Tips & Tutorials

Street Photography in Asakusa (2): Tips for Photographing Experiences

One of the joys of visiting sightseeing spots is being able to photograph objects that catch your eye and enjoy delicious food unique to that area while strolling along the streets. In this article, we learn some valuable composition and exposure tips for street photography that will help you capture memorable travel photos. (Photos by: Takeshi Akaogi, Edited by: Etica)

Dessert at Asakusa, shot with the EOS 6D

EOS 6D/ EF50mm f/1.8 STM/ FL: 50mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/1.8, 1/50 sec, EV+0.3) /ISO 1000/ WB: Auto

 

Adjusting the brightness to capture the Asakusa of your experience

This article covers shooting methods for scenes and food that you will come across in the shops at Asakusa. For these scenes, I would recommend using Aperture-Priority AE (Av) mode, which was introduced in the previous article. This mode allows you to determine the f-number yourself to control the intensity of the bokeh in your photos.

Another point to pay attention to is the brightness of the final photo. To add a fresh or energetic feel, adjust the exposure compensation in the positive direction to brighten up the photo. Conversely, if you want to produce a soft ambience or give the photo a nostalgic feel, adjust the exposure compensation in the negative direction to give the photo a darker finish overall. This will help achieve the ambience that you intended to produce.

Dessert, shot on the EOS 6D

EOS 6D/ EF50mm f/1.8 STM/ FL: 50mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/1.8/, 1/100 sec, EV+1)/ ISO 200/ WB: Auto 
Shooting location: Retro Showa-era cafe
A melon parfait replica on display in a cafe. Due to the abundance of white space, the photo will tend to be darker if the exposure control is left up to the camera. By adjusting the exposure compensation in the positive direction, you can give your photo a brighter, more refreshing finish.

 

At a café (EOS 6D)

EOS 6D/ EF50mm f/1.8/ FL: 50mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/2.2, 1/40 sec, EV+1)/ ISO 400/ WB: Auto 
Shooting location: Retro Showa-era cafe
At the front of a shop that preserves the traditional way of making hand-baked Japanese crackers. I wanted to capture the details of the tools, so I adjusted the exposure compensation to make the photo a little brighter.

 

Interesting patterns at a cafe (EOS 6D)

EOS 6D/ EF50mm f/1.8 STM/ FL: 50mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f1.8, 1/40 sec, EV±0)/ ISO 400/ WB: Auto 
Shooting location: Retro Showa-era cafe
Furnishings inside the cafe. By shooting without adjusting the exposure compensation, the camera catches the light streaming in from outside, producing a darker finish for the photo. I deliberately avoided adjusting the exposure compensation so as to depict a nostalgic feel.

 

Tip: Use exposure compensation to change the brightness

Exposure compensation on the EOS 6D

To set the exposure compensation on the EOS 6D, turn the Quick Control Dial on the rear of the camera. When you want to brighten your photos, adjust the exposure in the "+" (positive) direction, and to darken your photos, adjust in the "-" (negative) direction.
*Settings may differ depending on the model.

 

Photographing a craftsman at work

There was a shop where a craftsman was demonstrating sweet-making at the shopfront. When shooting a subject through glass or acrylic, you need to be careful about any reflections, even though it may be difficult with the subject right in front of you during the shoot. However, when you check the captured image, you may notice that the subject becomes less visible due to interference from reflections. These can be reduced by changing the angle of your camera, so try shooting from a different angle.

Photographing a craftsman at work (EOS 6D)

Before
EOS 6D/ EF50mm f/1.8 STM/ FL: 50mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/2, 1/50 sec, EV+1)/ ISO 200/ WB: Auto
By shooting the scene through the glass from a slightly oblique angle, the reflected scenery of the surroundings is largely captured in the right of the image.

Photographing a craftsman at work (EOS 6D)

After
EOS 6D/ EF24-70mm f/4L IS USM/ FL: 50mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/4, 1/80 sec, EV+1)/ ISO 640/ WB: Auto
The reflections of the surroundings was kept to a minimum by facing the glass straight on and by wearing dark clothing.

 

Preserving the memories of the various foods I tried

I wanted to photograph the food that I bought while strolling around. However, when it comes down to the actual shoot, the surrounding environment tends to be captured in the frame. This can overshadow the presence of your subject, the main subject of the shoot. While the first priority is to remove unnecessary objects from the image frame, it is difficult to do so in the cluttered environment of Asakusa. In such a case, reduce the aperture value and position yourself closer to your subject so that the bokeh effect becomes creamier outside of the focus point. By doing so, unnecessary objects no longer stand out, with only the intended subject leaving a strong impression in the photo.

Bokeh background confectionery (EOS 6D)

EOS 6D/ EF50mm f/1.8 STM/ FL: 50mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/1.8, 1/320 sec, EV+1)/ ISO 200/ WB: Auto
Ningyo-yaki, a speciality of Asakusa that I bought at Nakamise. I depicted a gentle ambience by blurring out the showcase in the background and the paper bag in the foreground.
Shooting location: Nakamise

 

Tip: Even for the same subject, the ambience changes depending on the angle and style of shooting

For example, even when photographing a cake, the angle at which you point the camera changes the impression of the photo. Photos taken at angles that face the subject head on, such as from directly above, leave a lifeless impression. On the other hand, taking shots at an oblique angle from above is closer to a person's perspective, making you feel as if you are in the scene. Also, you should consider whether to include the surrounding environment in the frame when creating your image. It is best to avoid to placing items that do not match your desired ambience in the frame; you can also blur out the background so that such items are not visible.

Oblique angle shot of dessert (EOS 6D)

EOS 6D/ EF50mm f/1.8 STM/ FL: 50mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/1.8 1/40 sec, EV+0.3)/ ISO 400/ WB: Auto
Shooting at an oblique angle from above creates a view similar to the angle at which you would view a cake that has been placed in front of you. I lowered the f-number to create a creamier bokeh effect so as to blur out the menu on the table.

 

Flat lay of dessert (EOS 6D)

EOS 6D/ EF50mm f/1.8 STM/ FL: 50mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/4, 1/50 sec, EV+1)/ ISO 800/ WB: Auto
Shot from directly above. The frame takes in the scene in its entirety, including the shape of the cake itself, the design of the fork and plate, and the name of the cake shop printed on the napkin.

 

Low angle, dark background shot of dessert (EOS 6D)

EOS 6D/ EF50mm f/1.8 STM/ FL: 50mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/1.8, 1/40 sec, EV±0)/ ISO 640/ WB: Auto
This shot was taken from a low angle, which is seldom explored when photographing food. Because the café’s interior has a dark tone, the background appears darkened, making the delightful appearance of the cake stand out even more.

 

 

Recommended camera and lens for street photography

For this shoot, I used the EOS 6D together with the EF50mm f/1.8 STM lens. I recommend the EF50mm f/1.8 STM because it is lightweight, compact, affordable, and yet capable of creating a creamy bokeh effect. If compactness is a priority for you, I would recommend using the EOS M5 in combination with the EF-M22mm f/2 STM.

EOS 6D and the EF50mm f/1.8 STM

 


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EF50mm f/1.8 STM

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EF24-70mm f/4L IS USM

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Etica

Etica Co., Ltd. not only run photography classes under the name “Tanoshii Camera School", but also edit publications and plan media and events related to cameras and photography, with a focus on themes related to child care, animals and food. Their motto is "Photos make people happy!" and they are engaged in communicating the charm of cameras and photography.

https://etica.jp/

Takeshi Akaogi

As a photographer, Akaogi works mainly for magazines and writes books introducing photography and practical tips. He also teaches at photography workshops.

http://www.flipphoto.org

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