Bike in Zurich

Walking down the main shopping street in Zurich, I found myself wanting to go explore some of the side streets and get away from all the noise. I have experienced a certain phenomenon a lot during my travel photography. I find myself drawn to all the main tourist hotspots hoping to find a great image among all the busyness but it is always when I veer off to the side and find the quiet parts do I get my best images.

The same thing happened to me when I was in Zurich last year. After walking around for 2 hours and not really capturing a great photo, I was starting to get frustrated. I decided to take a coffee break and recollect my thoughts. While I was away from all the distractions, I remembered to just walk away from the main streets and see what I can find on the edges of chaos.

After finishing my coffee and bagel, with renewed motivation, I walked straight across the road and in opposite direction to what seemed like thousands of people. When you take risks in your photography, you get rewarded. Lo and behold, the universe decided to reward me for going against the grain. What felt like less than 30 seconds and 200 feet, I came across this beautiful wall. It was loud and quiet at the same time. So messy but clear in the same frame.

I setup my tripod and put my Fujifilm camera to work. On this trip, I had three lenses with me. The 56mm f1.2, 35mm f1.4 and the 18mm f2. I took turns taking photos with all three lenses. It still amuses me how different focal lengths completely change the perspective of an image. Photographers who only use one focal length are really missing out. If you are reading this, it is worth your time to change lenses and just see what happens to an image at different focal lengths. Some of my best images are with lenses that are not usually used for the type of photo I am taking. I have taken landscape photos with a telephoto lens and shot portraits with wide angle 12mm lenses but thats a different article for another time.

The most interesting item in this image is the bikes leaning against the wall. There give an odd symmetry to the image while the mural of the girl is the thing that draws your attention. I am usually against taking photos of someone else’s creative work, but I felt like there is enough outside factors in this scene that it warrants a photo of it’s own.

After taking around 30 pictures with all three lenses, I came back to my hotel and went through the images. I was expecting the wide angle shots to be the best but really it was the middle ground 35mm lens that had the best soul. Once, I had picked the best photo, it was time to use Photoshop and clean up the image and make it look like the final version. The reason I picked this image was the balance of the image on the left and right hand side. The left is occupied by the face and the right is filled in with the two bicycles.

The colors were a bit muted compared to how I remember them so the first thing I did was up the saturation in photoshop. I did not want the image to look cartoony so I went very easy on the saturation slider. There was also a plastic bag that flew into the scene by the wind which need to be photoshopped out. After about half an hours worth of editing, the above image is what I ended up with.

On a side note, I am really enjoying using a mirrorless cameras for my travels. I used to travel with a large Nikon DSLR and found them so heavy. Now, with the tiny little Fuji, my camera bag is really light and I am more inclined to take more of my lenses with me when I go out due to their smaller size. I am not sure if I am ready to use them in studio but I will never travel with a bulky DSLR again.