Nailing sharp shots is without question the biggest challenge in street photography, and we need to “think” that to a series of factors that impact our shots’ sharpness when hitting the streets. In this section, we’ll tell you how to reduce each of those ingredients’ impacts in your future street photographs.
When wandering the streets, things can get pretty hectic, and you need to act swiftly. Shooting with Aperture Priority mode is a healthy practice that will allow the camera to decide which is the best shutter speed depending on your selected ISO and Aperture value.
Some cameras allow you to select a range of speeds to keep some control over those calculations. Another good practice is to use the exposure compensation setting on your camera if available. This will tell your camera exactly how the exposure should be when shooting. I always shoot with +1/3 stop of compensation since it is easier to recover information from highlights when developing a raw file than from the shadows.
2. Back-focusing Problems
For some unknown and mysterious reasons, cameras tend to focus further from what you are trying to get in focus. However, there are some things that you can do to compensate.
First, you can expand the focusing area of your camera on the focusing zone settings or similar. Besides that, you can “detach” the focusing function from the shutter button by activating a function better known as “back button focus” or similar.
You’ll have to look at the proper mode for your camera since every manufacturer place it in a different place, but trust us, if you are shooting with an ILC, it should be there.
This setting is perfect for quick shooting since it keeps the focus “locked” while shooting unless you press the dedicated focusing button of course.
Manual focus is also a good solution, and if you are using a camera with Electronic Viewfinder (EVF), then it might be very possible to activate something called “focus peaking,” which sort of outline the stuff in focus with sparkling color.
Last but not least, aperture. Use aperture values between f/5.6 and f/11 in order to broaden up the focusing zone of your lens. Manual focusing is surprisingly precise thanks to aperture, so don’t be afraid of trying it out.
3. Being Patient
Those tips work pretty well for high movement situations, but not everything has to do with chaos and frantic movements. Sometimes still waiting could be your best way for capturing sharp shots in the streets. Being patient is a valuable skill that I haven’t been able to develop in the desired amount, but I still can guarantee you its benefits.
4. Using Flash
Some street photographers love shooting with flashguns on the streets since they allow better focusing and enables complete subjects isolation. If you are starting out, give it a try, maybe you’ll like it and even master it to some decent level.
5. Using Wide Angle Lenses
If you are shooting on the streets with both a wide-angle lens and a telephoto, it will be way easier for you to keep your camera still when using a wide-angle.
But if you want to use a telephoto, keep this in mind, there is a “formula” that might help you out. If you are shooting with a 100mm lens, never reduce your shutter speed slower than 1/125, and if you are shooting with a 200mm, keep it faster than 1/250.
The rule is simple: if your focal length is x-mm, then your shutter speeds denominator should be higher than x value.
As we said before, street photography is a lifestyle, and it will take your whole life to master it properly. The great thing about it is that despite the race is long, it is only with yourselves. Practicing is mandatory for being a sharper and better street photographer, but also consuming other photographer’s work will be a great nurturing experience for you.
Therefore, keep your social media feeds clean and curated with valuable content, attend galleries and exhibitions, invest in photo-books, do everything that you can in order to consume high-quality photographs. We guarantee you that your eye will evolve with time. We hope that this brief guide has the power to inspire you to become more passionate and serious about street photography.
There is nothing worse feeling than missing the shot of your life for not being properly prepared. Keep a camera close to you at all times, and avoid being distracted by your smartphones while life bursts around you.
I started the road of photography, repairing some film cameras. But soon I've realised that I need some knowledge on how the photos are formed inside the camera. This road is tougher than I thought, but life is always a learning experience, and I am hoping that you could join me in this wonderful world of photography.
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