Streets of Philadelphia … A Visual Diary … Page 21 … Street …Finding Your Way … Change Your Way of Thinking


This excerpt is from the previous post so we can refresh our minds….

I asked if she could explain the rules of photography to me and she tried. “Street photography must be… it can not be, it has to have…. you can’t do this…..” So I told her that she has to free her mind and change her way of thinking.

She says that her teachers… told her that street is an attitude, or a way to think, etc. She asked me what I felt street was and I told her, street is a place to make photos. Attitude, come with me to Kensington Ave and make photos of the hookers, junkies and cops… now ya have attitude.

The beauty of art is, we are all in the same boat in the same place and yet those true to heart see things differently and attempt to make their art more of themselves then of and for anyone else. She had a glazed eye look about her and I recognized it because I adopt that look when I but a camera and Tanya finds out… I kinda just sit like a little boy with glazed eyes and act like I’m sorry for being bad.

Ok I will use the name Linda as she would rather not be identified by name. Ok, I get it… I told Linda not to worry cause everyone reading this knows me by streetshooter and no one knows it’s really Don Springer and I’ll keep her secret if she keeps mine.

I met Linda at 2nd & Market streets and we walked towards the Historic Park. Once we arrived, we sat on my favorite bench and she seemed kinda down in the dumps. We started talking and Linda said that much of her problems were due to her 2 brothers always telling her what to do. She bought and uses a Fuji X100s and they say it’s the wrong camera. Well, I told her that Andre’ the Fuji X100s would be beside himself. She smiled and asked me if I really named my cameras. I acted very surprised to learn she didn’t. So I told her first up is to name her camera. Quickly she named it Gina. She smiled and was glad at my approval.

So I asked her what mode she used on Gina and she said “A” 90% of the time. Then I started to explain the benefits of using “M” mode and we talked about it for a good while. So I explained that M mode keeps you in the scene and in the here and now. See, Manual mode requires you to have an understanding of light and exposure. You feel the light not just look at it and you feel the exposure not just make it.  The she asked THEE QUESTION…. what happens if the exposure is off? I said my cameras, all of them have Auto ISO or I don’t have them.


So I took her camera and set it up like mine and she had settings that were like from another planet. I then showed her how to use Auto ISO and explained that this is the most efficient way to keep some control over what’s happening. I explained that if I set the camera to f5.6 1/250, the ISO will adjust according to the light to maintain proper exposure. So I could shoot for a certain aperture or shutter speed and the camera makes the ISO  If I wanted to play more, I could set the exposure way off and the ISO would have to jump or lower to meet the exposure. So maybe in medium to low light I could push the ISO up by making the exposure force the ISO. Like I could set the camera to 1/250 F5.6 and the ISO would just to like 3200 or 64oo. This would give me qualities I might want in the photo. Like for example, grain and maybe irradiation in the high tones. Or maybe I would set the camera to like… 1/60 f/4 and then the ISO might drop to 400 or 250. This would give a cleaner image.

I figured that her and I need to get the mechanical issues under control before we get to the aesthetic ones. Of course, we need to get rid of the brothers issues before we do anything and that’s on Linda…….So I greed to meet her again tomorrow morning and work some more things out…..

Meds kicking in… gotta sleep…… ni ni alls…………………………………………………………….

23 thoughts on “Streets of Philadelphia … A Visual Diary … Page 21 … Street …Finding Your Way … Change Your Way of Thinking”

  1. ” … I figured that her and I need to get the mechanical issues under control before we get to the aesthetic ones …” Spot-on here. You can’t build your house without properly constructing a solid foundation to lay a corner-stone so as to springboard from – because locking down your foundation and corner-stone concurrently supports, informs, influences and secures your freedom to maximise aesthetic output …

  2. Nice post again. I should try M and don’t be afraid of unclean image. I am always driven by perfect exposure, perfect image quality….need to overcome this.

    What you think ybout blown out highlights? Do you mind them?

    So I have LR, works fine and tried your presets. Want to see what came out?


    1. Pavel,
      M is the most creative way to work and the most natural way and to relax. Blown Out Highlights…uummm have you seen my work….?

      send me a link so I can see what your up to…. don

  3. I was always (I am still) afraid of M mode. I was avoiding it as my conclusion was “camera can estimate exposure better than me” and I always worry about noise and highlights – I don’t know where it started. Probably everybody was saying how blown out highlights is absolute “no”. Now I am starting to see it in different way. Technically perfect images are often very boring.

    Here is the photo with applied preset from you:


    1. Pavel, don’t be afraid of M Mode, it’s where you connect to your work the most. Keep in touch… I’m here….don

  4. I have Olympus E-M10 which has an auto iso option. I use it often. But I checked it and it is not possible in M mode. Does your fuji or pen have auto iso in M mode?

    1. Pavel, yes I have Auto ISO in the Fuji X100s and in both my Pen EP-5’s. Why does your camera not? I believe it’s in the menu and you have to turn it on.

      1. I have auto iso and I use this function. But it works in P, A and S mode only. I will check if this option works for M mode id enabled in my camera. Thanks for reply, Don.

  5. I’ve been getting lazy and setting the camera to aperture priority when before I used to shoot exclusively in M mode. You’re right. Shooting in M mode helps you to understand light and your camera better. It’s nice that you’re helping “Linda” out. I have the same problem as she does in that it seems that people are always telling you something is wrong, whether it’s the camera you’re using or the style in which you photograph things. You eventually learn to ignore it, unless it is constructive criticism rather than some snobby camera elitism crap, but it does get to you from time to time.

    1. Tina, first off…thanks for the support. Your post means a lot. Second, lazy is the right word for A Mode but it’s ok. It’s about compromises and trust. I trust myself a great deal so M Mode is perfect because the only thing the camera does is computes the ISO. I even gain some control over that by forcing over or under exposure. A Mode or S Mode is good if you want to work with a fixed ISO. But in either of those modes, you have to pay attention to the camera’s meter to see the readings. Of course that split second when you look to see the setting, that was the moment…. that maybe got away. Like Jordi, Tina… Use the Force…….peace to you my friend…..

      1. Hi Don,

        can you explain : “I even gain some control over that by forcing over or under exposure” ?

        I am now in M mode. I love it. Lots of liberty. Now, if I want to underexpose or overexpose in M mode…how you take control of it? To underexpose I would put fast shutter speed (and high aperture value) while I would switch from auto ISO to constant lower ISO value… Or do you override in Auto ISO?

        1. Pavel,
          Set the camera to 1/25 f.8, auto iso. Now just make photos under all lighting conditions and look at them, don’t change the exposure or iso setting. What you will see is that the camera will use a very high iso in low light and for me it’s great but if I want a cleaner image, I lower the exposure to say, 1/125 f4. The the iso drops to a lower setting. So you alter the exposure forcing the camera to change the iso to higher or lower depends on what you desire. If I’m in bright light, and set 1/125 f4 the the iso cant drop far enough and whalla…. likewise I set like 1/250 f8 in a dark area the camera can’t jack up high enough so…whalla.
          There should be a setting on Auto ISO menu to choose the shutter speed of change and the low and high point for ISO……

          1. Thanks Don. This was probably misunderstanding. I understand M+auto ISO mechanism you described here perfectly. I probably didn’t make my point clearly.

            I would like to make an UNDEREXPOSED image. In A or P or S modes, you would use exposure compensation ( minus 1 EV etc.) to underexpose a photo. As I mentioned in my previous comments, I worry a lot about blown out highlights (well, I am now trying to cure this mental disorder, I turned of histogram and “blinkies”. Well, sometimes I still check to be honest).

            So my question was, how would you make UNDEREXPOSED photo in M mode. My conclusion is that with auto iso setting it is not possible…

          2. Thank you, I bet it is more about philosophy than techniques…as you are telling on your blog here.

            Anyway, I had 14 mm lens on for the first time yesterday. It is completely different camera and feels much better now /I am closer to give it a name now:)/. Can’t wait to download photos from the card to see what I captured yesterday…

            I have another question. Regarding focusing points – for the quick street shooting – what kind of focusing do you prefer?

            I am now in AF area and camera automatically selects focus targets (points) for me / Well most of the times. Sometimes I would switch to single focus target when I need, but it takes time and photo-moment can fly away…

            Hope you don’t mind…

          3. Pavel, cool beans. I use single AF on all my cameras. The Pen EP-5 is sooo fast I don’t lose anything. It focuses faster then I can frame. What camera are you using again?

          4. Yes it focuses fast. I just wanted to say that switching AF points slows me down…. I wasn’t referring to speed of AF.

          5. I never switch AF points. I always use center and 1/2 press to focus and then frame.

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