Street Views – 3 Tips for Great Photography

By Lane Erickson

The town I live in is surrounded on three sides by hills and mountains. It’s only to the North that the rugged geography opens up into a flat valley. With all of the hills and mountains in the area, you don’t have to be wealthy to have a great view from your home. 

I’m fortunate to have my home in a beautiful area. My house has a walkout basement leading to a patio and on the main floor there is an open deck. Both offer tremendous views of the city below and the mountains to the South and mainly to the West. 

As I was recently looking through some of my images I discovered that I have taken lots of photographs from my patio and deck. Many of these images are of the busy street down the hill from my house. 

It seems like the street is always busy and there is always something interesting to look at. Because of this, I decided to offer three tips for great photography and will use some of the Street Views photographs I’ve created from my backyard to illustrate how this works. 

Sometimes when I’m talking to other photographers they tell me there’s nothing to take photographs of. In other words, they can’t seem to find any interesting subjects. 

To be honest, I don’t understand this mentality because I think there are amazing subjects ALL around me ALL the time. In fact, sometimes when I’m driving along with my family, I’ll comment on all the different things that I wish I could stop and photograph. If I really did pull over and photograph everything I saw that was interesting, I’d never make it down the road!

So to help get your creative juices flowing, I offer this article. 

Even when you are photographing the same subject, you can apply the Simple Formula for Awesome Photography that I wrote about in a previous article to help you be creative. Additionally, as part of the formula there are three things you can do to Find the Right Light and create great photographs. Each of these three things focuses on the word “different”.

1. Use Different Lenses

The first thing you can do that will help you create better photographs is to use different lenses. Remember, you don’t need to use an expensive lens to create great images. However, if you photograph the same subject with different lenses, you will likely find the magic that creates a great photo. The photographs used to illustrate this article were taken of a street that is below my house with different focal length lenses including: 124mm, 300mm, and 500mm. These different lenses provided a different view of the street. 

For example, this first photograph was taken using an old 500mm Nikkor lens on an D5100 Nikon camera. It’s true that the lens is a little exotic because of how long it is and because it has a maximum aperture of f/4.  I realize not everyone can use such a lens. However, fantastic zooms offer the same focal length that are also reasonably priced. 

Traffic driving on roadway during rainstorm

2. Photograph During Different Seasons of the Year

The second thing you can do to create great photos of the same subject is to photograph your subject during different seasons. It’s amazing how with a different season the quality and direction of the light changes, tones are different and your subject just looks different.  

To illustrate this point, take a look at this photograph of the road below my house during a blizzard. It’s almost unrecognizable. In fact, because of the dense snow fall, if it wasn’t for the traffic lights and the car at the bottom of the photo with the headlights on, you may not even be able to recognize what the subject is. 

Driving on snow and snowy roads in winter traffic lights blizzard

This photograph was created with my Fujifilm X-Pro1, and the excellent Fuji XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 OIS zoom lens. I really love this lens!

3. Photograph Different Times of the Day (or Night)

The final image illustrates the third thing you can do to create a great photograph of your subject. The third thing you can do is photograph your subject  during a different time of the day, or in this case at night. 

This image was created with my Fujifilm X-T1 again using the Fuji XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 OIS zoom lens.  However, I was only zoomed out to 124mm so I could have used a shorter zoom lens such as the Fuji XF 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 just as easily. 

Driving in traffic at night dark with lights streak on road or highway

If you want your photographs to stand out, you need to do something different from what everyone else is doing. Making changes by using a different lens, or photographing during a different season, or time of day/night can completely change how your subject looks. 

As I often say in my articles, if you are willing to do just a little bit more than most people you can become a great photographer. Give these tips a try. I know through my own experiences that it can help you improve your photography and create great images. 

Please leave any comments, critiques or suggestions.  

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13 Comments

      1. Oh, great! To tell the truth, because of these WP posts that take me a lot of time to find the right photos and compose the text, etc,. I’m a lot behind my schedule with the group… Right now I have 782 images pending for approval, but I’m getting there 🙂

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