Street Photography Walk At Pittsburgh University

Harsh sunlight is no reason to put away your camera but the golden hour retains a special place in photographers hearts.

Like so often before, when I have time to take a walk with my camera I will jump on it (the walk, not the camera).  I was meeting my fiancée for dinner yesterday and decided to head out of work a little early to beat her there and allow myself a little over an hour to explore Oakland, P.A. around the Pitt campus.  Classes were starting and stopping as I was walking around so it was a great opportunity to get some Street Photography done in an interesting atmosphere.  The theme I was thinking of was College…  I wanted to see what I could come up with that represented the college experience.

JMB_7688It’s difficult to keep an open mind when sticking to a theme like college because my experience at college tends to influence what I see or how I perceive it.  The image above, of the sign board, sticks in my mind as something representative of college because they were everywhere on my campus when I was in school.

JMB_7706I’ve done an urban rest project in the past where I photographed people in the city relaxing in all sorts of places and this image reminded me of that.  Perhaps images like this were what inspired me to tackle that project in the first place, when I was in college there were people littered around the campus reading books and making out like animals.

JMB_7697I thought this shot was interesting but admittedly it’s not the one I wanted.  This soldier was booking it across campus and I followed him for a couple of blocks.  All I wanted was a shot of him in his uniform standing amidst other plain clothed students at a cross walk but the stars did not align.

JMB_7721This is called Slack Lining (I think), and I’ve wanted to get a shot of them every summer.  I liked this one because it looked like he was walking on the hood of the car behind him.  Look closely and you’ll see the actual line he is balancing on.  I think it’s a rule that you have to wear loose pirate like shirts when doing this.

JMB_7712There is a huge building, perhaps a library, on the campus that has these beautiful columns.  I would have liked to get a shot of someone in there but it wasn’t happening that day.  Still, I loved the architecture.

JMB_7693Finally, my favorite shot from the day…  A boy reading in the late afternoon sun.  The shadows were perfect and created nice sharp lines.  I liked how the one shadow, almost reaching me with my camera, made a sharp angle similar to the angle made by the subjects bent knee.  It seemed as if the light could be coming from his legs.

I really enjoyed walking around Oakland and spotting the human condition all around me.  I will certainly revisit this area with Street Photography in mind as well as Shadyside, Bloomfield, and other smaller towns (compared to Pittsburgh).

Leave your thoughts in the comments below.  Did you know DecisiveShot has a Flickr page?  Anyone can upload images to it and you can join our community of like-minded Street Photographers to get feedback and participate in contests down the road.  Check it out here.



  • Becky says:

    John, the last shot shows how great a photo can be when you know what you are doing and break the rules (shooting into a scene with such contrast in light/dark). Also the columns are on Mellon Institute and at one time (not sure if they still are) they were the largest monolithic columns in the world. Great shots. Oakland is a fabulous place to walk around with a camera – especially if it is you with the camera!

    • John Barbiaux says:

      Thank you! The columns are beautiful, wish I would have captured a shot with people near them. I figure if everyone follows the rules then all of our photography will start to look the same… Time to throw caution to the wind ;).

  • Becky says:

    I have several shots with a person in each one but I was never ready for it so they are a bit blurry! That was when I was shooting jpeg and thought people ruined the shot!!! Now when I compare the columns with no one there and the ones with a person in them, the people ones win out every time.

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