Street photography is a strange area of photography as a whole as it isn’t about overall photographic quality and sharpness. It is a rougher less polished form where it is more about capturing the moment and feel in a particular scene. Image sharpness and resolution are not as important with street photos but instead the sights and sounds become the focus. Street photos are a great window into how other cultures live and can stir feelings of adventure. Technically they rely on a few simple camera techniques but overall photographic errors such as image noise and softness are not a real issue if the photos subject is good. Below we take a look at a few examples.
With this photo taken below the Central Station in Glasgow was taken hand held in low light. There is significant noise in the photo due to the higher iso used. In an image such as a fashion portrait or a landscape such image noise would be unacceptable but in this photo it simply adds to the dark , cold and atmospheric feel of the photo. By using a low aperture setting on the camera and a focal length of at least 50mm the background is thrown out of focus to pick out the gentleman on his bike.
With this image taken from an overpass in Hong Kong image sharpness is good due to the the image being taken around midday. Depth of field is wide meaning that there is sharp focus front to back due to a high aperture setting and in contrast to the earlier image the field of view is quite wide as the image was taken with a 28mm focal length. Although both images fall under the discipline of street photography technically they are quite different. This image was taken in a similar way to many war photos from the past. War photographers were known to favour the 35mm lens due to it being midway between a wide lens and a telephoto so that they could cover a range of subject matter with only one lens. They would also set there aperture to as high as possible dependant on available light. This was so that they could essentially “shoot from the hip” as the high aperture would allow as much focus from front to back so they would not need time to manually focus the lens, a real benefit in a warzone!
Black and white images are synonymous with street photography. This photo taken in Zaragoza Spain of a gentleman quietly waiting for a tram could be taken as not being a street photo due to be snapped from a hotel balcony. However the grittyness of the street is rendered in the image and is made more obvious by the elevated camera angle.
Street photography is a great discipline for anyone to get into as the cost of equipment is low as even a phone camera could be used to take street photos and the subject matter is available to everyone.
We will look at a few more examples in our next blog!