Lakeshore Drive Bridge – How to get different moods for cityscapes

Time of day is a key element of shooting cityscapes. While you can definitely get great cityscapes in the middle of the day, my favorite time to shoot cityscapes is around sunrise or sunset. The light is softer and the city looks more interesting. Let’s see the different types of light you can get early in the morning or late at night.

During our Chicago workshop, we shoot from the Lakeshore Drive bridge at sunrise. We make sure to arrive about 45 minutes before sunrise to catch blue hour, that magical time between night and day, where the sky takes a deep blue shade.

Blue hour

I love that time because the light is balanced between the city lights and the sky. Blue hour is usually 20-50 min after sunset or before sunrise (time and duration can vary depending on season and location relative to the equator).

Then, just before sunrise (or just after sunset), if you have clouds, they can get those pretty orange and red tones. At that point, the city lights don’t show very well, but the light is very soft and the clouds can be amazing!


Finally, the first hour after sunrise (or last hour before sunset) provides amazing warm light. It’s call the Golden Hour. The key is to have the sun in your back. For example, this location only works in the morning, as we are facing west. In the evening, you would shoot with the sun in your face.

Golden Hour

As you can see, the light and mood are very different depending on when you are shooting. When we’re shooting a cityscape location, we like to take our time and shoot these three lighting situations. The weather can change in the span of an hour, providing clouds, clearing up, etc.

Our Chicago workshop is on October 26-28. We’ll photograph the best architecture in the city, as well as at least 3 cityscape location at sunrise/sunset. Get $100 off with the code EARLYBIRD until June 30. More information here.



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