How do I make photos

This article is about time. Because you don’t have time, when you shoot street. In the following I will describe, how und with which settings I shoot my photos. Because I am using the Fuji-X-system the description is for this, but if you are using an other system, maybe you can ‘translate’ it for your device.

My wife and I are owner of two Fuji-cameras: A X-T2 and a X-E3. Most of my photos were taken with two lenses: The XF27/2.8 (Pancake) and the XF35/2. We have recently bought the XF23/1.4, which I use enhanced because of the extraordinary quality of the pictures. In very rare cases I use the XF56/1.2.

So I have to main combos: The X-T2 with the XF35/2 and the X-E3 with the XF27/2.8. In the following the pics:

As I mentioned before, I use enhanced the XF23/1.4 mainly in combination with the X-E3.

In final analysis it is a trade-off between how big your camera should be and the picture quality. The X-E3 with the XF27/2.8 is my main gear, which I have alldays with me. Because for streetphotography is the rule: The best camera is the one, you have with you.

Approximately 90% of my photos were taken by a shoot from the hip and only about 10% with precise focusing. OK, I hear the ones right now, which say: ‘that is no real Streetphotography’. But shooting from the hip has two essential benefits: First most people don’t see your camera, when you hold the camera on the hip. But the most important cause is the velocity! It least to long, if you will raise your camera to your eye and do your precise adjustments.

By the way ‘velocity’: My system is optimized for velocity. The fastest autofocus-settings (see below) and very fast shutter-speed. Because one is very important for Streetphotography: the decisive moment is very fast gone! You will never have enough time for doing your best photo.

When I shoot from the hip, I am holding the camera in a special way:

On the picture you can see the two-handed grip, but normally I use it one-handed. I have a soft-release-button on both cameras. That’s not because of being trendy, but as you can see on the picture, my thumb joint is lying on the soft-release-button. If I take a photo, I only have to give a litte bit of pressure on my thumb.

As you can see on the title picture:

(Selfie, 2018)

Or in this photo:

(Mirrored, 2018)

How are my permanent settings on the cameras?

  • Single-mode (S): Because the continous-autofocus is ‘pumping’ to much and that is slowing down.
  • Series shooting with slow mode (CL) with 4.0 pictures per second: That’s because of in faster series modes there is too less change in the motif. Read also the description at the end.
  • Area-autofocus with the tiniest area-field which is possible: I have read, that this mode is the fastest autofocus for Fuji-cameras. Also the possibility to get an autofocus point is very high.
  • Electronic-shutter: because I don’t want to get heard. Please notice, that you have to be aware of the rolling-shutter-effect with this setting!
  • no AF-assist-light: because I don’t want to be seen by others.

And there additionally variable settings:

  1. At bright sun-light: Auto-ISO from 200 to 3200 and minimum shutter speed at 1/500 (because the possibility for shaking is very low). The shutter speed is on A and the aperture is varying in case of the motif. DR is on 100%.
  2. At normal light (standard-setting): Auto-ISO from 200 to 3200 and minimum shutter speed at 1/60, but DR is on 200% (if I need it, I choose an other DR-setting). The shutter speed is variable (mostly at 1/500) and the aperture is on A.
  3. Less light: Auto-ISO from 400 to 6400 and minimum shutter speed at 1/60, DR is always on 200%. The shutter speed is normally at 1/250 and the aperture is on A.

Additionally I have 3 presets on the Q-menu, which are fitting the three situations.

Why do I take photos with a series mode?

In the hear of the moment it is not easy to get the decisive moment. With the series mode you can choose the best photo afterwards on the iMac. For example one of my best photos:

Beneath that there is one more advantage of the series mode: In some situations on the street there is a story in the sequence of photos. If you take more connected photos there is a comming theme.

So, I hope, that I have provided some insights on my work.

Photos with blur motion

In this article I want to show a technique, which I use very often: The motion blur.

In other articles I’ve shown a few photos with motion blur before, but here I want to show something in detail.

If I shoot motion blur, then my camera normally has the following settings: shutter speed at 1/15 or 1/8, aperture in auto mode, auto-iso, continous mode with autofocus in area-mode. The light-metering is always in area measuring mode, so there is no change to my normal settings.

If there is a lot of light, for example in bright sunlight, then you should consider, that you will get overexposure. In this cases you should set the ISO to the lowest possible amount. Perhaps a ND-filter is also a solution.

Important is, that you should hold the camera as calm as possible. Because of my trembling hands it is mostly not easy. So then this happens:

(untitled, 2018)

More important than hold the camera calm is the choice of the right motif! You will need a fixed object in a moving environment. The right timing is a question of practice.

Very good are posters or shop windows:

(Motion blur, 2018)

And you will get amazing shots, if the poster has a message abaout motion: (for not Germans – on the poster is written: 6 days race, to be fast be worth it!)

(Hurry up, 2018)

Other good motifs are people standing still in a pedestrian zone, like in the picture shown before:

(Fast cyclist, 2018)

A place, where I prefer shooting motion blur is the central station or the subway-station. Because there are two situations, which are a good object: Lights and gangways.

Following an example of ceiling lighting with motion blur:

(Subway lights, 2018)

And an example of gangways with people hurrying up for the train:

(Subway station, 2018)

In the end I hope, that I’ve shown you interesting ideas for shooting motion blur.

How do I get good street photos?

In this article I want to show, how you can get easily good street photos. Oh man, there is this amateur photographer and he wants to tell us how to make good street photos? Is he kidding?

No! I don’t want to be a big mouth, but to give newbies some tips, what helped me out, so I was able to take some usable photos in a relativly short time. It’s up to you to decice, if you will find my tips useful or useless for you.

In general I will distinguish between three categories, because all all three needs a separate handling:

  1. Street portraits
  2. Situational humor
  3. Dynamic situations
Street portraits

That topic isn’t worth to go deeper here, because I will refer to the master of street portraits: Eric Kim. At https://erickimphotography.com/ you will find a lots of tips and advices to street portraits. There is nothing more to say.

But one point is essential in my opinion: Get as close as you can!

Situational humor

First it is important to know, how humor works. A good book at this topic is John Vorhaus, The Comic Toolbox How to Be Funny Even If You’re Not: How to Be Funny If You’re Not, Silman James Press, 1994. Because of Vorhaus humor is a result of unexpected contrasts or contradictions. I will talk about visual contrast later on, but at this point the contrast of motifs is the topic. That means the contrast of impossibility or exclusion.

(The admirer, 2018)

This picture is a little bit funny, because it looks like the man is talking to the models on the poster. We all know, that this is impossible, so our brain tries to complete the missing point. The result is astonishment, thinking and if we guess the solution also a smile.

TIP: Seek out for posters, in which the shown people look directly at you or a little bit aside you. Then position yourself in this angle of view and wait as long as a person walks by. Then take a much photos as you can get, because there will normally be one, which looks good.

Dynamic situations

The dynamics or the tension can be caused by two different ways: contrast or rhythm. You can get contrast also in two different ways. By visual contrast oder by contrast of motifs. Sometimes contrast of motifs can cause humor like shown above.

TIP: In all cases of dynamic situations: Look at your environment with open eyes: What is the dominating situation? If you got this dominating point, then seek out for the contradiction or an exception!

Visual contrast

Visual contrast can be caused by Light-Dark (Chiaro-Scuro) or by color contrast.

An example for light-dark-contrast:

(Enlighted man, 2018)

TIP: The dominating situation is either a dark environment, then seek out for light! Or it is a light environment, then seek out for shadows! Is there nothing domination, then this environment is useless for light-dark-contrasts.

Color contrast

Color contrast is caused by contradictional colors according to the color circle and harmony (see also Itten, Goethe etc.).

(Garbage contrast, 2018)

TIP: Color contrasts are sometimes not easy to see. But normally your eye will look at light colors like yellow, orange or red. If you recognize some of these light colors, seek out for the complementary color in the environment, that means blue, violet, green. It is important, that one of the complementary colors is dominating the scene and the other color is only a blot.

Contrast of motifs

The contrast of motifs is often hard to recognize. Watch out for characteristic topics which are typical for this place. Some places got characteristic topics by nature like train stations, airports or bus stops.

TIP: In train stations people are normally in a hurry, because the want to get their train. Look out, if there are people standing still, then focu on these people while taking photos with long shutter speed.

TIP: On bus stops people normally are waiting for the bus, so they are standing still. Focus on that people, while the bus arrives and then take also a photo with long shutter speed.

(Fast cyclist, 2018)

In some locations there are other kind of contrasts. That means, that you have to be creative! E.g. in bars normally people hang up together. A contrast will be a person which sits alone at a table and seems to think about something.

And sometimes there is only a contrast because of the contradiction of two motifs, like in the following picture:

(Different hair, 2017)

Rhythm

Rhythm as dynamic situation will be a contrast momentum because of the series of similar looking things or people, while the strongest visual effect will be caused by an exception at the end of the row.

(Chairs, 2018)

In this picture the chairs are in a row. The cleaning woman at the end is the dynamic element which breaks the row.

Important note: you should consider, that in some cultural regions the people will view on a photo from right to left. That means, that the end of the row is on the left part of the photo. It would be interesting to know, if the visual effects in the photo above would be stronger in cultural regions like the Orient.

If my humble tips have given you some ideas, I would be glad…

What does Streetphotography mean to me?

“What does Streetphotography mean to me” is allmost a metaphysical question for me. In this article I will show, what I see in Streetphotography and what it means to me.

First Streetphotography is documentation for me.

With my photos I want to show live in the urban context, mostly in german cities, in our time. That belongs a lot to showing people, so less pictures from me will show only objects. E.g. one of these rare photos:

(Wig Parade, 2018)

Documentation has a long tradition in art and in photography.

Of course one of the first ‘street photographers’ was Pieter Brueghel the elder. If he would had a camera, he would had made street photos. So he didn’t had a camera and made paintings. You could see what I mean e.g. on the picture ‘The peasant dance’ from the year 1567. I don’t have the rights to show the picture here, so following the link to a source, where you can see the picture: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Peasant_Dance

Because of my opinion, that Streetphotography has a documentation purpose, I have difficulties with ‘posed scenes’ (like I mentioned before in an other article). Also such posed scenes photos could have an intense artistic expression and there pictures and artists doing that, which I admire, I wouldn’t take such photos. Perhaps my view on that will change, if I get the occasion.

So actually my photos are moments of life.

(Secret smoker, 2017)

On second sight Streetphotography for me implies a artistic aspect. I’m sorting the good from the bad by looking on the visual expression and photos with a special dynamics. So I get in mind, that my photos must have a certain tension (more on this topic in an other article), but I try to reach a good proportion in the post production. A rule of thirds is the main messure for me.

(Being laughed at, 2018)

Furthermore I’m trying to take into account, that the contrasts and color harmonies should fit. Minimalism is also in some photos an important style to get visual attendance.

(Puppet company, 2018)

At least Streetphotography is relevant for my relaxation. The joy of making creative moments in contrast to my 9-to-5 job is a well of youth for moments of success and luck. Not least the respect because of my followers are a confirmation for what I try to express with my photos. In the end Streetphotography change a part of my life and turn it upside down.

(Upside down, 2018)

With this in mind …

Streetphotography and GDPR

Actually I am little bit worried about the issue with GDPR. (you can find the english version in the internet)

In this article I will concentrate on GDPR in the context of Streetphotography and not on the other german laws like ‘Kunsturhebergesetz’.

There are some interesting publications from laywers in the internet (just google for it…), where you can find opinions in case of the GDPR especially for professional photographers. In this article I’d like to take a closer look on GDPR for amateur street photographers.

Important note: I am no expert on this issue! So if you are seeking for professional advice please contact a lawyer. In the following I will only describe my personal opinions about GDPR.

Are amateur photographers affected by GDPR?

In Art. 2 Para. 1 GDPR is written, that the regulation applies to the processing of personal data wholly or partly by automated means and to the processing other than by automated means of personal data which form part of a filing system or are intended to form part of a filing system. That means, that unlike the case of ‘Kunsturhebergesetz’ not the act of publishing is significant, but the point of taking the photo with your electronic device like digital camera or smartphone.

It is important for amateur photographers what is written in Art. 2 Para. 2c) GDPR: This Regulation does not apply to the processing of personal data:

(c) by a natural person in the course of a purely personal or household activity.

It will be interesting how the juries in a trail will judge this point. Because if I am an amateur photographer – and so I am logically a private person – and I am taking a photo with my private camera on the street and no other person will ever see the photo, then the photo will never leave my personal sphere. In my opinion the case of Art. 2 Para. 2c) GDPR is given.

Only in the moment, the picture will leave my private sphere, e.g. if I will publish the photo, then Art. 2 Para. 2 GDPR could be affected. That means there will be no difference to ‘Kunsturhebergesetz’.

Biometry or Identification of shown Persons

According to Art. 3 Nr. 1 GDPR ‘personal data’ means any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person (‘data subject’). That means, that because of the picture somebody could match the shown person with the identity of the person. So if I will take a photo from back of a person, nobody could match the identity (except the person shows his name on the back…).

So a picture like this, is not critical:

(Kiss, 2018)

Because of that, pictures will be critical, if the face of a person will be shown. Presumable the person on the following picture will could not be identified (at most the tattoos could be a problem):

(Forbidden Streetphotography, 2018)

So it will be interesting, if a face of a person is on the picture. In this case an identification will be possible by a biometrical process.

Then take a look into Art. 4 Nr. 14 GDPR: ‘biometric data’ means personal data resulting from specific technical processing relating to the physical, physiological or behavioural characteristics of a natural person, which allow or confirm the unique identification of that natural person, such as facial images or dactyloscopic data.

I don’t want to talk about procedures like Elastic-Graph-Matching or other methods in detail. But as an acid test you can use Facebook: If the face detection of Facebook will match, then the identification with biometrical systems is possible.

A note because of an article from ‘Spiegel Online’: The protection of GDPR is only given in the case of persons, not in the case of animals! So if you like to show your cat in the internet, even if you are a professional photographer, feel free to go on.

Twilight area: it will be interesting, how powerful automatic face detection will be in the future. Is it possible to detect persons with big sunglasses? Or persons only shown in profile? I think, that in this cases conflicts are possible.

Now an example for a photo with a person in profile:

(Secret guardian, 2018)

 

permission by the person which is shown

In the case that personal data in the meaning of GDPR is given, because the face can be recognized and the person can be identified, then according to Art. 6 Para. 1a) GDPR you will need a permission by the person which is shown in the picture.

I didn’t found a note in GDPR, at which point the permission must be given. So in my opinion a ‘healing’ permission could also be given afterwards.

According to Art. 7 Para. 3 GDPR a written permission by the shown person could be cancelled by the person afterwards.

Results of missing permission

If there is no permission, although personal data was processed, then the affected person could demand the deletion of the picture.

The amateur photographer has to pay for any legal costs of the affected person in this case. But in my opinion the judges will only accept a trail, if out-of trail agreements have failed before.

Of course it could be very expensive if the supervisory authorities will impose a penalty, which could be up to 20 million Euro.

What does that all mean in practice?

Basically in the case of missing permission the ‘Kunsturhebergesetz’ was relevant so far. If there was no permission according to this law, some street photographers referred to artistic freedom in this case which means the photo will be legal. Because of a recent statement from the ministry of interior of Germany (can be found with Google) the authorities in Germany are the meaning, that ‘Kunsturhebergesetz’ is furthermore the main law. In the end there will be no significant change in practicing Streetphotography. Only storing and processing picture could be more complex because of data protection.

It will be also interesting, how the juries in Germany will interpreting the enabling act in Art. 85 Para. 2 GDPR. The question is, if the ‘Kunsturhebergesetz’ is furthermore the special law with priority over GDPR.

UPDATE: Meanwhile there are some statements from the EU and the Governement in Germany, that the ‘Kunsturhebergesetz’ is further the special law for private photographers and not the GDPR. But if you are a private photographer and you have a blog, you have to follow GDPR in terms of the data handling of your blog (e.g. comments etc.). If you are looking for news about GDPR just google it or you will find a good overview at https://www.fotorecht-seiler.eu/dsgvo-fotografie-kug-update/ (in German).

Laywers specialized on Warnings

It seems to me, that lawyers specialized on warnings are german phenomenon. Some authors in the internet have the opinion, that there will be waves of warnings by lawyers in case of GDPR.

I don’t think so. Because also a lawyer which is specialized on warnings needs a legal-protection-cause. That means he needs a affected person, which gives him mandate. So if there is no accuser there will be no trail.

Interesting notice: Also a lawyer specialized on warnings is storing data in his data systems about a photographer in case of warning. That means according to GDPR that he also needs a permission of the photographer he is accusing. So in my opinion the amateur photographer could demand in reverse the deletion of his data from the lawyer!

The issue will remain interesting …

Used styles of Streetphotography

Even the Streetphotography has different styles. I’m using most of these different styles as a mixture. Because I don’t want to be reduced to one style. The diversity of the motifs is a challenge for me, with which I’d like to play.

Especially I don’t like to decide between black and white or color. Some motifs are better in BnW, some are better in color. The visual effect is the master!

Now following some styles, which I use in my Streetphotography work, so the viewer could get a overview of my work.

Black and White geometry:

(Lines, 2017)

In this case I use geometrical patterns of different architecture together with persons in relation to this geometry. In most cases the contrast is the main effect.

I use this style not often.

Posters and Persons:

(Listening to the music, 2018)

In this case I use the relation of persons and their habit or gesture in contrast to a nearby commercial poster. In most cases a funny situation is the result. This style means waiting in front of the poster for a while.

I use this style very often.

Motion blur:

(Fashion guardians, 2018)

In this case I use the motion blur because of long shutter speed, to build a contrast between the moving persons as a blurry silhouette to fixed background (posters, other people etc.)

I also use this style often.

Chiaro-scuro:

(Ghost, 2018)

In this case I use the constrasts between backgrounds and situation in the front. In most cases these pictures are black and white, rarely I use color contrast. To this category belong also the silhouette images.

I use this style also often.

Situations:

(Mini-scooter, 2018)

In this case a contrast by the motifs exists, resulting in a funny situation. I know, that this style is very popular by streetphotographers, but I use this style only, if the situation is worth to be photographed.

Reflections:

(Crosswalk, 2018)

In this case I use shop windows, mirrors or other reflecting surfaces to get mirror effects of the situation.

I like this style and use it often.

Special case – Street Portraits:

Street-Portraits are a difficult issue. If you make pictures of faces from a close distance, you are in most cases in a situation, that the person starts with posing. Especially in the case, the person gave the permission to be photographed before. Some streetphotographers use flashlight in this cases to illuminate the face.

In my personal opinion, posing-pictures are no Streetphotography, but Portraitphotography. The only difference is, that you shoot the portrait on the street and not in the photo studio.

Streetportraits are imho only those images, which were taken without permission of the photographed person and which have a face-centered division. It is a pity, that these kind of streetportraits are an issue according to the german laws.

Therefore I will show now only a profile photo, which makes an identification of the shown person difficult (in my opinion…).

(White hair, 2018)

Okay, now you have got an overview of the bandwidth of my Streetphotography work – I hope you like it.

My way to Streetphotography

It all started in January 2017: I don’t know exactly when and where, but there was this article about Eric Kim. When I looked at the website of Eric Kim, my first reaction was ‘what the f*** is this?’. Before I never heard about Streetphotography, so it was a new world for me. I began to read the tutorials form him and was more and more excited.

One of Eric Kim tipps is to use a small camera with a fixed wide-angle lens for Streetphotography. Accidental I read an article about the Fuji X100F that time. And so it goes on: I ordered a X100F in a webshop, hot for Streetphotography. In fact, my wife and I we had a Nikon D90 at that time, but this camera was to big and heavy to carry around all the time.

It was a pity, that the X100F was out of stock at that time. So I waited. Then in May I  didn’t want to wait anymore and I began to consider, if the X100F will be the right camera for me. In the end I decided to buy a camera with exchangeable lenses, so I canceled my order for the X100F.

Midth of August 2017 the time had come to act: I took my wife and we drove to Fotomax (a camera shop) in Nuremberg. Actual we wanted to buy a X-T20, but when we left the shop it was the X-T2, with the kit-lens XF18-55 and the pancake lens XF27/2.8 which we bought. The pancake lens was the one meant for Streetphotography.

The first pictures were from the 14th of August in 2017. That was the hour of birth of Streetphotography for me. At this point I had around 30 Follower on Instagram and I have posted only occasional photos from some travels.

My first street photo was this:

(Untitled, 2017)

Awesome 😉 , what do you think?

At that time I was very, very cautious taking photos of people. Also I wasn’t used to the point, not to shoot to much because of the scrap rate. So I was focusing very accurate and then taking only one picture. The yield wasn’t very high.

My first street photo, which I posted on Instagram, was this one:

(Relax, 2017)

I was proud like a peacock. The feedback was modest.

In the following months I began more and more to make experiments. First I switched from single shot to continous shooting. Then I began to vary the focal points up to the point, when I switched to continous focusing. At that time I worked with fixed aperture of 6.4 and a variable shutter speed. OK, the amount of blurry pics was tremendous.

The first good street photo I’ve made (in my humble opinion) was this one:

(On the other side, 2017)

The Instagram followers were growing rapidly.

A real challenge were the winter months. I am an employee in my main job and a amateur street photographer. Unter these conditions f from November to February you will shoot in whole darkness, when you leave the enterprise at 17.00 o’clock. So I had to change my techniques in shooting: More concentration and a slow down. Just stand still and hold your hand calm. In these months my kind of looking at street scenes changed. Trent Parke had once said: “I am forever chasing light. Light turns the ordinary into the magical.”. If you ever shoot street in winter, you will know, what the sentence mean.

In my eyes there are two possibilities, how to shoot street in winter: Either you shoot against the light, so that the person will appear as silhouette or you shoot with the light, so that the persons face will get a glow by the shop lights. An example for a mixture of both styles you will see in this image:

(Bags, 2017)

The greatest step forward I’ve made in March 2018. In this month I had a lot of practice and that consolidated my kind of street photography: The way how I hold the camera (more about that in a separate article), the way which motif I will shoot (also more in a seperate article), and the way how I work on my images in the postproduction.

At this point I should mention, that I have some ethics on making street photos: No childs, no helpless people and no people with disabilities – these persons are taboo. And I should mention, that I have a very less postproduction. There are only three things I will change in postproduction: Acros or Classicchrome, increasing contrasts and cropping – that’s all. I don’t do photoshopping! That would mean for me to change the history, it would not feel authentic. So all of my pics are pure and raw street!

When I write this article the count of followers on Instagram is nearly 1200. I’ve made so far around 15000 pics. Serious post produced were around 1000. Actually I’m looking for other street photographers in Nuremberg, to exchange views around Streetphotography. I’m curious which interesting people I will meet.

Meanwhile I have a X-E3 as second body and 4 more lenses. The X-E3 is my main workmate for all days.

My actually best photo (imho) is this:

(Mirrror man, 2018)

The journey continues…