TOURIST HOTSPOTS, which often consist of a single landmark like the Eiffel Tower or Big Ben, are some of the most photographed locations on the planet. This makes it tricky to capture a unique and original image from an angle that no one has thought of before. But with a creative eye and some imagination it is possible to find a new perspective.
When you arrive on location, don't fall into the trap of immediately grabbing your camera and firing off hundreds of ill thought-out images. This is the classic tourist approach, and it's likely to yield snapshots instead of creative or inventive images. Instead, leave your camera in your bag and take a few minutes to scout out the area, focusing on places where there aren't many people. The temptation is to shoot from as close as you can get, but moving back 100-200m can really pay off.
You might even find a great angle by using a telephoto lens from a much greater distance. The Eiffel Tower photographs beautifully from Montparnasse Tower, which is 1.5 miles away, and from the Sacré Coeur, which is 3 miles away!
Look for natural frames to form a border around your landmark. These could be a bridge, a doorway, a tree branch, or even a gap between two buildings. If you're struggling, go into a nearby café and frame your landmark through the window. Natural frames can play havoc with your exposure, so it's best to switch to centre-weighted metering. This will ensure the camera exposes for whatever is in the middle of the frame.
Look around you
At popular tourist landmarks, everyone's eyes are fixed on the main attraction. But the surrounding area can sometimes offer real photographic opportunity.
Your job is to use your artistic eye to see the world in a new way, capturing images that others don't notice. And even if you don't get any award winners, at least they'll be original, and that's crucial to developing your own style.
If you're struggling to find a new take on your subject, try giving your images renewed interest by working at night or in misty conditions.
Or shoot from an elevated position such as the top of another building, or from ground-level for an unusual angle, where a tilting screen will help when composing.
Keep it clean
As a general rule, your shots will be more effective if you keep the mas minimal as possible. Avoid having both cars and people in the frame, and eliminate any unnecessary elements by adjusting your crop. In very busy locations, crop anything at street-level out of frame, and place your landmark against the sky.
“LOOK OUT FOR FRAMES TO CREATE A BORDER AROUND YOUR SUBJECT...”
Expert advice Convert to black & white for extra impact
If your image doesn't quite work in colour, why not try converting it to mono instead. Architectural photography is particularly well suited to black & white, as when colour is stripped out, the viewer's attention is focused fully on the lines, shapes, curves and patterns of the structure. This is especially true on overcast days when there's lots of texture and character in the sky.
There are lots of ways to convert to mono in Photoshop, so if you already have a preferred method, stick with it. If not, open your image and go to Image>Adjustments>Black & White. Then adjust any of the six colour channels. If shooting on a blue sky day, moving the Blue and Cyan channels to the left to darken the sky can be very effective.
WORK IN GOLDEN HOUR
Working at the start and end of the day gives a soft, golden light and lots of long shadows, which tends to produce attractive images.
Find a unique angle
With different creative approaches, a single landmark such as the Eiffel Tower can be photographed very differently by changing the angle, distance, foreground, framing and composition. Being inventive with how you shoot is more likely to get you a unique and eye-catching shot.