Street Photography with a 24mm lens (or 12mm for m4/3)


As my habit is, I like to go to downtown Indianapolis, IN, at Monument Circle. It takes about 10min to walk around once. But, if your looking for Street Photography captures, it may take 20min or longer. The key is to keep moving while looking around as people pass you on the side walk. I don’t take everyone I see, but, I look ahead at what may happen as they get closer. Many times, the passing by person may have a facial expression I want to capture, or not. The key is, to not to get crazy on quantity of photos, but, quality of photos.

This guy, I passed a few times, but he was sleeping each pass. Then, when I saw him awake, I took a photo as I passed. The lens was preset to f/5.6, and from 6′ to INF. I did say hi, and talked a bit with him, and thanked him for the photo. It was a hot day also, around 101*F (w/o the heat index applied).

By now, your thinking, “Why didn’t use his E-M5 and 14mm lens?” I had the same question to myself after I was 5 miles out to my shoot location. The background is this: I had just finished developing a roll of Ilford HP5 shoot at 320 ISO, and the negatives where just a tad thin to my taste for scanning. So, I was anxious to shoot another roll at 200 ISO and change the dilution of the developer from 1:50 to 1:25. I had an opportunity for my wife to watch our Son (Katrina had the night off). Forgetting I had made a promise to use my E-M5 for a street photography project post, I grabbed my Nikon FE, and Nikon 24mm f/2.8 AiS instead. Off I went.

This gal I saw taking a break, I wasn’t sure about the photo though, I knew the tall windows add a space element, and she would be minimized. What I wanted. I had to stand just opposite her to achieve what I wanted. The first photo, she was looking right at  me, then she turned to avoid me. I took another, when she was looking the other way. That was the keeper.

I find trying to photograph at the “Decisive Moment”, takes a little foresight and fast reactions to changing opportunities. As in this gal on a break. you’ll get a higher keeper ratio this way in most cases. I had been seeing some work from other street photographer, and, many were allowing the surrounding environment become over-sized compared to the subject size in the total frame.

Sometimes, you have a fleeting moment that you want try to capture. This messenger was riding around the Circle every few minutes, I had watched his style a few times and was thinking the best way to capture his attitude while he road his bike. I reset my lens to f/16 and the distance scale so 4′ to INF would be in focus,  then I decided to pan my camera with him as he passed me on the side walk. This was the result below.

Sometimes, you have time to wait for the best moment to capture like this filming crew in that was next to the Starbucks I was resting at with some cold bottled water. Although, I took the photo first. At first, I was thinking about including the model that was just out of the frame on the right. But, I felt, the filming crew had enough character on their own. I was surprised that the signs that where used in the ad where hand written.

The goal of Street Photography is to have a photo that says something, that is, shows an emotion, or perhaps, a thought provoking, self-evaluating idea or philosophy, religious or otherwise. This gal, was just sitting there reading a small book or notes. I had passed her several times, but, it wasn’t until I had thought about what framing I wanted. I realize I could of missed the opportunity, But, with Street Photography, you’ll miss many opportunities as you capture others. There are plenty of “Decisive Moment” opportunities  on the street, so don’t sweat it. I thought the Church as a background would provide an added element to help guide the viewer a bit with her somber look.

Here, I just liked the different expressions they all had. And the people inside Starbucks. The Policeman was also into photography, we talked for a few minutes after I took this one. Turned out, he also has a Nikon FM with a bunch of lenses.

One thought on “Street Photography with a 24mm lens (or 12mm for m4/3)”

  1. Love it Arbib. I have been using my 12mm extensively for candid street shooting and love it! I only in the last couple of days started using the 20mm f1.7 instead and my pictures are very different

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