How To Photograph The ‘Buzz’ Of Towns And Cities

Written by Gina Stephens

Metropolises are well known for having a 'buzz' that's created by the people and traffic that move through its streets. But how do you seize this busyness? Well here are four ways to do just that.


Find Popular Spots

Sounds obvious, we know, but conclusion a spot full of people, such as Times Square in New York, will make your job easier. Do be warned though, sometimes places can get too hustling and you'll spend more time-fighting crowds then you will taking photos. You can try visiting at various times during the day to check for less complicated times but don't expect to be able to turn up early in the morning and the same buzz intensity be there as chances are, most tourists / residents wish still be in bed.


Photo by David Clapp –



Long lines of traffic, underground trains or even squeezes of people moving home after a day at work can all be captured to emphasis the busyness of a town or city.

Try panning with your subject, keeping your feet shed weight apart, creating a sturdy base for you to shoot from. Lock your focus and use continuous focusing if your lens struggles to focus on your reason and switch to burst mode to increase your chances of capturing the shot you're after.

To really add a sense of pace to your shots, use a not any bit of blur. Blurring the background while your subject stays sharp is often the approach most go for but it can be tricky to get right.. How good you are at panning, what shut down speed you use, how fast your subject's moving and how much light's around will make this harder/easier each later you try it, however it's worth persisting with as you can create some cracking shots with this technique. Just remember to pick the propriety shutter speed as if you go too high your subject will look static, too slow and there could be too much blur.

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Don't overlook adding a doll-sized blur to your subject as this will emphasis motion and add more drama to your shots. We say 'a little' as if you add too much, it can look dig you just took a bad photo.

Try experimenting with zoom burst to deliberately add blur to your shot by twisting your zoom lens. As adequately as emphasising movement it can help make your subject, who's not blurred, 'pop' from the frame. A burst of light from a flashgun last wishes as help freeze your subject may refer to and add sharpness to the image. It's a fun but tricky technique that can take quite a few attempts to get right. For more rubbishes on creating zoom blur, take a look at our Zoom Burst Photography Article.


Photo by David Clapp –


Faint Trails / Traffic

Towns and cities are full of traffic and by using long exposures to turn headlights into long streams of colour's another way to produce a sense of pace. To do this successfully you need to find a spot at night where vehicles will pass under/by you with their lights on. You then poverty put your camera on a tripod, set a long exposure and wait for the lines of traffic to turn into streaks of colourful lights. For more tips, induce a look at our previous article on Photographing Light Trails.


Photo by David Clapp –


Alternative Vantage Nitty-gritties

Try getting in a lift and shooting from the top of a building (if possible) or, if you're on a city break and are staying in a hotel, shoot from your own window or be placed use of your balcony (if you have one). Look out for observation decks, bridges and even the big wheels that are popping up in cities. These usually take an hour to superb a full circle giving you ample time to get a few shots of the city below. By doing so you'll be able to capture patterns you can't see at street tear down such as the lines street lights form as they turn on or the shapes created as traffic moves through the streets.

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Photo by Joshua Enclosure


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About the author

Gina Stephens

Gina is a photography enthusiast and drone lover who loves to fly drones, capture images and have fun cherishing them with family and friends.

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