Tag Archives: photography

Street Photography with the Canon M6

If I may, a little background for this post. A few years ago I was deeply involved in street photography and had more than one blog that I was posting to and maintaining on the subject. In reality what I did was overextend myself to the point of burnout. I decided it was time to take a break, which I did. I pursued my music by playing bass, guitar and learning the ukulele. I also retired during this time so I had plenty of time on my hands.

A few months ago I injured the index finger on my chording hand and decided it was time to give it a rest so it can hopefully heal. Having my background in photography I decided to buy a camera to take pictures of my new granddaughter. From 2010-2014 I had shot many different systems including Nikon, Olympus, Leica and Fujifilm. I decided this time around to buy a Canon camera since I hadn’t owned a Canon Rebel since my film days in the early 70’s.

My first camera was a Canon M50 which I love and have used for people, nature and street. I then decided that I didn’t need a viewfinder for street, as I shoot from the navel and do all candids. After researching extensively  and almost buying a Ricoh GR I decided that for the money a Canon M6 would work perfectly.

Before I talk about the Canon M6 I want to make it clear that this is a user review. It is not a technical review. There are great websites that do very thorough jobs with this. My favorites are Imaging Resource and DP Review. This review is about me using the M6 in a street photography situation.

I found one locally so I purchased it. I already owned the M50 so setting it up would have been fairly simple but I decided to buy a course through Creative Live to do it properly. John Greengo is the instructor and he does a great job covering everything from buttons to menus. I highly recommend anything he teaches as he covers many aspects of photography.

Unfortunately, I live in the Mid-Atlantic and it is cold. Shooting anything outside is uncomfortable at best but we were blessed with a couple of warm days so I was able to take the M6 out on its maiden voyage. I had it outfitted with the Canon 22mm lens so I was ready to go.

My first task was to set it up to shoot using zone focusing. The lens does not have anything on the exterior to help with this process but it can be done. In manual mode I set the camera to f/10 with a shutter speed of 1/500th of a second. I used Auto ISO with a max of 3200. To deal with the focus I used auto focus to focus on an object about 8 feet away. I then put the camera in manual focus and went on my photo walk.

One thing I have learned with my photography is to always be ready which means the camera is on and ready to go when I leave the car. As soon as I turned the corner to the walking mall I saw this couple. I am glad I was ready.

I love this picture. There is affection and undoubtedly discussion going on. I have other pics of them I will share at another time.

I basically walked the mall shooting as I went. I love pics like the one above. I shoot candids. I have the camera hanging from my neck, resting on my navel ready to shoot. I look like a run of the mill tourist. I do not look through the LCD and I don’t pose people. I want to capture photography on the street, as people are, without them knowing they are on camera. Let’s face it, when people know they are having their picture taken they don’t look natural so a candid, normal shot is not possible, at least in my mind. My finger is always on the shutter as I look for a pic to take.

When I got to the end of the mall I decided to use the camera in auto focus. I was curious to see how it would focus and if it would be as good as the M50. It did a great job- on par with the M50.

Here are my first thoughts on the Canon M6.


Small, light and doesn’t stand out. Mine is black with black gaff tape over the Canon and EOS lettering.

Very easy to hold and use. Comfortable ergonomics.

It is fast and relatively quiet. More on this in the “Cons” area.

The picture quality is great and the CH mode works well. I always shoot in CH but only take 2-3 pics at a time, usually.

The RAW files convert to B&W nicely.

It cost me less than $500 without the lens which I thought was a good price.


No “silent” setting. It doesn’t even have a silent scene mode like the M50. I want the ability to turn off the volume of the shutter so it can be completely silent. For me, this is important. Without that ability I am limited in what I can shoot.

The battery. It is impossible to find an aftermarket battery, as in Wasabi, that will function normally. I have them for my M50 and my Panasonic LX7. I bought two from a battery warehouse but they wouldn’t register in the charger or the camera so I never knew how charged they were or what kind of battery life I had. Now I have to spend $50-60 on a small Canon battery. Listen up Canon. I understand profit but not when I can buy an aftermarket battery that works as well as the $50 version, for $5. Not cool in this situation.

The LCD is impossible to see under certain lighting conditions. I don’t use it to shoot but on rare occasions I like to see how a picture is framed or if it is in focus.

Here is how I decide how much I like a camera. If it was stolen, would i get another one? In this case- YES! Definitely. The weather is limiting me as far as street photography goes right now but when I get a nice day I will be out with the M6 right away.

On a side note, I have just received an Artisan 35mm lens from B&H with the appropriate scale so I can monitor distance and depth of field when I zone focus. I am really looking forward to shooting with this lens. I got use to this kind of set-up with my Leica cameras, especially my M8. More to come once I get a chance to try it out.

All in all, if you want something to shoot street photography that is small, light and more than capable, I highly recommend the Canon M6, even though the battery situation is a pain in the posterior.

©Vic Schmeltz



As I progressed as a photographer, and spent more time observing other photographers as they were taking pictures, I noticed a strange phenomenon. They would point their lens at their subject, press the shutter down half way and then move their lens again before taking the picture. At first I wasn’t sure what they were doing as it seemed strange. It was as if they were focusing twice.

As time progressed I found out that they were locking focus the first time and then recomposing their shot while they kept their finger pressed half way down on the shutter button. Why would they want to do this?

Many times, when taking pictures, a photographer wants to use the “rule of thirds.” Instead of having the subject right in the middle of the frame, portrait style, they want their subject slightly to the left or right. This is employing the “rule of thirds.”

When I look at many of my first photos, they are pretty good but everything is smack dab in the middle of the frame. There is something about moving the subject to the left or right that appeals more to the human eye. I can’t really explain it fully but there you have it.

Does that mean that I never have a picture with the subject right in the middle of the frame? Of course not! This is acceptable, especially in portrait photography, but not something that should be done all the time.

Many cameras let you have a grid visible in the viewfinder or on the LCD on the back of the camera. I highly recommend this. If you choose the 9 point grid it looks like a “tic, tac, toe” board is overlaid on your screen.  This makes it easier to use the “rule of thirds.” Simply put you subject in one of the places where the lines intersect. You can do this by recomposing or you can do this later in post-production by cropping/moving your subject. Personally, I prefer to get it right in the camera if possible.


Screen Shot 2014-02-19 at 5.23.57 PM

I wish I would have known this when I purchased my first digital camera four years ago. Then again, one of the best things about photography is that I will never know it all. There is always something new to learn.

I have posted some examples below showing the difference between a portrait view and a view using the “rule of thirds.” I hope this helps.

Portrait mode- Pic in middle


Rule of thirds- Correct

_DSF3023-2Rule of thirds- Incorrect

_DSF3023-3I labeled the last one “incorrect”, and this is my personal feeling, because I tend to give more space in front of the direction the subject is facing. The second pic gives more room to her left.  The last one does not and puts her too close to the left edge of the frame.

© Vic Schmeltz

Things I wish I would have known- Part 2

In part one of this series I wrote about the “Exposure Triangle.” For this post I would like to discuss the “Composition Triangle.” This triangle has three parts also: Light, subject, and background.

First, let’s talk about light. Photography is about capturing light. There is a subject and some type of background but ultimately the light is of paramount importance. Will the light be exposed correctly or will it be underexposed or overexposed? Is there a correct exposure at all? These are all things that we need to think about. As you grow as a photographer you should be looking for the correct light. When I began shooting it was about the subject. The subject is important but it really it is about the light. Light will make or break a picture. I know you have seen multiple examples of this on Facebook. How many times have you seen a pic taken at the beach where there is a sunset but you can’t make out who the people are in the pic? Apparently the person taking the pic didn’t know what fill flash is so all they got in the picture was a silhouette. Don’t be that photographer. Look at the light and how it falls on the subject and expose accordingly. Currently, I am teaching my youngest grandson about photography and this was our last topic when we were out shooting. I showed him the same subject exposed normally and then I showed him that subject backlit. As we were hiking, the rest of the time he “focused” on finding backlit subjects be it a leaf, vine or cattail. We had a blast and he learned something new. The next time you shoot look primarily for great light- something that grabs you photographically. Then pick your subject with the light falling on it just the way you want.

Second, is the subject. The subject can literally be anything or anyone. When I hike I am not necessarily looking for large subjects. Many times I am looking for texture, maybe in the bark of a tree. I may be looking for something that will look good in black and white. I was out a couple of months ago and I focused on twisted things- be it a vine or branch. I shot exclusively in black and white and had a blast doing it. I have included some of those pictures at the end of this post. As an aside, today I tend to do this more. I may decide to shoot the entire time in macro mode, or at f/2 or with just one lens. It is a great challenge and a different way of looking at your subject, whatever or whomever it may be.

Third is the background. Many good pictures has been ruined by a tree in the background growing out of someones head. I have trained myself to slow down, take a moment to consider all three aspects of the composition triangle and then take the pic. I don’t “run and gun” anymore. I have tried in the last year to concentrate more on quality instead of quantity. If you are framing a pic notice what is in the background and move accordingly. Usually, that is all it takes. A step or two to the right or left can improve your background immensely.

I realize these are basics but I sure wish I would have known them four years ago. Maybe, by reading this post, you will save yourself some time and grief by considering the “Composition Triangle.”






© Vic Schmeltz

Things I wish I would have known- Part 1

It has been roughly eight years since I purchased my first digital camera. Lately, I have thought about what I have learned the last eight years and what I wish I would have known in the beginning. Obviously, it is impossible to know everything all at once but there are some things that would have been helpful to know and may have actually saved me some money in the long run. As I begin this series there will be no particular order to the posts and I have no idea how many there will be. First up- The Exposure Triangle.

One of the most important bits of information that is important to know is the exposure triangle. Unfortunately, this is something that many people learn later in their photographic journey as they spend way too much time shooting in auto mode. The attitude is, “All I want is good pics. Let the camera do all the work.” The problem with that thinking is a lot less creativity involved in the long run. When I purchased my first digital camera, a Nikon D5000, I shot on auto too- for the first week or so. My goal was to learn the basics of the camera and then to progress to being able to shoot with all manual settings. Yes, all manual! Personally, I believe every photographer should know how to do this. Most of the time I do use AP, aperture priority, but I do enjoy the challenge of setting the camera to manual and experimenting with different settings. You should definitely try this. It is digital after all and the worst thing that can happen is you have to delete some files that don’t come out the way you want. Now to the “triangle.”

The first part of the exposure triangle is ISO. In the film days this referred to how sensitive my film was to light. Nowadays, it refers to how sensitive you make your sensor to light. I always manually set this as I am not a big fan of auto ISO. I usually look at my conditions, be it sunny or cloudy, and set it accordingly. ISO 200 is less sensitive to light and ISO 4000 is more sensitive. On a sunny day I usually begin at ISO 200. If it is cloudy I may choose ISO 800. After four years I have a pretty good idea where my baseline will be. After a few frames I can adjust it up or down as the need arises. This setting is so important that I have it assigned to a function button on all of my Fuji cameras.

The second part of the exposure triangle is aperture. There are a few factors involved in setting the aperture but for me it is always Depth of Field (DOF). What kind of look do I want in the pictures I am taking? Do I want the background out of focus or do I want everything in focus? Aperture controls this and directly affects the rest of the triangle. If I choose to shoot wide open, say f/2, I may have to set my ISO to a lower setting if my camera does not have a maximum shutter speed that will allow a good exposure. This is why it is so important to pay attention to your viewfinder or LCD screen to double-check your settings. I recommend always having ISO, aperture and shutter speed displayed in your viewfinder or LCD.

The third and last part of the exposure triangle is shutter speed. If I shoot in aperture priority then the camera will choose this setting. Many times this works out great but it may be that I decide to set the shutter speed. I like doing this when I shoot in manual mode as many times I like to underexpose or overexpose certain scenes. For me, I tend to underexpose more. This is one of the main advantages of an Electronic View Finder (EVF) as you can see how your settings are effecting your shot. I was recently taking some night pics in Washington, D.C. I had my Fuji X-E2 on a tripod and was taking pictures of some trees with lights in them. I could look at the LCD and watch the scene change as I adjusted my shutter speed. I also ended up doing this in a hallway. I really liked the lights in the hallway as I liked their leading lines. They led to the end of the hallway which had a pink/purple hue to it. I have posted a couple of pics at the end of this post for you to see.

I have listed the three aspects of the exposure triangle in the order I actually use when shooting. Obviously you don’t have to do this but it works well for me.

As a side note, and a very important one, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for you to know your camera. Setting the exposure triangle should be something that is second nature for you, not something you have to think about. You know where on the camera to set the ISO, aperture and shutter speed and you can do so very quickly.

Let’s make that our first challenge. Find the quickest way to get to these settings and work on setting them quickly. I was out shooting my Fuji X100s today and was working on rotating the aperture dial without even looking at it. I knew how many clicks it was from f/2 to f/5.6 and did it while walking down a trail. Again, get to know your camera. You won’t regret it.

ISO 200; f/22; 1/4 sec


ISO 200; f/20; 1 sec



© Vic Schmeltz

Shooting with Film- Part 7

I was fortunate enough to receive my negatives and CD back from The Darkroom today.  This roll I shot with my new Leica M6 and  Leica Summarit 35 2.5 lens.  Since then I have also purchased a Leica Summarit 50 2.5 lens.  The 50 will live on the M6.  The 35 will stay on the M8.

After looking at the pics, and comparing to my other film pics taken with the Yashica camera, I can tell you that I love the look of film!  It is completely different and I can’t duplicate it in Lightroom 5.

I do shoot ISO 400 film so I have learned, after three rolls, that I will need to underexpose slightly when I shoot.  The only adjustment I need to make in Lightroom currently is to cut the highlights slightly so some areas are not blown out.  If I underexpose I shouldn’t need to make any adjustments with the next roll of film.  I use a higher ISO so I can use a higher shutter speed.  In street photography people are moving and I want to be able to freeze the action.

The upside to shooting with film is the look. The downside is the time and expense of shooting film.  I have already posted about some of the expenses so I won’t go into that again.  If I do not process the film myself it does take time to see the results as I have to send it to The Darkroom in California to be processed.  I have looked into processing the negatives myself.  It is not difficult but there is some expense involved in buying a processing tank and chemicals etc.  If there is not a room that is completely dark a changing bag or tent will have to be purchased too.  This is something I may do in the future.  The real expense is buying a scanner.  That can run $300-40o.  I am not sure if I want to do that right now.  We will see.

I have shot the last three rolls as an experiment.  Now I will begin shooting my next roll looking for some really good subjects.  I will post the best ones here on the blog when I can.  Undoubtedly it will take a while as shooting with film has slowed me down and made me pickier about what I take a picture of.

Tomorrow I will be posting a pic I took with this last roll of film.  I hope you like it.

Shooting with Film- Part 6

As I posted earlier today the Leica M6 has arrived.  It is in like new condition and will be ready to shoot once I get the batteries for the meter tomorrow.

This has been quite an adventure and a great learning process.  I wanted to give you all some specific figures in case you would like to try your hand at shooting film.

Here is what it initially cost me to begin this process:

Yashica Electro 35 Camera- $51.99 (Ebay includes shipping)

(2) Camera batteries- $23.08 (Walgreens)

DVD/CD player- $82.95 (Bought this from Apple as my Macbook Pro doesn’t have one.  Needed it to download the CD’s)

(4) rolls of Arista Premium ISO 400- $18.55 (includes shipping)

Processing for the 4 rolls- $60 (includes shipping)

Total- $236.57.

There is a good chance your computer already has a player for the CD’s so that would drop the expense quite a bit to $153.62.

So to try four rolls of film, including processing the negatives and putting them on CD, you would be at $153.62.  I think this is reasonable to try out something new.  My goal was to see if I liked the process and results- I do.

If you want to try the Ilford you can even buy a little disposable camera loaded with it.  There are many ways to try film if you want to.

Next up will be shooting a roll with the M6 and a Leica 35 2.5 Summarit lens.  It will probably take a while as I will be more choosy about what I am taking pics of.  I have a project I am working on so some of the pics will be saved for that.  More about that to come in the future.

I hope this has been informative for you all.  For me personally, I am trying to expand my horizons this year.  This is all part of that process.  If you haven’t had a chance to read Part 5 of this series please do and don’t forget to vote in the poll at the bottom of the post.