Street shooting Fashion with the Z7 in the Far East
Updated: Jan 25, 2019
Having spent most of my year in my studio i really look forward to the opportunity now and again to shoot freely on location and in particular street shooting. This is not as you might imagine candid shots of unwitting people in the street but a planned fashion shoot in a street environment though very much a run and gun exercise which makes it very productive and great fun. There is a considerable difference to street shooting in the Far East to doing it in Europe if it's a run and gun exercise. No one complains if you are always respectful and no one pops up demanding to see permits. Of course if its a paid commission and you have no work permit then that is not advised. Otherwise the general public where i tend to shoot in Bangkok are very patient. I've shot in the middle of the street on side streets and the traffic has waited patiently without any pooping of horns. Generally there are smiles all round as long as your not taking advantage. One downside is the heat so it's good to go the right time of year and of course also avoid the rainy season. I don't think Nikon's weather sealing should be tested with a tropical type down-pore.
The previous year i had done this work with a D850 (which I still have) and before that a D810, D800 etc, but this year I only traveled with the Z7 and 24-70 S f4, the adapter and a few F lenses. All of the images in this article are shot with the Z7 with 24-70 S f4. I have found the Z7 not as good as the D850 when in the studio and tethered. In particular i have found it very hungry on batteries when tethered for a four hour shoot. Otherwise i have found battery life no problem at all and generally found the Z7 much more preferable to D850 when traveling. The key elements are weight and being able to do much more in the viewfinder. Quality of image doesn't seem to be a factor either way and i almost always shoot with single point focus. i'll need a lot of persuading regarding the merits of eye-focus or any other option unless i'm snapping and it's not a serious shoot.
When planning for a street shoot I make sure i have a route that will take me past either interesting scenes or just good backgrounds and also being mindful of how far my models will have to wander and where to rest from the heat. In this case a well kept hedge was something i hadn't been aware of before hand but when spotting it saw an opportunity for more than just a background.
Ideally I am working with models that I have worked with before so your all in a position of trust and everyone knows how it all works and when to stop for a cold drink and some air conditioning on the way. Models: Anastasia and Olga.
Bangkok being a major city there is a great pool of agencies and very cool freelance models.
Here my model Katrina is just making use of a rather upmarket garage door as an interesting background.
While at the right time of the year you can be fairly sure it will be dry and the coolest period, you just don't know until the moments come if you are going to have soft light due to overcast conditions or hard light on a sunny day. Personally i like both. The soft light is easy but requires some emphasis in post and the hard light needs great awareness of where your shadows are going to fall. Even when it's very sunny there is often the side of the street which is out of the direct sun.
I wish i could just walk from set to set like this in my studio. (model Katrina)
It is often possible to make short use of commercial premises if you take the right approach to owners. I've done everything from using Cafes that have an interesting design to borrowing a bike from a bike shop, walking into a hairdressers and asking if we can shoot a quick image (below with model Liza. This one image taken with a D850 the previous year)
The image below is a good example of my favorite sort of street shoot where there is a planned element that is combined with an unplanned opportunity in terms of the locals. I particularly like the incongruous oddness in this image that Anastasia and Olga have carried off so well. If I can create an image that prompts some questions then i'm happy. Chairs were borrowed on the fly from the restaurant next door. All was shot and completed in a minute or two and we moved on.
I tend to take garments with me but in the above case the matching shirts were bought locally at a very reasonable price.
A wall we were passing here made an excellent background. The flowers we'd bought with us.
All these images were shot with natural light in different conditions and with the 24-70 S zoom as we're constantly on the go looking for opportunities and remaining relatively discreet. No flash or reflectors used on any images as this would slow us down and attract unwanted attention.
Here working in a Cafe the light was slightly more tricky and shot at f4 1/50 ISO 400. I didn't have anything i could stand on and held the camera as high as i could activating the shutter by touch on the back screen.
Anastasia shot in The Hamlet Ari Cafe with the kind permission of the owner Max.
Katrina also shot at The Hamlet Cafe using a glass cover that was to hand.
In summary I am very happy with the Z7 and the 24-70. I find I don't really like using non Z lenses and have already sold my 14-24 2.8 and have the S 14-30 on order. Too many times i'd left the 14-24 back in my hotel room because i didn't want to carry the weight all day along with everything else. I really don't mind the lenses being F4 as i really do appreciate the small size and low weight. I do need a faster probably fixed focal length for messy street scene backgrounds i would like to put properly out of focus and i don't think the 50 S 1.8 will satisfy this. I am hoping the 85 S 1.8 might otherwise i'll have to keep my F mount 85 1.4 with the adapter but then that's quite heavy and bulky.
More images from these shoots and others on my web site and instagram;