Last Updated on 07/30/2016 by Chris Gampat
The idea of capturing great street photographs is one that sometimes forgets that the photo capturing process doesn’t end when the camera records the information. Instead, it continues into the darkroom or on your computer. Editing can also make a drab photo into one that is incredible–but this really happens only if you’re more experimental and embrace the idea of having fun with and playing with ideas to create something different.
In truth, it really isn’t that tough.
Shapes, Moments, Color and Lighting
First off, it would be irresponsible of me to say that you shouldn’t really try that hard at all to get it as best as you can in-camera. Of course, strive for your best. Try to capture moments that elicit some sort of emotion not only in you, but also in yourself. Note though that this can be the toughest thing for many people to do and wonderful, photogenic moments can be few and hard to come by.
However, lots of photos can be saved through the use of conversions involving shapes, colors, or the light. It just takes a bit of artistic ingenuity and for you to stop looking at photos as scenes in real life. They can be altered to look much different.
No HDR: Leave A Bit of 100% Black, and 100% White
One thing that photographers worry about when you look at so many images are that the blacks are too deep or the whites are too milky.
True fact: walk into an art gallery or go see photos in a museum. When you do this, you’ll see that every photo has elements of true black and true white. Then there are all the tones in between. Don’t let the little blinkies overwhelm you unless there is a detail there that you absolutely, truly need.
Cropping images is probably the most powerful tool that you can use to make a simple image much more effective overall. Here are three examples.
So here’s the original photo above. I was focusing really on the folks sitting down and liked how the leading lines were working and stopping accordingly in the scene. But the scene overall has so much going on.
The simple crop makes it much easier for us to focus in on that specific scene. It’s now more effective.
The two gentlemen in the middle are my focus here, but there is just so much negative space with the sky and so many other busy elements happening.
Again though, we see that the crop helps us focus in on the interesting garb and the fellow next to him contrasting with more common clothing here in NYC.
When it comes to Urban Geometry, there is so much that can be done with this image. I’ve done multiple crops and even cloned part of a car out–which is still semi-ethical overall. It isn’t cheating either, per-se. Folks even did it back in the darkroom days! To each their own though, but I’d personally not find a major issue with something like this.
One crop variation.
Another crop variation.
Knowing When to Turn an Image into a Black and White
Here’s my major belief when it comes to black and white: color street photography can be good if the colors are minimal and effective to the story telling. If there is a giant mashup of random stuff though, then it may not work. If the color in a scene is drab to begin with, then conversion to a black and white can make it work sometimes.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.