Urban Discovery Project

By Stuart Borthwick

Project Introduction

As photographers we get excited about many things around us that others may find unimpressive or even downright ugly. We are certainly a funny breed and see beauty in  many abstract things.

Urban Project Collage

With this in mind I would like to formally launching my new project called “Urban Discovery”  which endeavours to show little gems hidden within our suburban landscape. I have already been very active in tracking down several places of interest, which has surprised even me, as many where sitting right under my nose, but more about that later.

As this project is a work in progress the timeframe is not clear, however I already have a long list of venues that i intend to visit, photograph and then write updates via my blog.

A selection of photographs, from each locations will be uploaded to the “projects” section of website.

Hopefully i can pass on some great venues for you to explore, give inspiration and also share tips along the way. Please feel free to share comments, experiences or alternative locations as we go via the comments section. I intend to post this to a broad photography community through various social media outlets.


I tried to find locations that you may not necessarily know about and which offer multiple shooting opportunities at each place. I will go through in detail the positives & negatives i personally find at each location. Key thing you need to keep in mind is you may need to visit the same location multiple times and at different times of day to get the best results.


Many of the locations I have chosen don’t have a huge amount of information in web searches and I had to dig deep to get the right information beforehand. Not all the locations i chose were successful or offered enough content to shoot exactly what I personally was looking for.

I would also like to stress that i endeavour to gain permission, wherever possible, to access the properties when i visit these location or beforehand if possible. Unfortunately in some locations other photographers have not gained permission and have trespassed, even being arrested in the process.

So its best to check, although this can also be a difficult process in tracking down the owners.

The gear used

I wanted to keep the gear I used on this project to a minimum, so that if you gain inspiration from this project you can go out and shoot. Absolutely essential is a tripod, i must confess i was never one for using tripods outside a monopod for sport shooting. Over the last 12 months though i have used tripods more & more, which has benefited my photography greatly.

You will certainly need a DSLR or a digital camera that offers exposure compensation, i am being non specific here on brands of camera intentionally. The important thing is to get out & shoot, I am happy to list my specific gear if this helps.

I intend to use only two to three lenses during the project, specifically only travelling with two at any shoot.The focal length of these as follows:

17-70 mm

24-85 mm

70-300 mm

The thinking is to have the options of really wide angle and the ability to compress landscape elements using zoom.

Cable release is an essential to have in your bag as it helps gain sharper images by minimising the amount of camera shake whilst shooting.

And thats pretty much it……..a couple of optionals though

Polariser filter

ND Filter

Hoodman Loupe



I add these as they can give you another dimension to your work and help you use your creativity in a positive way.

The Hoodman Loupe is invaluable if your in bright sunlight conditions to see the back LCD screen on the camera, i highly recommend this.

Polariser/ND Filters – of course a polarising filter help to cut out glare and also control the saturation of colours. as well as cut reflections. It can also help you to take longer exposures, which is mostly how i will use it during this project. For the same reason I have added the ND filter to my list.

Post Processing

Post Processing is another important step in this overall process to ensure your images look their best. Although I have the philosophy to get as much right in the camera, as you will see some locations have limitations of access and therefore what times of day you shoot in.

Therefore some compensation is needed in how you shoot and therefore the methods you use in post to get the images looking the way you want.

Personally I use a number of tools in post depending on the subject matter and the particular look i want to achieve. Software as follows:

Nik Software Suite

Colour Efex Pro 4

HDR Efex Pro 2

Silver Efex Pro 2

Photoshop CS6

Lightroom 5

Photomatrix Pro

So welcome along, enjoy the ride and I hope you gain inspiration

– Stuart