Whilst walking around Prague during my Europe trip last year trying to get a good landscape on the Vltara River with the bridges, I saw 3 teenagers sitting on a low wall. With a wide angle lens (24-70mm f2.8L), I quickly shot a few frames of this interesting view. I captured the bridges on Vltara River, giving the photo some background. The subjects were showing a relaxed and happy sentiment, even thought we cannot see much of their faces.
The challenge to take good street photography is not only capturing the moment of your subjects, but also to be aware of the surrounding environment, the background, the sky etc. You have to make quick decisions and execute, it all comes down to practice, practice, review and practice…
When you are learning photography, be it from a teacher or reading from books, flare is usually categorized as one of those “minimize as much as possible” type of effects. It reduces the photo’s contrasts and leaves a circular spot in your frame. You are always told to use lens hoods to avoid flares, and try not to shoot at the sun or bright lights directly. Of course there are also great expensive lenses with different coatings which can also reduce the flare…
However, to me I think flare is just part of photography, I agree that it can be distracting, but sometimes it helps to convey the light source’s strength and warmth. It also adds the theatrical or cinematic feel to a photo, maybe its not a bad thing afterall.
This maybe very cliche, but rules are there to be broken. Once you have acquired the fundamental skills, try to step outside your comfort zone. Shoot in a way that everyone says it will not work, maybe it works for you and you can come up with great results.
I am sure after you have picked up photography as a hobby, you will start to realise that some of your friends also share the same interest, or you meet new people whom is also a budding photographer. Logically you will start organising photo trips and tours to shoot with them (which I high recommend for good learning, giving constructive feedback to each other and improve).
You may start out shooting a lot of landscape shots and after a while you feel a little exhausted. Whilst running out of inspiration, why not shooting your friends in action? They can be perfect models for you (its also free!). Try to compose your shots with your friends inside the frame, maybe to give some context on what they are doing.
The above photos was taken during my last photo outing with my friend. I shot both the photos with my fish-eye zoom at the telephoto end (15mm). Its slightly challenging to do portraits with such a wide angle, but it allows me to capture the surroundings giving the photos the contexts that I was trying to achieve. The first photo looks like a camera bag commercial photo, and the second one I tried using the extreme back light of the sun to draw attention to the photographer.
I always tell myself to shoot more street photography. It is a very interesting branch of photography, especially when it involves people moving around very quickly. You have to be pretty observant and be prepared to take photos all the time.
The girl in the above photo looks happy and excited with her purchase, and running along the street. On the contrary, the man on the right looks solemn and serious. The contrast in emotions is divided by a white pillar, a dark shadow on the ground and the difference in lighting of their faces.
I took this photo with my fish-eye zoom lens on the 15mm end, which makes capturing this picture a little easier.
Be brave and try to shoot more on the streets, there are a lot of interesting people being your potential subjects!
This seems all sentimental, but I tend to let my mood go free and try to find something to photograph all the time keep my senses sharp and stretch my creativity.
The pink/red tone was actually a red folder I got from some company, which totally fit my heart shaped idea. I used one single light on the right (off camera of course!), a macro lens to get the immensely shallow depth of field.
Just try to find something extraordinary at home, you will be surprised what you can get from day to day items! (by the way, just in case it isn’t clear, it’s a book.)
I am currently on the Lighting Techniques course with OUHK, and the above is part of my first assignment, a photo trying to show the freshness of an organic matter. I chose strawberries as my subject, not only because of its attractive red and green colour combination, but also that I can eat them afterwards….
For this assignment I had to take two photos, one under natural light and another with artificial lighting. The above was shot with an off-camera flash on the left hand side, some water dripping onto the strawberry surface to get the splash effect. It took me around 50 shots to get the splash right, yet the result was pretty satisfying.
A photo taken with my smartphone with a tiny 5 megapixels camera. I can feel the camera struggling to expose correctly given the back lit environment. The sun was setting, and the flare gave this photo a slight twist. The small boat gave perspective to the view, and I was quite impressed by the layers of mountains that was captured by this tiny little phone. Again its not that camera that’s important, its the idea you want to convey. Keep shooting!
I went for a walk last weekend along To Lo Harbour, actually it is my first time to walk on this route for photo shooting. This place is a popular place for pre-wedding photos, especially the on the bridge in the 3rd photograph.
I started my stroll at around 4pm, and was looking forward to the sunset after a few hours walk. The sky became really cloudy at around 6pm and I had to change my shooting plan. I did some black and white frames showing the texture of the stone beach and the texture of the clouds.
Again it was a great shooting experience and to explore new places for inspiration.
Try to capture the interesting combination of your subjects reactions/actions, it takes a lot of practice and experience until you can master the skill. Just check out Henri Cartier Bresson’s work, the master and originator of “The Decisive Moment”.
The above photo also worked on the composition level, where the man on the left hand side is looking at the little child, making the child the obvious subject in the frame. A triangular composition also applies with the man on the wheelchair, the passerby on the left and the child. Overall I am very happy with this snap.
Though cliche, I think the saying “The best camera is the camera you have on you.” stands true. A lot of us, even myself, will sometimes delve into the research of expensive camera gear; Canon vs. Nikon? Prime vs. Zoom? Is the newest lens worth the investment? etc etc…. However, the question I will always ask myself is that “Is my gear limiting the photos I take?” If the answer is no, then there seems no reason for buying extra gear that I won’t use.
My suggestion is to shoot more, until you feel that your gear is slowing you down and stopping you from taking the pictures you want. Also, try to always take a camera with you, and keep your eyes opened to spot interesting frames. The above was taken in one of the largest book stores in Beijing. I wasn’t planning to shoot any photos in the store, but the scene was very interesting and luckily my camera was slung on my neck, so I just took a quick snap.
Always be prepared, you may need to shoot in unexpected circumstances, just shoot everywhere!