Street Photography tips

street photography tips

I’ve always had an eye on street photography.
Never spent much time actually doing it, as my time is fairly filled with wedding work, but this year I decided to have more personal time… landscapes & street.

I’ve been following a couple of really good street ‘togs on Twitter, and subscribed to a really good PDF mag called The Inspired Eye. I’ll put links at the bottom of this blog.
Later this month I’m actually doing a day out street photography class with another photographer pal from Dunbar – Martin. Should be a hoot so long as we behave as we tend to try to out-idiot each other when we go on shoots together.

But the last few weeks I’ve been walking around constantly with my X-Pro2 and the 23mm and snapping away. I think I’ve now found almost permanent settings that work very well with how I work this genre of photography.
But this combination of camera and lens just seem made for this type of shooting.
With the camera set to electronic shutter instead of the usual mechanical, it takes photos in pure silence. Yes, electronic has it’s drawbacks if photographing fast moving objects or panning, but I’m not going to be doing that with my street photography.

For all the X-Pro2 auto-focus is very good, at weddings I can be looking through the viewfnder and set the focus point on the target and take the picture, but I shoot my street stuff from almost waist height, with the camera hanging at full length on it’s strap around my neck and a careful hand over the right hand side of the camera.
So auto-focus would be out.
The 23mm lens has an absolutely brilliant clutch mechanism to set it to manual. You actually pull the front element in and it disengages autofocus and better still… reveals an old fashioned Depth of Field scale.
Now knowing how you can work out depth of field using an app or maths, setting the aperture to f8 and focusing at 4mtrs means in theory everything from just under 2mtrs to infinity will be sharp. *Disclaimer… read below for some facts that means this may not be true if you really want to be a pixel peeper and view a digital photo on screen at 100% – it gets sooooooo complicated, let’s just trust the old film scales just now.

So, yeah, f8 will mean that anything or anyone that grabs my photographic interest from 2mtrs or more away is a sharp target for a photo.

The other settings I use on the street – which are just my personal favourites – are iso fixed at 1600, and shutter speed set as AV (in other words this is the one function I let the X-Pro2 decide for me). Shooting at iso1600 in daytime is going to mean though that shutter speeds will vary from 1/100th sec to a very fast 1/8000 sec. Even better for freezing subjects as I walk if that’s what has to happen. I also have a slight exposure compensation by a third or 2 thirds to save highlights and deepen the picture.

I shoot in jpeg only, with Fuji’s Astia/Soft film simulation, but convert them in Lightroom to black and white using a pre-set I designed my self that gives me deep blacks and good clarity.

So once I have the photos on the computer, I may do a crop/straighten, add my preset, then export with my black border/white keyline preset.

Job done.

Post processing is a few seconds. It has to be for me as this is a hobby, and a bit of fun. When I’m shooting weddings there’s about 3-4 days in front of a computer screen and I don’t want to be doing that for my hobby photography.

Here’s some recent examples, before I go into my disclaimer about Depth of Field and the big down side to the 23mm…

Right, so first of all, the 23mm Fujinon lens. Amaaaaaazing lens, fast superwide aperture when you need it and crisp as crisp can be… but… it’s not weather resistant ! Aggghhh !!! I live in Scotland. It’s like owning a convertible car.
So if it does look like it’s going to rain, I know the X-Pro2 will be fine as it’s got weather sealing, but the 23mm lens won’t take well to being wet.
So I have to have the lovely wee 35mm f2 ready. Another excellent Fuji lens and also very , vary sharp, but I loose soooo much depth of field.
For example, in the traditional film DoF scales I can get a good range of just over 4mtrs to infinity, but that means I loose that ability to be right up close within 2mtrs of the subject, or I can bring the focus in a bit and have a range of just under 2-5 mtrs. But that means worrying about distance too much, and I enjoy that freedom of “oh that looks interesting SNAP!” , and not have to worry about “get closer, get closer, ready… shit too close now!”

Now the more tricky issue of REAL depth of field. Is there such a thing. It’s a subject you’re best not to get too worked up on, just know the basics.
Those depth of field scales on lenses, and the apps you can get – which are all excellent by the way, are usually based on the the old days of film and printing a rough 8×10″ photo, so the bits in focus look fairly sharp.
But in the modern digital age with pixel peepers… people zooming in to 100% on their screen and getting way too wrapped up in sharpness it can get all too much.
It depends on each cameras sensor as much as the lens and aperture.
A true at 100% zoom depth of field of real sharpness of that 23mm lens at f8 is nowhere near the level of 2mtrs to infinity. It’s more like a metre if your lucky.
The Fuji cameras have an option to view on the lcd or viewfinder the DoF scale in either “Film” mode or “Pixel” mode. Read Pixel mode as Fuji’s way of saying really sharp at 100% ? It’s something like that ! But really not too much to loose sleep about (although I probably have being a right anal stato).

These next two pictures show the difference of what Fuji says is “in focus at f8” in the two modes…

I thought the 23mm lens was perfect for Street on the X-Pro2 but I started to feel it was too long.
Lo-and-behold on eBay the following day I saw a Fuji 18mm at under £200… bargain ! Grabbed it before anyone else spotted it and this thing on the X-Pro2 is going to be a blast. Far smaller and easier to stick under my jacket during rain showers.

With my favoured zone focusing at f8 , it also means a far bigger depth of field, or I can open up a bit.
4′ to infinity !!! Cripes.
Or f5.6 and get 5′ to infinity using hyperfocal distance….
Or f4 and 7′ to infinity…. where have you been all my life 18mm???!!!

So that’s how I crack on with street. How do you do it ?

Recent Posts

Contact & Book

Gift Vouchers