Learning Photography: The Importance of Capturing the Moment and Mood in Street Photography

I went out for a long walk today, with my 75mm XF 50mm f2 lens. I have only done street photography with the 35mm and 50mm lenses so far, and I often found myself getting too close when framing the compositions, and having to back off. Once I made the adjustment, though, I really enjoyed being able to frame tightly on interesting details from a distance.

This photograph of pigeons in Mumbai’s Marine Drive promenade, for instance, would not have been possible with a wider lens, because I would have been too far from the pigeons. As I knelt to frame the pigeons from a low angle using the LCD, I noticed these two bicyclists ride past in my peripheral vision. I was photographing the pigeons at f2 aperture with a shallow depth of field, and the bicyclists are out of focus, but without the bicyclists, the before and after shots of the pigeons lack impact. The ‘decisive moment’ that makes this photograph is the juxtaposition of the sharp pigeons with the blurred bicyclists.

I originally shot the photograph with the Classic Chrome profile using the Kodak Portra 400 JPEG recipe. However, the left bicyclist’s red shirt and blue backpack attract too much attention away from the pigeons, and make the color options problematic. I tried all four of my color custom profile on the RAW file in Fujifilm X RAW Studio, but eventually decided to go with a black and white edit.

I expected to like my high-grain, high-contrast, sepia-toned Acros + Red profile, and was surprised that I preferred the cleaner, softer, cooler Acros + Green profile. The profile retains the highlight details in the blurred skyline and shadow details in the leaves in the background, and captures the calm mood I was in when I took the photograph. If I hadn’t tried all seven profiles in Fujifilm X RAW Studio, I would have never gone with this option.

In an earlier journal, I wrote that I preferred the soft, low-contrast Classic Chrome based Kodak Portra 400 color JPEG recipe in most situations. I am really surprised that I might prefer a soft, low-contrast black and white look, at least in some situations. Since I wrote that journal, I have changed many of the JPEG recipes, with the intention to create seven distinct looks that I can differentiate between by looking at them without checking the file names. I have borrowed some of these JPEG recipes from the excellent Fuji X Weekly blog, but I have come up with most of them myself, and I might write individual journals on some of these recipes. The three film simulations I have used for them are Classic Chrome, Classic Negative and Acros. If you have a favorite JPEG recipe from the seven I have included here, do share your feedback, and I’ll start with that.

Finally, in another journal I wrote that I am attracted to a very specific style of street photography:

classical compositions with geometrical lines, real or imagined; strong shapes created by the interplay of light and shadow; repeating patterns of shapes and colors that resolve into an overarching organizing principle; a minimal composition made dynamic by a surprising human silhouette, a found object, or a pop of color; and an abstract beauty achieved by a shallow depth of field, or a panning motion, or the use of reflective or translucent surfaces.

I need to take many many many more photographs before I have good examples of all these types of images. This photograph, though, is a good example of the minimalistic look I am aiming for.

More tomorrow.

By Gaurav Mishra

Learning to see the #beauty, #play and #vitality in #quarantinelife, mostly by learning to make photos and learning to write about them.