I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, photographing at night is one of my favorite times of the day to shoot. The obvious thing to shoot is the night sky. But there are so many other things that come to life at night! One of those things is photographing a city skyline.

We’ve had the good fortune to visit many different cities during our travels around the USA. From very small to very large and each has something to offer photographically. But the beauty of a large city skyline at night is something to see! It’s beautiful during the daytime hours as well, but the night shots are almost always more appealing visually (at least in my opinion). Here are two image as examples. The first during late afternoon and the other, at the same location, at night.

While both images, in my opinion, are good photos, the second image, taken at night, is more visually appealing to me. The barge in the first image really helps with its appeal, however. Wouldn’t be nearly as interesting without it. What do you think?

The best time to shoot a skyline is during blue hour. Blue hour is the hour right after the sun sets. While the sun as set, there is still residual light coming from the horizon which makes the sky glow with a nice, blue light. Shooting later in the evening with a dark sky, while still nice, just isn’t as visually appealing to me. Also clouds can dramatically add a lot of appeal as well, particularly at sunset.

Austin, Texas during blue hour with some interesting clouds.

Do you need any special equipment? Absolutely not! Well, just a tripod if you don’t already own one. Otherwise any camera or even modern cell phones can take a great shot. I generally like to drag the shutter a bit if there is water and thus reflections involved (slower speeds smooth out the water). So I decrease my aperture to something like f/9 (or higher if you like star bursts), drop my ISO to something like 200, and then set a shutter speed to something like 3 seconds or so. Obviously each situation is different so experiment with various settings to see which you like best.

While out at night, walk some of the downtown streets (if you feel safe to do so). They are often lit as well and can make for some interesting shots as well.

Have fun!

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