Street Photography At Clubbing Hours (The Non-Flash Way)

July 22, 2011

Street photography during clubbing hours was something I wanted to try for ages but kept postponing it for one reason or another. Last Saturday, an opportunity came up to do just that(!) so, naturally, I grabbed it by the horns and went for it.

Using a tripod and very low shutter speeds is a rubbish idea for street photography so I was only left with two options: 1.) Use Flash or 2.) Don’t Use Flash and work through the low light consequences.  Using a flash would be a new experience and easier to work with but since I don’t own a flash cable for my Leica, it meant I would have had to ditch the Leica in favour of my SLR. Between the two cameras, the Leica wins every time, so, I went for the “no flash” option and left the SLR buried in the cupboard for yet another month.

It wasn’t long before I re-confirmed that going with the heart instead of logic was the right decision: Low light was no issue at all! (Click on pictures to enlarge)

I did however come across a very unexpected problem: It was almost impossible to capture candids! I must admit, I did have plenty of scenarios in my head of how “street photography during clubbing hours” could have developed but this… this… got me way off guard. For every candid picture I managed to take, I also ended up taking at least 3 or 4 non-candids. “Hey guys, guuuuuyyyyssss… COME BACK! HE’S GOING TO TAKE A PICTURE OF US!” started to sound very familiar. I’m not complaining, it was fun and I got to meet many lovely people.

Some cheeky rabbits even tried to take my picture, but I got them first :-)

Also surprising was the fact that non-clubbers stood out more than clubbers. They just looked so serene amongst the mayhem and being chilled out, meant it was quite easy to catch a candid…

…a split second later… (Again, I’m not complaining…)

Shooting late at night turned out to be a phenomenal experience! The city changes mood completely, the “mundane” is left at home and just like that, it’s party time… I can vouch that street shooting late at night was one of the most fun experiences I’ve had with my camera. People are so much more friendly, less suspicious and always with a smile on their face.

With a smile on my face, I headed towards Piccadilly gardens to catch the bus home. Just before that though, one last shot… my favourite of the day; even though the four ladies were not amused at first.

What’s your experience in shooting street photography at night? Do you applaud using flash or condemn it? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

Technical Bits: All pictures shot with a 50mm Summilux ASPH mounted on a Leica M9 at f/1.4, 1/90, ISO1000 (third picture pushed by 3-stops).

There are 11 comments in this article:

  1. July 22, 2011[Gm] says:

    “What’s your experience in shooting street photography at night? Do you applaud using flash or condemn it? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.”

    Well, I haven’t try flash for this purpose — but so far, I don’t think I want to use flash for street photography. I don’t want to cause someone to have a heart-attack :D…

    Street Photography at night is fun. Normally, I don’t look for candid facial expression. It’s rather hard with the low-light situation. Instead, I look for gestures, shadows, back-light, side-light, etc.It works pretty well.

  2. July 22, 2011Jim (Kidder) says:

    Another great set Chris. You have this technique nailed OK. That M9 of yours seems to have been wise investment.
    Did you use a filter at all?

  3. July 22, 2011Christakis says:

    [Gm], I reckon flash photography is not as bad as it sounds but I too prefer natural light. Though I do want to give it a go at some point, probably in a clubbing environment like in this article.

    Jim, thanks! The M9 was indeed a good purchase. What do you mean exactly with filters? On camera, no. UV filters introduce light flares at night. If you mean in PPing, I applied a slight orange filter (Street lighting is orange).

  4. July 22, 2011Mike C says:

    I’m not so keen on flash street photography, and this set of images reinforces my opinion greatly. Really nice work!

  5. July 22, 2011Christakis says:

    Cheers for your comment and thoughts Mike. Good to know you know exactly where you stand re using a flash or not, well done to sticking to it and voicing it out!

  6. July 25, 2011Paul Jones says:

    Great set of night shots, the summilux works well wide open nice and sharp. I think the none flash approach is always the best way to go for night time street photography. I find flash is a must though for inside club shots with the camera set to a slowish shutter speed with high ISO and second curtain flash.

  7. July 25, 2011Christakis says:

    Hi Paul, your flash method for clubs sounds like a top idea. I imagine you get some very impressive results with that method, thanks for sharing. Cheers for passing by!

  8. July 25, 2011Helder Ferreira says:

    No flash option all the way. It’s more discrete. However it seems that everyone sees you and even tries to take your picture! :D :D :D Nevertheless, great photos you have there. :)

  9. July 25, 2011Christakis says:

    Woohoo! Another one on the no-flash camp! (Though I try not to take sides) :-) Discrete is good, yes. But in a crazy environment like that, don’t think it really makes much of a difference if I’m being honest. The socialising part, talking to people was so much more awesome than being like a ninja in the night. Cheers for sharing your thoughts Helder.

  10. August 4, 2011emily says:

    Hey, I’m one of the girls in the pictures. They’re really good shots! Thanks for doin such a good job :) x

  11. August 4, 2011Christakis says:

    Hi Emily, so glad you liked them :-) Thanks for dropping by and getting in touch!

Write a comment: