Quick Tip – Cityscape Exposure Compensation


When photographing a cityscape your largest challenge is going to be achieving the proper exposure.  If you follow the exposure meter in your camera you’ll be left with the lighting on top of buildings so bright you will hardly be able to read the signs.  The best way to combat this is to adjust your exposure as much as one stop below what the camera’s exposure meter is telling you is properly exposed.  Once you get home you can lighten the photograph in Photoshop if needed (most of the times you will not need to).

Crop of top photograph that was underexposed.

The photograph at the top of this page has been underexposed while the photograph below has not.  Notice in the top right corner of the photograph there is the BNY Mellon building and it’s sign is legible (even though it’s very far away).  The BNY Mellon sign in the bottom photograph (not underexposed) is left unreadable and blown out by the bright light of the sign.


Most cameras have a simple exposure adjustment that once you dial in the correct exposure you can under or over expose at the press of a button.  Give it a try next time you’re out and about the city and share your success with us via the Photo Journal Challenge by clicking the Submit an Article link at the top of the page (under the Articles tab).

Crop of bottom photograph that has not been underexposed, leaving the signs unreadable.
Crop of bottom photograph that has not been underexposed, leaving the signs unreadable.
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2 replies on “Quick Tip – Cityscape Exposure Compensation”
  1. says: Alex McIl

    You know. I never considered under exposing for night photography. It might seem counter intuitive considering it is a night shot, but I guess it also makes sense because the contrasting lights seems brighter due to the darkness.

    Will need to give this. My night photos are horrible, but these ones are amazing.

    Thanks for the info.

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