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I am an amateur photographer dwelling in Calcutta. While I enjoy landscape and nature photography very much but I am not finding the same inner satisfaction when I see my images during run and gun situation.

For example when I am picturing a beautiful monument or a fabulous landscape I take my time to take out my gear, set my tripod, do tweakings in my camera menu, nail my focus and scientifically justify my exposure by viewing the histogram, perfect the white balance and then take the much awaited shot.

But there is no scope of this in street photography or event photography. That's because when I am outdoors with my camera in my hands on the street and I am going to just set the exposure right, let alone focusing and nailing the white balance, the subject is gone.

I am very frustated recently because I am getting good material to capture but afterwards they look like a 5yo kid has got a camera in his hand and just literally wandering out in the streets taking willy nilly photos, sometimes overexposed, sometimes underexposed, focusing is just gone, and the colours are warmer or cooler, but never perfect.

I need some advice on this matter because I want to improve myself and explore these other genres of photography as well.

  • Have you tried any of the auto modes? ("P" is for "Professional".) – xiota Oct 12 at 18:52
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    If you shoot "raw", you can easily change the white balance after the fact. For the rest the automatisms in a modern camera will usually do the Right Thing. – xenoid Oct 12 at 20:20
  • The probability of someone asking about using film for "run and gun" in 2019 and asking about how to "nail" WB in camera (which, short of using a custom emulsion for each shot, is not really applicable - WB with film is a combination of the film selected and the filters selected during either printing or scanning) without them mentioning they are shooting film is pretty much nil. – Michael C Oct 15 at 0:06
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Have realistic expectations. Henri Cartier-Bresson did not publish every shot he took. He didn't even publish most of the shots he took. He only published the ones he thought were his best shots.

It should come as no surprise to anyone who really thinks about it that you'll have a lower percentage of "keepers" when you only have a few seconds to capture a fleeting moment before it disappears than when you have many minutes to set up for a single exposure.

If you are saving the raw information, then the only thing that has to be nailed when you capture the image is focus and, to a lesser extent, composition. You can always crop a bit or more than a bit later. You also have a fairly wide latitude in terms of exposure and contrast, and you can set just as broad a range of white balance after the fact as you can before it. You can also do finer and more flexible color adjustments after the fact using raw conversion software than you can using in camera settings.

  • This assumes the questioner is shooting digital, which is not clear from the question, as @Tetsujin notes. – Philly Oct 13 at 21:39
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    The probability of someone asking about using film for "run and gun" in 2019 and asking about how to "nail" WB in camera (which, short of using a custom emulsion for each shot, is not really applicable - WB with film is a combination of the film selected and the filters selected during either printing or scanning) without them mentioning they are shooting film is pretty much nil. – Michael C Oct 15 at 0:05
  • Good point, Michael C. I forgot about the white balance comment, which rules out film. Thanks for the correction. – Philly Oct 15 at 0:58
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This is just to complement Michael C's answer. Realistic expectations.

What is the perfect color? What is the perfect exposure? Photography is an interpretation of reality in front of the camera. A static landscape is a different reality than a the fleeting event, you probably need to embrace a this different reality.

I am worried a bit about something. Please, you do NOT need to see the menu for every shot. Define your settings beforehand.

Whitebalance needs NOT to be defined for every shot, but for the overall light situation. If it is a sunny day, it is a sunny day, if the colors are wacky neon lights, you probably do not want to balance them either.

Do you really have a backlight issue? The sun is going to stay somehow "fixed" for some minutes even in a sunset, so you can compensate prior to it.

Go out with some presets defined: (White balance, Aperture priority, ISO, Exposure Compensation, the focus point), and take some shots without worrying about the theme. If it is an empty store and just a second ago there it was the most photogenic Extra-Terrestrial Super Rock Star doing the Opa Ganddam style dance, and you missed it, do not worry, PRACTICE the settings you want to practice. Shot in RAW, obviously.

But probably one thing you need to do is have fun and enjoy the other photography experience. Enjoy blurry people, warmer tones, cooler tones.

The auto modes are there for you to use them, so use them.

  • Oh, the expression is new for me. Thanks. (Let me remove it from the answer) – Rafael Oct 15 at 4:25
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There are multiple approaches to this dilemma, but one of the most common is to identify a spot in advance where you think something image worthy might happen. Once you have the location framed in the camera, you can preset your ISO/f-stop/shutter speed values, and your white balance if you are not shooting in RAW. Then pre-focus on the desired spot. A higher f-stop is better for this technique because it gives you more dof to work with. Then when a subject enters your focal zone, shoot away.

It takes patience, but can yield some excellent results. Happy shooting!

  • Since "... exactly what your DoF is... " also depends upon the final display size and viewing distance, it can not be accurately predicted in camera unless these variables are also firmly defined. If the display size of the exact same photo changes, so does the depth of field. – Michael C Oct 14 at 23:58
  • The OP is talking about street photography, not studio. Using dof approximations from the lens barrel (if it has them) or any simple chart is as exact as it needs to be for this genre of photography. – Philly Oct 15 at 15:34
  • Those lens markings assume "standard" display conditions. 8x10" viewed from 12" by someone with 20/20 vision. In the modern digital environment, too many folks expect that DoF to hold when pixel peeping at much greater enlargement ratios. A 24MP image viewed at 100% on a 23" FHD (1920x1080) monitor is the equivalent of a 60x40 inch display size! The lens markings will not be adequate for that. – Michael C Oct 15 at 23:03
  • @Michael C: I see your point and edited the post to reflect your comments. – Philly Oct 20 at 0:59

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