San Francisco Prt 2: Shooting in the street

The second part of our photographic journey round San Francisco involved a bit of candid snapping of the local wildlife.  It seems there is even a technique for the simplest things when it comes to photography.

The basic premise, is to walk the streets of the city snapping photographs of people going about their day, without them really knowing what you are up to. Easy you’d think,  well not when you only have a dirty great big SLR hung round your neck.

When mooching around SF, Gareth left his canon monster back at the hotel and instead made use of a much lighter and subtler canon compact. I didn’t have this luxury and so had to go with the more traditional, western (or far eastern for that matter) tourist look.

This is actually a very difficult technique for a beginner. With the camera hanging around my neck I had to guess at composition, and had a particularly tough time getting used to trusting the camera to auto focus on something that I am vaguely pointing at. As you can imagine I kept the camera in “P mode” So all my attention was on pointing the camera and taking a snap without braking stride. The results were kind of sketchy to be honest. I have no idea how “urban explorers” manage to get such wonderfully candid shots as they walk around.

I have managed to get a few photos that I quite like, but they all involved heavy cropping and Post production in Lightroom.  The one thing I will say though, it was excellent fun and it really opens your eyes to the sights and sounds of inner city life. In just a few hours of walking, I noticed more about the city than I have previously taken in over the course of visits spanning 5 years.

Somewhat surprisingly there were no dramas either, we got a few looks from some of the crazies, we made sure that a few bucks went into the collection trays of the street buskers as well.

There are a number of things to be aware, before you go rushing onto the street with your best compact. Some people do not necessarily like you pointing a camera at them, You will feel a sense of invasion of privacy as well, something that as an Englishman I was very nervous about the whole time.  There are a couple of ground rules, tips and tricks that you can follow. The 2 excellent articles linked below will certainly give you some great pointers on the whole subject.

I have to say that since coming back to the UK and reading up on the subject. I do feel a lot more confident about the concept of street photography, although I admit, I think I would be a lot more comfortable in the future with a smaller camera in my hand.


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