July 2015
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Getting better at street photography – 5 tips

Street photography is something that can be done by anyone, and with any type of camera. Street photography used to refer earlier to people in the streets, but now is much broader to refer to all public places, even when humans are not there in the photo. In fact, there are some splendid photos that have been taken using hand held cameras or using camera phones, and no one could argue that many of them come out great. It is not necessary to have DSLR’s for street photography, although in certain situations, the DSLS also helps (especially in conditions such as low light, or when shooting from a distance). But, you can always improve your skills in street photography, and here are some experience based tips for the same:

Tip 1311 (Be careful): There are many legal restrictions in street photography in countries across the world. In many European countries, there are restrictions on shooting people without their permission even in public places; while for example in the United States, one can shoot anybody in a public place. However, when doing street photography, it is better to be somewhat careful and use common sense. People do not like strangers shooting their young children, and such photography is seen as very controversial when doing such shooting in a public swimming pool, especially when it comes to young children. Instead of trying to assert your rights bull-headedly, use common sense and see when to back down or talk to the person concerned when trying to shoot.

Tip 1312 (A DSLR not necessary, use discreet cameras): When shooting in the street, where it can be easily seen by the subjects who are being shot, a big commercial-shoot like DSLR camera makes people conscious and you would not get natural shots. Using small point and shoot cameras or the phone cameras makes you out like a tourist and people are more willing to consider such a shot more natural and hence they are less likely to be conscious or even object to the photo. Some of the more modern compact cameras look like normal point and shoot cameras, but are still able to shoot RAW and with a high mega-pixel count, so will meet all the needs of a commercial street photographer.

Tip 1313 (Being able to crop the photo): In a street photography mode, there are many objects in the frame that can be distracting. There could be buildings around the frame, there could be objects on the street that need to be removed, and so on. In such a case, it is required that the photo could be easily cropped to remove all such elements in order to get a better photo. However, when you crop, you lose part of the photo. For such purposes, it is essential that the photo being taken should have as high a mega-pixel count, which means that when selecting a camera for street photography, within the constraints, select a high mega-pixel count.

Tip 1314 (Trying candid photographs, use telephoto lens): When you want to take photos of people without them being aware that they are being photographed, or if they are too far away and you cannot move closer quickly, a telephoto lens works great for street photography. In such cases, be sure to get a telephoto lens as part of the equipment for street photography.

Tip 1315 (Wide lenses for street photography): Other than the telephoto lens usage as depicted above, for a typical street photography shot where you are part of the action and on the street, using wider lenses works best. Lenses with focal lengths of 18mm, 28mm, 35mm and 50mm work best. Of course, as your maximum focal length reduces, the lens start to get more complex and more expensive; and street photography can involve some amount of roughness especially if you are mixed with a crowd; so need to be more careful with such lenses.

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