Category Archives: 3 – Standing Back

Standing Back

For this exercise I choose to shoot picture using a zoom lens between 80 and 90mm on my Canon EOS 7D, I deliberately chose to not to use a zoom with a longer maximum focal length because I wanted to be reasonably close to my subjects and not be taking picture with a 300m lens that have a voyeuristic or paparazzi feel to them.

This first image is my favourite of a number of shots of crowds I took in New York I really like the look of excitement on the face of the boy in the foreground, the woman behind him and the girl beyond her (perhaps the boy’s mother and sister) also look  happy about what they see but the man behind them has a careworn look like he has seen it all before and just wants to get to his destination.


I was surprised how hard it was to capture this type of crowd shot from a distance, too often people moved between me and the group I was interested resulting in an out of focus blurred person in the foreground or perhaps the auto focus locking onto the new figure rather than my subjects.

To take the pictures I for this exercise I used a focal lengths between 80-90mm because I wanted to be close enough to my subject to reduce the probability of obstructions between me and them.  I did some experiments with longer focal length using a 70-300mm zoom but I really didn’t like any of the resulting pictures. The problem with this type of lens, particularly near the 300mm focal length is that for handheld shots getting a shutter speed high enough to avoid blurred images with a small enough aperture to get an reasonable depth of field means turning the ISO up so far that for me the level of noise was too high to be acceptable. From an aesthetic point of view I also didn’t like the way that a 300mm lens compresses the depth in the image although that can give the sense of a densely packed crowd  personally fr this type of street shot I think it just looks artificial.

I used the same 80-90mm focal length to take some portraits of people on a New York water taxi tour. I wanted to be far enough away to be able to take shots of people enjoying the tour with them being aware of me. Given the size of the boat and the crowd on it this focal length enabled me to pick out individuals without other tourists in the frame


standingback-8I liked this picture of a mother and daughter taking a selfie in front of the statue of liberty, the daughter seems keen but the mother seems less sure of the selfie stick culture. Ideally I would have been able to get the statue of liberty between the two figures and use a smaller aperture to keep it in focus. However, this is the best of several shots I took, sometimes things just don’t line up as I would like them.

standingback-7This was the tour guide on the trip although the background is a bit busy I think i captures some of his character and shows him in the environment he works in.




standingback-6This was a quickly grabbed shot of a man taking a photo of his family overall perhaps this picture is a little dark and maybe I could process it more to make the figure stand out. What I really like about the picture is his infectious smile.



standingback-10The last picture of this series shows a man apparently more focused on getting the shot he wants than looking at the sights.  To me there is an air of frustration about the man as if he is really wrestling with his high-tech camera.



I found this a very useful exercise it really made me look carefully for opportunities where the subject would not be obscured during the shot. I also had to plan to get a high enough shutter speed  to get sharp images while maintain enough depth of field.  In some ways the portraits of individuals or couples were easier because a shallow depth of field worked well in most cases allowing me to use faster shutter speeds without compromising on the level of noise.