If there is one question most photographers I encounter ask is “What camera/lens/system you use?”. The choice or investment in this camera or that lens has less effect on the quality of the photography output in comparison to talentful technique, composition, imagination and usage of RAW format (to some extent). These latter attributes can make the difference between an attractive image to a mediocre one. As long as you have the right equipment to take the shot (and you’re not making a living out of it), then you’ll manage to get attractive and even exquisite images even with a simple or entry level camera.
As far as street photography goes, I have a simple workflow of Hardware/Software that is detailed below. I have also posted my photo bag on Street Hunters so you can see the small details beyond what is discussed below.
I feel that the common use of a light and small profile camera on the street is a wise choice, especially if aiming at capturing scenes without being noticed by the subjects. To do so, and since my preferences are for wider angle focal length, I have searched for a fast prime that will lend me a final focal range of 28-40 mm in a compact package. Since I had my old Canon Rebel (400D), I had to consider the crop factor (1.6). I have debated long between purchasing the EF 20/f2.8 (32mm), EF 24 f/2.8 IS (38.4mm) or EF 28 f/1.8 and the f/2.8 IS versions (44.8mm). At the end I chose the 24 mm as it enabled me to enjoy a wide view on my Canon 6D full frame camera while on the 400D I will use the crop sensor to keep a bit more distance from the subjects and still fill the frame. It is also relatively light weight and combined with an image stabilizer it is very handy when shooting at low light combined with static objects or when doing panning shots of moving subjects. I feel that this combination satisfies the equipment I need such that I can comfortably set out on the street. Prior to the 400D, I used a Pentax SuperME film SLR bundled with a Tamron 28 mm f/2.5. I had two major qualms/issues with this combo: first, this is a manual-focus lens and thus getting spot on focus was extremely difficult even with the split mirror focusing screen. The second thing was the wide angle that required me to move closer to my subject, not an easy task, and thus required using a stopped down strategy to get everything sharp in the frame. With using an ISO400 obviously I was limited to in-door or other low light conditions. So, while that camera had the charm and robustness of a tough street capture, I had felt I need the autofocus and higher ISO capacities of even that of a 3rd gen Rebel series EOS 400D.
On the street I am using mostly Aperture priority mode, set to aperture f/2.8 as I love the shallow depth of field that can be achieved even with a 40mm focal length. The sharpness and focus accuracy is excellent, delivering pleasing results. I also disable auto-preview to keep me focused on the surrounding and not on my results. I usually carry my camera and essentials in my extra-small Classic Messenger Bag (Timbuk2) which is big enough to accommodate the 400D-24mm combo with a small water bottle. I try to keep street clothing which are both comfortable and also blend well with the environment (T-shirt and jeans, usually). As far shoes goes, I use a boot style cotton shoes with high sole. Comfortable shoes are the most important equipment after the camera.
When I am back at my home I fireup my Lightroom CC subscription and start the digital Dark room phase.
All my images are stored on an external 1Tb hard drive. The first thing I do is copying all images from the memory card and letting the Mac generate a 1:1 preview images. While the Mac is churning bytes and pixels, I am arranging my stuff and do any other housekeeping chores.
Once the images are on the hard drive, I move to the Develope tab and picture-by-picture do the following:
- decided on a scoring between 3-5 (I realized that a 3 level scoring scheme is sufficient for my needs)
- After deciding that this picture is worthy of keeping, I start the editing process.
- If I decide that I want to convert to black and white, I flag the image
- When I am satisfied with the results, I move to the next image, repeating the process.
- Finishing the whole pictures batch, I filter images according to the their flag status and send the images to editing in Nik collection Silver Efex
- Finishing the whole set, I export the whole lot applying my water mark at the left-lower corner.
That’s more or less the deal. I Try to keep it simple as possible.
A brief update (November 2020): I’ve started experimenting using a hybrid digital-analogue setup with the use of both Canon 77D (replacing the old 400D rebel) and the Pentax Super Me film SLR. This combination of two light bodies with two lenses (28 and 38 mm) enable me to expand my perspectives by a bit. I will post on this experience as well as on the process of scanning the films.
Additional update (April 2021): Following my experimentation with the film SLR, I’ve decided to ditch film in favor of using my Canon EOS 77D with my the EF 24mm f/2.8 IS USM lens as well as the Canon EOS 6D coupled to Sigma 30 f/1.4 DC HSM for street photography.
If you have any questions or comments feel free to leave a comment!