Streets of Perth: How to capture street art
For most, when you think of unique street art, Perth in Western Australia is not the first place that comes to most people’s mind. But if you look further down the alley, Perth has some of Australia’s most fascinating pieces of art. Bringing the sometimes controversial genre to the eyes of the world, is Streets of Perth (SoP), a Facebook page turned website and interactive map created by local art lovers, Duncan Atack and Nikki Dale.
A passion that has turned into much more than a hobby, SoP is a digital celebration of Western Australia’s evolving urban art scene and Australia’s most popular street art blog.
Within just 9 months, the Facebook page attracted over 50,000 followers. Now, with over 115,000 followers, their page continues to grow each month and they have also extended their photo-sharing to Twitter and Instagram.
Social media continues to play a key role in the growth and develop of the page. “The site just keeps growing. It now provides a central online resource for blog articles, local street art events and a link to our very own interactive urban art map, which works really well for planning your own mural tours. It encourages street art fans away from their desks – to get out there on the streets of Perth and appreciate the city’s urban art,” said Nikki.
Both Nikki and Duncan are photographers who use Adobe as a key partner in their quest to promote Perth’s now not secret street art to the world.
We caught up with the art loving duo to understand where the passion came from and how we can take our own images of street art.
Why street art?
Nikki: There’s a buzz to street art. It’s exciting, vibrant; you never know what you’re going to discover next. And it’s public; where often nothing is permanent. It’s that hit-and-run nature of street art we appreciate the most. We love capturing these sometimes transient local artworks digitally so others can share our passion.
What’s the attraction? What got you started?
Duncan: We started SoP because we started noticing lots of great street art around Perth; we loved it. Much of it is simply awesome art. But people in Perth would look at us strange and say ‘Street art here? In Perth? Really?’ So we decided to do something about changing that perception. Enter Streets of Perth.
What are some of the top lessons you have learnt on capturing street art with digital photography?
Our top three lessons are outlined below:
1. Getting it all in
Often there’s the challenge of great street art that’s big but it has a small viewing space. How do you squeeze it all into one photo? A good option is a wide angle lens. We often use an ultra-wide 16mm lens. It squeezes a lot into one frame allowing you to get close to most walls. Another option is to take multiple shots then stitch them together with Adobe Photoshop or Photoshop Lightroom
2. Capturing urban grunge
The trick to capturing urban grunge is lighting. Bad shadows can ruin it; they are everywhere in alleyways. You also need to account for glare either directly from the sun or indirectly. This can wash out the contrast of the photo.Bad weather can be a bonus as it softens the light, removes shadows and can create great reflections in puddles and water. We often use Adobe to remove unwanted items that take away from the pic.
3. Capturing scale
Urban space is often huge: skyscrapers and freeways. It’s easy to lose the sense of scale by not providing visual cues as references in your photos. Look at this example. Because of the lady crossing the road the artwork is clearly massive. We often use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom to straighten walls: to make the photo perfectly square.
Next stop on the Streets of Perth
“Perth’s receptiveness to street art has grown in recent years. Increasing support via social media has helped,” Duncan said. “An annual street art festival called PUBLIC Perth has played an important role in this awareness,” Nikki highlighted. “It brings artists and creatives from around the world, as well as showcasing our extraordinary local talent pool. PUBLIC has been fantastic in bringing street art on to the front pages across WA,” she said.