This is a peculiar question to ask anyone who isn’t into “Street Photography”…but what is it…I mean, street photography? To me it’s a answer that I initially thought was an easy one until I tried to answer it.
Is it people in an environment where the image produced holds the viewers attention longer than a passing glance?
Or even more detailed – where a person sees an image where they exhale a short burst of air through their nose…not a laugh or a snort, just a recognition of a situation in a period of time?
It can be when a sequence of events leads to an image where you think “You couldn’t make it up” – almost like spotting a rare bird or witnessing an unusual sporting event…you can say you were there.
But on the other hand the juxtaposition of people with their environment suits well. Just in a position that holds the attention but nothing startling stands out…it’s just a situation. But then you just take a photograph just because it’s an interesting composition and the people just add to the randomness and create a pleasing effect.
To try to answer the initial question – it’s probably a lot of things to a lot of people but the interesting fact is that it is just that – varying and diverse. Rather like the people that feature in the images.
Street…where would you be without the candidness of people. Like animals in their own habitat they do the silliest of things. This shot isn’t silly…just think of the concept of a photographer taking a photograph of a person taking a photograph…sounds like some sort of perversion.
Anyway – the processing. I dropped this shot by 1 full exposure in Lightroom and then applied a preset called WOW-d_BnW_02…it’s the most contrasty of the 10 WOW B&W presets. Then export to CS3. I applied a macro I developed to give the image some contreast. It involves creating a mask from a 50% gray layer and the background copy of the layer, then applying this as a mask to a curves adjustment (S-curve). I removed a couple of bits of white and then ran the white dropper from a curves layer onto the ladies scarf…this brought it up nicely.
I got the lasso tool and loosely marked around the edge of the image (press Alt when you’re doing this and you can go off the side of the image too). I applied a 250px feather (that’s why you go outside the edge of the image). Ctrl-J and you have a new layer made from the selection. Change the layer property to multiply and you have a selective vignette. Duplicate it if you like to increase the strength and play with the opacity (I used 2 layers with the second on 70% opacity).
But I had too much noise…the ladies face was splotchy. As always when I’m converting images to B&W I tend to get noise…not to worry. I ran the Octave sharpening routine (as previous blog entry) and removed the 500%/1 radius/50% layer and flattened the image. I then ran a noiseware removal piece of software to clear the image on a duplicated layer. They say you should do this before sharpening…it depends on the image. I would normally check for areas where definition was lost after noiseware removal but this was fine.
You can see the before/after on my site.
I don’t normally do colour street stuff but this was just perfect for the job. St Patricks day, 2009 on the streets of Wexford, Ireland. The reason I’m processing this one is because of a new sharpening technique that I picked up from Ciaran Whyte. It’s called Octave sharpening where you copy the image 4 times as layers and change them to luminosity. You sharpen the first image to 500%, 0.5 radius and leave opacity of the layer at 100%, The second is 500%, 1 radius and 50% opacity of the layer. The third is 500%, 2 radius and 25% radius and the last being 500%, 4 radius and 12% opacity of the layer. The threshold in all of these layers sharpening is zero. You will have to play with the opacity and strength of these so I would suggest creating smart objects of each layer first. Then ultimately make an action from it as it does take a little time.