My photographer guru Scott Kelby has written something to the effect that no self-respecting photographer will shoot outdoor pictures in the middle of the day. The blue hour and altogether the light around sunrise and sunset is the only light worth using.
Well, even though he's my guru, and even though I of course agree that those times of day are the best to shoot in, I have two problems with that: 1) using HDR you can do a lot to compensate for the harsh light of mid-day, and 2) if I could only shoot during those early and late hours, I'd hardly shoot at all. I know that part of it is laziness and unwillingness to get up early enough to catch the sunrise, or lift my butt from the couch in the evening. But when photography is not your main occupation, real life just makes it very difficult to get out there with your camera when you ought to. And even if you do have the opportunity, the weather might be a hindrance, especially in a country such as mine where it seems a thick cloud layer will often block any magical light that the sun might otherwise have served you with.
So, I'm sorry, Mr. Kelby, but I will continue to shoot even when the sun is high in the sky and the shadows are harsh and try to make the best of it. That's why the other day I ventured into Copenhagen to spend some time doing a little mid-day urban photo exploration -despite a clear blue sky and Scott Kelby's admonitions - and here's what happened:
The above is a revisit of a motif I shot months ago with my cell phone: the corner of Danish Industry's HQ in downtown Copenhagen. The original picture went on to become my most popular submission to YouPic so far, much to my own suprise. Well, I wanted to do it again with my "real" camera and it turned out pretty well too.
This one is my favorite from that day: the underneath of a new elevated bike path among modern glass facades. Conditions were difficult for taking pictures with, indeed, harsh shadows and even harsher sun reflections in the water. This was put together from three different shots.
Another revisit of a scene I took with my cell phone more than a year ago that turned out really well. This isn't too shabby either. And yes, while I think this mid-day picture is perfectly fine, I can only imagine how gorgeous that glass facade must look in a beautiful, colorful sunset.
A canal in the part of Copenhagen called Christianshavn. The canals were one of my main objectives of the day, too, but I didn't quite find the right spots. This one turned out okay, but the light definitely was a challenge that again required three different exposures put together to overcome the shadows and the highlights.
One of the things I realized on that day was that urban photography is often made difficult because of all the cars that are everywhere and that just get in the way of all the interesting buildings and other objects. Here I tried to make them work to my advantage in how the shiny metal contrasts the old buildings.
Finally, you may ask, where are all the people? Isn't that an important part of taking pictures in the city? Well, maybe. But that's where the landscape photographer in me takes control. In landscape photography, people are usually just in the way. So on that day at least, I avoided places with lots of people. Maybe that will be a challenge for another day.