Monday, January 30, 2012

Ideal Bag and Sling Strap for the "Invisible" Street Photographers

Ideal Bag and Sling Strap for the "Invisible" Street Photographers

I'm using my Canon G12 for my Street Photography because of its small compact size while being full featured. However, it's not small enough to hide in my pocket. I tried different solutions each with its own compromise:




Put camera in bag and take it out when you need to take a picture

-Safer from thieves
-Protected  from the elements and  bumbs

-Slow to put into action

Hang camera on body/neck using provided camera strap

-Fast to put into shooting mode

-Exposed to elements and  bumbs
-Tempting to theives

I needed a better solution to be able to put my camera into action faster when a photo opportunity arises while still be able to hide and protect it when it's not in use.

During my visit to Photo World Asia in Glorrieta, I came across a solution to my dillema: Black Rapid, a company famous with professional photographers for their functional DSLR camera straps, has a product called Snap R20.

Here is the product video to show you what it can do:

It's 3-in-1 Camera Bag, Sling Strap and Hand Strap.

I can now roam the streets "invisible",  my camera protected and still take photos faster for that "decisive moment". Black Rapid SNAP R20, you are heaven sent!

For more info on the product, you can visit Black Rapid's website:

Black Rapid products are sold and distributed in the Philippines by Lightroom Corporation.  Also available in your favorite camera stores.


Saturday, January 21, 2012

How to Get Sharp Pictures When Photographing People Walking

In photography genres like Street Photography, we include people walking in our photo compositions.  In some cases, you as a photographer would like to freeze the movement to get a sharper image of the people walking.

Adjusting the shutter speed accordingly is the key to a frozen action leading to a sharper (not blurred) people in the photo. Although we would like to use the fastest shutter speed available to freeze the motion, it's always not possible to due low-lighting situations.  Selecting the minimum shutter speed fast enough to freeze the motion and but slow enough to get the exposure right.

In the example black & white photo below, people are walking into and away from the direction of the camera.  This requires at least 1/125" shutter speed or faster depends on the speed of the person to freeze the motion.
f /4.0, 1/125", ISO 80

In the next colored photo below, the person is walking sideways in the frame from right to left.  In this case, it would require at least 1/250" shutter speed.

f/4.0, 1/250", ISO 800
To freeze the action, subjects moving side to side across the frame will require faster shutter speeds compared to subjects moving towards or away from the camera like in the previous photo.

To illustrate the effect of selecting shutter speed slower than suggested, the photo below shows a blurry ( lack of sharpness) person due to motion blur caused by the wrong shutter speed choice of 1/50".

f/2.8, 1/50", ISO 400
In summary, freezing action requires faster shutter speeds depending on the speed of the subjects. Since this post is about freezing the action of people walking, it is suggested to use at least:
- 1/125" if the people are moving towards or away from the camera
- 1/250" if the people are moving sidewards (left to right or vice-versa)

These settings are based on average walking speed, not brisk walking, jogging or running.
Of course it's a given that when you adjust your shutter speed, you have to adjust your aperture or ISO to achieve the right exposure.  You can use shutter priority mode (Tv or S), set your shutter speed accordingly and the camera will adjust the aperture or the ISO (if set to auto ISO).

We will tackle faster moving subject and blurring motion in future post.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Low Light Photography with the Feast of Black Nazarene

January 9, 2012 was the Feast of the Black Nazarene. It's a big religious celebration for Roman Catholics here in the Philippines.  Millions of barefoot devotees risked their life and limb just to wipe the wooden Black Nazarene statue with their white towels, touch it, or pull the rope attached to the Andas ("Carriage). It's a photo opportunity not to be missed!

Together with my photography friends from Grupo Potograpika, we positioned ourselves at around 1:30 pm on the top of the Feati University overlooking the McArthur bridge where the procession will passed by.  I was a good high vantage point.  However, there were so many issues with the carriage that by the time it arrived on the bridge, it was already almost 8:30 pm.  Most of us decided to abandon the rooftop position after sunset to go to the fenced area on the ground floor to get better lighting on the devotees compared to the lighting we will get as show in the last photo "View from the Roof".  I really regretted not bringing my 580EXII flash.

Finally, the carriage approached the bridge and the excitement begun. The moment we are waiting for, the fruits of our 7 hours wait, our opportunity to take photos of the action.

The challenge now is the low lighting. Only sources of light are the street lamps.  I switched to ISO 800 & 1600.  The Canon 40D is rated around ISO 800 for it's low light efficiency. Even with my Sigma 18-50 f/2.8, I needed more ISO so I switch to ISO 1600 bearing in mind I will just do noise reduction using Nik Define via Lightroom during post processing.

The Rope and The Andas "Carriage"  ( f/3.2, 1/50", ISO 1600, Manual Mode)

The first photo above was taken at 1/50" to freeze the action. You might think 1/50" is too slow but with a slow moving subject (carriage) coupled with a wider angle (zoomed at 33mm), it did the job at ISO 1600.  ISO 3200 is not an option due to extreme noise for the Canon 40D.

The Towel Wave (f/2.8, 1/6"at ISO 800, Av Mode)

It's exciting to see and hear the roar and celebration of the crowd when doing the Towel Wave when the carriage moves forward after getting stuck coupled with the music of the brass band playing the theme.  For this Towel Wave photo above, I shot in AV mode selecting the fastest aperture I have f/2.8 and switched back to ISO 800 so I can get a slow enough shutter speed to blur the towel and the banner movement.  Why not stick with ISO 1600 and just adjust aperture or shutter speed?  Main reason is I get less noise with ISO 800.  If would like to use ISO 400 but the shutter speed will be to low and will blur most of the photo.  Second, since I was shooting wide at 33mm at far from the subject, even at f/2 .8 renders enough depth of field (area of focus) required.  Third, I have the right shutter speed balance to show blur on the hands, towel, banner waving juxtaposed against the standing crowds.

Candlelight (f/3.2, 1/30", ISO 1600, Manual Mode)

For the photo "Candlelight", I used spot metering and metered on the bright side of the scene.  This is a good technique for dramatic low lighting because the rest of the scene the light will fall off.

If you want to see some of the other photos take during the event, please follow this link:

View from the Roof (f/2.8, 1/30, ISO 1600, Manual Mode)

Update:  With the new models of DSLR that can go up to ISO 6400 and still acceptable with noise levels, the possibilities are more. Of course, the same above  principle still applies.


Juxtaposition and Background Fixing in Street Photography

Free Hug

Crossed Paths

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Juxtaposition as the act or an instance of placing two or more things side by side.  In photography, its positioning of objects one upon the other, or side by side to create meaning within the viewer's mind.

Went to SM Mall North Edsa, in the The Block area, and saw these two displays that caught my attention.  Using a technique called "Background Fixing", I setup my Canon G12 camera's exposure, positioned it on in front of my body (hip shooting) and clicked when a person/subject comes into the frame to be juxtaposed with the displays.  It was just a matter of waiting for the decisive moment to click.  Viewing the frame with the G12's articulated screen really helps the framing, at least approximately.  Both photos were cropped later.  The photo "Crossed Paths" was originally in landscape format because of the hip shooting style but later cropped to portrait to remove the extra details and make it stronger as suggested by Leanne Jazul, founder of Usapang Kalye street photography group.


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Getting in to Street Photography (SP)

I recently joined a Street Photography Facebook group called "Usapang Kalye" (Street Talk).  The group really inspired me into this genre of photography.  Before, I was not into taking pictures in the streets but the challenges of this genre excited me.  The challenge of transforming everyday scenes into a single frame of a photo where all the contents are coherent at the decisive moment.  I love it!  You will be seeing more SP photos here in the future.

"Dos Pares" (Two Pairs)