OK so you’ve been thinking about doing some Street Photography but never got round to it, I don’t blame ya as it is not a genre typically embarrassed by many especially if you’re only just getting into Photography. Hopefully, these 5 quick tips will help you in your transition or if you’re already an aspiring Street Photographer these will help improve your game while out on the streets.
This is a quick post on my recent travels to Hong Kong and my experiences while exploring this urban jungle. Known for its dense urban environment, hidden alleys, tight laneways and busy streets, it is obvious why Hong Kong is a haven for street photography. I traveled with my wife and together we visited a close friend of ours who was also kind enough to take some time from his busy schedule to take us around and point out some hot spots in Hong Kong.
I’ll be honest and say that I was reluctant to bring my zoom lens (16-55mm f2.8) and instead use the two primes (14mm & 27mm) however as it turns out I found myself reaching for the zoom lens a majority of the time. Given that both the primes had the same aperture of f2.8 and that the zoom lens only looses 2mm over the 14mm and combined with the weather resistance seals, it was obvious that the 16-55mm was more suited for the streets of Hong Kong as well as its unpredictable weather (similar to Melbourne). Despite the hefty weight behind the 16-55mm, the versatility and weather resistance outweighed this and there were a few occasions where I found myself shooting in light drizzle and just knowing that I can continue shooting without worrying about my gear is a great feeling.
One thing to be mindful when traveling to places like Bali is the humidity level. The humid environment will easily fog up your lens unless you exercise some precautions. Although the X-T1 is weather resistant I noticed that the on/off switch would stiffen up making it difficult to switch it to the on position.
On this trip, I only had 3 lenses with me however whenever I’m out shooting the streets I ever only select one and leave rest behind. It’s difficult to do I know but what usually happens when you’re carrying multiple lenses is the urge to change lens, when you see something unique your brain will automatically start telling you things like “oh that would look good with an ultra-wide angle lens”. Not only is it going to add to the weight you’re carrying around but in humid conditions such as Bali, changing lens will risk trapping moisture between the sensor and the rear element of the lens which increases the chances of fungus.
Right, I’m going to get straight into it. Part of the reason why I switched from my Canon 5D3 over to the Fujifilm X-T1 was because my preferences changed, mainly my shooting style among others. As a street photographer, my thought process and decision making is different to say a wedding photographer. Our needs are different, our styles are different and ultimately we have different views when looking to capture that perfect moment. So here are my reasons why I switched.
Weight & Size
One of the main factors that made me switch was the weight difference. When I was traveling around Europe I had a heavy backpack full of camera gear (including tripod). It was frustrating going through customs and other security checkpoints, it was taxing on the body – going up and down stairs, waiting in queues at an attraction under the summer heat etc. It was causing so much discomfort that in the end I was not enjoying the trip.
Canon 5D Mark III + Tamron 24-70mm f2.8 = 1,685kg Fuji X-T1 + XF 16-55mm f2.8 = 1,095kg.
The size was the other deciding factor, I found that raising a DSLR to eye level was more noticeable than a smaller compact camera. The size of DSLR and lens also means you had to carry a large size bag to fit it all, whereas the X-T1 has a more compact size and as a result looking less conspicuous. This is extremely important for street photography as it allows you to blend in with the crowd and ultimately capture unspoiled, candid moments.
Like some people, my hobbies and passion for things constantly changes with the wind. However photography was never on that list, even though my grandfather was a professional photographer (I still have his vintage C.P. Goerz Berlin Dagor f=30 cm lens) and my father was, well, an amateur photographer at best, so it never caught my interest.
The first camera I purchased was the (then stylish) Sony Cybershot T1 back in 2001. Thinking back at it, I purely bought it out of impulse, or should I say for the “Wank Factor”. Back then if you were seen with one of these digital cameras (or any Sony product for that matter) you were perceived as the cool kid, and rightly so, because lets face it, Sony was considered the best innovative technology brand at that time.
The camera sported a 5MP Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar optic (I didn’t even know what that meant at the time), with a F3.5 – F4.4 and to be honest, I didn’t even know this until 5mins ago when I had to Google the specs! This just reinforces what I said earlier in that I was never interested in photography, sure I took photos at birthdays, weddings and even abroad but that’s about it.