Street Photos – a new approach

I don’t profess to be a Street Photographer by any stretch of my imagination. I have no time and the sterile suburban community that I live in doesn’t afford decent street scenes. However……I am in NYC and Boston from time to time and I do love the scenes you get on the street.

In a past life, I tried my hand at street photography with film cameras, usually wide angle….VERY wide like a 24mm, 21mm, or even a 15mm lens on a Leica. I liked the images, but never did a lot of it.

I see some people I know who say they are street photographers and their images are decidedly boring. They shoot from across the street with a longer lens. They shoot the back of people’s heads. They are poorly focused. Not for me. Then there are the real in-your-face street photographers who use flash and get right up in peoples’ faces with a handheld flash. Not for me also, that’s for sure.

What I wanted was photos of people just going about their business, but with clarity and close-up to show faces. With the new digital cameras, no longer do you have to work so hard. I thought: “I have a wide angle”….a REALLY wide angle 7.5mm on M43 which is like a 15mm on FF. I have a digital camera (an Olympus E-M1) that will shoot silent shutter at 30FPS. I needed wide DOF so I didn’t have to focus. Check – the DOF on that 7.5mm is stupendous. Set the ISO high to get high SS’s. Check – use 3200. Set the camera to M and meter manually like it was a film camera. Otherwise, if I pointed the camera up to include the sky, the meter would blow everything out. Better to shoot manually.

So I’ve arrived at what I think is a great setup for an in close street photo rig. These three photos below were the best out of about 3-400 photos for 15-20 minutes’ shooting, but they’re all pretty good.

Olympus EM1.2
ISO 3200, set to Monochrome
MF 7.5mm Laowa lens. F/8-F/16
SS as high as possible
Metered manual
Hiigh-Speed shutter mode, Silent Shutter (30 FPS)
JPG mode

I hold the camera in my hand and turn the screen around so I can’t see it.
I don’t look through the camera or at the LCD screen.
Bring the camera up and hold down the shutter button as the subject passes or as I pass the subject. I usually hold it down for 1-2 seconds.
There is plenty of dynamic range to pull details out of the shadows. I can use TopazAI if I need things cleaned up, but not usually needed.

More to come.

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