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Shooting Stunning Skylines

By C.S. Jones | Inspiration

Whether you live in an awesome city or you're traveling to a new one, cityscapes are the perfect way to capture it. They’re a good test of your eye when it comes to finding natural lighting and composition, and a really great way to hone your photography skills. No matter the time of day or your level of expertise, we're going to show you all the basic know-how when it comes to making your skyline photos really showcase the city. Then we'll show you how to make them really stand out with some editing magic in BeFunky's online Photo Editor

Shooting Basics

Your Vantage Point

Since it’s very hard to get a clear, complete view of any city’s skyline from ground level, you've got to find a spot that will allow you to capture it from afar. Whether that means climbing a hill, finding a nice, tall parking garage, or shooting from across a river, the perfect shot lies in your ability to frame the city with your camera lens. You might be tempted to nail that shot from a designated observation deck, but if you're in a touristy city where access to those things cost touristy prices, your best bet will probably be a good ol' parking garage. They’re usually tall enough, they’re everywhere, and people rarely think to shoot from them, so you’ll probably get a really unique shot.

Tampa, 2009

Composing The Perfect Shot

With your basic camera lens, you can only fit in so much of the city into your shot. For the most epic, all encompassing cityscape shots, we recommend popping on a wide-angle lens. Once you've found the perfect vantage point, that wide-angle lens will work its magic for you. 

You can also create unique images by taking the opposite approach; try to find a focal point and zoom in a bit.  Some people say that if you try to show everything, you’ll end up showing nothing, so pick the most interesting cluster of buildings and snap away instead of trying to fit the entire city into one shot. 

city-skyline-skyscrapers-top (1)

Pro Tip: Use the Crop tool to edit your photo's composition post-process! You'll find handy gridlines to help you crop photos using the rule of thirds, plus tons of pre-sized measurements for social media and more.

Cities At Night

With all of the light illuminating cities at night, the best way to still those glares is to use a tripod. Without a tripod, any tiny movement from your hand can turn a small light into a huge blur that's out to ruin the best of shots. But if you don’t have a tripod, find a flat surface you can set your camera on. Parking garages often have concrete barriers you can set your camera on (be careful not to drop the camera!), and you can really get creative with other surfaces you can makeshift into tripod status. 

As far as camera settings go, crank your aperture as high as possible and use a remote or self-timer to kill blur, making sure you capture all the details that make cityscape photos great.


Editing Your Cityscape Photos

Straighten Out Your Shots

The best skyline shots are perfectly straight. When the skyline is visibly crooked, you're epic cityscape can be distracting. The Rotate Tool in our Photo Editor is especially helpful for straightening out your shots in a pinch, and it will let you get meticulous since it lets you adjust the straightness in 1 degree increments. To straighten your shot, upload it into the Photo Editor and click on the Rotate tool in the Edits panel. 


From here you can rotate your photo entirely, flip it horizontally or vertically, or straighten it. Adjust the straighten slider left or right to straighten out your photo. The fancy grid lines that appear will help you make it perfectly straight.


Pro Tip: When you're straightening your shot, gridlines will appear for guidance. For perfect straightness, match them to the skyline or other reference point in your shot.

Enhance Your Colors

Most cityscape shots set their own moods with whatever the weather ends up being and the original coloring of the shot. That being said, there is still room to enhance the mood of your photo and really play on the colors that are already represented. 

The Beautify tool can easily be used to lift hidden details out of the shadows and make colors more vivid. This tool is a one-click wonder that automatically adds the perfect amount of contrast and saturation to your shot, making your colors look more bold and sharp. You can find it in the Edit panel in our Photo Editor.  


Just one click of the Beautify button automatically adjusts the contrast, sharpness, and color in your shot. Feel free to play around with the slider to increase or decrease the amount of beautification.


Add Some Effects

For BeFunky Plus users, we have over 300 gorgeous filters and photo effects to help make your photo really pop! We still have a limited selection for free users, but to gain access to every feature and effect under the sun, make sure you upgrade your account today. Being a Plus user will ensure every photo you edit, design you create, or collage you make will be undeniably epic, plus it costs less than one pumpkin spice latte per month, so you really can't lose. 

With a Plus account, you can add lens flares to your photo to make your sunrise and sunset photos really shine. Adding it to any photo will create a realistic, sun-drenched appearance, even if there was no sun in the shot to begin with. 


There are 16 different lens flare options to choose from, so pick your favorite and let the sunshine in.


With a whole library of effects to choose from, you can really have some fun with the colorization in your photos. For instance, in the Effect panel you will find 10 different Chromatic effects to choose from. These are meant to make your colors more uniform and moody. Here's our before shot.


After adding a little Chromatic action, the colors really stand out and change the whole mood of the photo:


You can also easily make a shot look more rustic and vintage with our Black & White filters. With eight different styles to choose from, you're sure to create the perfect vibe. Take this shot for example:


Adding a Black & White filter takes it back a few decades and changes the mood entirely: 


That's just a snippet of what you can do with your cityscape photos in our Photo Editor. Nail that perfect shot and see what you can do! 

Photo Editing, Simplified.

Photo Editing. Simplified