Street photography and travel photography are similar genres – really, street photography is just travel photography in your hometown. That means they use the same wide camera setup.

What camera settings should I use for street and travel photography?

Generally, for street and travel photography, you want a relatively natural looking image. The viewer should almost feel that he sees things for himself. Let’s see how to achieve it.

What lens to use for urban and travel photography

There are three traditional focal lengths for street and travel photography: 24mm, 28mm, 35mm, and 50mm. They correspond to some of the most common prime lenses available.

At 50mm, you get a perspective that closely mimics what the human eye sees. Everything seems natural. 35mm, 28mm and 24mm show a wider field of view so you can include more of the scene without adding much distortion.

Note that these are the traditional focal lengths on full-frame bodies. For cameras with a crop sensor, they correspond roughly to 16mm, 18mm, 24mm, and 35mm. You can use a prime lens if you want, but 18mm, 24mm, and 35mm all fall nicely into the range of the standard 18-55mm kit lens that comes with most cameras. Convenient huh!

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Opening for urban and travel photography

Arthur “Weegee” Fellig said that the secret to good street photography was “f/8 and be there.” It’s a motto photojournalists have embraced for good reason: shooting at f/8 with a 35mm lens gives your images a great depth of field. This means that all you have to do is be where something interesting is happening.

Weegee’s suggestion still stands today, though with autofocus cameras (he had to use a manual focus camera) you don’t have to be so strict. An aperture between f/5.6 (on wider lenses) and f/11 (on 50mm lenses) will generally give you great results no matter what.

Shutter speed for urban and travel photography

Most of the time when I take street or travel photos I use aperture priority mode. As long as your shutter speed stays above around 1/100th of a second, your photos will be sharp and will now show any blur from camera shake or moving subjects.

Unlike many subjects, however, street and travel photos can benefit from a bit of creative blur. This means that sometimes you may want to use a shutter speed that is slow enough to show a bit of movement.

What camera settings should I use for street and travel photography?

If you want your subjects to move, I find around 1/15 or 1/30 works well. On sunny days you will probably need to reduce your aperture to get such a slow shutter speed.

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ISO for urban and travel photography

In general, for street and travel photography, you want your ISO to be 100 (or whatever your camera’s base ISO is). This is easy enough to achieve in broad daylight, but in narrow alleyways, in the evening or even at night, you’ll need to increase it to keep the shutter speed high. However, since street photography, in particular, looks good when things are a bit rough and raw, you can safely augment them when you need to.

Street and travel photography are really fun ways to use your camera. You probably already have the equipment, so get out there and shoot!