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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 2:33 am 
Hi,

Let me say off the bat that I am living in Hong Kong...arguably the world's most polluted city. All winter the sky has been a sheet of white. There's no definable shape in the sky...no cloud forms...just a blanket of white. Lower to the ground there is a white haze of smog. Some days thick as an English sea fog...other days not as bad. Even the green trees seem to have a film of white/ grey smog/ residue over them. To say that colours here in Hong Kong are dull (discounting neon at night) is a bit of an understatement. There just isn't a rich deep blue sky/ lovely gradient blue sky as a backdrop...there's no beautiful white clouds off-setting that. Once in a blue moon this winter we have got rich blue skies. 98% of the time it is just terrible.

Having said that, let me ask a couple of questions.

My time in HK is coming to an end, and since I came here 4 years ago I always said that I will spend time on the street capturing the people and the local scenes. I've always wanted to document the local faces, the local life....so my first question is about metering.

I'm new to dslr

I use a 60D and a 35mm f2 or a 50mm 1.8 II for going around the street. I have found that using spot metering or a center based metering style (or any of the metering options for the 60D)...I've found that the results on the street are varied...a lot of shots seem to be overexposed...harsh whites...and I'm sure that's a result of the sky itself...which is an unforgiving white haze of smog. So, anyway...I'm looking for tips people may be able to offer for achieving a balance of dark and light when on the street in these hazy, white sky circumstances.

I guess I have been using Av mode, somewhere like f11 and focus on Auto...usually triggering off a face...as I want to capture people. Is there something that I should do/ can do prior to starting where I can more or less determine a range of settings...like white balance manually to the area (but that's problematic...or is it...due to the variety of lighting on a street)...should I manually set focus to achieve good focus for everything 4 feet in front of me? What metering mode? Spot? Evaluative?

I feel as if my shots are washed out (shooting in RAW)...and I keep thinking it is the environment...the streets themselves are drab, grey, colourless places (not all the time of course)....and the sky...the damn sky...everytime the sky is in shot it's just a disgusting blare of white haze.

I feel like the RAW images are kind of devoid of colour...I guess I am used to seeing the amped up jpegs of a Lumix P&S...I can of course manipulate the image in software...but I thought RAW would give me a rich representation anyway....and yeah...this is a problem owing to what I described about HK and the depressing white haze which seems to wash all colour out of everything. Even to the naked eye it's pretty drab...so I suppose the RAW shots aren't really lying.

So...I suppose that's about it...as a novice, sure I've done some reading...but thought I would start a thread to make my case a bit more specific and see what advice I could get.

I will post examples later...

thanks

PS...it kind of seems that the metering is so sensitive to where you aim. You meter a slightly dark area on a face or a shirt...and bang...it'll attempt to lighten these...at the expense of other areas already light...then these areas will be overexposed. You meter on a light place/ spot...and then suddenly it'll attempt to darken...there seems to be no easy way to balance dark and light given the metering modes and the quick action/ reflexive action of taking spur of the moment street type shots. This is my problem. Given what I have read...that's just the way it is.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 5:56 am 
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Location: bit east of Melbourne
Sounds just like London :D

here is just a few ideas that might be worth trying.
Shooting RAW and JPG seems like a good idea, but in the menu increase the saturation and sharpness to give your jpg more punch.
Generally RAW is drap, just how it is, you need to add a bit in post processing.

The metering system in the 60D is the same as in the 7D, I think its pretty good in evaluative mode, suggest you leave it there. But maybe consider partial metering, this tends to work better for birds in challenging conditions, therefore may help with metering when focusing on a person.

Also set the focus to auto with centre or spot focus.
You can pretty well fix awb and other things if you play with the raw files, but not if its out of focus or motion blur. Also sounds like you need reasonable shutter speed, maybe use iso 400 or 800 or 1600 to stop motion blur.

Aperture depends on what you want to achieve but for people a larger aperture around 2.8 maybe better than F11. Use F9- F11 when you want more of the subject and background in focus, but don`t forget you are dramatically reducing the available light, so increase ISO to keep shutter speed up.

Also think of how affective some images may look in black and white, it doesn`t have to be rich in colour.

Oh and consider using the flash to light up the scene maybe even buy a flash.

you may find this useful http://www.dslrtips.com/

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 5:42 pm 
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A few things I have learned from street photographers that tried to show me my first steps in this field and some from personal experience.
First the technical side. They taught me to work in manual, stretch out my hand and meter it. You mainly expose for faces in the street so this is a long tried method to do it and it works well. If you’re in a street where a side is in shadow and another in sunlight do this on both sides so you’ll know your exposure and be prepared. Why ? as you well said it, there is no time for metering and fiddling with your camera in this kind of shots.
About aperture. You work with primes and a little research on the net will show you the DOF for the distances you’ll work with.
Many street photographers work with manual focus and settings that allow them to shoot without focusing and metering, just frame and press the button. I’ve lost many shots by wasting time selecting a focusing spot (auto selection is not a good idea) and waiting that fraction of a second for the camera to focus. This leads me to the “conceptual” side of it.
A street photographer is like a hunter. One doesn’t shoot in the spur of a moment, it’s a deliberated act by selecting the pray (subject) in advance and preparing the camera for the moment when the target is in the right place (frame) and only then raise the camera and shoot.
Anticipating and following is the name of the game.
Most of the time when you spot a scene that’s worth for you to capture, it’s too late. (I seldom get lucky)
We all live among people and know behavior, body language, situations and so on. With this knowledge one can anticipate what could happen. But most of the time this works in background, street photography is at its best when we are fully aware and able to anticipate and be prepared to shoot at the right time in a frame that we choose.
Of course this is much easier told than done.
It needs lots of practice.
But I think it’s worth it.

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Canon 50D , SIGMA 10-20 f3.5 ,Canon EF 24-105 L IS USM, Canon EF 100/2.8 macro Canon EF 50/1.4 ,Canon EF 85 f1.8,Canon EF-S17-85 4-5.6 Old Tamron 28-300 inherited from my Canon Rebel G film camera
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 12:27 am 
Thanks very much...

Meter my hand....so...set aperture...use an evaluative metering mode, aim at hand, half press and see what the correct exposure/ shutter speed is telling me? Then use that shutter speed?

Or does metering your hand mean something different?


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 9:39 am 
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Basically, yes. Set shutter speed not less than 1/125. If you can, 1/250 is better. And use the resulting aperture to see what are your options DOF wise. If it's too low go to a higher ISO and close more the aperture.

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Radu
Canon PowerShot S100
Canon 50D , SIGMA 10-20 f3.5 ,Canon EF 24-105 L IS USM, Canon EF 100/2.8 macro Canon EF 50/1.4 ,Canon EF 85 f1.8,Canon EF-S17-85 4-5.6 Old Tamron 28-300 inherited from my Canon Rebel G film camera
Canon580EXII
http://www.errre.net


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 2:34 pm 
Ok...thanks very much...that's been really helpful and I'll try it all out


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