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Old 5th of June 2012 (Tue)   #1
JC32
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Default Question for street photographers...

I'm hoping to get some advice from other experienced street shooters on here...

I'm still very new to shooting ppl on the street...I'm using a Canon XSI and the 50mm 1.8 lens...I'm still a little confused on how to use the center focus point...So for the other street shooters...When your taking a full body shot of a person, do you focus on the eyes and then recompose to frame them, and then take the shot? Or do you just frame them and keep the center focus point right where it is no matter where it ends up on their body?

I still havent tried the focus recomposing yet, as I think it would take too much time, especially when ur doing candid shooting and need to get the shot...I forgot to mention that I'm usually at 5.6 and iso 200 or 400...

So I would appreciate any feedback and advice...Thanks for reading guys...

I just realized I should of started this thread here instead of the photo sharing section, so mods feel free to delete my other thread there...Thanks..
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Old 6th of June 2012 (Wed)   #2
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Default Re: Question for street photographers...

Quote:
Originally Posted by JC32 View Post
I'm hoping to get some advice from other experienced street shooters on here...

I'm still very new to shooting ppl on the street...I'm using a Canon XSI and the 50mm 1.8 lens...I'm still a little confused on how to use the center focus point...So for the other street shooters...When your taking a full body shot of a person, do you focus on the eyes and then recompose to frame them, and then take the shot? Or do you just frame them and keep the center focus point right where it is no matter where it ends up on their body?

I still havent tried the focus recomposing yet, as I think it would take too much time, especially when ur doing candid shooting and need to get the shot...I forgot to mention that I'm usually at 5.6 and iso 200 or 400...

So I would appreciate any feedback and advice...Thanks for reading guys...

I just realized I should of started this thread here instead of the photo sharing section, so mods feel free to delete my other thread there...Thanks..
usually for street I shoot at f/11 or f/16 to have everything in focus and manual focusing, although I find that in AF using all focus points works well as well as long you are using a small aperture.

but yes, for head/isolated shots I use the center focus only, then quickly recompose
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Old 6th of June 2012 (Wed)   #3
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Default Re: Question for street photographers...

I mainly shoot street candids in low light using fast primes. I shoot in AI Servo and move the focus points around to suit the subject. The reason for this is, subjects move, therefore One Shot and recomposing doesn't work.
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Old 6th of June 2012 (Wed)   #4
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Default Re: Question for street photographers...

I move the focus point to where I need it as well. . .first, I compose the shot in my mind, and I move the focus point where I need it as I raise the camera to my eye. . .of course, that's a lot easier to do on my 5D or 40D as opposed to one of the Rebel models.

As far as recomposing, it can be done very quickly. Sometimes the moment comes very quickly, and it's all I can do to get the camera up into position in time, so I'll generally keep my center point selected just for these instances. Specifically, so I'm not trying to remember where my focus point is when I compose my shot. I'll immediately point the camera at the subject's face (or whatever area I need in focus), press the rear focus button (that's what I use, or press the shutter down halfway if that's how your camera is set up), recompose the shot and press the shutter. The recomposition literally takes only a fraction of a second.

But, as yogestee pointed out, if the subject is moving, he/she may be out of the focal plane by the time you press the shutter. With some practice, you can recompose very quickly. If all else fails, stopping down the aperture can help by giving you some more DoF.
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Old 6th of June 2012 (Wed)   #5
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Default Re: Question for street photographers...

Thanks for the advice guys....Yeah, I've never really tried focus recomposing yet, I'm just so afraid of missing the focus if I do try it, especially when shooting ppl on the street...I know it's something that I'll have to practice tho...For starters tho, I think I'm going to start putting my aperture at f/8 so I'll be able to get more in focus if I can't have my center focus point on the eyes...
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Old 7th of June 2012 (Thu)   #6
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Default Re: Question for street photographers...

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Originally Posted by JC32 View Post
Thanks for the advice guys....Yeah, I've never really tried focus recomposing yet, I'm just so afraid of missing the focus if I do try it, especially when shooting ppl on the street...I know it's something that I'll have to practice tho...For starters tho, I think I'm going to start putting my aperture at f/8 so I'll be able to get more in focus if I can't have my center focus point on the eyes...
don't be afraid on using higher ISO either, I tend to shoot at ISO 400-800 and f/8-16
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Old 7th of June 2012 (Thu)   #7
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Default Re: Question for street photographers...

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don't be afraid on using higher ISO either, I tend to shoot at ISO 400-800 and f/8-16

Yeah, I plan on keeping my aperture to at least f/8 and putting my ISO up also...Thanks for the tip...

Last edited by JC32 : 7th of June 2012 (Thu) at 18:05.
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Old 7th of June 2012 (Thu)   #8
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Default Re: Question for street photographers...

when shooting a moving person, you can't focus and recompose. You can only do that with a static shot. It takes about 1/10 of a second to use the center focus point to lock focus and then recompose the photo to where you want it.
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Old 19th of June 2012 (Tue)   #9
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Default Re: Question for street photographers...

For the last couple of weeks I have been experimenting with some candid street photography. I have been using manual focus at about 3meters (9 feet?), f/4 or f/5.6 depending on the light and then 1/500 or 1/1000 again depending on the light. ISO was set to 3200. Typically I am shooting late in the day where there is less light between the tall buildings in the city.

Using this method I typically spot the person 1/4 1/2 block away move myself in a path where I will get them with the right composition and when they are 3 meters away I take the picture.

Just an option JC32 for you to try. It is kind of fun and gives some very on-the-fly type pictures.
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Old 19th of June 2012 (Tue)   #10
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Default Re: Question for street photographers...

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Originally Posted by BrianS View Post
For the last couple of weeks I have been experimenting with some candid street photography. I have been using manual focus at about 3meters (9 feet?), f/4 or f/5.6 depending on the light and then 1/500 or 1/1000 again depending on the light. ISO was set to 3200. Typically I am shooting late in the day where there is less light between the tall buildings in the city.

Using this method I typically spot the person 1/4 1/2 block away move myself in a path where I will get them with the right composition and when they are 3 meters away I take the picture.

Just an option JC32 for you to try. It is kind of fun and gives some very on-the-fly type pictures.
^This I like. I'm a convert to manual focusing when I shoot street. Which is basically all I shoot. Like you JC32, I was getting frustrated with the auto-focus system on my 50D as well as my Fuji X100. It just seemed that I could never get it to lock on to where I wanted, and in the mean time I'd either lost the shot or the person had noticed me taking their photograph which then changed the entire atmosphere of the image.

I then stumbled upon street photographer Yanidel (google the name) who, by way of his Leica system, only shoots manual focus. His images were stunning, so I read further and he outlined some of his techniques.

Since then I've almost exclusively been shooting with all manual settings and manual pre-focusing. The most effective way I've found is to zone focus - approximate the distance to your subject and shoot when they approach (auto-bracketing can help here as well, giving you some options for the final exposure). It's fairly difficult at first, and somewhat frustrating if shooting at lower apertures with a smaller DOF. But what you soon find among this beginning stage of rubbish, are images that are perfectly on focus on secondary subjects in the background you didnt even see before taking the photo... I.e. the foreground maybe completely blurry but the background has a face that is tack sharp. This completely opened my eyes regarding shooting street - the potential for creative composition and technical approach, etc.

6 months later and I'm yet to turn AF on. I take my time, think about composing my images, take probably about 1/3 of the amount of exposures that I used to, wind up with better images and really enjoy the whole process so much more. So give it a go. I dare you to shoot MF only for a week and see what happens.

(oh.. and stop chimping! Turn of that auto 2-second-image-review after you take your shots. Try not to look at your images until the end of the day on the PC at home, if you can. )
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Old 23rd of June 2012 (Sat)   #11
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Default Re: Question for street photographers...

I have an m4/3s camera the E-M5 as well now. Am having some fun with the touch screen using it to pinpoint focus for every shot. But I still find that I have more keepers with the zone-focusing (still have to validate if this is the right name) method.
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Old 23rd of June 2012 (Sat)   #12
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Default Re: Question for street photographers...

Also strongly recommend zone focusing.
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Old 4th of July 2012 (Wed)   #13
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Default Re: Question for street photographers...

I always shoot wide open, f1.2 - 1.4. Love the effect of the shallower DOF.
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Old 8th of July 2012 (Sun)   #14
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Default Re: Question for street photographers...

I've had some of my low-light stuff shortlisted where the ISO was 2000, so I reiterate the point made about not being afraid to go high on ISO. On modern cameras you can get away with up to 1000 without any significant noise. Also AI Servo is so useful in these situations, it gives you plenty of time to recompose the shot, and if you're shooting f/8 - f/16 then focusing on the eyes is not so vital, though I still try to do that where possible, and tend not to go anything smaller than f/8.
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