You can only depend on your eyes when your imagination is in focus. Walking through Berlin, watching people, what they do, and how they react to various situations that they encounter is the landscape of imagination that a street photographer opens up to.
Call it art, ot just a hobby, something to keep you busy. Street Photography is like mixing-in with the people, but not losing sight of them. You go to the party, but you’re the guest who sits in the corner and watches everybody talking and gesturing. You have your camera in hand, and your eyes are feasting on the reverie of the street.
So long as you are patient, and your brain is in gear, focused on every nuance, then something will happen and you’ll be ready to take the shot.
The above photos were taken around Potsdamer Platz, in Berlin. Tall structures, designed by a variety of architectes who had a free hand in their offerings of style and structure. There are some surprising lines, shadows and shapes to use as backdrops in street photography around Postdamer Platz.
Structures around Potsdamer Platz in Berlin
Looking across the platz you can see what the architects wanted to achieve, the buildings are important, the people are small figures dotted across a city landscape.
One broad street that acts as an artery to carry traffic through the middle of the area, several small inlets that create narrow lanes leading to smaller plazas.
The narrow streets are short and full of heavy shadows, the corners, often glassy and metallic, create the opportunity to catch a passerby popping out of the shadows, half covered half bright skinned, with a backdrop of swirling but dampened reflections on a greenish glass structure.
The walkways are also broad enough to allow people to walk without bumping into each other – even though Potsdamer Platz is a regular tourist attraction, and gets very busy in normal times. Even in autumn and winter, it’s a busy place because of the shopping arcades, three floors high. the top floor is mostly restaurants, open plan and popular places for liunch time visitors.
Downstairs, back in the street, there’s a mixture of cinemas, small cafes and a book shop especially for tourists – books about Berlin city, the present and the past.
Street photographers love to stroll around Potsdamer Platz, looking for opportunity.
Some say it is a simple place to get repetitive shots of the same thing, an easily found backdrop, a single figure walking in silhouette, shadows and light playing into the lens.
If you look around the place with a switched off imagination, expecting a shot to drop into your lap, you’ll get want you deserve, basic structural compositions that everybody has already seen.
Street photography, like all art, requires focused attention from the person behind the lens.
I like to warm up by taking two or three quick shots. People walking across a wide space, somebody disappearing around a corner – maybe there will be a flap of cloth, a strange shadow, but when I stop and look at what happened with those couple of shots, I get new ideas. My brain engages, my thoughts go into gear and I begin to see the possibilities of so many compositions.
As you practice street photography you will see clues as to what you are trying to get at in your photography. Your composition reflects your seeing, your ability to notice the things that everybody walks past without seeing.
How to Practice Street Photography when you can’t Go Out
Photographers must practice the art of seeing to achieve something special – and there is always room in this world for your ideas, so long as you have spent time thinking about what you want, what your intention is, and how you are going to get it with a simple lens of your own choice.
The camera is a tool, designed to be used alongside the eyes, to the wide-awake brain that is the real interpreter of what is in front of you.
I like to work with still lifes on my kitchen table. I use a flash unit, or constant light from all types of sources, including a video light panel which I find useful.
When you practice composition using the objects in your home, anything at all, you’ll build a repertoire of image possibilities in your mind, shapes and forms, circles and squares, triangular compositions that you will see in large when you go back out onto the street to take photographs of structures.
Digital Photography and Post Processing with Photoshop
Sometimes things go a bit wrong, but the shot is basically good. So, I’ll turn to photoshop and use it to do some precise adjustments in the light and shadows, contrasts and exposure, until something good comes of it.
You can go as far as you like with Photoshop. Treat it like a digital darkroom, or learn all the exiting techniques of using the various types of layers to achieve some pretty amazing effects.
Digital Photography has opened up new avenues of how we deal with images. Photography has changed, attitude change, but the human being and human nature is a constant. We still desire the same things, food, warmth, shelter, and an aspiration to follow and fulfill our hearts with meaningful life.
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