Cityscape and Citylapse with Smartphones

Cityscape photography is about photographing the cities or towns, the subject can be buildings, monuments, streets, traffics and people. During daytime, smartphones perform great because light is sufficient. When it comes to night time, it becomes challenging due to low light condition and artificial light that creates high contrast scenes. However, modern smartphones have high dynamic range and RAW format support that lead to great cityscape photos.

Requirements

1. Tripod – to keep phone steady during long exposure. Dolica AX620B100 62-Inch Proline Tripod and Ball Head is the type of tripod that I am using. It is solid enough for a smartphone.

2. Intervalometer – for shooting citylapse (city timelapse). There are no intervalometer devices for phones currently, but there is an Intervalometer app for Android phones and it works on any camera apps. 

Details on using this app : Intervalometer for Android

Link to Google Play

3. ND filter – for longer exposure/light trails effect. When the street light is too bright even ISO 100 and 1 second overexposes the images, ND filter is useful to reduce the amount of light. I use 37mm variable ND filter for smartphones to adjust the exposure for desired shutter speed. This is the type of ND filter that I am using:

Zomei 37MM Professional Camera CPL Circular Polarizer, Fader ND Variable Neutral Density with Clip for iPhone 6S, 6S Plus, Samsung Galaxy, and Android Smartphones

 

Setting

ISO is always set to 100 for better image quality and long exposure shots. Since the aperture is fixed, exposure is controlled by shutter speed only. To create light trails effect from the vehicles, shutter speed can be set to a few seconds (2 to 6 seconds). ND filter may be needed when longer exposure is needed to create light trails effect.

Post-processing

Post-processing of the RAW files can be done on Lightroom Mobile or Snapseed. (*All photos are taken on OnePlus 3)

ISO 100, 4 sec
ISO 100, 4 sec
ISO 100, 5 sec
ISO 100, 6 sec
ISO 100, 4 sec
ISO 100, 2.5 sec
ISO 100, 13 sec
ISO 100, 15 sec
ISO 100, 13 sec

Timelapse

For time-lapse shooting, Intervalometer app is used to automate photo taking process. Post-processing of each frame and video rendering were done in Adobe Lightroom and LRTimelapse software on PC.

Setting: ISO 100, 2 seconds

Long exposure timelapse with ND filter

Setting: ISO 100, 6 seconds, interval of 8 seconds