All around Helsinki with Tomi Lehto

All around Helsinki with Tomi Lehto

- Tomi Lehto

Street and architecture photography can both be very rewarding for the photographer in their own unique and fun ways. Many say that street photography is the most difficult type of photography, as it is easy to make a lot of mistakes and since you can’t control most of the things happening around you. The most rewarding and fun thing that come with street photography is that you never know when and how you can end up with your new favorite photo. What is always certain is that the endless combinations of different scenarios that are constantly happening around you, can never leave you unsatisfied.

Architecture photography shouldn’t be thought of as a simple thing to do either, just cause your subjects are stationary. Pretending that photographing different styles of architecture is easy will most likely just lead you into a bunch of mediocre photos. I believe that the fact that the subjects in architecture photography are still, gives me more opportunities to try out different angles, and shoot through different things. For example, I’ve often used leaves to create a foreground blur in the photo to really draw the viewer's eye to the architectural subject. The light also plays a major role in architecture photography when you are taking photos in outdoor situations. I always like to photograph architecture when the weather is sunny, it gives me loads of different shadows and light variations that can contrast the buildings in a very beautiful way.

Getting to try out new lenses in your city is always a breath of fresh air and in this story, I will be sharing some of my best photos taken with the SIGMA 14-24mm F2.8 DG DN | Art and the SIGMA 65mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary that I had the opportunity to try out. And for those who are intrigued, I'll talk about my impressions as well as some of the techniques that have helped me the most in achieving the desired outcome for my photos.

SIGMA 14-24mm F2.8 DG DN | Art with Sony A7R III, 1/60, F2.8, ISO 1000

The SIGMA 14-24mm F2.8 DG DN | Art paired up onto my Sony A7R III has by far given me the sharpest photos out of every other lens that I’ve tried before, also thanks to its wide F2.8 aperture I was able to get stunning results even in lower light situations.

SIGMA 14-24mm F2.8 DG DN | Art with Sony A7R III

SIGMA 14-24mm F2.8 DG DN | Art with Sony A7R III, 1/100, F2.8, ISO 100

Wide-angles have always been close to my heart and photographing different styles of architecture is where I think the lens performs at its best, being able to fit so much into the frame and having the sharpness at any aperture throughout all focal lengths is impressive.

SIGMA 14-24mm F2.8 DG DN | Art with Sony A7R III, 1/20, F2.8, ISO 125

Going to see the metro stations is one of the must do’s if you're visiting Helsinki and you’re keen about the underground life. If you want to give your photos more of a modern touch, the stations with a futuristic style are located in Espoo, while the metro stations of Helsinki fit the needs better of those looking for a more classic and simple style.

SIGMA 14-24mm F2.8 DG DN | Art with Sony A7R III, 1/100, F2.8, ISO 800

Going after symmetry in these locations can really make your photos stand out. I would avoid rush hours to get the most clean and people-free photos possible.

SIGMA 14-24mm F2.8 DG DN | Art with Sony A7R III, 1/100, F2.8, ISO 1000

Having photographed moving and still subjects with this lens, I noticed that the AF system in the AF-C focusing mode was always extremely fast and quiet, and it led to me never miss the focus in any of my photos, also regarding the different lighting situations.

A little tip for getting ‘’the perfect steps’’ in your image without high bursting modes, is to start counting the person's steps from the moment they appear in your viewfinder, until the critical center point, which is the moment where you should take your photo. The ‘one-two’ counting technique has been working for me the best, but you can always make your own method for it.

SIGMA 65mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary with Sony A7R III

The SIGMA 65mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary from SIGMA’s I series was released in January 2021. The 65mm is a premium compact prime lens that is very well built, and feels solid to use, thanks to the barrel being made of metal. Lenses from the I series are perfect for traveling purposes, as they are lightweight while still maintaining the well known image quality of the top tier Art lenses.

SIGMA 65mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary with Sony A7R III, 1/200, F2, ISO 1000

The 65mm focal length was one of the most fun lens experiences I’ve had so far. It’s an interesting choice for a prime lens, but surely one of the best. The lens having a constant aperture of F2 is way more than enough for night photography, and its amazing capability of focusing in extremely dark environments kept me out of any unwanted problems during the night.

SIGMA 65mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary with Sony A7R III, 1/200, F2, ISO 1000

Making use of the different white balance modes can be very important during blizzards at night. When there are many different lighting scenarios happening around you, the camera can have difficulties finding the most optimal white balance, often resulting in unwanted colors. Setting it to custom mode and finding the perfect colors for yourself, can save you time and nerves.

SIGMA 65mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary with Sony A7R III, 1/250, F2, ISO 1000

Subject placing in street photography can be done in many different ways. I usually tend to place my subjects anywhere on the bottom thirds line, to end up with more space on top of the photo. Subject placements can always be different in street photography, and being used to Helsinki I’ve learned what works the best for me, but if we compare it to another city like New York, techniques could be very different.

SIGMA 65mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary with Sony A7R III, 1/200, F2, ISO 1000

In night photography, the light plays a key role to help your photos turn out better. It’s advised to be surrounded by good light anywhere you go. The more light you have around you, the more likely you're going to end up with a good photo. I always expose my photos for the highlights, since the shadows are always easier to enhance in post processing than decreasing blown-out highlights.

SIGMA 65mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary with Sony A7R III, 1/250, F2, ISO 500

I truly believe that SIGMA lenses are remarkable for their quality and affordability, you can’t go wrong with any of them!

The SIGMA 65mm F2 DG DN | Contemporary is a lens that I definitely think belongs in my camera backpack now. The ease of carrying it around with me as a compact lens, packing almost identical image quality as an Art lens, is something that I thought wasn’t easily doable.

While the SIGMA 14-24mm F2.8 DG DN | Art, gave me back the same feeling of joy that I had when I started photography 6 years ago. Being able to help express my creativity whilst having the same fun as at the beginning of my career is all I could wish for.

Tomi Lehto
Street & Architecture Photographer

Tomi is a Helsinki based photographer, specializing in street and architecture. He loves to wander around the city with a camera in his hand and has a dream of becoming a full time travel photographer one day. 


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