Urban & Architecture Photography


Posts in Tips
5 tips on how to take good photographs in the harsh midday sun

Sunny days are generally not great for photography.  The harsh light can make it very difficult to create good photographs but we should learn to use whatever conditions are available to our best use.  There are lots of techniques and ideas you can do to help in these conditions.

1 - Use a prime lens - the lack of zoom just gives one less variable to worry about when composing your shots... to be honest I prefer primes at the best of times but when the conditions are not ideal (for my needs) a prime is a definite.

2 - Bung on a polarizer - this will kill a lot of the reflections that ruin shots.

3 - Lower expectations - accept the conditions are not your friend here - I'm hardly going to get beautiful soft light at 2pm when the sun is blazing... this can take an unusually long time for us photographers to accept!

4 - Experiment! - I try and use the conditions to my advantage; try out unusal compositions, or including shadows and reflections.  Strong graphical elements can really stand out if you utilise strong sunlight

5 - Plan for later - It's a lovely day, so if I can't get the shot I want now... I make a note and come back later.  The Tyre Distributor image above is a prime example of this.  I like this shot but I know I can work it better on a cloudier day.  I have a 'Locations' folder in Lightroom where I squirrel away ideas I have to return to at a later date

Photographing Glasgow's Creatives

Following on from my last post about my project photographing artists and creatives based in Glasgow, I carried out my second shoot at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS).


I was photographing John, a Greek student who is studying composition at RCS.  The main purpose of the shoot was to try and capture John in his 'working' environment.  We took a lot of environmental portraits of John tuning piano and at work in his studio, however, the shots we snatched in a poorly light hallway - only lighting was tungsten roof lights - were my favourites from the shoot.  They may look a bit raw but I think the capture John perfectly.

I only used my DSLR, two lenses, and a 5 in 1 reflector for all images with ISO boosted to around the 800 mark to get enough light in the camera.  I felt flash would have been too distracting to John and other students.   so I was basically working with the light (or lack of it) available.

I have a load of new shoots lined up for the near future so there should be a good amount of progress made in the next few months.  If you think you might be interested in taking part just message me here.

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Eight things I learned shooting environmental portraits

It has taken me a very long time but I have finally got a project off the ground.  Okay, its been in the back of mind for a long time but I finally made a start.


Over the course of the next few months I will be photographing artists from in and around Glasgow.  I want to try and show the vast variety of creative people living and working in Glasgow.  Whether they are a painter, a potter, a photographer, a sculptor or a … you get the idea,  I want to try and get a glimpse in to how these people work, what are their methods, similarities, differences, and what it is that pushes them to create their art.

I put the call out on Facebook for artists who would like to be photographed in their working studio and I have already got a lot of interest and carried out my first shoot last week, and immediately I realised this is going to be a steep learning curve.  I did my first shoot with Scottish Landscape Artist Scott Naismith.  It was fantastic see Scott working on his vivid landscapes in his studio - I really appreciate you making the time Scott.

What I learned in my first shoot

  1. PLAN BETTER - I thought I would be able to turn up, get to know my collaborator, and capture at least a few images of them at work.

  2. YOU NEED TO WORK FAST – I am used to working at more leisurely pace, planning a shot, taking my time with composition – time does not exist when working with an artist in their moment, you need to be stealthy, fast and know when to pick your moment

  3. BE CAREFUL OF BACKGROUND CLUTTER – I found it nigh on impossible to get a clutter free shot in the studio.  I managed to get some nice shots of the artist at work only for the background to be too cluttered or a brightly lit screen background ruining the shot.

  4. SHOOT LOTS OF CLOSE-UPS – artists use all sorts of interesting stuff – photograph them – you can make some nice abstract shots from these things

  5. BE CAREFUL OF REFLECTIONS – with so many different tools in use some are bound to be metal and give off some harsh reflections

  6. MY NIFTY FIFTY IS FANTASTIC - the Nikkor 50mm 1.8G is a dream lens, so flexible, lets in so much light, and pretty cheap too - buy one!

  7. KNOW WHEN TO TALK – and when to be quiet, when my collaborator was in the groove I let him be.

  8. YOU NEED TO ENJOY IT – working with other people really opened my eyes to new areas of photography I never considered before.

I have already got three more shoots arranged with different artists, with a loy more planned for November and Ican't wait to continue.  If you think you might be interested in taking part just message me here.

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How to make better cityscape photos: look for layers

First things first, I know this isn't a 'killer' shot.  Its nice enough but hardly likely to win any awards.  What I do like about though it is that it doesn't look like Glasgow.  It has a bit of a Parisian feel I think.  The mix of different architectures gives shot a timeless look. 

View from Macintosh Tower, The Lighthouse, Glasgow

View from Macintosh Tower, The Lighthouse, Glasgow

What interested me the most about this shot before I took it is the different layers which can be seen within it.  Each of which adds depth to the image.  Fore example:

  • Layer 1: Victorian architecture in the foreground

  • Layer 2: The black tin building on the roof tops

  • Layer 3: A glimpse of 'old Edinburgh' - similar to layer 1 but more aged

  • Layer 4: Modern blocks in background and sky

What do you think, would looking for layers in your cityscape images help you?  Do you have any other techniques for cityscapes to share?

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