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photographing people on the street

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pauls75wing says:

Does anyone have any tips on how to improve taking photos at street festivals or people on a busy street ?

My latest pic is at a street festival, that I think is the best of the group, looks to me like I could have done something different to make it better, but I can't put my finger on it. Do you agree or am I being too hard on my photos? What changes would you suggest?

2008-a squeeze box
6:36PM, 9 April 2008 PDT (permalink)

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revonthego is a group moderator revonthego says:

It looks like from the EXIF data you shot this at ISO/1600 . . . and so you have a ton of noise. You shot this at f/5.0 when I think you would have done better w/ a lower ISO and the widest aperture possible. Then you could have touched it up postprocessing.

Might have switched to spot meter to zero in on the performer.

Not a bad composition and a nice scene but the noise really kind of ruins it.
ages ago (permalink)

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highcastle says:

i think i would have adjusted a bit more for speed. i like the blur of the fellow in the foreground, but i think you could adjust without losing too much of that and get a crisper look.

what about this one:

ages ago (permalink)

gigantic rock [deleted] says:

pauls75wing and highcastlephotography : Not close enough. Ideally street photography should be done with a 35mm or below, but most of the time a 50mm is sufficient. Most street performers are used to cameras so will not mind if you get in close as long as you tip them for their performance after. Both examples would benefit from a less cluttered composition that the closeness will give you.

You could use a zoom, but I think that's cheating. Street photography is about the people. The ability to get in there unnoticed and get the shot before anyone realises you have a camera is the true essence - hence the reasons rangefinders are favoured for this type of work as their leaf shutters make an almost inaudible click.

But, as you both have submitted street performers as the subjects, an SLR can be used effectively here as there is no need to remain unnoticed. I've done it with a Pentax 6x7 before, and while I got weird looks the fact that it was big enough to knock someone out kept most people away!

I also would have used a slightly wider aperture, as has already been suggested, for both shots. In pauls75wing's shot the blur is great, though with a wider aperture and a closer photo taking position would mean less distracting elements.

In highcastlephotography's shot the tattooed arm and the orange cone detract from the main subjects. The deep depth of field also takes away from the main focus. Again a wider aperture would have helped here, along with a closer position - perhaps framing the shot with the man in the white (would have been a great capture of him without the arm in the foreground) and the girl on the far right at the edges of the frame. Both are leaning into the frame drawing attention to the main interest point - the two guitar players. I can see that you've tried to balance the shot by including both sides of the building beside the fence, but I would have loved to see more detail in the people - the real reason for street work.

Finally, black and white! In my personal opinion most street shots look best in b/w with a touch of grain to give that raw feeling that attracts us photogs to the street in the first place.
ages ago (permalink)

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raddad! aka Randy Knauf is a group moderator raddad! aka Randy Knauf says:

It looks as though you needed to adjust the white balance. If you are shooting in raw this can be done in post processing, if not then check your white balance in your camera prior to shooting under specific lighting.

I like your framing and the over all photo is nice. I agree with wolf brigade that street photography can look more edgy when done in black and white but not always with graining. Some street shots are great because of the sharp focus and detail of one item within the shot. Adding grain can reduce this effect to the overall lose of the detail you were trying to high lite.
ages ago (permalink)

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vidular says:

I am no expert but recently had the opportunity around Times Square area in NYC. I agree what others have recommended and would add that you should shoot many photos of the same scene, moving around a little - right, left, up and back. You can get big difference in lighting with even a little movement. At one scene I took 12 photos and one came out to my liking. Get a big memory card or a spare and keep on shooting and later you can pick the ones you like best. Digital "film" is virtually free. The street scene is a dynamic one, constantly changing and the more images you take the better the opportunity for that one image that you really like.
ages ago (permalink)

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_Dinkel_ says:

I agree with the spot metering suggestion. The performer is a lite underexposed and blends in a little too much with the background. I also agree that getting the white balance right it essential for the impact of the scene. B&W is an item for debate not a rule, choose what you think works for the scene.
113 months ago (permalink)

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Mike Murrow says:

First let me say that I don't claim to be an expert.

When it comes to street performers I agree about getting in close. I've been documenting Santa Cruz for over 5 years now (only really figuring out what I was doing in the last year) and here are some of my tips.

Get in close. Don't be afraid to use a flash (I do all the time). Talk to them. Learn their story. TIP WELL.

After 5 years I'm getting well known in Santa Cruz by the performers and others and some will now call or email me when they are headed out.

All of this applies to street performers. Regular people are another story.

For example:

The Great Morgani Detail

The Great Morgani 8 with child

The Great Morgani 4
Originally posted 113 months ago. (permalink)
Mike Murrow edited this topic 113 months ago.

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Damien Franco is a group administrator Damien Franco says:

Great advice everyone.

I do agree on the spot metering in situations like street photography. You want to ensure that the main subject is properly exposed. All else can fall aside most of the time.
113 months ago (permalink)

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