Hit the Streets: A Street Photography Outing in Downtown Chicago

December 13, 2019
Hit the Streets: A Street Photography Outing in Downtown Chicago

Winter grows closer and closer, and as the days grow shorter, a few of us at Fotodiox wanted to make the most of the daylight, taking a trip down to Chicago for some street photography. Meeting up with photographer Andrew Desiderio, we meandered without a distinct destination. Going wherever the wind took us (Chicago isn't the Windy City for nothing) we took pictures of whatever tickled our fancy, often stopping every few meters to snap a picture or looking around to count heads to ensure everyone was accounted for.

If you're going to take anything away from this article, let it be this: dress for the weather. Don't let my five layers fool you, I was still cold, and found solace any time we stepped into the sunlight. Also, if your camera has touchscreen functionality, and you utilize it often, you'll thank yourself for having gloves compatible with touchscreens (it makes all the difference.

Gear Loadout

I used a Fujifilm X-T3 with a Nikon G to Fujifilm X TLT/ROKR Tilt/Shift adapter the entire time. I started the day with a Promaster 19-35mm f/3.5-5.6, since I wanted something fairly wide, with a little bit of zoom available to me. Later in the day, I swapped the lens out for a personal favorite, the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 DX.

I also attached a Thumb Grip to the camera's hotshoe, making a camera a little easier to hold.

Usually when taking street photographs, I'm more used to having my Nikon body with native lens on it. The snappy autofocus made for quicker thinking, and faster image-making. By using the Fujifilm X-T3 with an adapter, removing that autofocus to help me slow down my process and focus on other aspects of the process. For the majority of the time, I kept my f-stop at around f/8 to keep a mid-range depth of field. I kept my ISO at 1000 so that the slowest shutterspeed I'd be using was 1/60th (so that I could ideally freeze movement).

With live view exposure preview on, I could look at the screen to gauge whether or not the exposure was right, and adjust the shutter speed accordingly, decreasing it if the scene got brighter.

My main reason for choosing the Tilt ROKR adapter is so I can get a some perspective control on the fly. Rather than point the camera upwards and have the vertical lines converge to a point, I can shift the lens upwards and maintain the perspective, while capture more than what I can usually see when shooting at eye-level.

Realistically, perspective can be fixed it post, but out of the camera, the shift adapter helps reduce the amount of required post-production work.

I mainly focused on people and how they were situated in the space the occupied, so I watched people as they were walking, waiting for them to be centered or framed by their surroundings.

Nailing focus was probably my biggest challenge. I usually kept the camera at waist level to be fairly discreet, tilting the screen up so I could compose, and used focus peaking to hopefully get the shot I needed. Misfires are inevitable, but it's important to have fun too. Despite the blurriness, I do like this image.

Sometimes I would focus on a subject in front of me, and keep the focus locked for that specific distance. If something else moved in front of me at that same distance from the camera, the focus would be fine since it was already pre-determined as being in focus. This picture I was able to get while crossing the street (probably not advisable; always practice traffic safety!!). I saw the stopped car to my right, aimed my camera there, once I knew the distance from the camera was about right, and snapped away.

I was able to do the same here with this panning shot. As the car moved, I moved my camera at about the same speed. This makes the car appear frozen, while the background moves around it.

The tilt function of the Tilt ROKR Adapter was fun to play with. I would use it to isolate something in a picture and draw attention to it.

You can also use tilting to give images the "miniature effect" which makes things seem smaller than they are. Just look at this guy. He looked like an ant from where I was.

Unfortunately, I couldn't stay all night. I left earlier than the others since I had a train to catch. But that didn't stop me from getting at least a few more pictures on the way.

Overall, it was a good day with a lot of good captured moments (at least for me). It's important to step out of your comfort zone every now and then, because you never know what's in store.

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