Internally Illuminated Streetscapes

One of the challenges of narrow streets lined with tall buildings is that they are typically brightly lit on one side, and in deep shade on the other. Higher dynamic range cameras is helping to make such shots easier, as can good RAW image editors, but one time-honored solution is to shoot such scenes after sunset, by their own internal lighting. This creates a moody shot, and often a striking sky as well, producing a memorable image. A tripod is a good idea, but with with modern cameras, it is often possible to shoot such images freehand. The latest iPhone cameras are quite capable of such shots as well, when the HDR function is turned on.

The iPhone 6 image below captures a favorite Italian street well after sunset. The street lighting and arcade walkways lighting on both sides providing an even light that is brighter at the lower levels, and leaves a degree of mystery in the upper stories. The sky, with cloud contrast enhanced by the HDR setting, and image editing adjustments, is believable, but dramatic. The warmth of the arcade lighting on the building and the coolness of the skytones creates a dramatic yellow/blue color contrast. One point perspective adds to the power and drama of the shot. Overall, this creates an image that viewers much prefer to a daytime shot of the same scene.

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C. David Tobie

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