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Street photography, condo exterior skyscraper view Nu Sentral, Kuala Lumpur – Malaysia
Street photography, couple sheltering from the rain in Little India, Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur – Malaysia
Street photography, women's clothing store dresses and skirts Little India, Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur – Malaysia
Street photography, 24 hour laundromat customers during their laundry. Black and white street photography Taman Tun Dr Ismail [TTDI] Kuala Lumpur - Malaysia
Street photography, street food stall in Petaling Street, Chinatown Kuala Lumpur - Malaysia
Street photography, barista cleaning coffee cups in a cafe in Pasar Seni, Kuala Lumpur - Malaysia

Street photography gallery

I’m re-visiting my street photography archive with the intention of re-populating the Street photography gallery on my website. Given that I have a large body of work to curate, it may take a while. Due to the mammoth size of this undertaking, I decide the best approach is produce the pictures in batches. As a result, these black and white street photos are selected from my first forty images.

My street photography style

On occasion I’ve been asked how I create my street photo style. My street work creativity has evolved over time. Creating a photo begins with mood for me. Consequently, I have to be in the right frame of mind to step out with the camera and make street photographs. This mood I’d say is one of relaxation, together with curiosity and finally some determination to find the frame I’m after.

Location planning

Location is of great importance. From past learnings, if I don’t have a location sorted, I tend to meander. Which results in achieving very little. In fact, on these outings a café seems more enticing. Once I arrive at my location I scout for the light. Mostly I enjoy working in low light, and high contrast light opportunities. Quality light source is an important element of photography.

Playing with framing

Experimenting with framing the subject is a large part of what drives and challenges me. For instance, I look for reflective surfaces, as well as interesting scenes through windows. Moreover, this is how I like to challenge myself, the camera and lens. Of course, this means there’s a higher portion of failure. Regardless, it’s all in a day’s work, and this type of process keeps me interested and focused.

Curating the photos

Once back at the studio I import the RAW images into Adobe Lightroom. I delete the rubbish. Then I’ll do a simple conversion to black and white of select images. Generally, I let the images sit for a while. Next, I refine the selects, and usually this will include more deleting of photos.

Processing the photos

Processing the image is just as enjoyable as making the picture. As the RAW photos contain so much information to work with. Generally, I put on some tunes, and completely zone out in this part of the creative process. I’m respectful of the picture I’ve made and make very few changes to the original file.

I start with converting the image to black and white. Then I gently massage the image and adjust the shadows. I’m looking for the details in the shadows. Contrast matters, and with a high contrast photo I like to convey a sense of dynamic intensity. Low contrast photos have a totally different energy with a softer and more muted quality. Therefore, I adjust the contrast level to where best suits the story I’d like to tell. Also, I sometimes add grain to an image. Vignetting is a useful tool, and I prefer adding a slight amount to my imagery. The tone curve makes a difference, so I always adjust the tone curve and effect the contrast levels. Sharpening is the final part and adds the polish. And that’s about it.

In addition, I recently wrote a blog post called ‘People Photography’ where I outline my process of taking street portraits with permission. If you like street portrait black and white photography I recommend you visit this journal entry.

Black and white street photography – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Tahnia Roberts ©2021

Tahnia Roberts

Author Tahnia Roberts

Tahnia is a visual storyteller who uses photography to explore, investigate and document her surroundings. An avid collector of found objects which frequently become still life compositions. Black and white photography is her preferred medium. Born and raised in New Zealand, she currently resides in Kuala Lumpur - Malaysia.

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