What Lens is best for Street Photography?

December 10, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

The MetroThe MetroCommuters waiting for the Metro in Washington DC. Hey Everybody! I hope this day finds you well and Happy!  Today's subject on what lens is best for street photography is one that I'm struggling with myself.  First I'll start with a disclaimer that I am not a street photographer but very envious of the ones I see on YouTube or have studied. This will just be my thoughts on the subject and I welcome you to comment and give me your thoughts on the subject.  Now all of that said I'd like to let you know my setup.  Normally for all of my landscape and travel photography I use a crop sensor camera and 3 zooms that will take me from 15mm to 525mm relative focal length to full frame.  So why don't I use this set up.  First when I think of street photography I think of dark corners of some city and using bokeh (blurring of the background) to separate a subject from the chaos of a busy street scene.  A crop or small sensor is not best for this I think of a full frame sensor will best suit this.  So I use a full frame camera.  Its an older one that is smallish and lightweight and has sensor stabilization. Stabilization is one of my must in any camera I'm getting older and a steady hand is not always available. LOL. And when I think of Bokeh I think of prime lenses.  These lenses are usually small, lightweight and not as  _MSP2682_MSP2682 intimidating to someone as a large zoom would be. Of course a zoom lens would pretty much solve the problem of what lens for street you could carry a 24-70mm and it would cover the range that you need but to get good bokeh you would need a maximum aperture of 2.8.  A full frame 2.8 lens is large and heavy two things that I don't want to mess with. I think that maximum aperture of 1.8 is the sweet spot for bokeh and not being too heavy of a lens.  You can get larger apertures of 1.4 or even 1.2 but these are very expensive and large and heavy.  So I have a full frame camera and 4 prime lenses to go with it.  I know , I know 4 lenses isn't that heavy? Actually the 4 lenses I have if I decide to carry all of them would be lighter than a 24-70 f2.8 lens would be and I only plan on taking 2 of them at any given time one long and one wide and let my feet make up the distance in-between. So let me take you though the lenses I  have.

24mm f1.8-  This is my widest of the Prime lenses I have.  It is great for tight places where I'm really up close to my subject. I imagine a busy market in some Asian country where your elbow to elbow.  Let's face it I'm probably not going to see this again although I have been there in my younger years in the service. But I recently took this lens to a Eastern MarketEastern MarketEastern Market in Washington DC, A good place to photograph. transportation museum and I ended up using this lens more than any other of my lenses because it gave me perspective of everything in the scene.  It worked out great.

35mm f1.8- This lens is a little tighter and is probably the most popular for street photography.  I think this is great for normal ordinary streets and for street portraits and environmental portraits where you have the subject and what they are doing in the same scene.  This is a fantastic lens and would be a great choice for anyone.

55mm f1.8- This is almost like the 35mm but a little tighter and great for street portraits.  You can never go wrong with a 50ish lens.  35mm and 50mm is considered the normal focal length as how we see as humans.

85mm f1.8 - Probably the least used but really great as a small telephoto length lens it can compress the scene and draw your subject closer to the background.  This lens is the smoothest of my lenses.  When it take photo's its like butter!  Thats the only way I know how to explain it. I really love this lens.

So which lens is the best for street.  Well your not going to like my answer. It depends.  I think it depends on the situation you're in.  And how you see things.  We are all individuals and we see things different.  Maybe you like to look at things wide with everything in the photo or maybe you Isolate subjects and like to see only one thing without any clutter.  I think to truly know what lens to use takes a lot of shooting with different focal lengths , so much that when you see a scene you can see what it would look like without the camera.  You see in 24mm or 35mm or whatever focal length.  Then you minds eye will let you know what lens is best for the situation you're in.  Shooting in Seatle would be different than shooting in New York or Chicago. Or your local city or town.  This is where I'm at at street photography.  Learning how my lenses see the scene and then deciding which ones to take with me.

So there is my answer or at least my thoughts on the subject.  I hope this helps.  So until next week get out and shoot!

Filters I Use for Photography

December 03, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

FiltersFilters Hey Everyone! I hope ya'll are doing fine this week.  This week I'm going to talk about filters and how I use them.  I wrote a blog in 2015 and my setup has changed so I thought I would update it.  Back then I was using a full frame camera and all of the big lenses that go with it and my filters had to match the size. I was using a Lee filter system the 100mm square filters.  And they worked great I liked everything about the system.  But when I switched to mirrorless crop sensor camera's  the filter's were just too big.  I mean the filter kit almost weighed more than my camera did.  I did get adapter rings so I could use the filters but it was pretty silly with the so large filters on front of my camera and the size to carry them was just too much.  So I still have them they just take up a portion of my Pelican camera case I keep all of my stuff in at home. LOL  So there were certain filters I had to have right away and as you may know I think that the polarizer filter is the most important filter in your bag.  So I started getting screw on type filters for my different lenses for this purpose.  They ended up being a mixed match of filters.  I had some B&W to HOYA to all sorts of brands.  So these were Okay for my everyday walk around and polarize something.  But I wanted something more consistent for when I was shooting on a tripod.  Serious work!  For some reason I think its serious when I pull out my tripod.  Anyway, I wanted something that was lightweight,  something that wouldn't break the bank and something that I could have all of the ND filters I needed.  Now do I get screw on or ones like I used to have but smaller? I decided to go with the screw on type for a couple of reasons.  Size is one reason.  With the square ones you need a holder for them and thus this took up more space.  With one holder  you needed adapter rings to fit the holder then to fit your lens filter size for each lens that you had different.  That was more cost for special adapter rings to fit your holder and the lenses you have. So cost and size came into play and one more item came into play. Durability.  The square filters are great but if you get really good ones they are made out of glass and can break.  I had gone through a couple of filters with my Lee set because I dropped them.  Now no filter needs to be dropped but if your around a water fall everything gets a little wet and wet glass is slippery.  I think I have gone through a couple of polarizers in the past because of dropping.  The screw on filters are a little more sturdy.  By no means am I suggesting that you should drop them but they are more shock resistant than that of the square ones.  So Screw ones were the winner.  Now which brand?

Now there are many great filters out there and I don't have the means to buy one of each and try them out.  I had tried a few brands of Lee Filter HolderLee Filter Holder polarizers but that was about the extent of it.  So I did what I always do and went to Youtube to try to find the answer.  I went to all of the big names trying to come up with an answer and the most popular filters among my Youtube hero's were Breakthrough Photography.  So I got a polarizer from them in the largest lens thread size that I had at the time witch was 72mm. I decided that I could get that size and buy inexpensive step down rings (you can get a whole set for 20-30 bucks) and just step down to my smaller lenses.  I slowly accumulated a 3 stop ND filter then I got a 6 stop one and finally a 10 stop ND.  So now I have a set of 4 breakthrough photography filters.  I bought a small case that will hold all 4 of them and the adapter rings I may have.  I keep these in the side pouch of my Shimado Action X camera bag and they are lightweight and out of the way until I need them.

I think filters are a very important part of photography.  It helps spur on the creative juices especially when it comes to long shutter drag photo's. Polarizers can do what nothing can do post processing .  Taking the sheen or reflection off of objects or water so you can see to the bottom of the lake or turn the sky blue.  So what filters do you use?  Until next week get outside and keep shooting.

Troubleshooting , Its what we do!

November 26, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Hey Everyone! Hope everyone is doing great today! This week I wanted to talk about the act of capturing your image. What we do.  And how we adjust to changing conditions. Its called troubleshooting or problem solving.  In real life that's what I do every day.  I go to a site and try to figure out what is happening with the customers system.  It is a constant of my work.  Always troubleshooting.  Finding out what is wrong and trying to find a way to fix it.  Well in photography its the same thing. We look at a scene and have the picture in our minds eye of how it should look.  We bring up our camera and  "snap" we look at the photo or "chimp" and it doesn't look like what was in our minds eye.  Why is that?  Well our camera's just aren't as smart as our minds eye.  No matter how fancy or advanced your camera is and all of the gear you have the first shot is never what your minds eye sees.  So then you have to say to yourself what's not right.  And the troubleshooting begins.  But what I think is the better troubleshooter you are the better photographer you are.  And this like many things will come with time and experience.  And the more you shoot and know your equipment (oops there it is again me talking about knowing your equipment) the better photographer and quality images you will produce.

What makes a good problem solver?  Well that's hard to say.  Do you know how some people are great organizers and some are great with Stupid LightsStupid Lights mechanical things and some people can plan great trips.  I think troubleshooting is one of those things that is a part of your personality.  Maybe not something your born with but something you grow into.  Being able to troubleshoot something you first must know how that something works or in our case is suppose to look like.  Then its just figuring out what is right with it and what is wrong with it.  For example maybe your taking a photo of a dark scene and you have your camera on some automatic setting.  Well your camera is going to try to put the scene at 18% gray witch will brighten up your scene in camera so you would have to be smarter than your camera and make adjustments to make it look like its suppose to.  Maybe you want to take a photo of a person riding a bicycle  with the person in focus and the background blurred .   The first shot you took everything was blurred.  So you figured out that you need to pan with the rider to keep them sharp but let the background blur.  The whole art of photography is troubleshooting.

Editing your photo's.  Editing photo's for the most part is subjective.  What I think is properly exposed may be under exposed to someone else. So you have to compare what you have to what your minds eye sees.  Do I need to brighten up the scene.  Do I need to get rid of some spots.  Do I need to increase this or that to make the photo look like what's in my minds eye.  When your done you should have what you saw in your minds eye.  This is the art part of photography. Taking what is in your minds eye and making it come to life. Just like a painter would.  The painter may look at a scene for hours before picking up a paint brush and start painting what is in his minds eye.  We as photographers can do the same thing looking at a scene and then seeing it in your minds eye of how you saw it.  We take the photo and then get it into editing and the finial product should be what your minds eye saw just like the painter.

Well I hope I have made a little sense about what I think we as photographers always Troubleshoot.  So until next week get outside and shoot!

Family Portraits over the Holidays

November 24, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Me and the EvansMe and the Evans Hey Everyone! Hope everyone is doing great! The holidays are coming up and its a really good time to get your camera out with all the lights and festive activities. But today I want to talk about taking family portraits.  This is the time of year that I like to take family portraits.  Everyone is home and its one of the few times a year when you can get everyone together.  I have a wall in my house that has all of the family in 8X10 headshots that I update every so often.  And they are due! My grandchildren are growing like weeds and other members of the family are aging gracefully. I had to get PC for a second! LOL We're just getting old. Its a great time to take photo's of the older people in your family because you never know when the portrait might be the last one. Taking the portraits and making prints from them are essential.  That way the people that are important to you will live forever not just on a hard drive somewhere.  As all of you Mommy and MeMommy and Me know I am a big supporter of printing although I don't do enough myself and need to get on the ball.  I do make a End of Year book each year and have my best photo's from the year in it.  Thats one way I try to have prints of my photo's although I do need to print my best larger than what's in the book. Well let's talk about portraits.

Making portraits can be as simple as using your cell phone or a point and shoot both can be good options but if your printing larger photo's this might not be the best option.  Of course the photographer in us wants us to break out the gear and really do it right.  If you're like me Evans 1Evans 1 you have practiced on your family so much that they are really tired of having their photo taken and its a struggle to get them in front of the camera especially if you shoot in a style that they don't like.  I am a more traditionalist and like to shoot head shots and small groups.  But the newer run and gun photographers now a days want to be outside and shoot by a tree or a bush and try to make it look natural like a Instagram photo.  Those are nice but when I think of family photo portraits I'm more into the head shot and I like to use my lights and all of the equipment.  But sometimes this can be overwhelming for your family so I try to keep it as simple as possible. I try to use umbrellas instead of soft boxes that and I shoot in TTL instead of manual like I like to shoot in.  I used to set up a back drop , reflectors and all kinds of stuff which is fun for me but in a small house like I have and when you have a house full of people its not as fun to everyone else.

This time of the year we tend to have our house decorated maybe with fall colors or even Christmas decorations if you wait until Christmas to do your portraits. These decorations can be a great backdrop to family shots especially if you can blur them out a little to make them less busy.  I have to hold my wife back every year not to put up the Christmas tree after Halloween.  I personally don't think it should go up until after Thanksgiving. But that's me.  What ever your family does is fine. I use shoot through umbrellas Ava Christmas ChairAva Christmas Chair to soften up the light .  For Single portraits I use one as my main and one as a fill light an for groups I have one on ether side of the group at a 45 degree angle and try to make the light as even as possible.  Be creative as possible and try not to take a lot of the same photo's over and over again your subjects will get board.  Try to make it as fun as you can after you've got your keeper.  Have them make silly faces! Have fun!  If you're doing the shooting at Thanksgiving make sure to make Christmas Card shots.  And don't forget the group shot of the whole family.  Set up your tripod and put a self timer on for 10 seconds get everyone grouped together and do some regular ones and some silly ones to make everyone laugh.  Sometimes those are the best ones.  Have fun and make memories!

So until next week get that camera out and start shooting!  Lots of things happening in your community to shoot during the holidays.

GAPC (Goldsboro Area Photography Club) West Virginia Trip

November 19, 2021  •  2 Comments

Spruce Knob WVa.Spruce Knob WVa.The Highest point in West Virginia. Hey Everyone! Hope Everybody is doing great.  This week I wanted to tell you about my photography club's trip we took to West Virginia for a fall colors workshop.  The GAPC (Goldsboro Area Photography Club) is a very active club in North Carolina. We have monthly workshops and monthly meetings. The meetings have been Zoom meetings since the pandemic started, and the workshops are held with safety for social distancing in full force.  We usually hold a week-long trip for fall colors.  Usually, it's to the NC mountains to photograph waterfalls and wildlife.  We have once gone to Washington DC and took the train to get there.  We have previously gone to West Virginia.  Covid killed all our trips in 2020, so when I heard that we were having our annual Fall Colors workshop, it really got me excited.  I was in a photographic funk, and the most I did in photography was this blog.  This year's trip was not a week long.  We only went for five days and four nights, and of course two of the days were really travel days. But we had it jam-packed with things to do as we usually do.  They don't call it a workshop for nothing.  We work!  But we really have a good time doing it.  To me it's almost like old folks summer camp! LOL We have a couple of folks that set up our itinerary and make the arrangements for our lodging.  We usually use some sort of Air B&B house or cabin that will house all of us,  and when you split the cost it's not much per night.  We also split the gas money and any food or drink that we buy for the house.  For example, if the lodging was $1,000 for the week, split up by 10 people that's only $100 for a week of lodging.  So at the end of the week, depending on how many people are going, you might only spend a few hundred dollars on gas and the house, and we usually eat out unless we order in a pizza or something.  Of course we split the house up into boy and girl rooms and bathrooms and try to accommodate everyone's needs. So here goes a day-by-day account of our trip.

New River Gorge BridgeNew River Gorge BridgeNew River Gorge Bridge at Fayetteville Station in New River Gorge National Park. Day 1 - Early start 4:30ish and we drove to Mabry Mill in Virginia, where we took photos of the Mill and had breakfast in the restaurant.  It was very chilly and I may have seen some frost on the ground. The breakfast was awesome, but there was quite a wait.  The next stop was the New River Gorge National Park Visitor Center.  We went to the center and took photos of the bridge.  We tool the road down to the old bridge and around to the other side.  We stopped and took photos at the bridge.  After that we headed to our first house and met a member of our team that was meeting us there.  Our house was in Fayetteville, West Virginia.  It was a nice house with plenty of room for us.  We went to a local bar and grill for supper (I can't remember the name).  Then we headed to Beauty Mountain to take sunset photos.  It's a really nice place for sunset CurvesCurvesShot from Turkey Spur in the New River Gorge National Park. The curves of the Railroad Track the New River and the Clouds caught my eye. photos and kind of off the beaten path, literally on a dirt road.  After that we headed to the house to edit photos and get ready for the next day.

Day 2 - This may have been our busiest day.  First we went to Grand View, which is in the NRG National Park after making a drive through the local McDonald's.  There we waited for the sun to rise over a foggy scene.  There was a little jockeying around for position with other photographers that were there.  After getting our shots there, we went to Turkey Spur, also in the park.  Here you had to climb some stairs to get Sandstone FallsSandstone FallsSandstone Falls located in the New River Gorge National Park in WVa. you pretty high above the New River.  We had some good shots here also.  Next stop was Sandstone Falls and it was about a 30 to 45-minute ride to get there, and it was also part of the National Park.  We spread out and all seemed to get different shots here where we spent a few hours.  Then it was time for lunch.  We went to a local eatery in, I believe, Hinson, West Virginia.  Very good food!  Or either we were just hungry.  Our next stop was to the town of Thurman.  This was another 30 to 45 minute ride back toward our house.  This is a deserted town.  It may have a population of five.  We walked around there for about an hour.  On our way out we stopped at a beautiful waterfall -- I don't even know if it had a name -- and it was a steep climb down but well worth it for the photos we got. We had planned a sunset shot, but by this time we were worn out. Thurman Road FallsThurman Road FallsDon't know the name of the this falls but it was on the road to Thurman which is located in the New River Gorge National Park.  We went back to our house and ordered a pizza from a local pizza place.  May have been the best pizza I ever had or I was just really hungry, but it was good.

Day 3 - This day we were to move out of the house we were in and go to Davis, WV, which is in the northern part of the state.  So we got up early, cleaned up the house, and headed to a biscuit breakfast place where we did another drive through. Really good. I had the breakfast burrito. We then headed to Babcock State Park to take photos of the Glades Creek Mill.  This is a very popular spot.  Two years ago when we Glade Creek MillGlade Creek MillThe Famous Glade Creek Mill in Babcock State Park in WVa. went there wasn't hardly anyone there, but this year after Covid it was packed with folks. Photographers jockeying for position to take the photo. Luckily I had been there before and had some good photos, so I was able to take my time and get the shots I wanted away from the crowd. The colors were wonderful there.  We then went to an overlook and got some great color shots also. We then started our trip north to Davis, and we stoped at Hawks Nest State Park.  They had a great overlook, and we had lunch at a restaurant on site. Our next destination was Dolly Sods. We had visited this spot on our last visit, and it was pretty awesome.  There is a 10-mile dirt road that takes you to the top.  As we got closer the clouds increased and the rain started. The top of the mountain was under clouds, so we decided on the way up to stop and turn Seneca RockSeneca RockCheck out the people on the top of the rock! around and just forget about that shoot.  We headed to the house and got settled in and made sandwiches for supper.

Day 4 - It rained all night, and it was still raining when we got up.  So we decided to go out for a sit-down breakfast and see how the weather was going to be.  It was raining and 40 degrees, not a great combo.  After breakfast we decided to go back to the house and maybe get out in the afternoon.  The weather was supposed to clear.  We went to the local state park, Blackwater Falls State Park, and it was packed with people.  We couldn't even park, so we decided to go to Seneca Rocks.  We went there on our previous trip and there was no one there and it was a so-so shot.  When we went this year, the place was packed and the colors were popping!  We stayed there a little and went to Spruce Knob, the highest point in West Virginia.  The views were spectacular, but it was cold and very windy.  We stayed for maybe an hour and headed back to Blackwater Falls to catch a sunset.  It was a race to get there before the sun set, and as we rounded the bend we saw a big white tent.  Someone was having a wedding at our sunset spot.  So we turned around and started back to the cabin where there were lots of deer grazing. So we got some photos of them and headed to the house.

Day 5 - Our last day.  We woke up and cleaned the house and headed to Blackwater Falls to take photos of the waterfall.  We timed it right because there was no one there.  We got out and pretty much had the falls to ourself except for a guy and a drone that was annoying, but he left.  After our time here at Blackwater Falls, we went to a local place to have breakfast and it was great! After that big meal we headed home to Goldsboro, a six-hour drive.   Blackwater Falls DownstreamBlackwater Falls DownstreamI was taking photo's of the falls and just turned around

All in all it was a great trip and I wish it had lasted longer. Can't wait until next year's trip.  So until next week, get out and explore and keep shooting!