The evening commute in San Francisco

Taking in the City, Market Street - San Francisco

Taking in the City, Market Street – San Francisco

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.

Getting off the Tram, Market Street - San Francisco, California

Getting off the Tram, Market Street – San Francisco, California

A Taxi on Market Street - San Francisco. California

A Taxi on Market Street – San Francisco. California

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.

On the way home, Market Street - San Francisco, California

On the way home, Market Street – San Francisco, California

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.

Boarding the bus, Market Street - San Francisco, California

Boarding the bus, Market Street – San Francisco, California

Transit Blur, Market Street - San Francisco, California

Transit Blur, Market Street – San Francisco, California

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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8 thoughts on “The evening commute in San Francisco

  1. Been a month or two since I checked your blog, going to have a back read starting with the latest 🙂

    Regarding CA’s with the Olympus 17mm vs Panasonic 14/20/25 – My understanding is that Olympus bodies will auto-correct for distortion with Panasonic lenses but not chromatic aberrations, this is why the 17mm will be CA free compared to the other 3. Still easily fixable in post, but nice to have it in camera already. All other Oly lenses will do the same.

    1. Matt, Welcome bak.

      I was wondering if the E-P5 was doing in-camera CA correction but I wasn’t sure. When the RAW converter is released I can take another look.

  2. Looks particularly good at ISO 3200 — did that image, #2 in sequence, require noise reduction after the fact?

    Gotta keep telling myself: I want that camera. I don’t need that camera — I just want it.

    1. I didn’t do any additional noise correction. It’s a JPEG so the in-camera processing is doing noise correction.

      I’m curious to see how these JPEGS compare against the RAW. I’ll see when the RAW converter is released for Aperture 3.

  3. Nice blog post Andy and great street photos. Interesting your use of shutter priority for street photography. I’ve always used aperture priority and adjusted the ISO to get an acceptable shutter speed. I’ll try this method next time I’m out. So you settled on 1/200 of a second for shutter speed then let the camera decide on ISO and aperture is my understanding from the blog. Did you find that less than 1/200 gave you too much motion blur? The lens you were using, was it a 17mm f/1.8 with an EFL of 34mm, seems like that lens would allow a slower shutter speed. What was the camera auto setting the aperture to on most shots?

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