The day before New Year’s Eve I visited New York City and walked around the streets for about 8 hours. Big city, people in the street, colors, darkness, camera – you guessed it, I had a blast. I didn’t go specifically to take photographs, but I did tote my camera and a couple of lenses. I ended up walking in a 1 mile radius around Time Square shooting while walking. I simply wanted to capture the hustle and bustle of NYC.
It started out grey and overcast turning dark quickly. Therefore, during the daylight hours I had a huge softbox. Shadows were not a problem. At night the lights of the city were alive with color. On top of this the number of people in the city was HUGE all day. It was absolutely no place for a tripod. I simply set my camera on aperture priority, set the aperture as small as I could for the light (I wanted to get maximum DOF) and the shutter speed ended in the 1/100 range. As it got dark I had to crank up my ISO from 400 during the daytime to 2500 at night. I wanted to keep my speed no slower than 1/100 so I took lots of high ISO shots. I was using my trusty AF-SNikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED most of the day, switching out of my AF-S DX Nikkor 18-200mmf/3.5-5.6G ED VR II early in the day. I sacrificed a wider focal length on the short end for a couple of stops of aperture. Good choice.
Almost all of my shots were taken while walking or stopping just briefly enough to steady my camera and get off my shot. I was walking with my two 20+ year old boys so I decided not to stop to chat up people to take more formalized street portraits. Anyway, in NYC from experience taking street portraits can be hit and miss.
When I got home and looked through my photos I was very happy but noticed the colors tended to dominate the image. Therefore in my post processing I converted several to B&W, which I think worked out well.
Next time I plan taking my tripod and going solo, although being with my boys was a blast. Oh, by the way I did end up hitting B&H Camera as well. Icing on the cake.
After action tips:
· Be respectful but don’t be afraid to take candid street shots in a city. OK, some people will give you the evil eye, but people are moving so fast and in their own little word it passes quickly
· In a street shoot like this it would have been better with a smaller profile prime lens. Not only does a D300s Nikon with a batter grip stand out, but add a 20-70mm f/2.8 lens and you have a big camera setup. I probably would have been better bringing my AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G prime or my AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G prime. Faster glass with smaller profile.
· If you can avoid it don’t take a backpack. Note to myself, people don’t like getting hit by a backpack when you turn around suddenly.
· Be careful shooting in some venues or buildings. Not surprising very few office buildings and museums let you take photos in their facility. No worries, that’s when my iPhone 4S came in handy.
· Take every opportunity to shoot photographs. In a city of any size there are hundreds of photo opportunities.