Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Wide Angle for Street Shooting

The only lens I have for my Fuji X Pro-1 is the 18mm f2 Fujinon X mount. That makes it effectively a 27.5mm lens with the APS-C sensor. It's just a tiny bit too long for my preferences. When I used my D700 for street shooting it was always mounted with the 24-70mm f2.8 zoom lens, and I rarely zoomed out from 24mm. My favorite lens to use on my Leica M6 was always the 21mm f2.8 which had incredible clarity and wonderful wide angle range. If I had my way, that's the focal length I'd have on the XP1. Rumor has it that the next lenses to be released by Fuji will be a 14mm f2.8 which translates into a 21mm effective focal length, and the first of the zooms for the camera which will be an 18-72mm f4 lens with image stabilization. The 14mm lens would be perfect for my shooting, and if the zoom image quality equals that of the 18mm prime lens, I'd be in lens heaven.

Wide angle lenses work best for me when I shoot street firstly because in New York people are always out. With a 'normal' or long lens I would have to be far away enough from my subject to be able to compose the shot properly and that space would allow for too much interference by passing pedestrians. Secondly, while I like to have my subject fill much of the frame real estate, I also want to be able to include enough of the surrounding area to contribute a sense of place. Two quotes come to mind. The first by Robert Capa - if your pictures aren't good enough, it's because you aren't close enough. The second by Bruce Gilden - if you can smell the street, it's a street photograph.

I was walking across 57th Street in Manhattan the other day, and there was this gentleman singing excerpts from Verdi's Rigoletto on the corner of Seventh Avenue. I knew I had to get the shot, so I put a dollar in his tin can and he gave me a personal performance.


  1. Hey Gene my friend,I can smell the street here,and the pic is great ;-)

  2. Like this very good portrait of the street singer.

    You are completely right, Gene. Candid street shots must be with wide angle. In a big city like New York, there is always so much noise, you don´t hear the shutter, allthough you are close. Sometimes when you take candid photos of people very close and want ex. a person be in the left side of the photo - being a part of a whole scene, you are so close, that people don´t think they are in the frame, because of the wide angle you shot in - like this one where I was looking in the viewfinder, but the man didn´t take care of it.
    But the most of my shots are shot with 16-24 mm from the hip, like I learned from you, when I got my new photointerest streetphotography last year.
    Thanks for sharing your knowledge, Gene - I really appreciate it.