Tuesday, 23 August 2011

London street photography

I’m trying a few attempts at street photography (beyond simply snapping ‘the street’) and am trying to build up a few simple learning points from the experience.
1) Coffee-cam = No: At one time I tried using a ‘coffee cam’ which was a camera I’d put into a coffee cup. It was really a bit of whimsy, but illustrated the need for something with greater precision. 
2) Smaller camera works best: It also occurs to me that a smaller camera works better for what would be candid shots, compared with an SLR with a zoom lens. 
Part of the challenge is to be able to include other folk in the shot, without them ‘striking a pose’ or glaring. 
3) Go busy: I have decided at the moment it is easier to take these type of pictures in busy and touristy areas. There’s more people around with cameras, so most people are already inured to the thought of being snapped.
4) Blend in: Having also returned from holiday, I realized it is easier to look a bit touristy as part of blending in. 
5) Look like a snapper: Then its good to establish that the way of taking photographs is to point the camera at a big landmark and fiddle using the viewfinder to get the shot. It is also useful to keep the process lengthy to establish the theatre of shot-taking.
6) Switch off all the bleeps: The other thing to do is switch off all the tell-tale LCDs and clicks and beeps. I’ll call that ‘stealth mode’. And remove the lens cap (!) - I use a filter instead. 7) Go Hyper focal : What!? Beam me up Scotty. For daytime, it seems to be better to set a focal length and aperture size that creates a reasonable depth of field - somewhere between 2-5 metres gives quite a range in focus. I’m playing around with 35mm lens, f11(sunny) or f8(shady), ASA800 (quite high) and then expecting the shutter to be at least 1/150. I’m sure this could be more fancy based upon autofocus, but (especially with small cameras) I’m not convinced the autofocus is fast enough.
8) Being static: I can’t help noticing that anything I take whilst moving is more accident prone that when stationary (camera shake, motion blur, bad framing). I have not really explored this properly yet, but the act of walking, moving the camera and trying to frame all contribute to art over precision. Next step will be to find some static points.
Having started to experiment with this form of picture taking I can now start to work out the simpler shots. Silhouettes, back views, aerial shots, shots when with others, shots through glass are all somewhat easier than ‘alone to roam’. 
We shall see.


Lady Banana said...

I love taking photos but always feel a bit nervous taking them candidly of people - in case they notice and have a go at me!

rashbre said...

Lady Banana: Indeed - Easier to rely on them getting in the way of the 'shot'.

Although - checkout the street photography now project

Ellie said...

Taking people pics is sneaky stuff!

rashbre said...

Ellie : It's more about seeing a moment and capturing it.

Anonymous said...

These are great tips. I'm always a little wary of candid photography as it's become fashionable in some circles as a means to ridicule perfectly strangers but at its best I love it. Though I am a bit timid since someone tried to rip my camera away from me when he (wrongly) thought I was taking his photo.

rashbre said...

vladographyOne of my street picture inspirations is the work of Vivian Maier, who somehow managed to take the street pictures with a relatively large Rollei Twin Lens Reflex.