Hi, this is Jay P. Morgan. We’re here in Hamina, Finland. We’re going to do street photography and just walk around. I’ll show you how I find great composition and how I find light. It’s my process. Anytime you can look into anyone’s process it’s really beneficial to you. It allows you to see how someone else works. I love seeing how other photographers work. So here’s how I work doing street photography in this great little Finnish town. This town is only about two hours from St. Petersburg. It was built originally as a fort to be able to protect Sweden from Russia. So an incredible little town with great rich history. Let’s just walk around and see the process as we take pictures here and Hamina, Finland.
So I chose the 28-200mm, not because it’s the fastest lens, I chose it for two or three reasons. One is it’s very compact. It’s a 67mm filter size on the front. Which means it’s lightweight and compact. It makes it a great companion with the mirrorless Sony cameras. But it has a very respectable aperture range. It is f/2.8 when I’m on 28 millimeters. And it goes up to f/5.6 when I’m on 200mm. Generally speaking, by the time I get to 200mm on someone, I try to get in close enough that it gives me a nice out of focus background. It’s just a really good, all around, walk around lens. I mean, it’s really a combination of a 28-75mm and a 70-200mm. It’s a combination of that whole range. You lose a stop, or two stops on the upper end, which is what you give up to be able to have that compact form factor. But I think it’s worth it because, as a walk around lens, it’s super lightweight and super easy to carry with me. And I use it all the time. So there’s the Tamron 28-200mm f/2.8-5.6.
I love this lens, just kind of a street photography lens. But I love to shoot when I’m out and about and I shoot all the time. But what I do here in this situation is I’m on 200 millimeters. I love these crosses, I’m going to just pick up and do a shot here. It goes to f/5.6. I’m going to work on aperture priority. I just set it at aperture priority. I’ll set my aperture at f/2.8 because I know when I go to 200 millimeters, I’ll be at f/5.6. And I want to be as stopped down as possible. So f/5.6.
I see the crosses up front. It looks really nice there. The background falls out of focus really nicely. So I like this shot. When I’m on aperture priority is going to like 1/1250th of a second at f/5.6. But I’m looking into the highlight side of the of the crosses. I’m looking into the bright side. The sun is very close to coming straight over my back, which means the light is probably about as flat as you’re going to get. I see a lot of light in the background. I’m going to just move all the way around. I’m going to come around here and I’m going to shoot into the shadow side of these crosses. But now I’m shooting into the shadow side. I’m shooting off here to the shadow side of the crosses. And it’s a different look. Is it a better look? I don’t know. It’s a matter of opinion in a lot of ways.
So there’s two different looks at the same scene just kind of looking at the light. It’s always wide, tight and interesting. I’m going to get in really tight. It’s a beautiful light across that plaque as far as showing up the detail of the wording. See what happens when I move over and shoot back into the highlight side. I don’t see the highlight of the plaque near as well as when I move into the shadow side. Now look at that type, how the type really separates. Set the cross in the background in the right place. Let those two become compositionally upper right and left and this down lower on the bottom. Which gives us a nice triangle. Yeah, moving into that highlight side. Look at the difference it does in the type on there, that raised metal type. It’s really pretty. I love that background falling out of focus. Love the colors. Man, shooting into this shadow side I think is so pretty.
Let’s see how close we can get here. When I get close like this. I’m going to go to a single point focus so I can choose what exactly I want to be in focus. What happens if I lay on the ground like this.
Ok, look right here. There you go. Ahh, so awesome. This is awesome. So I love to take pictures of people and especially when you can talk to them a little bit and kind of understand their story. This couple is awesome. The first thing I do light wise, if I’ve got a couple like this, I don’t want to turn them and have the bright sun in their face. I turn them with the sun behind them so I get a nice rim light in their hair. Then, because there’s light out here to my right it’s going to bounce a little bit of light back in on their face. It’s not the perfect lighting situation, but it’s a really good lighting situation when you want to shoot something quick. So I just turned them, rim light behind. Try to find a little edge in the shadows so that the rim light from behind isn’t super harsh on their heads. Anyway, it’s just, it was interesting to talk to them. They’re heading to church this morning. It was fun to take their picture. With that lighting situation it just works really nice to get a rim light from behind. It just makes for a quick portrait. I love doing that stuff.
I just want to get some of the cobblestones here, maybe as low as I can possibly get. I’m going to 28 millimeters so I get a wide look when I get the cobblestones in the front. I’m shooting with this light, sun towards me so I’m getting shadows on each side of the cobblestones. You see how deep they are. Which is really fun.
So this is just a beautiful angle on this church for a couple of reasons. One, you get the highlight side on the square steeple, you get the shadow side. It’s like everything in the world is a ball, cube and a cylinder. So I love that highlight spire and then I get the beautiful clouds behind it. So I’m going to frame it several different ways. I’ll frame it in just a full horizontal, maybe show a little of the fence in the foreground. Then I’m going to go into a vertical and just show the spire. I’ll push the spire to the right up into the frame a little bit. I’m going to definitely always be working that rule of thirds. I want the spire and the building to push up on the right side and have the back come into the left side of the frame. It’s really nice. I can see a lot of this of this fence which is really pretty. It gives us a tree balancing with the steeple. It looks really good.
Look at the steeple, it’s like it’s one dimensional. I’m looking at one side. I’m looking into the shadow. It wasn’t till we walked around and then I started to see dimension that in the steeple where I get a highlight side and shadow side. I also cropped down lower to see the whole building. It looks so much better. Alright, pushing on.
Sometimes I just love details. Little things, like there’s a leaf here on the stones. If I get the right composition to put it in the right place. That’s when I really want to go to a single spot focus so I can focus exactly where I want it to be because I got a pretty shallow depth of field. And I want the leaf to be in focus. I was shooting some lines back there. I want to keep that leaf over on the side. I was shooting some horizontal lines on the cobblestones and shoot a shot where they’re all horizontal, it looks terrible. I kind of Dutch the camera, get those lines in a Dutch angle across the frame. It just looks so much more interesting. This tight shot of a bolt was really fun. I don’t know, it’s just fun to shoot details. Look for interesting light. Look for interesting objects.
So I think it’s really fun sometimes to just center and just make things very symmetrical. I’ve got the right and left window, I’ve got the drain pipe that comes straight down. I got the middle of the building coming straight down. But then I let the drain pipe come out at the bottom. So it isn’t totally symmetrical. I have a point that gives me a relief, that gives us a way to escape the composition. That also brings us into the composition. Just interesting to make things symmetrical. But give yourself some design that allows it to bring the viewer into the symmetrical experience. And it gives it some interest. Plus, I think the street signs are pretty cool.
These dogs they like to work, don’t they? Energy? Yeah. Yeah, look right here, there. That’s awesome.
So this is a site of one of the oldest churches. Well, the site of one of the oldest churches in Finland. And this building here was built in the 1920s. The original churches were built in the 1300s. But it’s been burnt down several times and rebuilt. The last one was built in the 1920s. But I moved myself around again. So I get that highlight and shadow side. So I get nice dimension on the two. I don’t want to be strongly, nice to give one side a little more presence than the other, usually the front side. So you have a broader side then a shorter side. And just move myself around and I get those clouds in the background. I get the leading line of the road going up to it looks really nice. It’s the site of the oldest church in this part of Finland. So I’m going to take a few shots here.
So I love this kind of view here. Because you get the road, you get a feature in the background and you let the streets just give you leading lines that lead you right up to the feature in the background. I’ve shot this all over, whether we were in Stockholm, and Helsinki, it’s just these old buildings that give you a leading line into some kind of a feature. So when you line yourself up, right, you can get a nice image. Well, there’s some of those images.
It’s universal around the world. Don’t let your dog poop on my lawn. I should start a collection of “don’t let your dog poop” signs. I like it.
I just love the windows. Like you say, it’s like a view into their life. Or, look at the old glass. Look at how modeled the glass is in these windows. It’s fascinating to me in Europe. I mean, we have a building that’s 100 years old in the United States and we lock it down and we don’t let people, you know, look at it except for on certain days. And here a building that is 5, 6, 7, 800 years old and they all live in it still. It’s apartments, it’s like common. So look at the modeled glass in there, it’s so cool.
I love how strong the texture is right now on that wall. You’re seeing all the texture, because the sun is strong to my right and back. It gives us a texture on the wall. But I’m going to frame the window up with a little bit of the gray stone on the bottom. So I have just a little bit of a base. So I can see the window. I’ll push the window to the right. So it’s in the rule of thirds. Even that shadow on the right hand side is kind of pushing in towards the window, which is kind of interesting.
If you’re not sure if you like the view, just change it. Get lower. Look up into the sky so you get the blue clouds behind it. Get higher so you look into the building. Move out to the side. Just give yourself different angles. I mean, that sign was cool because it’s cut out of metal. And it’s just cool because I can look up high and I can see that light and I can look up into the clouds. I could frame it with the blue building behind it. And move around to the other side and change the view completely. So just change your view, wide, tight and interesting.
Most people want to get rid of the signage. I’m trying to work it into the images because I think it’s so cool.
So I’m going to go to a pretty deep depth of field. I’ll go to like f/11 so that I can get the signs, the two signs and the steeple in focus.
So I’m going to get really low. I’m putting this on single spot focus. So I want to focus on the bricks in the foreground. But I’ve got, I’m at f/14, so I can give myself a lot of depth of field. So I’m really low, but I’ve got a single point focus so I can get my focus back on the cobblestones. And, but I’m at f/14 so we get a lot of depth of field. It’s just an interesting perspective. So it’s all about the cobblestones. It kind of adds strength to the building, and where it sits. It’s kind of a unique presentation. So I think that works out really nice.
That’s really cool. Just the texture. You get the lines of the items coming up. You get three of them that kind of follow the rule of thirds. You have the lines coming down and the great texture of the paint. And I got the grey down in the back, down on the bottom. That gray gives me a beautiful foundation on the bottom. Really pretty.
This is what I’ve been looking for. I want the cobblestone, the old bicycle, the stucco wall, the door, I mean all this stuff just has such a great look. I can feature the cobblestone in the foreground, look back into the bicycle. This is kind of cool the way it looks down the alley here too. Maybe I can give it some perspective. Perspective going down the alley. Maybe I’ll get in tight and do something really wide here. Oh, I love this when I get really super low. I see the street, I see the bike. And I’ll try to do something flat where this bike is just flat against the wall. Just flat and maybe I can even use that drain pipe up there to juxtaposition that drain pipe. Yeah, that’s pretty cool. This was an awesome spot here.
I’m just walking around the back alleys just looking for something interesting. Trying to get off the beaten path a little bit. I mean, sometimes there’s some interesting things. Nothing amazing. I do love the sign here. It’s pretty cool. I move back here and I can reflect it into that window. That’s kind of interesting. I do love this 28-200mm. It just makes it so I can jump in and out.
So I just, this building wasn’t very interesting to me till I walked around it. And then all of a sudden the light is more interesting over here. I see dimension, the building, it’s not flat. I see the flags and the blue sky. I can do a Dutch angle here. So I see the flags up in one corner. They become a balanced item with the building. And the flags are flowing right now, which is awesome. That’s a nice little shot there. Just, if things don’t look right, just kind of walk around. Light changes everything. Light truly does change everything. Find the light, find the image.
Okay, I’m looking, it’s really nice with this 28-200mm because I can get this whole building in a 28 millimeter. But I can do tight shots for the people walking by. Certainly interesting, the architecture here is so different. This has a very more, it’s not necessarily modern, 50s kind of look. Very, oh I don’t know, economically driven, not artistically driven. Maybe that’s a nice way of saying it. But this lens sure makes it nice. So I can go in to do details. Or I can do the whole building. That 28-200 is pretty amazing.
Boy this texture is pretty interesting. Use that one little pipe up in the, up in the rule of thirds. Up in the higher end there, right upper third. Just give myself something that would balance it in there.
So this is really cool, these repetitive arches here. I wish I had some kind of a payoff like I wish there was a person standing here or a bicycle or something, something just to give me a little bit of a pay up. I’ll move over. I can see down to the way far deep, the City Hall, way down there. Clouds are cool. Maybe I can go into a horizontal shot and do a couple like that. That’s nicer.
I’m loving this lock here. I’m in really tight on it. So the latch kind of becomes, leads in and it comes down to the lock. I see a little bit of spiderweb on the side. It gives me a little bit of balance. Kind of leading lines in from the left. Beautiful highlight on the silver of the lock, a beautiful shot, beautiful shot.
You can find great light when you’re doing street photography in the sun, but you have to look for it. You want to get that sun behind and to the side. It’s going to come across the face. It’s going to light the face. You don’t want it way behind. You don’t want it right up here. You want it kind of from behind to the side. And then you shoot into that shadow side and the light looks fabulous.
This Sony a7R V has an incredible dynamic range. It opens up those shadows. Of course, I’m shooting everything in raw so I can take it in, process it, open up those raw images. And that makes a huge difference. I think if you’re shooting street photography, you got to shoot RAW, because that allows you to work with the images and make them look better. Because sometimes you’re in very challenging lighting situations.
So this has been a lot of fun walking around in Hamina, Finland here. I learn a lot when I do this because when I have to talk about what I’m thinking, when I’m shooting, it kind of helps me understand the process a little better. It helps me understand that I need to kind of, you know, when I have to articulate it, it helps me to be more concentrated on it. And I think the imagery looks better. So I hope you enjoyed this. You know, check out some of these other lessons we’ve done. It’ll help you understand street photography, some other lessons we’ve done in the past. That 28-200mm lens, I think is amazing. All right, there you have it. Keep those cameras rollin, and keep on clickin’!