I did a quick streets photo shooting with Sheryl in China Town today using an über-simple setup consisting only of a camera and no reflectors or lights. We went for a natural look paired with an elegant dress and shoes.
I met with Sheryl already a couple of days ago in the evening for some photos. Initially I planned for using the Marina Bay area, showing some of the upscale lifestyle in Singapore, feeding the cliché. I wanted an available light only, slightly raw, editorial/documentary look embedded into the area with its unique mix of tourists and shoppers to make it look real. We met at around 7pm close to the Merlion and already then it was clear to me that this was going to end badly: I was there early and scouted the location a bit. I did some test shots to get an idea of the framing at f/2.8 and 1/160s, my minimum shutter speed without IS for moving subjects for an 80mm equivalent (1/2x focal length). The ISO already started to jack up to 1250 and more. When we eventually started the sun was setting so fast, that I found myself with the back against the wall: I had to shoot wide open at f/1.4, at 1/50 of a sec and ISO 3200. This means in less technical terms, that almost all shots were unsharp due to the 50mm f/1.4 being soft wide open, I had virtually no fine transition from light to dark due to almost no dynamic range, and at 1/50 of sec some nice camera shake added extra blur – my keeper rate went down to zero so fast that I was seriously considering trashing my camera for a sec. At some point we hopped from street light to street light to get some minimum light, of course creating the worst possible shadows. We then cut this adventure short as it was simply pointless.
When browsing through the disaster, I slowly realized that apart from the shots, I was not really happy with the concept itself. Rather than feeding the cliché, I wanted to actually show a more common, average, normal (whatever you want to call it) side of Singapore and I picked China Town, which I saw fit as about 75% of the residents are of Chinese descent. We then met this morning in China Town before the sun was too high, so that we could actually move a bit around and find some nice locations in various small streets. We shot really quickly for maybe an hour in total – longer than that and the sun would have made it unpleasant. TSJ