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One man in Chester

By VictoriaAnn
Taken on A photography night that challenged to only use lenses wide open. So this is a vintage Rokkor f1.4 on a sony A7 body. 1/15s, IS0250 f1.4.

Chester is usually busy even at night so to find one person and not a crowd is unusual.

From the photo itself I can't decide whether to crop it down to study more on the figure or leave it as is to show the full streat but single person.

Tags: Street Person Night Dof


chase Plus
14 1.2k 259 England
29 Aug 2019 9:20PM
I like this, the light is nice and warm, I like the different colours of the chairs and the slight reflection of his phone on his face.
Before I read your comments my first thought was...this needs a top crop so I did a quick mod, cropped off the top added a little sharpening to the person and chairs, that's it.
I think you handled the challenge well.

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29 Aug 2019 9:25PM
Yes, that's about what I was thinking, just couldn't pinpoint the crop off point that kept the "street" feel.
chase Plus
14 1.2k 259 England
29 Aug 2019 9:28PM
You could possibly go even a little lower with a crop and still keep the ' street scene' intact just to the top corner of the Watergates sign so the other two above it are in my 2nd mod.
dudler Plus
16 927 1516 England
29 Aug 2019 9:31PM
OK - this is rather my home territory, as I use Alpha 7 bodies, and often shoot with old, manual lenses. And I love using high ISO in lower light, too.

First thought is that 1/15 is pushing it, especially if your body is a Mark I, without image stabilisation (and if it's a later body, you need to set the focal length in the SteadyShot part of the menu, as the body can't pick up data from the lens as it does with FE mount lenses. I'd go to at least 800 ISO - the body will stand it!

Second is focus, which Alpha 7s are superlative for - not just focus peaking, but the ability to magnify any part of the viewfinder for focus. This makes it very easy to focus with the accuracy that an f/1.4 lens demands. Again, a trip into the menus wil lbe necessary, so that you can set one of the custom buttons to bring up the magnification box in the viewfinder. Then, yo ucan move it around with the 4-way pad on the camera back, press once or twice more to magnify, and then focus with a precision that's impossible with a DSLR and manual lens.

But yo uactually asked about composition - and that depends on the shot that you want.Maybe, if you're adventurous and happy to approach strangers, a series of shots, including this as a scene-setter, then closer views and a portrait. Maybe cups or glasses on the table, too, with lights in the background?

I am actually tempted to crop at the top, because you've got a large flare spot up there from a streetlight, I reckon. It's bright, contrasting in colour, and so it's distracting.

You need the street behind for context, and to show the lovely fall-off that f/1.4 gives. And, of course, going closer will give a greater differential between sharp subject and soft background, as I've set out in an article that's gone up on this site today, HERE, dealing with the various ways that backgrounds can look with different (and preferably wide-aperture) lenses.

I was about to do a mod, and I realised that Janet ahs already done both the crop at the top, and a square crop. Both look good, and I don't particularly feel either is better than the other. Just options.
mrswoolybill Plus
12 1.6k 2078 United Kingdom
29 Aug 2019 9:35PM
It's a takes-me-there shot. I want to explore. So mission accomplished, I think.

Landscape is the format for classic street photography, because it leads the eye to explore horizontally, along the street. That's the way we see when we are out on the town...

So of your selection, I go with the crop, which reduces the 'looking up' element. With one caveat though - I think it was a mistake to get rid of that bollard bottom left. It provides an anchor, it holds that corner down.

1/15 second was pushing your luck. Were you aware that you were shooting this slow? This was a situation for increasing ISO quite considerably.
Edit - John and I were engaged in synchronized commenting...
29 Aug 2019 9:37PM
Hi dudler,
Yes this is a mark 1 body so no stabilisation, also first time out in earnest with this lens and night time not my usual thing, but hey that was the point of doing the evening. As someone who has come from a long association with film I still forget to put ISO up and tend to hand hold till i go blue!
Will have a look through the menus for the focus assist as I do a fair amount of manual work as my most used "vintage" is the Minolta f3.5 50mm macro.
29 Aug 2019 9:39PM

No wasn't keeping much of an eye on ISO (see other comment) but will think about it more if/when I try this again!
29 Aug 2019 9:40PM
Makes me think of Van Gogh's 'Café Terrace At Night." ...Well, a bit.

I actually like it SOOC... even that bollard doesn't really bother me, and the uncropped frame lets me feel the night air.
Technically... I'm not really interested, I'm just enjoying the loneliness...
29 Aug 2019 9:52PM

I'm just enjoying the lonelines....

Yes i think that's what keeps drawing me back to this too. Without the man it would just me a street, with him it says more somehow, especially as his face is lit from his phone.
dark_lord Plus
15 2.3k 586 England
30 Aug 2019 11:23AM
It's a challenge indeed to use a lens wide open but this is a subject that's well suited to it. Not just the low light but the way the subject is isolaed with the rest of the street captured in essence rather than out and out detail.

Cropping, yes. Certainly to get rid of the flare as that is a distraction here. The main scene is restful but the flare, especially at the edge of the frame is unsettling. How far down to then crop,well, just above and just below thode two signs both create a good imag, and I'd be torn between the two.

ISO, surprised by 200, it's borderline but you appear to have steady hands. Before I read John's post I was thinking of reccommending 800.
30 Aug 2019 11:35AM
Dark_lord, I'm fairly good hand holding, all formative years spent with film and max 100iso teaches you a lot about holding steady. Smile
banehawi Plus
15 2.1k 4032 Canada
30 Aug 2019 1:03PM
Shutter speed way too slow for the camera/lens combination without tripod.

Having said that is quite decent, and the mods with space cropped from the top are the way to go.

So a higher ISO of 1000 to get you a shutter speed of 1/60th would be safer for this type of shot.


dudler Plus
16 927 1516 England
31 Aug 2019 9:42AM
Looking at my A7R, you need to go into Custom Settings (6 on the cog menus on the R, but it may be slightly different on the 7), choose Custom Key Settings, and assign Focus Magnifier to one of the Custom Buttons.

Then, when yo upress that button, you'll get an orange rectangle showing in the viewfinder, which yo ucan move around with the four sides of the wheel on the back of the camera. Press again to magnify the selected area (x7.2), a second time to magnify more (x14.4) and a third time to go back to a full view of the screen. Magnifications may differ on the 7, but you get the idea...
paulbroad Plus
12 131 1285 United Kingdom
1 Sep 2019 6:45PM
As John Dudler says. You have little chance hand holding in these conditions with higher sensitivity or a tripod. I cannot see the point in setting a project to only use a lens wide open - and such projects are one reason that I no longer frequent camera clubs. Use the best equipment and technique that you are capable of for the job in hand.

1 Sep 2019 6:52PM

It was my not thinking about the iso that meant it was slow, as mentioned above. The idea of wide open was to make us think about controlling and using Dof in different ways. Might not be your thing and that's fine. But I like to be challenged to think differently.

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