Something a lot of beginner photographers do is forget that they can take photographs from more perspectives than just standing. Often, they forget that their knees bend or that their arms raise. I think the longer I shoot, the more I learn to move and get on the perspective of my subjects. For instance, if I’m taking images of a butterfly on the ground, I’m probably going to put my camera on the ground to take the pictures.
Often beginners spend their time looking down on low subjects or up on high subjects. An example of this would be taking a picture of a puppy. The instinct of the beginner photographer is to stand over the puppy and shoot down (having the puppy look up into the camera). While that image can work, a more compelling image tends to be to get down to eye level with the puppy and then take the picture. That works with most subjects with eyes—get on eye level.
This works with subjects without eyes too. Get on the level with your subject. This fern is a case in point. I didn’t take the image from above. I got down, low to the ground and shot the subject on its level. I don’t think you would have been able to see the fern uncurling if I had shot it from above.
Don’t be afraid to take your time, when taking pictures, and slowing down. Examine the scene and find the best angle from which to shoot. Above all else, have fun!!
When I do street photography, I use Aperture Priority Mode, instead of Manual Mode, (Yes, most of the time, when I shoot, I use Manual Mode). There are times when I need to control my camera in a quicker manner than Manual Mode allows—street photography is one of those times. With my camera in Aperture Priority Mode, I set a Maximum ISO (such as 1600) and watch my shutter speed (depending on your camera, you may be able to set a minimum shutter speed. I have a Sony a6000, and unfortunately it does not have that feature, so I watch my shutter speed). I don’t allow it to go below 1/250 sec. (1/125 sec. at night). I keep my shutter speed above this threshold to avoid camera shake and to keep sharp images from movement. Then all I do is adjust my aperture. I also set my camera to continuous shooting (or burst mode) for moving subjects—since I have a shake and I find there is more of a chance of getting a sharp image using this mode. As for lens, I used my 35mm f/1.8 and 50mm f/1.8 lenses. I tend to use prime lenses for street photography because they usually have a better (or wider) aperture—allowing for more light to my sensor. This means I can keep my shutter speed faster without compromising by raising my ISO (which adds noise/grain to my photos).
My settings, by no means, are a rule or everybody’s settings. They are also meant to be a starting point. They change for me depending on what I’m photographing while out too. For instance, if I decide to take a panning image of a bicyclist, my technique changes completely, and I focus on my shutter speed (instead of the aperture).
The one important rule that I follow and suggest you follow when shooting street photography is: Have fun!
You’ll find that a Telephoto or Long Focal length lens is your friend at the zoo. Usually, you won’t find that the animals are moving quickly—like in a safari setting (after all, they’re enclosed). So, you don’t need the fancy/expensive equipment you’d need for the safari, but a long focal length with a wide aperture will help at the zoo.
This combination allows for a shallow depth of field. Shallow depth of field will blur backgrounds and make netting and fences (enclosures) seem to disappear behind the animals—as well as allow you shoot right through the front of them! If the animal is far enough away from the front fencing, it will appear invisible in the picture.
It’s a combination of the long focal length and wide aperture that affect the depth of field. Basically, the wider the aperture and longer the focal length the shallower the depth of field—the less fencing, netting, etc… you’d see. You may need to adjust your focus manually though, as your camera may try to focus on the fence instead of the animal behind it. Once you focus on the animal, though, the fence will disappear.
I hope this tip helps you the next time you go to the zoo! While we’re all on this journey towards learning, I’d like to encourage you to pick up your camera, keep yourself and your gear safe and have a wonderful time!
What Is This Page?
Since I love photography and teaching, I thought I would start a Blog page and share how I take my images, what I was thinking and about me.