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Step-by-step: Capturing a Cool, Early Morning Landscape Shot

Adjusting white balance (WB) is key to reproducing the coolness of the early morning. Additionally, put some thought into the angle of view and composition used and you could achieve an impressive shot. Learn from the author’s trial and error process as he experiments before finally achieving this cool-looking, early morning shot.  (Report by: Masatsugu Korikawa)

EOS 5D Mark II/EF17-40mm f/4L USM/FL: 17mm/Aperture Priority AE (f/8, 1/350 sec, EV ±0)/ISO 1600/WB: 4,800K

Capturing a construction landscape on photo as a record

There is an endless stream of young people who have spent the night out in the wee hours of a public holiday around Shibuya station where construction and repair work has started. However, a moment of calm descends upon the place for a short while after the first train of the day moves out. It is a scene that will disappear once the construction work has ended. Leaving behind a proper record of such a scene is what a photo should be able to accomplish. I also wanted to take the shot in the early morning when the place was not swamped with people around the station, on a day so clear it was almost as if you could look through it into the future.

Although the place I actually chose for the shot was on top of a pedestrian bridge on the east exit of Shibuya station, there were almost no people passing by during this time so I was able to freely try out various camera angles and compositions. The photo at the beginning of this article was the shot I captured after taking my time to try out different camera positions. Next, with the help of some shots from my trial and error process, I will explain the points that you’ll need to take note of with regards to the angle of view, composition and white balance to help you capture such a shot.


Point 1: Angle of view – Use a wide-angle perspective to create an impact that extends to the background

Shot lacks a sense of perspective

This shot above was taken at 3pm, at a focal length of 24mm. A change in the time and focal length made a big difference in the look and atmosphere of the place in the photo.  Although the pedestrians could accentuate the shot, the focal length of 24mm somehow made the shot lack the perspective that would make it appear to extend all the way into the background.


Point 2: Composition - Approach an element in the foreground to emphasise the depth

Bulletin board lacks impact

The shooting position is closer to the left and slightly higher than the main photo. The picture lacked an overall sense of perspective as the bulletin board on the right was low and appeared flat. In addition, the reflection of the blue sky in the handrail of the pedestrian bridge, which plays an important role as an accent, could not be obtained. I moved to the right, adjusted the camera level, and adjusted the shot so that the handrail of the pedestrian bridge was fully captured.


Point 3: WB - Express the refreshing sensation of the early morning by setting it to 4,800K

Shot taken with WB set to auto

Now that the composition is well-balanced, next comes the colour finishing. Although I wanted to use a bluish tone to convey the refreshing sensation of the early morning, t the bluish tone became too strong when I used the Tungsten WB setting. Hence, I used the auto WB mode instead, and set the colour temperature slightly lower here so that the bluish tone would appear stronger. An auto WB setting of 6,250K results in the photo shown above, so I adjusted it to 4,800K instead.



Masatsugu Koorikawa

Born in Nara. Besides taking portrait and merchandise photos for camera and music magazines, Koorikawa also releases works with the waterfront of Tokyo Bay as the theme.


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