A street scene from Berck Plage, northern France.
Most of my images have a very strong nature theme to them. This is partly because I spend a lot of time wandering around on beaches, in woodlands, near rivers and in parks. But another reason is that while I love the look of gritty urban landscapes, I'm not very well practiced in capturing them.

Unless you're shooting moving subjects, natural scenes are usually pretty generous with their time and an unfolding scene will often be available for a few days. Urban landscapes to me are much harder to capture that way I'd like to - sometimes I get it right but too often my own images come out looking flat, not quite the right angle, not quite the right atmosphere. I applaud the skill of those who can add a special magic to scenes of a rainy gutter, dingy graffiti or concrete jungle. While I see many moments I'd like to capture, often the moments are fleeting; the sparkle of streetlights under a passing shower, the fall of shadows on a building facade, the red shoes walking past you. With a photographers eye, the world is constantly broken up into scenes, moments, contrasts, lines, patterns and colours - but more often than not I fall for the big and obvious tourist icons when visiting a city, rather than capturing the small details that make up the character of a place (which is often why I prefer towns to cities as the absence of any major icons means my focus is shifted elsewhere).
Looking for inspiration at the city bus-stop, Darwin Australia
My best experiments in urban grit have been, I must admit,  recently improved by the magic of Lightroom presets (especially my favourite 80s film fade preset). I once balked at the idea of spending money on presets, but would instead spend 90 minutes adding layers and textures in Photoshop (and then promptly forgetting all the steps, yay). These days I have Lightroom instead of Photoshop, a disposable income and a hankering to spend less time sitting in front of a screen (seriously, it is totally messing with my eyesight and posture). A couple of bottles of wine worth of presets bought a few weeks ago has already saved me hours of time in workflow mode.
A decayed building in Te Aroha, New Zealand
Some of my other experiments in urban photography can be found here, more urban than gritty to be honest but it's a fun alternative subject matter to experiment with, and one I plan to try out more often.
Political street art in Hong Kong

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