Street photography is a simple pleasure, and here Brian Lloyd Duckett of StreetSnappers offers his expertise. “There’s probably no other subject where you’ll see some take better pictures with a compact than others can with a DSLR. If you have a big camera around your neck, chances are people will stop what they are doing, turn away or just walk off – and you’ll miss your shot. Street photography, from a technical perspective, is best kept simple. “Always have your camera on, with the lens cap off. Use a wrist strap, so the camera is in hand, with your finger on the button. Set auto ISO with a limit of ISO 1600, and a minimum shutter speed of 1/200sec or faster. These settings are a good start. “AF is quick and face detection can work, but if you find the camera unreliable, then try manual focusing. Preset focus with a distance of, say, three metres, using a wide-angle or standard lens and an aperture of f/8, so you have depth-of-field from two metres to ten metres – and beyond. Street success
“Setting up the camera like this will allow you to put all mental energy into seeing and taking the best shots. “Skilled street photographers are sharp observers of life; they soak up all the detail, watching body language and anticipating what might happen next. Think of it as being able to ‘read’ the streets. You have to be curious, always thinking about what’s around that corner, who’s inside that shop or what is behind that door. Be nosy! “Light observation is also a priority. Seek out good light and try to find subjects and backgrounds bathed in it. Don’t be afraid of contrast – your job is to record, not flatter – and rejoice in strong directional light. “A big part of street photography is spotting and capturing ‘the moment’. You have an incredibly short window in which everything is just right for the perfect shot. Not only do you need to be alert and in the zone, but your kit and technique must be geared towards reacting instantly to events.” streetsnappers.com
BE PREPARED Having your camera correctly set up and ready to shoot is a key step on the way to street success. Make sure you have your brain in gear looking for pictures
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Twilight, or the blue hour, is that transition period when the sun has dropped below the horizon, but is still lighting the upper atmosphere. This magical time may last anything from 15 minutes up to an hour. What’s more, you can get rewarding photogenic twilights on cloudy days as much as bright ones. Although you do get more colour for longer on fine evenings. With time of the essence, it pays to scout your location and check possible subjects and viewpoints beforehand. Colour in the sky is one thing, but you need foreground interest, too. For this, you could go for a bold silhouette, but finding a floodlit building or structure works nicely. Alternatively, look for a busy road and enjoy mixing light trails with the colour of twilight. With the latest stabilisation systems, handholding to one or
two seconds is possible in the right conditions. Factor in the high ISO skills of modern digital cameras and you can shoot great shots handheld. However, for the best quality and freedom when it comes to ISO and shutter speed choice, use a tripod. Twilight doesn’t last long, so carry on photographing for as long as there is no natural colour in the sky. Once darkness has fully descended, there’s no reason to stop shooting, just change your creative approach.
A QUESTION OF BALANCE Take your time with twilight exposures, to get detail in the sky and any foreground
18 Photography News | Issue 99
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