- The well known argument, when shooting street photography, what is best - film or digital?
- The advantages and the disadvantages of both film and digital photography
- The processes involved in these formats
- Printing on paper or displaying on a screen digitally
- Colour or Black and White?
So... Film or digital?
As a street photographer myself and having used both fim and digital cameras in the past, I can say clearly say that I have produced great shots with both cameras. But if I had to choose between one of them then I would defiantly choose digital.
So why then would I choose digital over film photography on the street?
Reason one: Cost.
Whilst photographing out on the street, The situations nearby and the activities that people are under-taking are constantly changing, and each one of these are a photo opportunity. I can be out wondering the streets for only thirty minites and I would pass by at least one hundred photographic opportunities, some being better than some but still opportunities. So if I was using a film camera, without a doubt I would get through at least four rolls of film each time I went out and unless you are a millionaire then it works out to be a very expensive hobby and profession with the average roll of film costing from between £3 - £5. So If we say that our four films cost £4 each, then it would cost £16 for that thirty minutes out on the street.
As this is the case, it would normally make the photographer be far more carefull when choosing their shots and there for they would miss some photographic opportunities. However, with a digital camera, The photographer can take a whole load more and even choose which photographs they would like and which ones he wants to delete whilst on the shoot. This creating even more memory in the camera and the photographer will not miss any photographic shots because they will have plenty of room on the camera.
Reason two: Your mind is not your camera.
Whilst on a street shoot, the photographer will always be trying to picture what the photograph will look like when taken. From the sharpness of the photograph or the depth of field. The photographer can guess and most of the time get quite close but there is no certain way to be sure that the picture will come out like how you picture it in your head. However, with the modern digital camera, the photographer can look on the LCD screen after they have taken the shot and decide whether they like it or not, if not, then they can shoot and shoot again until it is how they want the image to look. However, with a film camera the camera does not allow you to see this and there for the photographer will have to wait until the film is developed before they see if it worked how they wanted it too.
And if the photograph does not turn out how the photographer wanted it to, then it is a unique opportunity that they cannot photograph again.
Reason three: Practise often
Most street photographs wil have a favorite street or small area in the city that they like to photograph more than others. As a practise, Its good to return to this area every so often. It helps build up your people skills and you will feel more confident shooting here aswell because it is a place that you know well. Now this is the ideal time that you should shoot, shoot and shoot without worry whether the photographs turn out well, you will still be gaining more confidence and also better people skills. With digital it allows you to shoot more and quicker so this is an incentive to go out and shoot without worrying about the number of frames that you have left on your roll of film or how much the film cost like with a film camera.
Reason four: Creativity
It is well known now that digital is quick on production. It is unlike film photography, where you may be in the dark-room for hours on end. Now as I have already said, With digital cameras the photographer has the chance to shoot endless amounts of photographs (to a limit of the memory card), and so the question appears "why not be creative?". With this option to take lots of photos, then you are allowed to be creative with loads of failures and also success shots. So what are some ways that you can be creative in the city?
Off the beaten track - Dont just go to the tourist places, go behind the scenes and photograph the real life and events unfolding.
The background is just as important - sometimes setting up you shots so that you have a billbord or a large sign in the background can add humor or interest in you photographs.
Angles. There are so many angles... be creative and dont just stick straight, find high places to get up shoot from.
Let the subject really know you are there - get up close and if the subject does not like it, they will let you know, if not then shoot away!
Blurred - Experiment with motion blur, take a tri-pod out and see what happens.
So these are some reasons why I prefer using a digital camera to a film camera, But like every camera, there is always a good side and a bad side. Now with a film camera, it is lightweight and the photographer has the advantage to move swiftly and be un-noticed with such a small camera. Now with a DSLR camera, they are much bigger and the street will notice you much more, whether this is a good thing or a bad thing depends on the effect that you want to create.
So how does the location effect the photograph?
When out on the street, The photographer will want to most of the time go un-noticed in order to be able to capture a natural expresion on the subjects face. If you are shooting in a busy enviroment like a market or a train station for example, then people are only focused on what they are doing and where they are going. Most people dont pay attention to other people which gives you an advantage. The busy environment also provides a lot more activity happening and there will be more to observe in the photograph.
However, In a quiet environment like a bus stop or a side street, there is little happening and you have the risk of being noticed more. However there is a saying that refers to making great photographs in terms on composition and detail. It goes "Less is More". This means concentrate on how you set up the shot, and capture at the right time no matter how simple the frame it.
Now when placed together, in terms of speed of photo turnaround, the digital camera will always come out first, being quickest to simply insert the photographers memory card into a laptop, computer, self printing machine. In the modern day it is perfectly possible to get a printout of you photographs in under twenty minutes.
However, with a roll of film, it normally takes longer depending on where you get it processed. If done commercially, then it should take at least forty minites to process the negatives, or if done yourself in the dark-room then it should take at least one whole hours, leaving time to wash and dry the negatives.
When it comes to editing though, we are in a time now when the use of digital manipulation is over-taking the old school method of the dark-room. It is even possible to scan negatives onto a computer and to then edit them using software such as Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Light room. Those two programs are a couple out of a wide range of software to use when it comes to editing photographs.
However, the film side of manipulation would be to go into the dark-room, where there are not so many options as there are to edit on the computer, with the dark-room you are able to
Black and White or Colour when it comes to street photography?
Classic, enigmatic, and atmospheric – black and white is timeless..
Black and white street photography has a photojournalism edge, inherited by the renowned Magnum photographers like Henri Cartier Bresson and Robert Capa.
Colour is bold; it’s attention grabbing, and it’s full of life. It’s how we see the world everyday, yet the way in which you use colour in your photographs will portray how you personally see the world. Unfortunately it’s not as easy as recording what you see, as certain situations and subjects can appear flat in colour but striking in mono.
Develop your colour palette and breathe life into your images
Colour may seem straightforward, but there’s actually a whole theory dedicated to it. We can react differently to colours based on our own cultural backgrounds and views, but generally this is what these colours connote:
Red –Warm colours are happy and inviting
Green - Represents nature and vitality
Blue – Cold colours can be bleak and verge on sadness
If you’re abroad, colour photography will help to capture a country’s culture.
Against Colour street photography
Color is an element of every photo. Just like framing, composition, subject matter, lighting, exposure, etc. But color is one of those elements that can essentially be turned off. Street scenes can be very busy with lots of distracting elements as is, and color will often add a level of complexity that leads to sensory overload in an image. Background elements can be a major distraction: the bright green car, the guy in the red shirt, the neon sign, and so on. My thought is that if the color isn’t adding something important to the image, it doesn’t need to be there (and it might even hurt having it there).
Here is an example that I found on flickr, the yellow car on the left draws our eyes away from the main subject in the foreground.
So now after looking deeper into this area of street photography, whether to use black and white or to use colour. It has became clear that there are good and bad sides to both areas.
Black and White is the most common when it comes to street photography, and many of the most well known and most influential street photographers use B&W. But there is no right or wrong with this sort of photography, just a sheer matter of personal taste and opinion.
Like just explained, with B&W photography, there will be no distractions caused by colour that takes your eye off what is ment to be the main subject of the photograph. This means that if you did shoot a street photograph and it looked fine when you went to press the shutter, and suddenly a car drives by or someone walks by with a brightly coloured bag, there will be less post production to do later on trying to remove or to lessen the distraction.
However if shot on colour, When it comes to post-production, you will be able to choose between having the photograph either colour or black and white which is an advantage and gives the photographer much more freedom and creativity.
Also like just explored, Colour reveals the emotion and the atmosphere in the street as well as the local culture. Depending on the photograph, it can be made vibrant and lively, pale and slow, neutral and calm. This can all be explored when photographing a street photograph and it gives the photographer a challenge and a chance to get exactly spot on with which the emotion and effect they will want to create. The chance to be creative and experimental in itself is a whole new idea and project for the photographer to think about.