Fishing Technique: Stand in one spot that we like, then waiting till the right subject enter the scene. Fishing Technique is the opposite way of Hunting Technique, which is we are keep walking and constantly searching for moments while on the way.
It is true that street photography is about decisive moment and we simply can not control what happens on the street. Doing photograph in public places is about capture random moments that happen on the street, then we selectively pick the most artistic scene or subject as our “best moment”.
With fishing technique we can minimalize all that random things by choose our own “frame”. We choose the background, we choose based on our own time, and we choose which subject we want to catch. We simply choose what art scenes we want to create (Read here for finding art scene).
These are things that I usually do when using fishing technique:
Be patient and be more patient
Shooting street is not always about speed (speed of camera’s autofocus, speed of camera’s turn-on time, speed of our eyes look for interesting subject, and speed of how fast we point out camera to subject). They are exactly what you need if you are use Hunting Technique. In Fishing Technique the most important role is: Being a patient person.
While I like to go hunting on the street together with friends or big group from photography community (it is fun to chat and share information), I also love to do street alone because I have “freedom” to risk my time for fishing technique.
Risk of time here means even if I waited for long time at one place, there is always a chance that I will not get moment as good as what I expected (imagine fishing for hours and only got small fish). I can be really “slow” when capturing scene on the street, patiently waiting till my frame as good as or even better than what I visualize before took the shot.
Like in the photo above, when I saw that triangle door, there are also some sport activities going on (some people were jogging, bicycling and skateboarding), I immediately visualize it would be great if somebody do the position mimicking the triangle door. At first 15 minutes, everything seems impossible, then I start to sit and just relaxing my self there enjoying fresh wind air when I realise these skateboarders actually practise to flip their board and exactly made triangle form. What I did the rest was just waiting patiently till one of them did it right in front of my camera, and voila, he did it!
My technical camera setting consist of high shutter speed (minimum is 1/500s, or 1/1000s for faster action), programable ISO setting (ISO 200 – ISO 6400), and I adjust aperture setting depend on the scene.
It was a narrow pedestrian walk, impossible to keep tracking focus on subjects because they were keep moving and their distance was so close to me. At this moment it much easier to use small aperture (to get better depth of field) and focus on the background. Use AF-Lock feature in my camera so there was no focus haunting at all when I clicked the shutter.
There is also a time when I shot at maximum aperture to create bokeh (narrow depth of field) that helps add more surreal effect. it is only possible when I can “panning” subject because they move slowly. In the photo above he was using escalator, therefore his speed was easy to keep up with.
How to find a spot that worth for “fishing”
It is the most beautiful time of the day, happens at early morning or late afternoon (when sun is being nice). Sky colours are usually more beautiful (great for background), and lower angle of sun’s position means easier to create silhouette effect.
Golden hour also means time to tell stories with shadow. Shadow will looks longer/taller due to angle of the Sun.
Visual art spot
Any conditions that create silhouette, shadow, or reflection effect usually are good places to start with. Looks for strong light sources like sun, advertising board, bright street lamp, etc. Strong light is the main thing to create strong contrast.
Optical illusion spot
Search a spot that “confusing” or weird to look. The weirder the scene, usually lead to create more creative result. Let the viewers think and use their imagination to interpret our artistic photos. It took me 3 days to get the scene above. I have a job for living (not photography), therefore my shooting time at working days is pretty limited (around 20-25 mins a day from my lunch break). In the photo above I need to back at the spot three times (in 3 days) before I got a shot that I really like. So, in total I spent around 60-75 mins to create this photo.
Be patient with action you want to capture, let it becomes a tense moment before take the shoot. In the photo above I waited around 25 minutes before got the perfect moment a person crossed the street and there are crowd of cars behind him as “intense” background. At other moments, usually people crossed the street without any car would passed, therefore it just like a person on empty street.
Look further away
Believe it or not, I captured photo above when I was queuing for McDonald’s, it was raining outside, when I saw someone from far away (the building’s wall made entirely from window glass) walk through the rain with her shiny blue umbrella. I prepared my camera setting, look for the cleanest background I can get around there, and ready to shot her when she walk to my frame. I shot at f1.2 because she just walk slowly and easy to target her. Always try to not pay attention only people around you, but also people from further away that we can predict if there is a chance they will passed our frame. Visualize it before the moment itself happen in front of us.
The best is yet to happen
When you do the fishing technique, and you feel you already got a good photo, do not just leave the site immediately. Wait more and try to capture more. Give at least a little extra time there, just in case something (or subject) with even more unique looks will appear. Also, if you have chance to go back to that place at the next day, you can give a try to shoot there again to get even better moment.
Additional note: Try to work more with your scene, try to step forward, step backward, shoot from low angle or high angle, shoot straight or shoot diagonally, be creative with the way we point our camera while we are waiting for subject.
That is all about my thought of Fishing Technique, just get your own “fishing” moment and have fun with it!
Keep shooting and stay inspired,