City Skyline Photography

Skyline photography pays homage to the vibrancy and oft frenzied pace of urban life. Some skylines are instantly identifiable, such as San Francisco with the distinctively shaped Transamerica pyramid, the CN Tower looming over Toronto, Manhattan and the majestic Empire State Building, the très magnifique Eiffel Tower in Paris, and the white, triangular roof structures of the Opera House in Sydney. But whether the view is filled with dozens of skyscrapers, an architectural wonder, dazzling natural surroundings, or all of the above, each skyline is a fingerprint, unique and singular to that particular city.

With the prevalence of cameras on the market, from expensive DSLRs to reasonably priced point and shoots and even decent cell phone cameras, anyone that fancies themselves a photographer can take their own skyline photographs. Finding the right vantage point, either by researching it online, asking a local, or taking a walk around the town to scope out potential sites, can make all the difference in a skyline photograph. The picture can be the entire view of the skyline from ground level, the view from atop a tall building, or even a partial view framing one or two of the most well-known landmarks.

There really are no rules when it comes to how skyline photographs should look. However, some simple tips to obtain a captivating skyline shot include using no flash and letting the natural light reflect off of the buildings, taking photos at different times of the day to make use of the varied lighting conditions, calibrating for proper exposure by turning the camera to spot metering mode, if using a DSLR, making use of a tripod and remote to decrease the chances of having a blurry shot, composing the photograph using the rule of thirds, and focusing on a major landmark.

There are thousands of city skyline photographs available online through Flickr and Google Images. Some skyline enthusiasts have even started their own websites with collections of photographs, such as worldcityphotos.org, which has over 12,000 photos from hundreds of cities worldwide; skylineproject.org, a visual catalog of dozens of city skylines in the United States; and 70 examples of cityscape photography on spoonfeddesign.com. Others still are capitalizing on the interest in skyline photography by selling posters and prints of the more recognizable cities.

But whether you decide to take your own skyline photographs or choose to admire other people’s work, there’s something really special about city skyline photography. Enjoy the photographs for the art and the buildings for their architectural splendor.