Exploring city photography with your compact camera

Compact camera tutorial

Your IXUS or PowerShot is an excellent choice for capturing city people and urban landscapes throughout the day or night. They’re easy to pack in your pocket or bag, are small enough to take candid shots without being obtrusive and all offer a wide range of shooting options so you can get creative.

Changing City-Traffic Blur

© Johan Liénard

Changing focus

In large cities with crowds of people it can be difficult to focus on distant subjects. Your camera will often find close subjects in the way and focus on them instead. For example, IXUS cameras automatically focus on the closest subject to the camera. In crowded locations you might want to zoom further in to the scene.

The latest IXUS models offer variable focus points, AF-Point zoom and Continuous AF, enabling you to capture sharp images of everything from large crowds, portraits of people on the move or small, evocative details of city life

Small details make powerful images

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St Paul’s & Millennium Bridge by Alan Keating

Photographing a city is often about the small details which make it unique. It can be good to visit a city’s markets and photograph things on sale (and the people selling them).

Besides capturing things that are different to those where you live, you can also shoot items, which are icons of a particular city, for example Seville oranges, Parisian baguettes or bratwurst in Berlin.

Tip: For small items, use the focus button to select the macro or close-up mode (it’s the button with the flower or MF symbol) and then make sure you get close to the subject so it fills the frame.

In Smart Auto mode the camera should switch to Macro automatically. Simply hold the camera still for about a second or so and you should see the icon on the top right of your screen switch to a flower.

Shoot the same scene at different times

If time allows, photos of the same part of the city at different times of day will show the pace of life and how it changes.

With time to spare in the city you can choose to revisit a location at different times of the day to capture the changing people and light. Just three or four pictures taken at equally-spaced intervals throughout the day can give a sense of how the city changes.

Shooting moving subjects

When shooting moving subjects like people walking across a bridge or piazza, it is better to keep the camera still and turn the flash off – this will cause the camera to select longer shutter speeds to enhance the movement of the subject. When attempting this kind of picture look out for surfaces and places where the camera can be placed or held for maximum stability. If you have a PowerShot and feel confident in your photography, try experimenting with Shutter priority mode (Tv) if your camera has this feature. It allows you to adjust the shutter speed and explore your creativity.

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Harlem Line Departures by Erich Poole

Be prepared

Make sure your camera and you are ready to shoot the city throughout the day and night. Regardless of your camera type or model, it’s wise to keep your battery charged and have plenty of room on your memory card so you don’t miss a precious shot.

Submit your shot to our Gallery

If you've felt inspired to capture the changing face of a city over 24 hours, why not send your photos to our You Connect Gallery? It's where we showcase and share our favourite images sent in by the Canon community. Upload your photos.

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