I can see clearly now…

Rain Day | Nuremberg | 2018
Rain Day | Nuremberg | 2019

…the rain has come. I know, the song by Jimmy Cliff has a slightly different title. But the snow on the Streets of Nuremberg has been replaced by torrential rain. It’s gruesome outside. The maximum you can do as street photographer is going for some puddle shooting. And then finding a coffee shop for some hot Espresso.

The photograph was taken with the Ricoh GR II, specs are 1/125 sec @ F/5 and ISO 1600.

RAW conversion and monochrome processing in Lightroom Classic CC.

If you want to pick up your camera this Sunday and are still looking for inspirations what to shoot, check out my free Learning Center.

Wish you all a sunny Sunday!

Marcus

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Stay Underground

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
1/6 sec @ F3.2 and ISO 200

Taking the camera and shooting underground is always a good option when the weather is bad on the surface. Commuters are usually too much in a hurry to notice the inconspicuous standing street photographer, especially when he shoots with a small camera like the Olympus PEN-F with the attached 17mm F/1.8 prime lens. This photo I took crouched down, two catch the pigeon trying to beat the people exiting the train to the escalator (…just joking).

While the streets of Nuremberg are graced only by a touch of snow, Southern Bavaria and the Alps are hit by the worst winter weather in a decade. Downtown Munich (just 90 miles south) sports a whopping 2-3 feet of snow, and in the mountains many villages are cut-off from the rest of the world buried under up to 9 feet of snow. It will continue the snow and there is significant danger for people and buildings. Almost all small roads and train lines are interrupted. The winter weather is forecasted to continue well into next week. I cancelled the business day trip to Munich scheduled for today to avoid having to drive into the chaos.

I really hope everybody down south stays safe.

Have a great Thursday

Marcus

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Street Photography Quick Tip 6 – Shoot in a station

Play with perspective

Subway Snooze | New York City | 2018

Another fun thing to do when composing photographs is to play with perspective, something that works just as well when doing street photography.

Look at the guy I caught deep in thoughts (or snoozing) on a subway ride. He is holding his cellphone in his right hand. Only that it seems like the hand holding the phone is coming out of the arm of the person sitting in the background, rather than is own arm.

The human eye tends to follow lines. And the hand and the arm behind form an almost natural looking line, and, together with the hunched over subway rider, forms a full circle, adding a certain harmony to the composition.

The eye of a casual observer, even if subconsciously, catches the anomaly and will try to solve the riddle. This little play with perspective adds an additional interest to the photograph. And lets the observer’s eye remain a second or two longer on our image. Which is what we want as photographers.

Image taken with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 and the mZuiko 12-100mm F/4, specs are 1/25 sec @ F/4 and ISO 400, 48mm focal length.

If you look for more tips and inspirations around photography, check out my free Learning Center.

Wish you a great start into the week.

Marcus

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Life in the Big Apple

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Back to business

Back to Business | Berlin | 2018

What I love about street photography is that is capturing everyday life as it happens. When roaming the streets, I’m always on the lookout for situations that reflect the stories of life.

This is a photograph of a business man walking seemingly away from the fun stuff happening in holidays. Like diving. Or, when you look to the far right, a bike tour.

The image works for multiple reasons. First, there are the juxtapositions of the man in a business attire and the lady diver. Another one is the man and the diver going in opposite directions. Then there are the similarities in their leg positions (it was the hard part capturing the exact moment). Then there are multiple layers to the image: the man in the foreground, the ad in the middleground and then the bikers and the subway in the background. And as extra element there is the partially hidden text message on the ad, something the mind automatically tries to decipher. Another compositional element is the triangle between the man, the diver and the bikers.

The photo is also symbolic for my day, as it’s back to work day after the Christmas break.

Image taken with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 and the mZuiko 12-100mm F/4, specs are 1/25 sec @ F/4 and ISO 200, 38mm focal length.

If you look for more tips and inspirations around photography, check out my free Learning Center.

Wish you a great start into the week.

Marcus

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Say Cheese

Big Wave | New York City | 2018

No, “say cheese” is not what I say when taking a candid street portrait of a complete stranger. Actually it is much simpler. Walking up, smiling, raising the camera, taking the shot, smiling again, maybe waving “thanks”, walking away. That’s standard street photography. About half of the people put up a smile and actually like having their picture taken, the other half doesn’t react much, and then there is maybe one in fifteen tries where the person signals they are not in agreement to have a stranger take their picture. In those cases I smile “thanks anyway” and walk away. No big deal. No reason to be anxious taking portraits of strangers.

Photograph taken with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 and the mZuiko 12-100mm F/4. Image specs 1/60 sec @ F/4 and ISO 250, 29mm focal length. I was standing directly in front of this guy, you can see my reflection in the window of the ice cream parlor.

Wish you a great Saturday

Marcus

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Buy books not gear (1)

IMG_6999

With the start into the New Year and the fourth year of this blog, I’m launching a new series called “Buy books not gear”. As stated in my last post of 2018, I firmly believe that by reading good photography books we can improve our own photography much more than by buying yet another new camera or lens.

I’m starting the series giving you a glimpse into a marvelous coffee table book about the work of street photographer Vivian Maier, that I couldn’t resist picking up after seeing it in the window of a book store.

For the book introduction and a few of Vivians photographs continue after the jump… Continue reading “Buy books not gear (1)”

Improve your photography in 2019

Yellow Arrow

With the new year at our doorsteps, it is time not only to revisit our creative achievements of the past twelve months, but also to think about how we want to evolve photographically in  2019.

What is it that you aspire? Do you want to expand your creative view by exploring a new genre? Are you looking to improve the technical aspects of your photography? Do you want to study the masters? Have you been sneaking around that new camera or other piece of gear that you hope will jump-start your motivation to shoot better pictures or simply shoot more? Or are you seeking some recognition for your work, beyond the friendly comments of the peers following your blog or your social media accounts?

Whatever it is, this is a good time to set yourself some photographic goals for the new year. Time has never been better.  Excellent cameras have become very affordable and the latest smartphones are 24/7 companions that allow everyone to do serious and high quality photography wherever you are.

Focus on education, not on new gear

With the growing numbers of aspiring photographers, the amount of educational and inspirational information has vastly increased. Photography magazines, how-to books, websites and blogs provide a wealth of technical knowledge and inspiration for just about every genre of photography that you can imagine, and most of those resources are free. Thanks to this resources, improving  the technical and artistic aspects of your photography is not difficult at all if you learn to differentiate the wheat from the chaff. And if you want to take your education a step further, invest in either a web based training made available by professionals or join an in-person photography workshop, which will give yourself also the opportunity to build a network of peers. All this requires much fewer investments than a decent piece of gear and will definitely help to improve your photography more than buying the next generation camera body or a new lens.

Find a new genre you want to explore

Think about if you want to explore an area of photography that you haven’t yet practiced. Landscape, portrait work with available light or strobes, boudoir, street photography, macro, wildlife, fashion, travel, documentary; there are plenty areas to choose from. While all of those genres seem attractive, some come with caveats that are not easy to overcome (e.g. getting yourself models for portrait/fashion shootings, getting up in the middle of the night to catch the golden hours of landscape photography),  so the genres that eventually attract you will narrow down themselves. And if you really want to become good at something you need to focus. Most great artists / scientists have been or are specialists of some sorts. Sure there are exceptions. Bryan Adams is a great Rock Star and also a well-known photographer, but in music he focuses on Rock and in his photography on portraits and fashion.

Shoot, shoot, shoot

I’m sure you have heard of Malcolm Gladwell’s Book “Outliers: The story of success” in which the author writes extensively about the “10,000-Hour Rule”, claiming that the key to achieving world-class expertise in any skill, is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing the correct way, for a total of around 10,000 hours. I believe there is a certain truth to this thesis. So go out and shoot. The more you shoot, and try to implement the things you learned from studying the theory, into your practical photography, the better you will become. Master your gear and the technicalities first, then improve your creative focus.  Then your way of shooting will become second nature, you walk through your days with a “photographic eye”, picturing in front of your eyes what your lens would see. You fall into repetitive patterns that will also show in your images, will eventually show your style.

Find Inspiration

There is nothing wrong by finding inspiration in other photographers work. Browsing Instagram, 500px, flickr and the likes lets you find lots of images that attract you visually or even from a technical point of view. This goes also for finding inspirations in photography magazines or books. Once a genre attracts you, you can research it in more depth by finding image sharing platform users, websites or blogs that focus on a particular genre. Compare images, find common elements in images “that turn you on”. Identify the names of masters of the genres that attract you, look at their published images and books and study their work in more detail. There is nothing wrong in trying to replicate their work for yourself in order to understand and master their techniques. Then use the acquired skills to create your own variations or take it to a complete new level. Have faith in yourself of developing something new out of “external” inspiration.

Go out and shoot – and shoot what you want to shoot

The best goal for the new year is simply to go out and shoot.  And shoot what your heart tells you to shoot. Shoot for yourself, not for an audience. Shoot the scenes that you yourself want to capture, where your senses tell you to press the shutter because something in front of your lens stirs your emotions. Don’t take images because you assume they generate lots of likes on the social networks or image platforms. Repetitively capturing what inspires you personally is the best way to find a focal point for your photography, discover the style of images that are satisfying for yourself as a creator, an artist. And the best motivation to go out and do more photography is when your own results “turn you on”.

Use the new year to broaden your photographic horizons with an open mind. If you explore, experiment and work with dedication and passion, and if you are your own hardest critic, your photography will certainly improve and you will find and evolve your own style. Enjoy it as a journey, and don’t be afraid of any turns your photographic road will take.

For a quick start check out all my tips and inspirations around photography in my free Learning Center.

I wish you a great and creative 2019

Marcus

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Go out and shoot

1/60 sec - f/2 - ISO 1000 - 12mm
1/60 sec – f/2 – ISO 1000 – 12mm

Christmas is behind us, and with it the seemingly endless flow of festivities and opulent meals. My calorie balance is deeply negative in the past four weeks, but as the saying goes, you don’t gain wait between Christmas and New Year but rather between New Year and Christmas.

So now is the time to grab the camera (maybe the new one you got for Christmas) and head out into the streets. Roaming through the cities provides not only for plenty of street photography opportunities, it also gives you the opportunity for some brisk walking in fresh air to shake off those holiday cobwebs and re-energize yourself, creatively and physically.

This is why street photography is such a great genre, it keeps you out and about, and you can combine exercise and creativity!

If you look for tips and inspirations around photography check out my free Learning Center.

The photograph was taken with the Olympus PEN-F and the mZuiko 12mm F/2. Image specs 1/60 sec @ f/2 and ISO 1000. Post-processing in Adobe Lightroom Classic CC.

Wish you a great Saturday!

Marcus

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Instant Inspiration (28) – Handholding slow shutter speeds

1.3 sec - f/5.6 - ISO 200 - 12mm
1.3 sec – f/5.6 – ISO 200 – 12mm

“Instant Inspirations” is my series for you if you look for something to overcome “Photographer’s Block”  or simply want to shoot something that you have never tried, or at least not recently. Episode 28 is for you, if you think you have those really steady photographers hands.

Last night I grabbed my camera and headed into town, using a short window where the rain of the last days actually stopped – here in Nuremberg we can still dream of a White Christmas, but it won’t happen. Forecasts call for a real wash-out. Global warming?

The Christkindlesmarkt in the Old Town was packed with visitors, as everybody used the opportunity for Glühwein and Bratwurst without getting soaked.

While I did have Glühwein and Bratwurst, my real goal was to experiment with slow shutter speeds, and doing this handheld. And I mean reeeally slow shutter speeds, as in one and a half seconds. I wanted to capture the motion blurred movement of the strolling visitors, while keeping the stationary background sharp.

1.6 sec - f/7.1 - ISO 200 - 66mm
1.6 sec – f/7.1 – ISO 200 – 66mm

I was shooting with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 with my trusted all-round 12-100mm F/4. This lens has actually built-in image stabilization, that can be combined with the camera’s internal 5-axis image stabilization. With this cam-lens combo I frequently do shoot 1/5 sec and know that I can get real sharp results. But 1/5 sec is not enough to capture the motion blur I was after. So I was doing trial and error shooting while slowing down the shutter speed even more. Isn’t that creative, experimental approach something that makes photography even more fun? I feel like a little child doing playing in my photographic sandbox. In the end I found that dialing in a 1.6 second shutter speed gave me the best results. One point six seconds. Count slowly “Twenty-one, twenty…”. And this while holding the camera above my head using the foldable back screen to compose.

I was totally amazed that the wooden stalls and the buildings in the background actually came out pretty sharp. I know I have steady hands when photographing, but would never have thought I can get away with shooting one and one half second and get a sharp background. But see yourself. Amazing technology.

1.6 sec - f/8 - ISO 200 - 50mm
1.6 sec – f/8 – ISO 200 – 50mm

The above photograph I had in mind taking when heading into town. I knew that on the Children’s Christmas Market was a carousel and a little ferris wheel, I wanted to combine the vertical and horizontal motions into one motion blurred image. Also this one I shot holding the cam above my head.

I was quite happy with the results, although using this technique is a lot of hit and miss. But hey, that’s why we shoot digital.

Obviously, you can use a tripod to achieve the same effect, probably with better and much more consistent results. But in certain situations, like on a packed Christmas Market, there is no way to set up a tripod, so this technique comes in quite handy.

All photos post processed in Adobe Lightroom Classic CC

If you feel inspired to take your camera and experiment with handheld shooting at very slow shutter speeds, post the links to the results in the comments below.

A lot of other tips and all previous episodes of my Instant Inspirations around photography you can find in my free Learning Center.

Wish you a great start into a creative weekend!

Marcus

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