Classic Street Photography in Tumbes, Peru

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Twirl – Tumbes, Peru

1/1000s @ f/2.8 ISO 100 @ 140mm

I took this image of the little girl twirling with my Canon PowerShot G15 pocket camera (my backup shooter). This camera actually works pretty good for street photography, and sports a viewfinder in addition to its LCD display. Quite a few professional photographers have this camera as their backup shooter like I do; it has a smaller sensor, but it will do almost anything a full-size pro-level SLR can do (it will even let you shoot CameraRAW files).

I’ve written about this little gem many times before on this blog, and I’ve recommended it to photographers seeking small, reliable carry around camera (as a backup to their large SLR), or to photographers not wanting to step up to a larger digital SLR. The latest incarnation is the Canon PowerShot G16 with a suggested retail price of $500 USD (however you can buy a new G16 on Amazon for as little as $380 USD).

I prefer my primary shooter, the venerable Canon EOS 5D Mark II full-frame digital camera, for most kinds of photography, but I must admit this small camera is a great little street shooter, because it’s so unobtrusive (think of the classic Leica M3 rangefinder 35mm film camera of the 1960s). If you’re serious about wanting to step up your photography, from your current smart-phone camera, you might want to consider buying one of these (I receive no payment for product endorsements).

Back to the photo itself. What qualifies this image as classic street photography? It bears all the hallmarks of a classic street photo: it’s a candid shot captured on the street, it involves a human subject, it tells a story, it includes environmental context, and it’s rendered in black & white. It’s traditionally composed with the twirling girl in left 1/3 of the frame, with her friends balancing out the photo on the right 1/3 of the frame. The horizon (where the street meets the tables) occupies the lower 1/3 of the frame.

Finally it’s post-processed like a traditional street photograph. I made my first adjustments to the white balance, shadows and highlights during RAW conversion in Adobe CameraRAW (ACR), and then exported it to Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 (PSE11). I converted the color image to B&W, and then enhanced the blacks and whites using the levels tool. I then boosted the overall contrast a little, and added a bit of sharpening. Voila an old-time street photograph.

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Stephen F. Dennstedt

Photographer, Writer and World Traveller

Lima, Peru


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