Cityscape, Lower Manhattan

When we think of landscapes we tend to imagine wide-open vistas or dramatic mountains. But what about urban landscapes? Cities can be every bit as dramatic as the natural world and at least as dynamic. Not only do light and seasons change as in any landscape but the constant flow of people gives cities a serious buzz.

New York, especially, has a unique geography. Since Manhattan is an island the city has had to grow tall. That height, surrounded by water with its bridges and boats, makes New York a great place to photograph the urban landscape.

Get a mid-level city view.

Usually cities are seen from street level—standing at the bottom of narrow canyons of buildings. It can feel restrictive and dark. To bring life to an urban landscape sometimes the photographer needs to find a mid-level view that gives an intimate perspective.

There is a magical time of day after the sun goes down but before it gets completely black. There is enough light to still see the city but the buildings glow with interior light. Mid-level is still close enough to feel the experience of the city without looking down on it. In any city there will be publicly accessible bars and restaurants that let you look into the city. Google Maps is a great resource for finding places like this. Before visiting a city spend some time looking at map views of it for publicly accessible places that might give that mid-level view.

This photo is shot from the James Hotel in lower Manhattan. A wide-angle lens gives the photograph and the city a sense of space.