Category Archives: Photography

Milkboy At Night, Philly Street Photography

Milkboy

I couldn’t pass up photographing the Milkboy restaurant again, this time at night and in color. This restaurant definitely catches my eye each time I walk by.

And this was my first street photography outing with the Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 prime lens (36mm equivalent on my Nikon D7100), and it performed as well as I expected it to. This photo was taken at f/2.5, 1/125th, 6400 ISO. I only wish I had gone wide open (f/1.4) which would have allowed me to lower the ISO. Even the shutter speed could have been a bit slower. But I was still in “street photography” mode at this point, trying to get a reasonably fast shutter speed at close range without too shallow of depth of field. I simply forgot to adjust the settings when I came upon this scene from across the street (where depth of field would not be an issue). Oh well, the shot still turned out great, and the D7100 is game at 6400 ISO.

This particular scene would probably have worked fine at 1/60th. If I had captured it wide open at an aperture of f/1.4, that may sound like it would result in too shallow a depth of field, but that wouldn’t be the case at this distance at a 24mm focal length. I was probably a good 30+ feet away (across the street). At that distance, at 24mm, and an aperture of f/1.4, the depth of field would have been well over 30 feet (about 10 feet in front, 20 feet behind). That’s the beauty of this lens. Sure, up close, say 5 or 8 feet, the depth of field would be extremely shallow at f/1.4 (no more than 1-2 feet), but at this distance, I need to remember it’s not a problem to shoot wide open, because pretty much the entire scene will be in focus.

Also posted in Photo Blog, Street Photography, Tips, Techniques, Guides Tagged , , , , , , , |

The Introvert’s Guide To Street Photography, Dealing With Fear

Okay, maybe that was a bit too audacious a title. Because this isn’t really a guide, as much as it’s an honest assessment of my social awkwardness in the process of embracing street photography. And notice I said “dealing” with fear. I find you never really get over fear, at least I don’t, but you learn how to deal with it, and put it in its proper place.

I’m not really a people person, and I’m most definitely an introvert. I’m not a person drawn to social situations. In fact, I actively avoid them. But I’ve always been an observer. I’m endlessly fascinated by people, what they do, what they think, how they interact, and I think this is why I’m so drawn to city life in general. Even though I’m an introvert, the fact that people fascinate me is why it makes perfect sense that I got into photography, because it’s yet another way to observe the human condition.

But there’s just one problem, until recently, I mostly avoided photographing people. So how can an introvert start photographing the human condition? (light bulb moment) Ah ha! Street photography! It’s kind of interesting actually, and it is something I find amusing, that it seems even some of the most outgoing people are intimidated by the idea of photographing strangers on the street, yet here I am, Mr. Anti-Social out on the streets, doing just that. And I’m not going to tell you that I’m somehow immune from intimidation, but for someone like me, who is very much social phobic, but who nonetheless wants to photograph people, the street suddenly doesn’t seem so intimidating, especially if I’m ever to fulfill the need to observe and capture the human condition.

But don’t get me wrong, it took me years to get to this point. And even now, I need to talk myself into it. I need to psych myself up. I don’t know if I’ll ever be fully comfortable with it, but maybe being somewhat trepidatious is actually a good thing, as long as it doesn’t completely shut me down and stop me from doing what I love doing (once I’m doing it).

So if you want to get out there on the streets and get those candid shots, I don’t have a formula for you to follow. I don’t have a 7-step plan for how to psych yourself up. I don’t have a magic set of words that will put you in the right mindset. You really do just have to stop thinking, then stand up, then grab your camera, and head to the nearest town center or city and start taking photos. There’s no other way to get there other than to just start doing it. It will be intimidating, it will be awkward, and in fact, you might just face a confrontation or two, but you will also experience a natural high, and a fulfilling satisfaction of doing what you want to do, even when you weren’t sure you could.

Also posted in Deep Thoughts, Street Photography, Tips, Techniques, Guides Tagged , , , , , , , , |

Why I Use The BlackRapid Curve (RS-7) Sling Camera Strap

This is not a paid endorsement and I’m not affiliated with BlackRapid.

The reason I use the BlackRapid Curve (RS-7) camera strap is simple, it’s more comfortable for my back. In case you aren’t aware, the Curve (RS-7) is a sling-style camera strap. The RS-7 is worn just as you would wear a messenger bag, slung over one shoulder and across your upper torso. The camera hangs upside down (attached to the tripod mount) at hip level.

blackrapid-curve-rs7-brad

I found with a regular neck strap, my neck, shoulders and upper back would ache after a couple of hours. While I cannot claim pain-free multi-hour photography sessions now that I’m using the RS-7, it has nonetheless helped tremendously to reduce the strain on my neck and especially my upper back. You might be surprised how much lighter your camera feels hanging from this strap compared to a neck strap, and it has the added benefit of keeping the camera at your side (even slightly behind you), which keeps it out-of-the-way during times when that is desirable. And I always found it irritating how the camera would bounce and bob while walking when using a neck strap. With the camera hanging at my side, it generally stays in place, at most rocking back and forth, but not bouncing. And when the time comes to take the shot, I find it no less convenient to grab the camera from my side. Maybe it takes a fraction of a second longer than lifting it from a neck strap, but if I find myself in a hectic and fast-paced situation where I need to get a shot, I probably should already have the camera in my hands. For my purposes, any sling-style strap probably would have worked, I chose the RS-7 because it appeared to meet my needs at a price I could accept (just over $60).

I’ve owned the RS-7 for a few years now, but only recently started accessorizing, adding the BlackRapid “Brad” accessory (can be seen attached to the RS-7 in the picture above) which is an underarm stabilizing strap. This accessory is designed to prevent the RS-7 (and other BlackRapid straps) from sliding up and down. While I didn’t have much of a problem with this, from time to time the RS-7 would slide up and down and I would need to adjust it. I haven’t used it in the field yet, but the Brad accessory looks like it will completely eliminate that “problem.”

I also added the “Joey 3” storage pouch accessory that attaches to the lower front part of the shoulder pad section of the strap. This puts the storage pouch at chest level and is good for storing extra batteries, memory cards, a smart phone (although it may not be large enough for some phones), and even a small point and shoot camera. I plan to use it to hold my Sony RX100 II compact camera. This will be a great way to have a second camera offering focal length flexibility on photography outings where I only take my Nikon D7100 with a prime lens like my 35mm or 24mm. If you want built-in storage in your camera strap without the need for an additional accessory, for $10 more than the RS-7 you can get the BlackRapid Cargo (RS-5) strap. But for my purposes, I think the RS-7 paired with the Joey 3 is a better option because it offers enough storage capacity for a small point and shoot camera, something that does not appear to be possible with the RS-5 (without accessorizing).

And last, I added the BlackRapid Tether Kit, giving me some peace of mind that my expensive camera and lens won’t end up falling to the ground. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with the design of the RS-7 and how it attaches to the tripod mount, I’m simply paranoid. If you too are paranoid, and you decide to purchase the RS-7, you might want to consider the Tether Kit, which uses one of the neck strap posts as a second connection point back to the main strap. It will save your camera in the unlikely event the tripod connection comes loose. If you don’t like the cost of the Tether Kit ($23), I can offer you a cheaper alternative, just buy the OP/TECH USA System Connector Uni-Loop ($7), connect one end to the neck strap post (opposite the grip), connect the other one to the metal rectangle that slides up and down the RS-7 main strap (don’t connect to the loop that is part of the tripod mount because that will partially defeat the purpose of connection point redundancy). Then connect both ends together. Now you have a cheaper alternative (which I have personally used) to the BlackRapid Tether Kit.

With the BlackRapid Curve (RS-7) camera strap I’m able to relieve the strain on my back, while still lugging around my Nikon D7100 and fairly heavy Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 lens, and I have the added flexibility of bringing along a high quality compact camera and storing it in the Joey storage pouch. What this means is on most photography outings, I can leave my bulky camera bag at home, which also helps the ailing back! And that was precisely why I bought the BlackRapid Curve (RS-7).

Also posted in Camera Gear Tagged , , , , , , , , , |

The Obligatory ‘My Camera Gear’ Blog Post

Okay, let’s get this one out-of-the-way. Here’s the obligatory “my camera gear” blog post that I know you’ve all been waiting for! Well, it’s not exactly compulsory, and well, I’m sure most visitors really don’t care. But for the aspiring photographers visiting my blog (I thank you), who might be interested in finding out what gear I use, this post is for you.

CAMERAS
Nikon D40 – DSLR body
Nikon D7100 – DSLR body
Sony DSC-RX100 Mark II – compact
Pentax K1000 – SLR 35mm film body

LENSES
Wide Zoom
AF-S DX NIKKOR 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED
Good general use wide-angle zoom lens offering 15mm to 36mm equivalent field of view. While not the sharpest glass, I have captured some of my best photos using this lens. So I’m not sure why I don’t use it more often.

Prime
AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.4G ED
On a DX (crop sensor) camera body, this is an excellent street photography lens suitable for both day and night shooting, offering a 36mm equivalent field of view. This piece of glass is a bit on the large side, but workable. On the other hand, the cost of this lens might be completely unworkable. Where this lens really proves its worth is for low light, or landscape (urban or nature). You can shoot wide open (f/1.4) with this lens and still have much of the field of view in focus, particularly when paired with a DX camera body, as long as the main subjects are a good 8-10 feet away (or further). That makes this lens ideal for nighttime street photography. Combine this lens with a camera that allows usable ISO up to 6400, and you should never have an issue keeping your shutter speed fast.
AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G
Another great low-light street photography lens, offering 52mm equivalent field of view. If you shoot with a DX camera, for the price, this lens cannot be beat, and would be my recommendation for your first prime lens.
AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4G SIC SW
SMC Pentax-A 50mm f/2

Normal Zoom
AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR
Just a good all-around lens that gives you 27mm to 450mm equivalent field of view. Sure, there are optical sacrifices with this glass, but if you only want to carry one lens while having the flexibility of shooting reasonably wide or very long, this lens is hard to beat for DX cameras. Just keep in mind this lens is big and heavy and when fully zoomed, it’s almost comically long in length.

Macro
AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 85mm f/3.5G ED VR
Good reach that also allows you to shoot macro sans tripod for many situations, as long as you are stopped down a good amount. This lens can also be used as a long portrait lens with a 128mm equivalent field of view.

FIELD GEAR
Camera Bag
Lowepro LP36433-PWW Photo Hatchback 22L AW in “Pepper Red”

Lens Case
Lowepro Lens Case 9 x 13 cm

Camera Strap and Accessories
BlackRapid RS-7 Camera Strap – (Read my RS-7 review)
BlackRapid Joey 3 Storage Pocket
BlackRapid Brad Underarm Stabilizing Strap
BlackRapid Tether Kit
BlackRapid ProtectR (Long)
Custom SLR M-Plate Pro – (Read my M-Plate Pro review)

Tripods
Slik Sprint Pro II Tripod with Ball Head & Case in “Gunmetal” finish
Joby GP3 GorillaPod SLR-Zoom Flexible Tripod + BH1 Ball Head with Bubble Level

Flash
Nikon SB-600 Speedlight Flash

Filters
B+W 77mm circular polarizer filter
Hoya 52mm circular polarizer filter
Tiffen 52mm 0.3, 0.6, and 0.9 neutral density filters
Tiffen 77mm 0.6 neutral density filter

Hand Strap (used exclusively with Nikon D40)
Fotodiox Genuine Leather Hand Strap

Other Stuff
Eye-Fi 16GB Pro X2 SDHC Card
Transcend 32GB SDHC Card

STUDIO GEAR
Strobes
AlienBees B400 Strobe/Flash
Neewer 300W Strobe/Flash

There’s even more gear, and I’ll add it to this page over time, including a complete list of all photography books I own. And I will also add bits of information about how and when I use each piece of gear. So be sure to check out this blog post in the future for more information.

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Immersion, Philadelphia Street Photography

Immersion, Philadelphia Street Photography

Now that we have your complete and unwavering attention.

Broad Street, Avenue Of The Arts, Philadelphia, PA

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