The Urban Landscape

What is it?

Urban means “related to cities.” It may refer to:

  • Urban area, geographical area distinct from rural areas
  • Urban culture, the culture of towns and cities

So is an urban landscape is simply a landscape of a city? Or is it more than that?

With any form of photography the photo captures a moment in time, its a record of what was there at that specific point in time.  However, to make a photo interesting to the audience it must be more than just a record.

Cities contain many buildings, good and bad architecture; shapes; patterns; people and culture.  Urban landscape is therefore a wide subject that could encompass the elements of both the physical and cultural aspects of a city.

Some ideas and tips for Urban landscape, one of my favourite photographic subjects:-

  1. Don’t stay at street level, many cities have higher up vantage points, multi story car parks, public viewing floors in skyscrapers.
  2. Beware converging verticals – read more here.
  3. Capture the scale and size of buildings, but include some reference point to allow the viewer to understand the scale, a lone figure, group of people, or a car perhaps.
  4. Colour or mono?  Think about the scene in both colour and mono.  Patterns and textures work well in mono, but a series of grey brick buildings can look very drab without a splash of colour.
  5. Remember composition is key to all good images, including urban landscape.  Look for shapes and lines to really lead the viewer into and around your image.  Especially if its a busy street scene.
  6. Have fun!

I include below a few examples of the differing styles of Urban Landscape, all are taken from my own archive and may have appeared on my blog in the last few months.

The first shot is a narrow crop of a series of arches, leading somewhere, taking the eye through the man made tunnel.  The strong patterns from the dark brickwork are countered by the splashes of colour from the street art.  Obviously urban, and including both physical elements of the arches and the cultural elements of street art.


The second image is celebrating the architecture of Kings Cross station in London, an obviously man made, urban structure which has strong patterns and colour built into its design.


The mono conversion of the alley in Greenwich, London works well. The lack of colour here emphasises the patterns,  shapes and tones, often lost in a busy full colour image.  The inclusion of people gives the image a street feel and helps draw the eye into the back of the alley, as does the strip of three cobblestones leading part way into the image. A strong message is added by the “traditional” sign suggesting this is a typical old style street.


Finally, perhaps emphasising in a broader sense the “Landscape” part of the theme, is a wide-angle shot of the rooftops of Coventry city centre, on a rainy day. The circular car park in the foreground adding contrast to the straight lines of the middle distance.  The shot was taken from a restaurant with the rain drops on the window unavoidable, but adding to the feel of the image with its moody heavy sky.

Coventry Market

I am really looking forward to seeing the entries for this round of the competition and the interpretation of the Urban Landscape theme.  If I could I would enter myself!

Adrian Pym


Filed under Photography, Photography Competition, Tips & Tricks

10 responses to “The Urban Landscape

  1. Ron Scubadiver

    Good series.

  2. All great captures Adrian..

  3. Great post. Here is one of my photo essay that might interest you. Let me know what you think. –


    Wonderful Blog!

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