Posts Tagged ‘street photography’
Been messin’ around with the Ricoh GR this week. Large APS-C chip, sharp 28mm equivalent optic, super small magnesium body. Good stuff.
One of my favorite features is the camera’s snap focus mode, which lets you easily preset a focus distance. Then you just stop it down, select a fast enough shutter speed, hang the camera low every now and then and jam on the shutter. Not a bad way to get a bunch of random photos of Suki running this way. And that way. And this way again.
Oops. Did I mention selecting a fast enough shutter speed? The GR’s handy TAv mode allows you set both shutter speed and aperture manually while the camera floats the ISO up and down automatically. You get the depth of field and motion-stopping control you want without having to worry about your exposure, which is pretty handy when you’re chasing a Shiba Inu though an intersection with the camera. Overall, I’m pretty impressed!
All Images: Ricoh GR | VSCO 04 Velvia 50
A colleague of mine let me borrow a very interesting lens this past weekend. Apparently he sent an old compact film camera, equipped with a fixed 28mm wide-angle, to an outfit in Japan. They removed the camera’s glass and built an M-Mount lens around it, complete with aperture control, focus tab, and a distance scale.
The result is a very nicely made, body cap of a lens that makes a Leica camera feel strangely light-weight in use. More interesting than the somewhat unusual ergonomics, however, are the fun results you get from this optic (the lens actually vignettes more as you stop it down). In practice, this rangefinder/lens cap lens combo just begs to be shot from the hip. Set it to f8, zone focus, and treat it like a little point and shoot street cam. Extremely fun.
A black and white conversion seemed like a good fit for the resulting images, and I used this opportunity to run the raw files through a new set of film emulation presets I’m trying. The folks at Totally Rad were nice enough to let me download a copy of Replichrome for Lightroom, a suite of 134 film emulating presets with custom profiles for 386 cameras. I’m told that Totally Rad will update their custom profiles with each update release for Lightroom / ACR, which is very cool.
I plan to do a lot more testing with Replichrome, but for now here’s a sampling of their excellent Kodak 400CN and 400CN+ film presets (the “+” variant simulates the look of the film in reaction to overexposure). It’s clear that a lot of work went into developing this software, and I’m pretty impressed with what I’m seeing so far:
All Images: Leica M9 | Some Weird 28mm Watchumacallit M-Mount Lens | Replichrome Kodak 400CN
Just got two rolls of very different black and white films back from the lab. First up is a roll of T-MAX 100. The film’s low speed allows me to shoot at wider apertures on my M3 during the day, and its fine grain makes for some really clean output. It’s an excellent choice for shooting black and white with a high speed lens:
^My cousin Josh, heavily armed.
Ok, on to the Fuji Neopan 400. The Neopan’s punchier contrast seems to suit my shooting style pretty well, and it looks to be a great choice for shooting in dramatically lit environments. Here are a few select frames from that roll:
These will be my last two rolls for a bit while I wait for my camera to come back from repair. She’s getting her rangefinder realigned, which is supposed to take about a week…. A week too long!!!
Leica M3 + 50mm f/1.4 Summilux | Kodak T-MAX 100 / Fuji Neopan 400 | Process + Scan by Light Waves Imaging
That part of the day when slivers of light from the setting sun pass through the city streets and graze the tops of buildings is always my favorite time to head out with a camera.
All Images: Leica M9 + 28mm f/2 Summicron
I recently watched a video that involved Photoshop guru Scott Kelby spending a day with Jay Maisel, a highly regarded photographer who lives in New York City. They explored the streets of Manhattan all day, cameras in hand, and Jay shared his extensive knowledge and experience the whole way through. I loved seeing such an experienced photographer talk about his methods and thought processes while out creating photos on the street. Seeing the way he interacted with people in order to get natural photographs of complete strangers was also a real treat.
There were tons of great points on improving your photography that Jay expounded on during the photo walk, but a few of them really stood out for me.
For example, he said that one of the greatest ways to improve your photography is to practice it regularly, daily if possible. This involves committing yourself to carrying a camera with you at all times. He mentioned that if the camera is with you, you’re improving your skill even if you don’t use it. How? Your awareness of your camera causes your eyes to search for interesting subjects while you’re out on the street, which helps hone a a key skill for a photographer: his or her ability to observe, anticipate, and react to what happens in an environment.
Another point I appreciated is that photographers should be more concerned with “picture quality” instead of “pixel quality.” He encouraged the use of high ISOs out on the street, even in relatively good light. Why? It keeps your shutter speed high, and gives you the depth of field and bracketing flexibility needed for capturing good frames in a highly dynamic environment like the streets of New York. Basically, it helps you “get the shot.” Sure, lower ISOs give you technically cleaner images, or better “pixel quality,” but our aim as photographers should be, once again, the “picture quality.” After all, what’s the point of a cleaner image if it’s blurry or you couldn’t nail the exposure? Jay typically shoots at ISO1600 on his Nikon D3 when out on the street (yes, having a D3 helps).
His lens of choice? The bargain-priced Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR. Does it matter to him that it’s not the sharpest, fastest, highest performing glass in Nikon’s lineup? Nope. He chose this lens for the photo walk because of its smaller size, lighter weight, and wide focal range. A good example of choosing an appropriate tool for the job.
As they roamed the streets, Jay demonstrated how highly tuned and focused his photographic eye is. He was catching moments, shapes, colors, and compositions in the environment that Kelby wasn’t even aware of. It really inspired me to get out and try exploring my own neck of the woods and looking for interesting things to photograph with these new points in mind.
So, on a day off last week and after having lunch with the wife out in the city, I started walking the neighborhood with my camera. I brought along a single lens (the 70-300), and slowly explored the neighborhood. Check out the gallery above for a sampling of what I came back with that day. Not really the best images I’ve ever taken (and WordPress degrades the quality on these unfortunately), but I had such a fulfilling time out there that I’m anxious to head out again for another photo walk and to continue developing my skills. I just wish I had more time!
In other news, I just found out that Adobe Lightroom 3 is officially out of Beta and available for download! It’s got great new features and runs much faster than before. If you’re a Lightroom user, you must check it out!
Yesterday I received a meticulously wrapped package from Japan in the mail: a pair of photo books that I purchased from Akane Ono, a very talented photographer I know through Flickr. Akane is primarily a chemical (film) shooter, which in itself impresses me a lot because I haven’t touched film in more than a decade and I think I’d be afraid to try it again! The kind of look that can achieved with film, however, can have a very organic and grainy feel that is often very difficult if not impossible to replicate digitally. She seems to do an immense amount of travel, as her photo books present images from places like Bangkok, Osaka, Tunisia, Taipei, Cebu, Hong Kong, and Santorini, to name a few. Yet her style is very cohesive, and she has a very distinct and focused point of view as a photographer. Why?
Because, as she describes in her Neco Tabi #1 photo book, despite the beautiful surroundings and interesting, new people she encounters in her travels, she finds herself drawn to the local cats that roam the streets of the beautiful destinations she finds herself in. The resulting photography is a wonderful collection of beautiful images of fascinating environments that just happen to have cats in them!
As I flip through the pages of Neco Tabi #1 and #2 (both for sale on Akane’s Website), it amazes me that the street scenes and landscapes she captures would be very pretty even if they didn’t feature little feline critters, and so it boggles me how she is able to create these fantastic compositions AND make sure there are also cats in each shot. That’s what I call artistic vision. I often hear that it’s a great creative exercise to give yourself photographic assignments that focus on something specific, as it can enhance your creativity. It seems that because of her specific dedication to meeting new feline friends in different parts of the world, Akane has simply developed a natural ability to interact with and photograph these creatures in a very creative and sort of photo-journalistic way.
I can’t get within 15 feet of a cat in the city without it scurrying away. How she manages to get so close to these animals without them bolting off, and snap photos of these creatures with what seems like their full cooperation…another mystery. But my favorite thing about the Neco Tabi series is that I really do feel like I’m getting a taste of what it’s like in all of these other countries, and I’m doing it from a cat’s eye view!
I think my favorite photo among all the others in both books would have to be a shot of a brightly lit, old and weathered alley in Tunis. Taken from a low angle, you see a small, wheeled cart and a cardboard box sitting on top of a battered brick floor. Right in the middle of the alley sits a small white cat with a blank look on its face, staring right at the camera. Cute! But as you let your eyes move from the white cat and over to the right of the frame, you see a very old and worn door open, with rubble on the ground at its opening. Also staring straight at the camera, you then see another tiny cat, so very small and well camouflaged among the rubble. I could have sworn that first cat was the only one in the photo when I first looked at it, but somehow the composition naturally leads your eye to the second, well concealed one. So brilliant!
I won’t show you the photo, because you really should buy her books and see it for yourself!