Natural Light in the Art of Urban Street Photography
The Camera’s eye is attracted to the light, but the shadows have much more to say.
Yesterday was a street photography day for me. The summer is high and the sky is bright, but in spite of everything, it can change unexpectedly into choppy unpredictable weather.
There’s a street corner in Berlin that I’ve become interested in, Unter den Linden. It’s a big crossroads, and I’ve noticed that when I stop and spend a few minutes hanging out I feel a vibe that tells me there is more to be had from the view than at first thought.
It’s a broad and busy crossroads with lots of natural light. The main street is long and traverses East to West. Get there first thing in the morning and you can witness some pretty impressive sun rises.
The morning sun creates a spectrum of coloured nuances along the walls of the old classical buildings. Sandstone materials, white facades, arches and large important looking doorways offer opportunities for a patient urban street photographer.
There’s a bus stop with a shelter that intrigues me. I’ve stood on the corner several times and observed how the light changes around the bus shelter. The reflections on the transparent sides create shards of light, and groups of people huddle inside in winter, or in summer stand, lean, or stroll in circles while waiting for the number 100 bus to arrive.
What intrigues me is the possibility of a shot of people inside the bus shelter, grouped closely, the sun from either east or west blasting down onto the bus shelter, but around them the street is grey and shadowed.
This is using light and shadow to isolate the subjects. The city is chaotic. People walk, run, and the flow creates a difficult pattern to follow and predict. When somewhere in this urban space a group of people stop and wait, it offers opportunity for a good composition and a pleasing photograph.
I always look out for a group of shadows to create a frame for my shot. I think those shots are more harmonious in content…