Tristan Parker Photography


Best time of day for Street Photography


So I have sort of covered this in a round about way in a couple of other posts. I will reference these at the appropriate points below. Im currently sitting at home as we start to enter the Winter months in Melbourne. As a photographer I search out light for my work. Granted we have high tech gear these days, and even with film of old, that allows shooting in very low light conditions. So, based on this, when is the best time to shoot on the street.

I would argue that any time is a good time to shoot on the street, but some times will prove a lot more challenging that others for various reasons.

It is widely agreed that the golden hours are the best time for photographic light. I have written a blog post on this in the past.

So, this is one aspect that we need to take into account. Light... As I said though, I am entering Winter here in Melbourne, I dont expect, or at least I hope this wont slow me down. It will however make me think a little outside the box as far as the work that I am going to be able to pursue. Clouds are essentially massive diffusers. A diffuser is something that is used in studio work to soften light coming off a flash or other light source. How is this a bad thing though?

As the light gets diffused by the clouds, the resulting impact on a photograph is that the light is flat, lifeless. There are no shadows. There are instances where this can be used to your advantage, but in most cases a photographer will want direct light for street work.

This can be solved with a flash to some extent.

The second thing to consider is the life of the area that you are shooting. What do I mean by this? We are talking about time for shooting. At different times of the day there will be very different people moving around the city. Not only different from a pure population perspective, but also from a numbers perspective. As I mentioned at the start of this post, there were a couple of blogs posts that I would refer to. The second is on shooting street photography in crowds.

So the general gist of this is two fold. As street photographers we need two things, light, and interesting subjects. By in large most people search out interesting people, but there is the issue of how many people we want to find. I personally like images where there are a smaller number of people to deal with, both from a viewing and a shooting point.

When shooting I find it easier to control composition and framing when there is only a small number of subjects in the frame. This situation will only worsen if all the people you are trying to fit in are also moving. Bloody people and their moving... The other thing that I have found is that as people get more "Sun Smart', especially here in Australia, you dont find them sitting still in the direct sunlight often either.

So for me, I find that I am a little more consistent with my images in the morning. The light in the morning is great as we have already discussed, and I find that its easier to find and isolate a subject during this time of the day. I find that the time of day when light is at its best in the afternoon is peak hour. There are a lot of people on the street, they are all busy going about the task of getting home.

Of course, all of this goes out the window a little when you start talking about indoor shots... Shots were you are using available light... Shots in the evening... Let save them for another post hey!