Sunday, October 9, 2011

Small city street photgraphy exists too

London, Paris, New York, LA, Hong Kong have all become mecca's for street photography, and the list doesn't end there.  Many people think you need to live in or a at least shoot in one of these big cities in order to particpate in street photography. 

This couldn't be farther from the truth, street photography lives wherever there is human life exists.  At its core street photography is the documentation of the beautiful moments that occur in everyday human life.  So why would it only be centered in the major cities of the world, life exists outside of those centres.

Even though street photography can take place in smaller centres, it can be a little more frustrating at times and slightly different techniques need to be employed to be successful.

streetogrOFFY mainly occurs in the small 16,000 person village that I live in.  I sometimes make trips into much bigger cities to work but the bulk of my training, practice, and images come from this small centre.

Street photography in the bigger cities is something to be treasured.  There is so much going on and so many people around, that not only is it easy to blend in as a street photographer, but there are so many different stories being told all at once.

As you move to a smaller location, the population decreases drastically and so too do the amount of stories you see.  They are spread out much more, and without the hustle and bustle of the big city, the residents are usually much more aware of their surroundings, specifically someone trying to take their picture.

This is where discreetness is king.  I used to used a DSLR when I started out and managed to get some great images but I needed something more.  It was too large and often would affect my ability to be the "unseen" photographer and document what I see.

I now work with gear much smaller, quieter and more discreet in order to get closer to the action and get the shots I want.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Street Photography for Beginners - The Social Butterfly

We are all on our way to becoming the next masters of street photography, continually developing and practicing our foundations of street photography.  But there is one more skill that is often overlooked. It is very common place for a street photographers to be out shooting and not say a single word the entire time they are out.

Our society has slowly moved to a place where people no longer smile or greet each other as they walk by on the street, everyone is preoccupied with their own situation.  Now this shift in society behaviour can work towards a street photographer's benefit because it is much easier to take your photos unnoticed. 

But if you are walking around quiet and sullenly taking your photos, it almost has a stalking appearance and that could put many people on guard while you are around.  By smiling lots and saying hello to people as you walk around you become a lot less threatening. This will allow your subjects to relax while you are around with your camera, allowing you to get better photos.

One exercise I like to work on each day is everytime I am out taking photos I like to take the time to stop and talk to at least one stranger.  By spending some time striking up conversations with strangers you will not only develop your social skills, but your confidence will improve dramatically.  

This added confidence will allow you to continually be able to get closer to your subject so you can get the framing and composition you want.  And you never know, while you are having your conversation you may just get the oppurtunity to take an excellent candid street portrait :)
 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Street Photography for Beginners - Take the Gloves Off

The Golden Rule has finally been put to bed and now it is time to take the gloves off.  You have worked hard at practicing all the foundational skills that make up a great street photograph. 

Now is the time to get out there and put all that practice to good use.  Just remember your foundation while you are out there!

Now that the old Golden Rule is over, it is time to add a new Golden Rule for your street photography:  HAVE FUN

Nothing could be more important than you having fun with you street photography.  This will keep you focused and pushing yourself to continually improve your street photography skills. 

Don't spend too much time examining the photos of the street masters, but rather spend your time making your own photographs.  Learn what type of images you like, and develop your own style.  At the end of the day, the only person that needs to like your photographs is you. 

As you move along your journey towards becoming a better street photographer, by all means study the masters, but always remember you are your own artist.

This marks the end of our journey towards becoming a better street photographer.  I hope you enjoyed the journey and continue to have fun pursuing and develop your skills as a street photographer. 

My next post will cover one additional optional skill you can work on if you feel like it. 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Street Photography for Beginners - The Foundation

We are all masters of our cameras and composition so it is time to start having a little more fun.  Don't get too excited though, because our Golden Rule still applies.  Refrain from shooting street photographs for just a little bit longer, we are almost there.

Spending time learning to use our cameras and learning compositional techniques are the foundation of photography, now we need to put those skills to use to start building the foundation of the photograph. 

Street photographs aren't on blank canvas, the subject is always surrounded by urban surroundings.  So in order to continue along our journey towards becoming a better street photographer, we need to spend a little time working on shooting urban scapes. 

To start just walk around taking photos of different urban scapes that seem appealing to you.  This will help you determine what textures you like and what makes a strong supporting background.

Once you have taken your urban scape photos spend some time examining them.  Critique yourself on your composition and think of ways you could have improved the photo.  In addition, spend some time thinking of where people could be placed in the photo to add the finishing touches.

When I first started out I focused on this one set of staircases that I found just had such a gritty and raw look to it. 

I went back everyday shooting the same staircase from different angles and point of views.  Each time I reviewed I would imagine where I would ideally like to place my subjects in the photo to strengthen it. 

Finally, I decided on two different variations of subject placement that I thought might look good.  It was for the Golden rule to end, and add subjects into my photographs. 
Subject Placement 1

Subject Placement 2


These aren't the best street photographs that I have ever produced but they help illustrate how to properly practice skill three. 

By continually practicing this skill my images have gotten much stronger.  The subjects in the photographs are now surrounded by a much stronger foundation, making for much better images.


In the next we will examine the final skill in our journey to become better street photographers

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Street Photography for Beginners - Compose Like a Master

We are all now masters of our cameras, and it has truly now become a tool that enhances our ability to make art.  It is time to begin working on our second required skill for improving our street photography.  Remember while doing this to continue following the golden rule, Don't Shoot Street Photography.

If you spend some time looking at the masters of street photography images, like Henri Cartier Bresson's, they all have one thing in common; their photographs are compositional masterpieces.

Composition is often the most overlooked skill in street photography, where photographers focus more on capturing the "decisive moment", but without strong composition a photograph will an excellent captured moment will still not pop out of the page. 

Street photography requires the photographer to have the ability to make a strong composition in a fraction of a second; it almost must be second nature to the street photographer.

In order to gain this "sixth sense" of photography and have composition become second nature you must study composition and practice.  This will be a life long task that will always require you to be learning, practicing, and refining your compositional skills. 

This is a very big task to take on, so in order to not become overwhelmed break the elements of composition down into single elements.  This way you can focus on each one individually. Go out each time and only focus on one element of composition.  For example, spend an entire day working on lines.  Focus on looking for lines everywhere, you will be surprised how abundant they are.

As you practice each element of composition more and more they will begin to come a lot more naturally as you look at a potential photograph, slowly becoming second nature.

In our next post we will continue moving along our journey towards becoming better at street photography by looking at our next skill.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Street Photography for Beginners - Become a Master

In my last post I shared my golden rule on becoming a better street photographer; Don't Shoot Street Photography.  I know this seems a little backwards but trust me on this, ignore your urges to attempt to capture street photographs and focus on the required skills.  You will have plenty of time in the future to do as much street photography as you like but for now lets focus on the basics.

The first skill required for becoming a better street photographer is a simple one:  LEARN AND MASTER YOUR CAMERA

Now although this seems like a very simple task, most photographers don't spend nearly enough time on this skill, if any time at all.

Your first task in mastering this skill is simple; read your camera's manual.  I am not talking about skimming through it, but seriously sitting down and learning you camera. 

This is important because you need to know you camera's capabilities.  Also, by doing this you will be able to set you camera up in a manner that works best with how you work.

Set your camera up in with a certain configuration and then go test it out.  Change any specific that don't make sense with how you work until you can function and make changes on the fly with no problems.

Once your camera is all set-up, it is time to master your camera.  To do this you want to learn exactly how your camera functions at its different settings.

Go out and pick a stationary target to take pictures of and perform 3 tasks.

1. Alter your ISO settings - by shooting the same subject at all the different ISO settings on your camera you will be able to see what your camera's low light capabilities are.  It will allow you to see what level of grain and noise comes with each setting, and what your maximum threshold is.

2. Alter your Aperture settings - open your aperture as wide as it goes and then proceed to shoot a picture at increasing full exposure stops.  This will well you learn the depth of field capabilities of your lens and sharpness. 

Once you have done this exercise once, do it again but this time shoot your camera into frontlit sunlight.  This will allow you to see how your lens performs in direct sun and what type of flares you will get

3. Alter you shutter speed - set your camera to shutter priority and begin at 1/125s and decrease your shutter speeds by full stops of exposure.  By doing this task you will learn your hand holding capabilities.

These tasks might seem trivial and meaningless but they are such an important foundation to build.  When you are out shooting street photography you need to be able to seamlessly transition between ISO, aperture, and shutter speeds to get the look you like.  If you haven't spent the time learning what all these settings look like, you won't know what changes to make when you are moving on the fly

In the next post we will continue examining the skills required for improving your street photography.






Thursday, August 18, 2011

Street Photography for Beginners: The Golden Rule

Street photography is becoming a lot more of a mainstream form of photography these days.  As such, many more photographers are attempting to try their hand at it.  Often though, as with many forms of photography, your images just don't have the pop that other street photographers have.  Beginner street photographers can find this frustrating because they just don't understand why their images aren't working, it is just photographs of random people on the street right?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

streetogrOFFY - "Shadow Riding"


There can be a big difference between shooting street photography in a big metropolis like Toronto versus the small village I live in.  The major difference is just that lack of people here, which forces you to look much harder for great photo oppurtunities.

One of the ways I have adapted to this is late afternoon shooting when here in Port Credit.  This has two benefits.  First, the seems to many more people around in the later afternoon which greatly increases my chance of finding a shot I like.  But the most important reason is the shadows.  In late afternoon the sun is getting lower in the sky and large shadows are starting to play along the ground.

As a photographer you can take advantage of this to really improve you pictures.  Yesterdays photo and today's photo are pefect examples of where I have let the shadows become much more than just a back ground element in my photo.

Monday, August 15, 2011

streetogrOFFY - "Shadow Giants"



I was out walking about in the late afternoon when I came across this shot.  I always tend to walk along this sidewalk if I am out in the late afternoon because I love the shadows that the railing produces.  When I came by this time it was just so much stronger the two people and their shadows as well.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Street Photography Undefined

We have something inside of us that is always pushing to label, categorize, and define things.  Once we have done that we can organize them in tiny little buckets.  Photography is no different where we have so many different genres, including Street Photography.

Every genre has been not only been labelled but has a nice definition to go with it, except Street Photography.  It is such a broad genre, the definitions become just as broad.  I presented one definition of street photography that I found to be inspiring and useful when I was starting out, you can see it at A Definition of Street Photography.  Today I would like to present another definition on Street Photography, one that has become my favourite take on the genre

Friday, August 12, 2011

streetogrOFF - "Coffee Break"


I am not much of a portrait street photographer anymore, I find my tastes and style of shooting has evolved into something else.  I guess for me I find street portraits, even when candid, to be usually forgettable.  Sure they almost always portray a powerful emotion but this rarely reaches inside me and moves me.

Now with that said once in awhile I still do find "characters" that I find interesting and seem to have quite the story to them.  Today's shot is one example of that.

Monday, August 8, 2011

streetogrOFFY - "The Pursecycle"


Photography is supposed to be fun and sometimes you just have to make sure you are having fun doing it.  For this shot I decided to have a little fun by playing around a little with my subjects and juxtaposing two things together to form one shot. 

PRESS:
This shot was selected by Eric Kim as one of the 18 Great Examples of Humour in Street Photography for a contest he ran on his blog the week of Aug 1, 2011

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Definition of Street Photography


I am voracious learner, and when I want to learn something new I dive right into studying it.  Street photography was a little different though.  It seemed unlike all other forms of photography as there didn't seem to lots of books floating around describing it; it felt almost underground.

This lack of initial information didn't stop me, I was determined to understand what street photography was, and first I wanted a definition.  To find this I turned to already established street photographers to understand their definition of street photography. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

streetogrOFFY - Compositionally Speaking

I touched on this a little bit yesterday.  For me street photography has begun to evolve. I now longer enjoy taking the close up portrait shots that only express an emotion.  I have taken on the personal challenge of adding more complexity into the images by building much stronger composed images.


Composition is often to most forget pieces in street photography as it really is hard to master when you need to react so quickly  Really the only way to do so is making a conscious effort to focus on it and practice it.  I believe a strong composition is what makes the foudation and structure of great photos so strong, it is what creates lasting impression photographs.  In these style photographs the people are just pieces that enhance the overall composition and story rather than being the main focus.


Today I am sharing three seperate photos where I have begun my journey into examining stronger composition and better placement of subject to support this.  I hope you enjoy and can't wait to hear comments.  Feel free to also offer new names for any you don't like :)
 
No Hands | 28mm
This was my first foray into this new style. It is a fairly simple composition with the nice long path leading you into the frame.  I liked the biker with no hands but debate whether it could have used another subject deeper in the frame for more balance.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

streetogrOFFY - "Patiently Waiting"


This picture comes from latest Toronto Street Photography trip.  It is one of the majore benefits of having to trek into the city for appointments every other week, I know I will get some street photography time in the city.

Shooting street photography in Toronto is a lot more fun than shooting here in my tiny little hometown.  There is just so much more going on in the city, I always end up getting much better photos.  This last trip was no exception, in which I got some of my best shots to date. 

The first time I came to shoot street photography in Toronto I was almost overwhelmed with the amount of people.  I was still shooting from the hip, and basically shot pictures of every person I passed or found interesting.  I had a good time but didn't get many great keepers.  I have seen the error in my ways and now look for more than portrait shots.  In addition, I shoot with the viewfinder attempting to construct the images to depict a better story.

This picture I took in the alley behind the hospital.  What drew me to it was all the different people waiting.  First, the main figure tapping his foot with arms on his side.  Then you see the van and wonder is it waiting for the man or the man waiting for it.  Finally, in the distance is a couple delivery trucks waiting for their turns in the delivery bay. 

I know as I practice this technique more I will be able to construct much better images but I am already enjoying my shots more.

What are your thoughts?

About streetogrOFFY

I am a Toronto Street Photographer.  Well I guess I shouldn't classify me as just a Toronto Street Photographer but more like a Greater Toronto Area (GTA) Street Photographer.  With that said I love toronto street photography.  I try and get into the city at least once a week to shoot. 

I am fairly new to the street photography genre but have found a stronger passion for it than any other genre of photography.  Photography has only been in my life for 1.5 years since I got sick.  it has changed my outlook on the world which I believe comes across in my photography.  A fun fact is it also changed me physically, I now have two DNA's one for all the cells and organs of my body and another DNA for all my blood and immune cells.  I mean how many ppl can you say you know with two DNA :)

When I go out shooting I don't purely focus on street, to tell the truth I don't focus on anything.  I like to take an ecceltic approach.  instead of focusing on just one genre of photography i like to focus on subject matter that interests me.  Sometimes I come home with street shots, other times urban or landscapres, or even still life flowers (talk about hardcore eh). In the end I always come home fulfilled, content and happy which is most important to me with my in photography.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

streetogrOFFY - "Reflections"



As I continue to shoot more and more street shots I find myself less inclined to shoot portrait style.  I am beginning to find them both boring to shoot and look at.  When I first started out, that is all I shot.  I am not saying there is anything wrong with them, they just don't speak to me anymore.

I find myself starting to try and tell more of a story now and building stronger composed images.  I think as time goes along these will make for images that speak a lot stronger to me.

In this shot I just loved the strut he had and all the reflected images in the glass.  I find it makes the image feel symmetrical.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

streetogrOFFY - "Mini Me"

I was out on one of my many photowalks around Port Credit when I captured this shot.  I really liked how the image was composed with the balance of people and just as I was shooting it the image got better this the child and man turning around to look.  It could have been a bit sharper of a shot but I still really like it.

As always I have sometimes have difficulties with naming my work, and this is no difference.  So please offer any suggestions for a title, the best one I will pick and rename the post. :)


Monday, August 1, 2011

streetogrOFFY: My becoming a Street Photographer

I didn't always want to be a street photographer.  In fact, when I took up photography a year ago I was more interested in parlaying the photography thing into a paying gig; I know the dream of most photographers. 

My interest in street photography came over a year after I started photography and it happened more by chance or accident than anything else.  I was beginning to get extremely bored shooting the typical nature, wildlife, and flower shots and was looking for something more.  I realized then that photography was most likely not going to be a profession for me but stay where is should, a passion.

I began wanting more from my images, I wanted them to feel different than the others I shot and have a connection to them.  I switched my interest to shooting urban photography and at the same time begain experimenting much more in black and white photography.  I was instantly drawn into these new images; they had a rawness and grittiness that I hadn't seen before.  They had a soul, and I liked it.  

Sunday, July 31, 2011

streetogrOFFY - "Look Away"


Toronto Street Photography
f/8 1/1600s ISO400
Canon EOS 5d,  35mm
May 20,2011

This photo came from my first time doing street photography in Toronto.  Up until this point I had always just done my photography in the small village that I live in.  It was just an wonderful experience working in the "big" city. 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

streetogrOFFY Manifesto

Well this new blog has formed but is still in its infancy.  There are a bunch of images, but nothing explaining the blog along the top.  So I am sure all of you are wondering what is streetogrOFFY?

Well really it is my own play on the word, streettography or street photography, but it is also something much more than that. 

Friday, July 29, 2011

streetogrOFF - "An Afternoon Chat in the Park"



Street Photography
f5.6 1/1600s ISO100
Canon EOS 5d
50mm
Port Credit, Ontario
May 5,2011



Street Photography
f/5.6 1/1250s ISO100
Canon EOS 5d
50mm
Port Credit Ontario
May 4,2011

Thursday, July 28, 2011

streetogrOFFY - "Blade and Bike"



Street Photography
f/2 1/8000s ISO100
Canon EOS 5d
50mm
Port Credit, Ontario
April 23,2011

streetogrOFFY - "Street Dancing"




Street Photography
f/16 1/200s ISO100
Canon EOS 5d
50mm
Port Credit, Ontario
April 23,2011

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

streetogrOFFY - "A Lonely Walk"



Street Photography
f/2.5 1/100s ISO1600
Canon EOS 5d
50mm
Port Credit, Ontario
April 20,2011

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

streetogrOFFY - "Snowy Cigar Break"



Street Photography
f/2.8 1/800s ISO100
Canon EOS 5d
50mm
Mississauga (Erin Mills), OntarioApril 18,2011

What's Over There


Street Photography
Port Credit, Ontario
f/9 1/640s ISO200
Nikon D5000
18mm
April 12, 2011

streetogrOFFY - "Patiently Waiting..."


Street Photography
Port Credit, Ontario
f/11 1/250s ISO200
Nikon D5000
240mm
April 12/2011

streetogrOFFY - "Basking in the Sun"


Street Photograpy
Port Credit, Ontario
f/14 1/250s ISO200
Nikon D5000
280mm
April 12, 2011

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Smaill Town Street Photography Blog

As many of you know Street Photography is a genre of photography that is just blowing up right now in popularity, and as such Street Photography blogs are popping up on the internet on a daily basis .  So why then would I create a Street Photography blog when there is such a vast sea of Street Photography blogs that already exists?  Wouldn't my street photography blog, streetogrOFFY, just get lost in this vast sea?


Well I created this Street Photography blog for mainly two reasons, I have a little bit of a unique and niche situation, and the bulk of street photographers are beginners.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

streetogrOFFY - "Daddy Please?"

Street Photography Port Credit, Ontario
f/16 1/320s ISO400
Nikon D5000 20mm
April 3, 2011

streetogrOFFY - "A Helping Hand"

Street Photography Port Credit, Ontario
f/16 1/320s ISO400
Nikon D5000 20mm
April 3,2011

streetogrOFFY - "Break Time"

Street Photography Port Credit
f/16 1/400s ISO400
Nikon D5000 20mm
April 3, 2011

streetogrOFFY - "Dreaming of the Past"

Street Photography Port Credit, Ontario
f/16 1/250s ISO400
Nikon D5000 28mm
April 3, 2011

streetogrOFFY - "Focused"

Street Photography Port Credit, Ontario
f/4.8 1/800sec ISO200
Nikon D5000 120mm
March 31, 2011

streetogrOFFY - "Into the Light"

Street Photography Port Credit Ontario
f8.0 1/320sec ISO 200
Nikon D300 80mm
March 13,2011

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