City at night: photography tips for taking atmospheric images of urban areas

City at night: photography tips for atmospheric images of buildings and landmarks

How to edit your night cityscapes

How to edit your night cityscapes: step 1

01 Adobe Camera Raw edits
Download our start image and follow along! Open cityscape_start.dng. Set the Temperature slider to 7650 to warm the image up, then set Exposure to +0.95 to brighten the shot. Set Highlights to -60 to pull back some of the overexposed highlights, and set Shadows to +60 to add some ‘fill light’ to the darker areas. Set Contrast to +30, Clarity to +35 and Saturation to +10.


How to edit your night cityscapes: step 8

02 Crop and straighten
Click and hold on the Crop tool icon in the toolbar and choose the 2 to 3 ratio, then crop the image to lose the fence at the bottom and tidy up the edges. Next select the Straighten tool and draw a line along the top of the river wall, then click Enter to crop and straighten the image. Click Open Image to open the image in Elements’ Expert/Full Edit workspace.


How to edit your night cityscapes: step 3

03 Sample a sky colour
We’ll use a gradient to enhance the top part of the sky. Add a new layer, then click the foreground colour swatch in the Tools panel to open the Color Picker. Move your cursor over the sky – it’ll change to an eyedropper – and click to sample a dark blue tone, then click the circle in the colour field and drag it right and down to select a darker and more saturated blue.


How to edit your night cityscapes: step 4

04 Draw a gradient
Select the Gradient tool. In the Options panel click the Edit button and choose the Foreground to Transparent option, then click the Linear Gradient button and check Transparency.

How to edit your night cityscapes: step 4Draw a short gradient from the top of the dome of St Paul’s to the tops of the buildings below, then change the layer’s blending mode to Overlay to blend the gradient in. To fine-tune the contrast add a Levels adjustment layer, and set the Shadows slider to 8 and Midtones to 1.05.

PAGE 1: How to shoot a night city scene
PAGE 2: How to edit your night cityscapes
PAGE 3: Other ways to shoot urban areas at twilight


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  • i don’t think you can use a tripod on the streets of london tho haha