Piotr Malecki shooting on the streets of Warsaw with a Canon EOS M6 Mark II.

STREET PHOTOGRAPHY

Piotr Malecki shares his offbeat street photography style and tests the Canon EOS M6 Mark II

Documentary photographer and filmmaker Piotr Malecki has a passion for his home town of Warsaw: its lively streets, the vibrant people and the reinvigorated cultural scene.

"Warsaw was beautiful before World War II," he says. "Most of it was destroyed and the Old Town was rebuilt to resemble the original as much as possible, but there's another side to the city." In the past 10 years there has been a lot of redevelopment, particularly along the Vistula river, which has opened up this area of the Polish city for people to enjoy.

Piotr's father inspired his passion for photography when he gave him a Russian-made Smena camera for Christmas. It meant far more to the 11-year-old Piotr than most gifts: "My father is responsible for me being a photographer in a way. He didn't only give me this camera, he also showed me how to take pictures," he says.

Photographer Piotr Malecki stands in long grass holding a Canon EOS M6 Mark II beside the river Vistula.

Piotr now always shoots with Canon cameras, and he was the first photographer in Europe to use the new Canon EOS M6 Mark II. There was nowhere he wanted to take it more than the streets of Warsaw. He headed to the road that borders the west of the river and the sheltered sandy beaches to the east, where young people gather to have fun in the evening.

The Canon EOS M6 Mark II suited Piotr’s relaxed and spontaneous street photography style, as it’s a highly portable and versatile mirrorless camera with a 32.5 megapixel sensor. Its high-end features such as a fast 14 frames per second (fps) burst rate, 180˚ flip-up touchscreen, 4K video and more gave Piotr plenty of creative options.

"For someone who's starting out, or an enthusiast photographer who doesn't have the budget or who wants a lightweight option, it's a perfect camera," he says.

Here, Piotr shares his tips for street photography, and for making the most of the Canon EOS M6 Mark II's features.

1. Be spontaneous

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Capturing spontaneous moments and quirky scenes is one of the great joys of street photography, and having a camera with a fast burst mode is indispensable for this.

Piotr came across a cool and unusual situation on his shoot. "These guys on cross-trainer bikes were jumping in the beam of some streetlights,” he says. “To shoot them I had to combine a few things – a high ISO, the camera's high frame rate and focus with the lens wide open (f/1.4) – but I think it worked really well."

Opting for the Canon EOS M6 Mark II’s RAW Burst mode allowed Piotr to shoot at 30fps, capturing smaller 18 megapixel image files. There's also a pre-shooting option that saves images captured half a second before the shutter is fully pressed, helping you to catch even the most fleeting of moments.

2. Play with video

Photographer Piotr Malecki films a volleyball player on a sandy riverbank under a bridge.

Having a small and unobtrusive camera that's capable of shooting a range of video resolutions and frame rates can really pay off, as Piotr discovered when he came across a group of young people playing volleyball on the beach by the Vistula river.

The Canon EOS M6 Mark II can capture “sharp detail” in 4K video, with a high frame rate, explains Piotr. This 4K detail means that you can crop into your videos in post-production and output footage in Full HD, which gives filmmakers such as Piotr more flexibility when framing a shot. "You can choose part of the image and enlarge it without compromising on quality," he says.

In Full HD, the Canon EOS M6 Mark II enabled Piotr to capture fast action sequences at 60fps without the jittery movement you sometimes see with slower speeds. There's also a 120fps option for 4x slow motion for even smoother videos.

3. Venture out after dark

To capture the vibe of a city, exploring its buzzing nightlife is key. Whether Piotr was filming beach volleyball in the fading evening light or people riding cross-trainer bikes in the dark, he found the low-light capabilities of the Canon EOS M6 Mark II invaluable.

"I tested the camera in low-light environments and up to ISO 3200. It has a nice small grain at higher sensitivities," he says, adding that the Canon EOS M6 Mark II can shoot low-light video just as well as it can shoot stills. The camera can shoot up to ISO 25600.

4. Focus on people

Including people in urban photography is one of the best ways to show the feel of a place, adding movement and personality to bring a shot to life. People are a central part of Piotr’s work. "I do take pictures of places, but basically my subject is people," he says.

When photographing people in a scene, it’s important to have a focal point in mind – whether that’s the eyes of the main subject, the face of a central person in a crowd, or someone leaping for a ball. The Canon EOS M6 Mark II’s flexible and easy to use autofocus (AF) system helps with this.

"Autofocus accuracy is very important, and on the Canon EOS M6 Mark II it's really reliable and fast," Piotr says. "It tracks faces and you can do eye tracking, as well.”

The Canon EOS M6 Mark II focuses automatically, and gives you the option to let the camera choose a focus point, or to set the focus point manually. Piotr chose to manually set his AF points before it started tracking, using the whole of the active AF area or just a specific zone. Using the optional viewfinder to compose, he could select the point with his thumb on the rear touch-sensitive screen.

"You can set in focus the part of the image that the camera has to track and it doesn't have to be a face – it can be anything – and it just keeps it in focus."

Photographer Piotr Malecki is in sharp focus as he photographs a fast-moving roller skater, who is blurred.

The two features that really set the Canon EOS M6 Mark II apart for Piotr are “the precision of the auto focus when shooting with the lens wide open, and the fact that you can shoot at higher ISOs without compromising quality”. Being able to change lenses is also a key feature. “If I need to further guarantee a high quality image in low light, I can switch from the kit lens to the Canon EF-M 32MM f/1.4 STM” he says, “which makes it a good choice for photography enthusiasts and pros looking for a portable second camera”.

Written by Kevin Carter

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