I've heard it said that eventually, everyone passes through Times Square. There's no way to describe it unless you've been there; it's electric.
Last week I was talking about telling stories with simple images at the beach, but this is an example of a subject that's the polar opposite of serenity and sunsets. Regardless of the scene, success comes about by framing an image in a way that allows the viewer to enter it and muse about what is going on.
If you want to tell stories with your photos, it doesn't matter what the scene is. It could be a beach, a farm, a city or anything in-between. I find that having a sense of depth draws us into the scene. We start at items close up and then wander around establishing distance and placement. It happens so fast we don't notice, but crafting scenes are what makes photography so enjoyable. It's a subtle version of virtual reality based on immersion. If we are, even for an instant, immersed in a photo, then we've experienced a form of virtual reality. Stories when told by a picture or a book, have always been a way to experience a different reality.
This time of year we have colorful clouds at dusk nearly every night. This is a shot from a few days ago in my neighborhood. Normally for a shot like this I would use a tripod but because I ran out of my house it was hand held as I stood at the base of the street in awe. Getting this to shot to turn out pushes the Sony sensor to the edge of its limits in terms of recovering shadows and details. If you zoom in you can pick out a lot of noise and flaws, but the point is I was able to get an amazing scene in unfavorable conditions and on a moments notice. I wish I had used a tripod, but in the end the Sony sensor compensated very well.
Where I live there seems to be some kind of atmospheric border. At around sunset each day the east boils with violent ominous clouds and the west is lit with broken clouds in a cascade of colors. I will see completely different weather depending on which window I look out of. It seems like the border between these two conditions is right over street. As soon as the sun sets the clouds settle down and any local storms subside. The tropical climate here can be truly different from one block to the next.
By the next morning the sky is blue without a hint of any drama or clouds. But as soon as the sun heats up the clouds re-appear as though out of thin air. They get thicker and more dramatic throughout the day until we get afternoon thunderstorms, which then dissipate at around sunset. It’s a predictable pattern that repeats each day. Only when we get tropical depressions from the Atlantic or the Gulf does this change. Then it’s anyone’s guess as to what will happen.
I use random people in scenes all the time. Sometimes a person is positioned in such a way as to create a scene. Street photography is all about people in scenes. One technique is to create compositions where people are juxtaposed to nearby architecture or structures. A simple example is a person waking past an archway. Looking for a composition is like a game; you feel a sense of accomplishment when you capture one. I haven’t played but maybe it’s a little like Pokémon Go.
I took this at Bayfront Park in Sarasota recently. The park is an island with a trail around it and these swings are spaced every fifty meters. I come here when I want to do a mixture of people and landscape photography; it has plenty of both. As I walked behind this lady I think she knew I was taking pictures because she glanced back. She didn't seem to mind so I paused to get several more.
I use people in this way all the time. Of course it’s better to be coy about it, if people become aware of what your doing they may change their behavior. Lately I’ve taken to carrying only a small 35mm lens on my camera. That way it doesn’t stand out so much and I can almost pretend I’m a casual shutterbug. In reality I’m on an undercover mission.
One time it backfired on me. I was trying to be nonchalant as I took a picture of a rundown garage in a gritty part of town. The people inside thought I was snooping on them and started yelling at me. It turned out okay but I should have asked first. Most people don’t mind if they know what you’re doing. And if they do mind, well, no biggie, it’s just a game.