Sights of Copenhagen

Posted by on Jun 2, 2013 in Travel | 7 comments

Sights of Copenhagen

I recently had the opportunity to travel to the city of Copenhagen for a work conference.  I couldn’t think of a better place to pack in my camera and go exploring in my free time…

No matter where you go whether it’s local or international, you are always sure to find some great subjects.  It could birds at the river, historic architecture, or sights that you have never seen before, it’s a great chance to capture images that I may not see again, and isn’t that the reason to have a camera…to be able to capture these once in a lifetime shots?  Due to baggage restrictions I had to pack light for my camera gear, so I packed in my Canon 7D, a single Canon 15-85 EFS IS lens, spare battery, charger, memory cards, circular polariser and some neutral density filters.  The 7D and 15-85 lens is a great travel setup, being not too heavy and able to shoot quickly if needed.  Copenhagen has a population of approx 1.9 million people and is the capital of Denmark.  The hotel I was staying at is on the edge of a river, and 90 percent of it was frozen over for the whole week that i was there.  Of course the week I was there, Copenhagen had the lowest temperature readings in 20 years for that time of the year, down to -8 degs!  It was cold enough to stop my on-camera flash working with-in 10 mins of shooting at the river!  The 7D worked fine, just the flash would not pop up (was getting an error code on the screen).  After I took it back into the warmth of the hotel for about 10 mins, it worked ok again.


The iced surface on the frozen river looked good in the soft light.  It takes some time to adjust to the softer light there after being so used to the strong harsh light we have in Australia.  There was also a lot of birdlife on the small sections of the river that weren’t frozen, including a couple of beautiful swans who were happy to float right up to the edges of the banks hoping to grab some breadcrumbs.  They were pushing their heads under the water looking for food, and were covered in water droplets after surfacing.  I used the flash to light up the face due to their black eyes and area connecting the eyes to the beak, and this also had the added benefit of illuminating all the water droplets.


The first night was very cold and very cloudy, and the sun was trying vainly to shine through.  I noticed the sunlight was spreading throughout the clouds, so even though it was getting darker by the minute, I quickly decided to try setting up my camera with the neutral density filters to knock off the harsher light on the clouds.  Using ND filters usually means longer exposure times and I wasn’t able to pack in my tripod, so I had to compromise by using some books and other room items to prop-up and steady the camera because it had to shoot up towards the sky through the hotel window.  I used the Live-View function to check the sharpness from a very awkward crouched position, and this is one of the images I captured.  Even with the ND filter, there was enough light for this 1/125 sec exposure at F5, resulting in a nice silhouette image and cloud texture.

CPN_0183a-1The couple of free days that I had were spent walking around the city taking in the sights and looking for things to photograph.  There is a lot of historical buildings in Copenhagen and any of these make great subjects due to the detailed sculptures of the tall spires.


Even though there wasn’t much light for this shot at Amagertorv Square, I was lucky enough to get this shot of the setting sunlight coming over the tops of the buildings and landing on the top half of this city building.  The other structures on the sides also act as leading lines, converging towards the building with the light shining on it.  Note the extensive paved areas.   Amagertorv Square dates back to the middle ages.


There is also a narrow harbour at Nyhavn, the 17th century waterfront, where you can go for canal cruises.  This is a great spot to get a snapshot of Copenhagen, with all the various different coloured facades, boats and cafes.



This anchor monument is a feature of this harbour area.  Always be on the lookout for any subjects that are specific to the culture of the country you are visiting.  Copenhagen has a Viking and fishing history, so this anchor is symbolic of their cultural history.  Using the rule of thirds and composition, the anchor is placed on the left third, also giving some space around it as befits it’s place of importance here.


We came across the Royal Danish Theatre building which unfortunately was closed, but I noticed this beautiful detailed artwork on the interior ceiling of the balcony.  This is where it pays to look upwards as well as around when in unfamiliar cities!  This shot is handheld (as are all these shots) but due to overcast low light, I used a slow shutter speed of 1/60 sec and F5.  I kept the ISO at 100 because I wanted minimum noise in this shot to capture the detail of the beautiful artwork.  The image stabilisation (IS for Canon) was turned on to help with the slow shutter speed, and the shot has turned out reasonably well despite the poor light.  At this distance, no flash was used as the range of the pop-up flash would not be sufficient for this shot anyway.


We also stumbled across the parade of the Palace Guards heading to Amalienborg Palace (The Queen’s Residence) for the changing of the guard, so we duly followed them to the palace where I captured several shots of the ceremony.  It was very cold, quite windy and overcast.  I spotted one of the flag bearers having some problems trying to hold the flag upright in the windy conditions, so I grabbed this quick shot.


I asked one of the guards if he minded me taking some photos and he politely said that was “ok”, so I was able to get a few “closer” shots of the guards.  I say “closer” because I was about 4 metres away from them.  They will let you get to with-in a distance of about 4 metres to take photos, but no closer.  I would liked to have gotten a closer shot, but I was not about to push the point as they all carry loaded automatic rifles!


I only had a couple of free days to walk around Copenhagen, but I still managed to come away with a lot of good photos, all memories of a far away city that I can show to my family and friends.



  1. Some nice shots Lawrence, that 15 – 85 lense working well.
    Cheers wayne

    • Thanks Wayne. It was certainly fun despite the freezing conditions! The combo of the 7D & Canon 15-85 lens makes for a great travel kit. Thanks for your feedback and look forward to seeing you on the road trip. Cheers.

  2. It must be the photographer.
    See you on the road trip Wayne

    • He certainly had some fun on the trip. It made us all envious!!


    • …Definitely ;) Cheers

    • Yes, looking forward to it Wayne. See you there!

  3. Nice. BTW: If you like to find upcoming events and things to do faster while on the go you should try etrigg. As an example check out the Upcoming Events page for Copenhagen:
    The site helps a log with quickly finding concerts, meetups, happy hours, sports events, seminars, workshops, conferences and much more without an app or browsing around on slow loading sites with a mobile device.

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