St. Petersburg, the city of the tsars, or, as some may call it, the Venice of the North. I always wanted to shoot the streets in this city. By fortunate coincidence, I had to go there for a business related trip in the end of June. Of course, I brought my camera (X100F) with me.
I went to the Concentration Camp Dachau, close to Munich. I wanted to see for myself were xenophobia and nationalism once ended. I also wanted to follow the trails of one of my personal heroes, Georg Elser. He was in the resistance against the Nazis and was one of the first people who took notice that Hitlers politics is aimed for war.Read More
Most camera reviews are published after using them for a couple of weeks, when the reviewer ist still in his honeymoon phase. If you use a camera daily for a really long time and shoot everything with it, you get to know it inside out. After almost 1.5 years and over 20 000 frames later, I think it’s time to share my long-term experiences with this camera.Read More
This blog post is a summary of experiences I've made with the FujiFilm tele conversion lens TCL X100II.Read More
Is street photography in Germany legal or illegal? Has digital photography brought an end to street photography as an art form in Germany? In this blog post I describe how to adapt to the legal situation in Germany and moreover, how to behave as a street photographer.Read More
When you're new to street photography, one of the biggest obstacles might be finding a suitable subject or scene to photograph. In this blog post, I explain one way how I overcome this hurdle.Read More
This blog post is not a camera review per se; moreover, it is a summary of experiences I made with the FujiFilm X100F over the last couple of months. It covers how I feel about this camera and most importantly, whom I can recommend this camera.Read More
I love silhouettes. They are one of my favorite ways to capture the life on the streets.
Wikipedia describes a silhouette as a "view at an object or scene as a solid shape". Furthermore, silhouettes are usually black. The shape of a silhouette "depicts the outline of an object, while the interior is featureless". Sounds easy right?!
For me, a silhouette adds a mystery to a scene. Basically, if the protagonist of the scene is captured as a silhouette, he or she becomes interchangeable. The viewer of the picture can easily build up his own story. On the other hand, if you live in a country like Germany, where a strong privacy law prohibits taking pictures of identifiable people in the public, silhouettes are a prefect way to shoot the streets and to be in consent with the law.
In this blog post I want to share how I capture silhouettes. Let's have a look at two easy technical approaches. The most important thing for both approaches is that you know how to take control of your camera and have a look for the background, it should not be too busy.
One way to capture silhouettes is exposing for highlights. Your camera must be capable of spot-metering. Exposing for the highlights in the background leads to a "bad exposure" of your subject in the foreground, your later silhouette. Below you find two photos, in the left one, I exposed for my subject in the foreground, so there is no silhouette; on the other hand, in the right photo, I exposed for the highlights in the background, this created the silhouette.
Below, you'll find another example for the abovementioned "exposing-method".
Another easy way to create silhouettes is the use a relatively long shutter speed (e.g. 1/30th of a second) in order to use motion blur of moving subjects. For this approach, you have to spot the scene first; in other words, you have to find a suitable stage for your subject. As the blurred subject will most probably be dark, it will be an advantage, if the background is relatively bright so that the dark silhouette can stand out.
For below picture, I spotted the scene first, I figured that I wanted to have a blurred person in the left, brighter part of the frame. I chose a long shutter speed of 1/30th of a second, crouched and waited for as suitable person to enter the stage (note: with long shutter speeds you must have a steady hand, otherwise you blur the whole frame).
In my opinion, silhouettes are great to add a mystery to your images. There are more ways to capture silhouettes- what's your favorite method? -feel free to share it.
In the end, don't focus too much on the technical aspects. Just use a method which you feel comfortable with. Have fun shooting!
If you want to shoot street photography, all you need is a camera. Any camera. My suggestion is to have an inconspicuous small camera, a smartphone , a compact camera or a mirrorless camera. You can even use a film camera or a bulky DSLR. It really doesn't matter as long as your camera has a shutter button.
However, there is a saying, that the best camera is the one that's with you. So if you think about that, the one camera, that you always carry with you, obviously is your smartphone. The big advantages of smartphones are that they fit in your front pocket and are not obtrusive due to the fact, that everybody out there uses a smartphone camera in the public.
Personally, my go-to street photography camera is my FujiFilm X100T. It is a small mirrorless camera. But it is definitely not inconspicuous. People notice it as soon as I bring the camera to my eye. However, the biggest advantage of the X100T is its portability, sure, it will not fit in my front pocket but I can put it in my jacket pocket. Also the shutter is super silent. I never had anyone taking notice of the shutter sound of my X100T. When you're shooting with a DSLR people will most probably take notice of the shutter, you have to take this into account and consider shooting with an electronic shutter, if available.
Another thing is that most cameras nowadays are capable of shooting high ISO (when it is getting dark, high ISO values are necessary to keep the shutter speed at acceptable values), ten years ago ISO 640 was luxury. Nowadays ISO 6400 is no problem at all.
Maybe smartphones are somehow limited with their ISO capabilities; on the other hand, you can use this disadvantage and adjust your shooting to this drawback.
When it comes to autofocus, just forget about it. It's one of the most overrated topics in photography. Some brands advertise their cameras with being able to shoot 11 pictures per second with autofocus. All this stuff is not needed in street photography. The autofocus of my X100T is not the fastest in the world, it is rather slow. The workaround is to focus manually- or even better, use the zone-focusing technique (if you're not aware about this, check out this link). Zone-focussing basically transforms your camera into a point and shoot; hence, you can focus on composition instead.
What about bokeh?
In the picture above, you can see what bokeh looks like (it is the blurred background in the out-of-focus part of the image), I focussed closely to the ground and therefore the overall part of the picture is out of focus.
I tell you right away, it is not essential. When I started with photography, I thought bokeh is the most important thing and this effect "makes" better pictures. After three years, I came to the conclusion that bokeh makes you lazy in terms of composition. If the main subject is isolated, you lose the ability to tell a story with your picture due to lack of surroundings. More importantly, you have to pay way more for your lens to get a decent bokeh. In the picture above, I stopped my lens down to f2.8, as you can see, even at f2.8 you can produce a nice looking bokeh if you need to.
Does size really matter?
Yes, it does in street photography. As I stated above, the best camera is the one that's always with you. The bigger the camera, the less you take it with you. Also, consider that a bigger camera makes you a whole lot more conspicuous. As a street photographer you should blend into the background like a stealthy ninja.
If you're like me and hate carrying around a heavy camera, look out for a tiny point and shoot or just stick with your smartphone.
So does your camera matter in street photography?
Even though smaller cameras are less conspicuous in street photography, you can basically shoot with whatever you have. The most important thing is, that you feel comfortable using your camera.
If you plan to buy a new camera- only do it if your current camera really limits your creativity. Just be aware that a new or better camera doesn't make you a better photographer. I can speak from experience.
I hope this blog post could inspire you to just start street photography with whatever camera you own at the moment.
PS: two of the images in this post were shot with my smartphone.