park, Vancouver, WA 2015 EOS 5DmkII Sigma 8mm

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Market Street, San Francisco, CA 1984 Canon A1 FD 20mm/2.8 on Kodachrome 64

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