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Capture a city in a different light this summer

Sometimes, unique photo opportunities are as close as your front door. This is especially true for people who live in large cities.

With today's automatic cameras, getting good snapshots of a nearby city or vacation destination city is relatively easy. In fact, with some of the newer 35mm cameras, all you have to do is point and shoot for a properly exposed and focused picture.

In addition, new high-speed films, which are sharper than ever before, offer greater shooting flexibility, indoors and out.

However, to turn a mere snapshot into a striking great shot, careful attention to subject matter and some basic camera knowledge is required.

Ping Amranand, a professional photographer based in Kensington, Md., knows what it takes to get striking city pictures.

In his new book, Washington _ Seasons of the Capital, Amranand offers an original view of a city that has been photographed by millions of people.

In a recent interview, Amranand offered to share some of his photo "city secrets:"

Focus on a particular aspect of the city that appeals to you, rather than trying to cover every facet of the city. Photograph what you enjoy.

When visiting a city for the first time, start off your visit with a tour that takes you to all the main sites. Then, go back and photograph what you like, at your own pace.

Avoid cliche views. While it is tempting to scout out the postcard stands and duplicate the same angles and ideas, it is much more satisfying when you find your own original views.

Try to shoot at dawn and dusk. During these times, the city will reveal itself to you in a different light. Literally.

Carry several different types of film with you: slow- and medium-speed film (ISO 25-100) for daylight pictures, fast films (ISO 200-400) for low light situations, and tungsten film (ISO 160) post-twilight shots. The key is to be prepared for any shooting situation.

Use a polarizing filter when you want to eliminate reflections on windows. However, keep in mind that reflections can also enhance a scene, and therefore should not always be filtered out.

Washington _ Seasons of the Capital (Elliott and Clark Publishing, $29.95) is available at bookstores nationwide, or directly from the publisher: Elliott and Clark, PO Box 21365, Washington, DC 20009.