Street Photography in a Berlin Autumn

Berlin offers street photographers all types of motifs, scenes, and ‘moments’, to shoot great photos all year round. Street photography in Berlin during autumn can be both frustrating and exciting. You just need to have a good day, and a few golden rays of sunshine to get going.

Berlin Street Photography in Autumn, 2021
Berlin Street Photography 2021

I think most people have that wintry feeling creeping up on them, now. The weather is changing, and as photographers pull out their winter gear to stay warm and dry, there’s also the hope that we will experience a few days that offer that beautiful winter sunshine; golden glows that change everything about a street, intense splashes of light that make faces look cold and rosy, harsh differences in the tones of light and darkness.

Group of people enjoying a berlin park in Autumn
Berlin Street Photography, Mitte, Copyright; Sean P. Durham, Berlin, 2021

Group of people enjoying a Berlin park in Autumn was a quick glance, raise the camera and shoot. The trick is to be ready with settings, so you don’t need to double-check if the camera is set correctly for the light you are standing in. When the late afternoon light is so strong as in autumn, and the people are wearing a mixture of darks and bright colours, it makes for a good contrasting shot with some colour splashed in to it.

I keep stopping, take a test shot, then look at the viewing screen to get an idea of how well I’m picking up highlights, and how deep my shadows are – everything in between is colour that goes through grey tones, local colours, to shadow tones, then deep and dark. I want it all to show up in a balanced way. So when i look at the viewing screen, I then take a look at the histogram to get a visual idea of how the light and darkness are panning out.

The histogram should show me that I’ve got enough light on one side of the spectrum, and a nice dollop of darkness, which can be shadows and deeper colours, on the other. That’s all I need to know.

I’m mostly interested in the composition, and where the light is landing. Is it on faces, and the collar areas of people’s bodies? That’s important.

The above street photograph is reminiscent of pre impressionism. The days when painters were trying their damnedest to get away from being dictated to by the academies about what art is, and what art isn’t.

At that time, many English and French artists were extremely pissed-off about how art had to be dark and dismal, so they rebelled with lighter colours finely placed into otherwise monochrome landscapes and cityscapes

perspective view of the platz at Bundestag Ubahnhof, Berlin. Street Photography by Sean P. Durham, Berlin, 2021
Berlin Bundestag Ubahnhof Station, Platz.

The above shot looked so much more interesting with only my eyes. I use a 35 mm lens, Canon. It was hard to everything that I saw into the shot. That’s what would have made it more intriguing. The plume of factory smoke in the distance was more prominent, and despite post camera work, I could really make it work the way I wanted it. Otherwise, it’s a nice photo to look at. An autumn day in Berlin.

Man walking past a Berlin building on a cold autum day. Copyright, Sean P. Durham, Berlin, 2021
Street Photography Composition; copyrighted Image Sean P. Durham, Berlin, 2021

Street Photography Composition is just that, an idea for a pleasing to the eye composition. Using the light, and threads of sunshine that create strips across the ground, I waited for somebody to walk by close enough to get a main figure into the composition.

I love to work in black and white photography tones. The enormous spread of tones allows me to adjust ever so slightly and get a different mood each time.

Woman walking past a bridge in Berlin, Mitte. Copyright; Sean P. Durham, Berlin, 2021
Walking past a bridge in Mitte, Berlin

Photography is a very personal experience. So, the outcomes will be very personal too. If you work in black and white street photography you’ll see that some photos don’t express themselves with colour as well as in black and white photography. Then again, some will look so much better in colour, and it would be a shame to simply convert it to black and white, when it begs colours.

When autumn comes around in Berlin black and white photography comes into its own. If you want mood, cold shots that make people shiver, people walking along the streets with hunched shoulders and hands pushed deep into their pockets, then street photography in a Berlin autumn is perfect to achieve this effect.

More from Sean P. Durham – How to Boost your Photographic Creativity

Street Photography in Berlin

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