The darkness can be a comforting friend and ally as well as an intimidating scary place. It is many times up to you what you will feel like and how you will react to it.
I met Björn when we met up for an excursion into the Solna Badlands. He seemed to have an affinity for shooting abandoned industrial areas and general industrial environments. Here in Sweden it is increasingly difficult to find abandoned places like this but Björn has recently put up a series of pictures from an abandoned Sugar Mill in the southern part of Sweden. We also had company of another Flickr photographer, Len Lysén.
All pictures in this slide show are Copyright Björn Sahlberg, I have just linked to his Flickr set displaying them as a slide show. Enjoy the tour.
People sometimes ask in forums and other places what is the optimum settings for certain types of photography. Although there is no absolutely clear answer—it depends what you are trying to capture of course and your own style there are some things that are useful to remember.
- Continuous shooting (Ch or continuous high)
- Tracking autofocus
- Aperture priority
- Center focus
- Matrix metering
- White balance daylight/cloudy
- RAW format
Here are my arguments for each of these settings.
Continuous shooting this is great because if something happens unexpectedly you just point and keep shooting frame after frame and you might get that special picture even if you was not ready to compose and wait for the moment. Things happens fast in the street so be prepared. A useful lens to have mounted is a superzoom, 18-200 mm or similar, they give you great range and can handle almost any urban situation. The drawback is of course that superzooms are a compromise and may lack sharpness for example.
Tracking autofocus this means the camera keeps focussing all the time even if you keep shooting frame after frame. This is good for tracking moving objects but you have to be aware where the focus points are in your frame. On Nikon cameras this is AF-C (Autofocus continuous). Single time focusing is called AF-S.
Aperture priority or the ”A” mode on the camera. This allows you to select the aperture for best depth of field and focus and the camera will automatically pick the apropriate shutter time for a good exposure. This means you don’t have to worry about the exposure and you still maintain a high level of control. Most lenses are sharpest when they are stopped down 2-3 steps. For most this means that f/5.6 – f/11 is probably the best choice in broad daylight. As your light diminish, keep shooting but open the aperture to f/3.5 or f/2.8 or even further if your lens supports it! Most superzooms can not open byond 3.5 at their broad end and 5.6 at their far end.
ISO200 this is a good setting because it minimises the noise from the sensor. If the light conditions are low, raise it but do it with caution since it can produce severely grainy images. Some cameras are much better than others though, you may want to experiment with this. But if your light conditions do not require it—keep your ISO low.
Center focus is preferred because thats where you aim. Use the AF-L (autofocus lock) button to lock if you wish to recompose. The reason center focus is so nice is that if something happens quickly you tract it the focus system has a better chance of concentrating on the object you are tracking. On Nikon cameras the 21 point focus system is great. On the older models as the D70 that has a very limited number of focus points use the single center dot.
Matrix metering means the camera is ready for most light conditions. Activate the ”highlight” function on your display to see if the metering has overexposed the picture, then use the exposure compensation setting +/- to change, recompose and take another shot. Using spot metering it may be very difficult to get the right exposure when there are multiple light sources as it generally is in the city. Centre weighted can sometimes be useful but most of the time matric metering is the best.
White balance does not matter too much if you are shooting RAW which you should be anyway… you can always correct this afterwards in your post processing because RAW files keep the sensor data as it was while JPEG will apply the white balance to the final picture. If you are shooting JPEG then set your WB accordinly, if you are shooting RAW you may do so but auto is usually fine as well.
RAW format is great because it allows you to adjust exposure and white balance with the maximum dynamics in the picture. In RAW you can easily correct 1 EV underexposure but if you attempt to do this on a JPEG the picture usually does not fare well.
JPEG format is not listed above but still very useful in certain situations… There is one time I will flip to JPEG when shooting street phot and that is when I will be taking long series of pictures of some event such as marathon runners or similar. The reason is that when I shoot RAW my camera buffer overloads after a few pictures and the camera can not fire as rapidly as in the beginning because it has to wait for the memory card to ”swallow” all the data. Since JPEG images are pre-compressed before they are written to the memory card they are smaller and thus allows me to shoot very long series of pictures before the camera memory buffer is full and it starts to ”stutter”. Don’t forget to set it back to RAW when you are done!
I just walked past it. The workers looked like they’d kill the next student coming along. Apparently they were emptying the fountain from water so that it does not freeze in the winter time when someone dropped a bottle of washing up liquid into it. Great foaming ensued and the guys trying to empty it was the only ones not laughing…
This time of the year is my favourite for photography, you can just go outside and get some really nice photos, grandiose colours and exiting subjecs, the surroundings is excellent, just your ordinary park offers a lot of things that are just waiting to be photographed.
Here are some of my autumn photos for inspiration or to just enjoy:
Here in Stockholm there are many interesting pieces of art in the underground metro lines. This autumn SL, the authority running the three metro lines here in Stockholm arranges a series of train rides with a guide to guide you through the art pieces.
This will happen roughly twice a week starting this thursday (day after tomorrow) but unfortunately I am busy thursday nights. The second night is on the coming Sunday however when I think it would be a great time to meet up and bring the cameras along.
Anyone interested in joining in on a project and learn more about the beautiful metro in Stocholm and perhaps get the chance to photograph the arts in the subway?
Here is a link to the programme unfortunately all in Swedish but the dates are there.
Chucked away on the pavement, perhaps in anger, maybe just by sloppiness or laziness, there it was – Yesterdays News…
Post-processing includes: Desaturation, Cropping, Contrast adjustment, Vignetting, Clarification. All done in Lightroom 2.
So yesterday 50 people were enlisted for the photo-walk, I think more than 40 turned up at Högalidskyrkan and we started walking. It was a beautiful day, we had exeptional luck with the weather and it turned out to be a very nice event.
Lots of pictures was taken and due to an unfortunate accident I lost some good pictures on a memory card that decided to fail of course. But since I regularly swap cards in the camera this did not affect too many pictures and most of the really good ones I liked was saved!
Check out mine and the other people’s photos in this Flickr group!
Looking forward to the photo walk here in stockholm, to meet up with other photographers is always fund and I hope I will be able to get some good shots as well but I really suck when it comes to street photography. I have such a hard time composing that I miss the moments that I want to capture and I need to practice this. So I have considered ”going light” this time with the stuff that I need mainly in my pockets and of course a tripod, camera and one lens.
Instead of focusing on using the proper prime lens for the job I will be lugging my 18-200mm lens that can do almost any kind of shot. Although this lens is a bit on the soft side and I prefer a harder sharpness in my photos it is still a really nice all-round lens that can do many situations instantly. It is also equipped with the VR function to reduce shakiness when hand-held and that should be a great help today.
Here are some street shots that I have done earlier which are not half-bad but I don’t feel confident I can actually ”make” the photos the way I really want them. So this will be a very interesting test for me.
The walk starts at hornstull at Högalidskyrkan (the church) and then we are off in smaller groups. The walk ends at Mosebacke. I will of course post pictures as they are developed after the walk. The weather looks nice still and I hope we get a really nice evening in town!
I am also considering trying out IR photography in this setting. It could be difficult of course but I think it could be interesting. But this means I have to lugh around my tripod – something that has never been a problem before but it is of course time consuming to set it up to shoot when everyone else snaps a picture and moves on but I think that it would be cool.
So this is my plan equipment-wise:
- Camera D70s
- Lens: Zoom-Nikkor AF-S VR 18-200 f/3.5-5.6G ED-IF
- Micro-fibre lens cloth of course
- Circular polarizer Ø72mm
- IR filter Ø72mm
- Extra battery camera
- Memory cards
- Tripod with shoulder sling bag
- Towel to protect camera if there is rain