I decided to go back to San Francisco again. It was Thursday night and I was going home the next day. I had a unique opportunity to field test the Olympus E-P5 and wanted to do so in an interesting place. Austin is a fine place and I love living there but San Francisco is a world-class city. A haven for an urban and street photographer like me.
I wanted to practice street photography with the E-P5. I made some mistakes the last time, setting the shutter speed too slow — I ended up getting decent photos but the keeper rate was lower than I expected. Back to Market Street I went. Except the rush hour traffic was a bad. I got in at 8pm and the light was already fading. I had only 30 minutes before my favorite Chinese restaurant closed so I needed to work fast. I hovered around Market Street and captured the commuters in and around the tram and bus stops.
I shot shutter priority again adjusting the shutter speed to control the effect on movement. I set the Auto ISO to a 3200 maximum and I needed it at times to get a 1/200 per second shutter speed. Slower shutter speeds, on the other hand, while reducing the keeper rate, makes interesting images. The motion blur gives a better sense of action and energy of the big city. Shooting in the evening with the sparkle of made-made lights in an urban environment is one of my favorite things.
I talked last time about how much I enjoyed the Olympus E-P5 for street photography. It is responsive, small and with high image quality so it works great in the city. But I found that the 17mm f1.8 lens that comes as part of the E-P5 kit also is a key. I’m really starting to like this 35mm focal length (actually 34mm to be exact) and the fast f1.8 aperture works great for evening photography. Flare is really well controlled and I see very little chromatic aberration. My other micro 4/3 primes like the Panasonic 14mm and 20mm and even the Panasonic Leica 25mm seem to suffer more. When you shoot in dark places with bright street lights, flare and purple fringing are not uncommon. The Olympus 17mm looks great so far.
I made it to the restaurant before they closed. I ate too much of my favorite spicy Kung Pao Chicken and then headed to Chinatown afterwards. My shooting session on Market Street came out better than expected and as I will show in a future post, Chinatown was fantastic. There is so much texture and grittiness there. The night of shooting and eating was well worth the 2 hour round trip drive.
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