Photos, Street Photography, Friday Night Lights, Heather Carden Model

Street Photography, Fashion Editorial

Friday Nights Out


Camera: Olympus OM-D, EM-1 Mirrorless
Lens: Olympus M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 75mm f1.8 (Silver) Lens for Olympus and Panasonic Micro 4/3 Cameras
Aperture: Setting: f/1.8
Shutter Speed: 1/13th handheld
ISO: 200
White Balance: Auto
Camera Mode: Shutter Priority
Lighting: Ambient and Olympus FL-600R


Heather and I love to approach almost any photo shoot we do with a preconceived concept. The dress and walking in it was her idea. The location was mine as I had noticed it many times before near the downtown area of Kokomo. The first thing that caught my eye about the location, literally months ago, was the stringed, hanging lights. I wanted the ambience the lights give to the location, this was the trick to this photo, how to achieve that?

The Story Behind The Photo

It was a Friday evening, no kids, and Heather and I were having a little cabin fever, so we both came up with the idea, “grab the camera, let’s go do some street photography shooting.” Sure, we could’ve “went out,” but creating photographs is a lot less costly and street photography is a lot of fun.

Heather is always full of ideas, or photography concepts for making photos, so she put on an outfit that would provide a more “fashion editorial” feel to the final photos. She wanted a fashion editorial with a little street photography feel to it. Like any shoot, to get things flowing and work out any camera setting kinks, we shot some of her standing or sitting still, but the fun came when she wanted to add the walking action in the photos.

The Challenges
It had recently rained, so the first challenge was finding a spot where my clothes wouldn’t soak up the pavement moisture. Eventually I found that spot which then allowed me to place Heather at a starting point for her walk toward the camera. The idea was that I’d shoot from a low-angle, on up, which meant I’d be laying on the ground.

This allows for two things in this type of photo shoot; one, by shooting up at your model, it keeps her tall, shooting down takes height away and adds weight to your model, not a good idea! Shooting up also allows me to capture, or place the lights in the frame exactly where I want them, in the background instead of just overhead. This also allows for a tighter vertical photo too, keeping my subject the primary focus in the image frame.

The next challenge was capturing movement while keeping your subject somewhat sharp and not blurred. It’s extremely difficult to photograph a moving subject, especially with low ambient light and slow shutter speeds. Fortunately the Olympus OM-D, EM-1 mirrorless camera has some great things that would help me overcome the challenges.

First, it contains an “image-stabilized sensor,” thus any lens I mount on the camera is like using an image-stabilized lens allowing for slower shutter speeds. There is no mirror “rising and falling” vibration, or internal camera shake either, and when using a lens providing the equivalent of a 150mm lens on a DSLR camera body, camera vibrations are magnified at longer focal lengths—nothing to worry about on this camera, there are no mirrors.

In addition, by using the Olympus hot-shoe mounted on-camera flash, the burst (duration) of the flash when the shutter is released basically becomes the shutter speed for my model. Though the flash has long left the building when you shoot at 1/13 of a second, the flash duration did a great job at helping freeze Heather in her tracks. The idea behind the slow shutter speed is to capture the ambient light, in this case, very low-intensity street lights, hence the slow shutter speed.

Stay Focused
The other challenge is keeping your lens focused on the model’s eyes—in this case Heather’s eyes. Here again is where the mirrorless camera has advantages over a typical DSLR, specifically better focusing and sharp focusing at any pixel point, from the sensor’s edge to edge. The Olympus EM-1 also has face recognition focus tracking directly on the capture sensor.

Basically the camera finds the face, the focusing square will actually go from green to white when the camera does this, then whether you or your subject moves, the white square follows your subject adjusting the focus instantly and continuously. The camera allows you, in the menu settings, to set the face recognition focus tracking to one of three modes:

  • Focus on the right eye.
  • Focus on the left eye.
  • Focus on the eye closest to the camera lens.

Wow is all I can say! I wish I had this in the five years I photographed NBA basketball—boy, following any NBA player in action and keeping your camera lens focused becomes a breeze with this focusing technology, blowing any DSLR away. I use the “focus on the eye closest to the camera lens” setting on my camera. You can read more about the advantages of most mirrorless cameras over conventional DSLR’s in my recent blog article, Mirrorless Camera vs. DSLR, here on Americano Dream.

Getting The Exposure Correct
I normally shoot manual, including manually setting the shutter speed, aperture, and white balance, but since I began using the Olympus mirrorless system about a year ago, I’m letting the camera do the work for me. Why is that? Perhaps I’m getting lazy in my old age, but the bottom line, why waste the time if the camera is that good?

This camera is amazing on how well it actually works in almost any automated mode. Plus, when you’re working fast, like a public street or alleyway, you want to work fast, especially if your model is moving fast. You also don’t want to kill the momentum of your shoot by stopping after every frame to make camera adjustments. Technology for automation today is so great, why not? However, I’ll stress, don’t forget the basics and fundamentals, understand what you are doing, or as in this situation, what you are allowing the camera to do for you.

If you noticed, I shot at “shutter priority” mode, not fully automatic or program mode. I wanted to ensure that I could capture the ambience of warmth from the overhead string lights for the effect both Heather and I desired at the end. They even came through the dress quite nicely, something we didn’t plan for, but when we saw it after the first shot, we went for it!

Concepts can’t become reality if you don’t know how to execute them, even when working with automation technology. Concepts are also great starting points that evolve as you continue to shoot as seen here in this street photography, fashion editorial photo.


Shutter Speed

Focal Length


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