This weekend Elaine and I visited the Pickering Flea market, which is a massive complex just a few kilometers away from our home in Ajax, Ontario. The place has a “different world” feel to it because of all the cultures and ethnic groups that constitute the neighbourhood. It was also an excuse to try out the Olympus E-P3 for street photography. It’s small enough not to draw attention to itself and it has a touch screen that can be used to take photos instead of a shutter button. Seems like a decent choice for stealthy shooting, right?
However, things are not so easy. Many shots were rejected because of slow focus with the Panasonic 20mm f1.7 pancake lens. Normally that lens will focus fast enough in daylight or a well lit room. The flea market is a relatively dark place and it would struggle at times. It also forced me to get closer to people to take the photo, so I was no longer that stealthy. I chose that lens because it’s very compact and allowed me to pocket the camera. In hindsight, it was a poor choice.
A better choice would be the new Olympus 45mm f1.8, which I acquired two weeks ago. On the downside, it is a larger lens and when it is attached to the E-P3, the camera will not slide into a coat pocket with ease. However, in its favour, it has fast and accurate focus in low light and allows me to be twice as far away as a 20mm lens to take the same shot. Basically, I can be more stealthy, fast and nail the focus.
Because of low light, many shots were done at ISO 1600 and 3200, which produces a grainy photo. Mixed lighting also meant there was something of a colour cast on most photos. Rather than trying to fix the colour balance or reduce the grain, I went with the flow and decided these shots worked better in black and white. I adjusted contrast, lighting and vignetting to my liking.
Street photography is an art form that requires years of practice to do well. I’m just scratching the surface here, but hope to improve with experience. I’m looking forward to more outings and produce something better.