Cologne Cathedral and Hohenzollern Bridge
Whenever I visit Cologne, I try to come back to this spot and make this photo. I have probably tried about a half a dozen or more times, almost all during the winter, and have only had one day of clear skies. This was back in 2010 and the photo can be seen here and was Post #1 for my blog.
This time around, I was fortunate to be in Germany during summer. Clear skies were abound the week I was there, except of course when I went to shoot this image. Luckily there was a break in the clouds behind the cathedral which made for some drama in the sky.
How to get this type of shot
I have seen numerous images of this iconic scene and have taken quite a bit myself. From my experiences, I have two tips for shooting this scene. The first is to not try and include too much of the bridge. If you use a wide focal length, you can get the entire Hohenzollern Bridge in your composition, the problem with this approach is due to this wide angle perspective, the bridge becomes large and the Cologne Cathedral becomes small and off into the distance. Google images of the Cologne Cathedral and look for those that include the entire bridge and you will see what I mean. The bridge should serve as a leading line into your image and the Cathedral should be the main subject and should take up a good portion of your frame. You can have the Cathedral take a more prominent part of your image by using a longer focal length and compress the image.
The second piece of advice I have is to include the purple reflection from the Musical Dome in your composition. This can be achieved by shooting closer to the bank of the Rhein River.
The image was shot at f/11 since the bridge was a few hundred feet away and this aperture gave me enough depth-of-field to get everything into focus. The resulting shutter speed was 25s, which helped reduce the choppiness of the river.