Question for street photographers

Started Jan 10, 2013 | Discussions thread
rrr_hhh Veteran Member • Posts: 6,020
Re: Question for street photographers

sgoldswo wrote:

rrr_hhh wrote:

JeanPierre Martel wrote:

No, I really mean it. Shalllow DOF is one way to isolate subjects.

Wide-angle lenses make wider the apparent distance between the subject and other people around him/her. Moreover, the nearer a person is, the taller that person looks.

On the contrary, when everything is in focus, telelenses make everything flat, as if everything was in the same pane.

OK, I see what you meant now, but I'd rather name this emphazising the subject (due to the strong perspective effect of wide angle). Isolating the subject from his background has an other meaning when used in the traditional sense of photography, as in cutting him out of the context, either by cropping (aka I using the narrower angle of view of a longer lens), or by blurring the background (implying a longer lens again).

While, on the contrary, one of the goal of street photography is to catch the behaviour of men in the streets context, in a public context. It isn't to isolate him of his environment, but to show him in the context of his time and of his culture. Isolating an individual from his context would results in a street portrait, rather than in a street photography.

True, but one can selectively emphasize the subject, while still retaining the environment you want to illustrate (e.g. a market seller and his stall but not the distractions falling behind the stall). On reflection, with respect to DOF I probably see this as shooting at F2.8-4 on M43s rather than F4-8 (assuming a 17 or 25 positioned a conventional distance from the subject).

I agree, I was just reacting to his statement that you use a wide angle to isolate your subject. Isolating or emphasizing isn't the same thing. One of the most used FStops in FF during film time was F8. Not very different of F4 in MFT.

That said, some absolutely stunning photography can result from getting your subject and the environment you wish to illustrate within a thin DOF (using something like the two Voigtlander lenses wide open at F0.95). Think a street performer and all of his equipment in focus but his audience blending out of focus. I'm sure that's not traditional street photography but it looks great and achieves the same aims in my book.

There are very different genres of street photography. If you look for pictures from William Klein, he was using shallower DOF quite a lot. Some examples here (in particular that of the young boy with the gun). Same for Robert Frank. Their aim was to show life and mood even if that was at the detriment of sharpness. Technical perfection wasn't their goal either.

However, DOF is a (very) tricky way to emphasize the subject. Better to PP and to selectively enhance or de-emphasize areas of the picture through techniques like vigneting, selective changes to exposure, sharpness and/or saturation through masks, B&W etc. Or alternatively, use a lens that will do these kind of things for you anyway (e.g. the body cap).

I agree with most of what you are saying.

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