Shoot Townscapes While Travelling

Alpha Tutorial :16 - Shoot Townscapes While Travelling

Focal length: 85 mm / F-number: 8.0 / Shutter speed: 1/800 sec

Focal length: 85 mm / F-number: 8.0 / Shutter speed: 1/800 sec

Townscapes in travel destinations which are not seen in your daily life are typical scenes of which to take photographs. This chapter provides some techniques to capture the atmosphere of such townscapes in photographs.

First, set the camera to the A-mode so that you can adjust the aperture, and shoot with a smaller aperture (around F8 if you are shooting in the daytime).

Considering the composition and how to crop

To capture the atmosphere of the town, take account of the composition first. In casual shooting while travelling, we often shoot on the wide-angle side (with shorter focal lengths), trying to include as many objects as possible in the frame. However, depending on the scene, shooting on the telephoto side (with longer focal lengths) can be better to convey the atmosphere. Here are some examples to explain this effect.

These photographs were shot at 16 mm, on the wide-angle side of a normal zoom lens.

These photographs were shot at 16 mm, on the wide-angle side of a normal zoom lens.

The building is emphasised in the photograph [1]. However, since one building occupies most of the area in the frame, the photograph does not properly convey the atmosphere you actually felt at the site. As in this example, if you shoot on the wide-angle side, objects in the foreground appear large, while objects in the background appear smaller than you actually see. This composition is fine if you want to highlight one building and make it look powerful. However, if you want to capture the entire atmosphere of the town and streets, try another composition.

In the photograph [2], also shot on the wide-angle side, most of the area is occupied by the building and ground. However, thanks to the "radial composition," with the end of the street in the centre of the frame, it has more depth compared with the photograph [1]. If you like such dynamic wide-angle photographs, take account of the direction of the streets when shooting.

Now, let's see how the impression changes if you shoot on the telephoto side.

Focal length: 50 mm / F-number: 8.0 / Shutter speed: 1/80 sec

Focal length: 50 mm / F-number: 8.0 / Shutter speed: 1/80 sec

This photograph is shot at 50 mm of a zoom lens. To bring both the foreground and the background into focus, the aperture value was set to F8. Also, to prevent the buildings from appearing tilted and giving an unstable impression in the photograph, the camera was securely held in the vertical position.

Shot on the telephoto side, the photograph successfully captures the characteristics of the town. Unlike the photograph shot on the wide-angle side, the building on the near side does not occupy a large area. Also, the street fits within 1/4 of the entire frame. Such composition gives a natural perspective to the photograph.

Focal length: 50 mm / F-number: 6.3 / Shutter speed: 1/80 sec

Focal length: 50 mm / F-number: 6.3 / Shutter speed: 1/80 sec

This photograph was also shot at 50 mm. Even in such a scene in which the cloudy sky could occupy a large area if shot on the wide-angle side, the townscape is captured in an angle of view close to the human eye by shooting on the telephoto side.

Focal length: 30 mm / F-number: 7.1 / Shutter speed: 1/60 sec / ISO: 160

Focal length: 30 mm / F-number: 7.1 / Shutter speed: 1/60 sec / ISO: 160

This technique to crop the part of the scene using the telephoto side is also effective for shooting from vantage points, as well as shooting the streets.

In front of the vista viewed from the vantage point, we often try to shoot the entire landscape on the wide-angle side.

In front of the vista viewed from the vantage point, we often try to shoot the entire landscape on the wide-angle side. However, if you crop the part of the landscape into the frame, you can take a photograph that can deliver the unique atmosphere of the town more effectively.

The photograph [1] was shot at 28 mm, with the zoom position slightly moved to the telephoto side with a normal zoom lens. From the entire town spreading out of the frame, only the most impressive part is captured in this frame. In the photograph [2], shot boldly at 135 mm, the entire frame is filled with houses.

With each house rendered at the proper size, this is also an interesting photograph that can convey the atmosphere.

In this way, cropping the distinctive part into the frame using the telephoto side is effective for conveying the atmosphere of the townscape. Make full use of the zoom lens to try with various focal lengths.

Trying high-magnification zoom lenses

Lenses categorised as "high-magnification zoom lenses" are convenient for travel. As a high-magnification zoom lens covers from wide angle to telephoto by itself, it can shoot impressive shots of travel scenes with various expressions. Also, as you don’t need to change the lens for each scene, you are less likely to miss shooting opportunities, and you can focus on enjoying your trip itself.

SAL18250
SAL18250

This is one of the most useful and versatile lenses for APS-C format cameras and can be used for an extremely wide spectrum of subjects. It offers an 18 mm wide end for scenic shots and a lot more reach at 250 mm for distant subjects. Two ED glass elements and two aspherical elements minimise flare and greatly reduce chromatic aberration, giving you sharp, clear shots even at full telephoto extension. Additionally, the internal focusing system allows the lens to focus more quickly and smoothly.

SEL18200LE
SEL18200LE

Significantly smaller and lighter than comparable lenses, this lens is perfect for a wide range of shooting situations. The broad focal length coverage of the lens, from 18 mm to 200 mm (27 mm to 300 mm in the 35 mm equivalent), makes it an ideal high-magnification "travel" lens. Optical SteadyShot technology cuts down on blurring caused by camera shaking when shooting in dark environments or at longer focal lengths.

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