Learn from your images

Two young girls checking out a Chinese selfie making tourist
1/640 sec – f5.6 – ISO 200 – 100mm

I’m sure you know the feeling. You’re looking at one of your photographs that you actually like – but wonder if you should have taken it in a slightly different way. With different settings, different composition or in a different light.

Foremost, my photographs need to satisfy me myself. If someone else likes them, that’s a bonus. But that also means that I’m my own worst critic. And there is nothing wrong with that. It’s always good to reflect what I could have done better.

I do like this street photograph that I recently snapped. I like the contrasts and shadows coming from the late afternoon sunlight. It was like a stage, ready for people to enter and play their role. And the two girls who walked into the courtyard while a tourist snapped a selfie did just that.

There is a lot going on, the walking girls, the standing man. Three “players” on the stage of life is a perfect number. Remember, uneven numbers of subjects are more harmonic to the eye than even numbers.

I also like the gestures, all three holding cellphones in different ways. The girl touching hear chin. The middle girl slightly bent forward in her walk, the standing tourist taking the selfie slightly bent back.

The settings are fine, 1/640 sec ensured all motion is frozen, the tonal range of the monochrome image is well balanced.

I was shooting at the far end of my zoom at 100mm focal length (200mm full frame equivalent on m4/3), as I tightly wanted to capture the action and the gestures and expressions. Still, hindsight, I should have given the tourist a bit more room. He is positioned much too tight at the edge of the frame. I should have zoomed out a bit. Probably 90mm would have sufficed to give him more “breathing room”. I don’t recall if there were some “disturbing” elements to the right of the frame, that I unconsciously zoomed in tight to eliminate a visual distraction. But I could have always cropped into a wider frame in post-processing.

Street life happens instantly, the sweet spot of a situation is always a fleeting moment, often just a split second. So it is important compose and press the shutter intuitively. So it is well worth thinking consciously about those things when editing your previous shots, so next time it is part of your subconscious decision making.

For all my tips and inspirations around photography check out my free Learning Center.

Wish you a great Sunday!


Related Posts:

A Street Photographer’s Dialogue

Street Photography Quick Tip 7 – Work the Scene

Street Photography Quick Tip 8 – Capturing Gesture

Instant Inspiration (8) -Make a portrait of a stranger

28 thoughts on “Learn from your images

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  1. I absolutely agree that first and foremost whatever you capture should satisfy you and if others like it, then it’s a bonus.
    A great shot and a great post!

  2. Love this shot! One of the difficult things about street photography is that you don’t always have time to think through it all. Wait too long and you’ve missed it completely. Nicely done. 😊

  3. Da hast du einen richtig guten Moment erwischt. Die Oly. schneidet intern bei der Verarbeitung immer etwas an den Rändern. Öffnest du dagegen das Bild in DXO hast du vielleicht Glück und du hast genau den Platz, den das Bild rechts noch braucht.

  4. I like the positions of the people. It is like the middle person wants to see what the man is snapping a photo of, and he is not wont to show her. Having him on the edge of the photo played well into my ‘story’ on this one.

  5. I agree Marcus. We all have our first reaction to a photo – Like IT or Don’t Like – but it worth spending a few seconds more to break down why. Just like you do here. Your analysis of the photo is as interesting as the photo itself.

  6. Taking candid photos of people can have excellent results ! I like that your photo makes me wonder what is outside the frame. What is drawing their attention? Nice capture!

  7. the shot is very nice: a sign of our times, of the digital revolution fueled by smartphones and DSLR (and mirrorless of course!). ‘Readin it’ from left to right (as all Westeners tend to do) you get a perception of rithm (something incredibly difficult to do with a picture) thanks to the walking stances and postures of the girls as well as the progressive increase in height of the three subjects. At first I thought it was staged then I understood it was a captured shot.
    The closing lines of your comment are an eye-opener: the edit phase (post pro in general) as a way to re-wire our eye-brain connections to become better photographers… very deep but also incredibly true! thanks for sharing both: the picture AND the inspiring comment!

  8. “Street life happens instantly, the sweet spot of a situation is always a fleeting moment, often just a split second.”

    I love this line and feel as if it is an analogy for life in general. Keep up the good work. The photograph is great.

  9. Street photography is something that is done mostly on the spur of the moment. You did all the right things.

  10. Great capture! I wonder if the two girls realized what the guy was doing? 😄

  11. I did a little exercise when started to read your post (first paragraph) thought about what I would have changed in this photo, before to read the “solution”. And I decided the same that you wrote below, the space at the right side. So, as an amateur that I am, I’m glad to see that thought the same:-)
    A great photo anyway.

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