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How to get different moods for cityscapes

While you can definitely shoot great images in the middle of the day, the time of day is a key element of shooting cityscapes. My favorite time is around sunrise or sunset. The light is softer and the city just looks more interesting. What’s especially interesting to me is how much the light changes during the transition from day to night (or night to day).

In this post, I’m sharing images from the Lakeshore Drive bridge in Chicago, one of my favorite spots in the city. By arriving at least 45 minutes before sunrise, I made sure I would catch blue hour, that magical time between night and day, where the sky takes a deep blue shade.

I love that time because of the balance between the city lights and the sky. Blue hour is usually 20-45 minutes after sunset or before sunrise. The time and the duration vary depending on the season and your geographical location.

Then, if you’re lucky and you have the rights clouds, they will get some pretty orange/pink/red tones just before sunrise (or just after sunset). It’s less dramatic than during blue hour, but you get beautiful pastel tones and soft light.

Finally, you will get beautiful warm light during Golden Hour, the first hour after sunrise (or last hour before sunset). The key for Golden Hour is to have the sun in your back. For example, this location works much better in the morning, as you are facing west when shooting. In the evening, you would shoot with the sun in your face.

What’s your favorite time of day, or time of year, for cityscapes? Share in the comments!

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