Compact camera tutorial

Cities are diverse places. The feelings they provoke in residents and visitors are as complex as their infrastructure. Our tutorials this month show how you can capture people’s feelings to convey a perspective which reveals something about real urban lives. By showing people in your photography you can tell richer stories about city life, rather than simply shooting buildings or landmarks.

• Shooting easy city portraits
• Try zooming in to shoot city portraits
• Capture your subject’s smile
• Get to know Aperture priority mode
• Freeze motion shots
• Using the PowerShot ND filter

Shooting easy city portraits

IXUS cameras have Portrait modes that optimise the camera settings to make great portraits. Simply choose this mode and let the camera do the work. Then you’ll just need to find lively and interesting characters that define a city and its people. Markets, morning commutes, shopping streets, cafes and squares are all potentially interesting places to photograph residents of a city as they go about their day.

Try zooming in to shoot city portraits

Set your camera to maximum zoom. This will compress the scene and make your subject stand out from the urban environment in the background. You may need to step back a little further if your camera has a large zoom range.

City Portraits - Canon
Farhad Sadykov
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Capture your subject’s smile

On some IXUS or PowerShot models, you can activate your camera’s Smart Shutter feature to automatically take a picture when your subject smiles. This allows your camera to study the subject’s face and when a smile is detected the picture is taken automatically. Take the opportunity to talk with the person being photographed and the picture will be captured automatically.

Get to know Aperture priority mode

Some of the more advanced Canon PowerShot cameras have Aperture priority (Av) mode. This is often the best choice for taking portraits. The aperture controls the depth of field; smaller numbers give less depth of field, which is good for separating the subject from the surroundings. Larger aperture value such as f/8 will give more depth of field to allow the person and the background to both be sharp in the picture.

Freeze motion shots

Capturing the fast paced life of city inhabitants may require faster action-freezing shutter speeds. Use the Shutter priority (Tv) mode and select a fast shutter speed to freeze motion, and use an automatic ISO setting to increase the ISO when needed.

City Portraits - Canon
Farhad Sadykov
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Using the PowerShot ND filter

G-series PowerShot cameras often include a neutral density (ND) filter that is activated from the camera menu. This is an optical element that reduces the brightness of the light being captured. It allows the aperture to be open to the maximum for reduced depth of field even in bright conditions. Less depth of field is commonly used in portraits.

At night the ND filter can also be used for a really long exposure. Set the camera to Aperture priority and use a tripod or other support to add motion blur to the scene. Activate the flash to light the main subject. They will need to stand still for a second or two but the result is a picture that combines both movement in the background and a frozen subject in the foreground.

Submit your shot to our You Connect Gallery

If you've felt inspired to capture portraits of people in the city, 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.