The Photo Essay…

Ho hum, the long summer holiday is over. It was fantastic and involved beaches, pools and cocktails. It also featured photography (of course) and during the holiday I undertook an Arcanum Challenge, set by Glenn Guy, the travel photography Guru. This challenge required:

  • An establishing Shot
  • A people shot
  • An environmental portrait
  • Movement
  • A close up.
  • A closing shot.

My photo essay us now complete. It focused on the grungier side of Thailand, in Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok. As always, hit us up and let me know what you think…

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An establishing shot.

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A People Shot

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The Environmental Portrait

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Movement

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The Closing Shot.

There you have it, a photo essay. I have now left China and am in India, a land of wonderful photographic opportunities (and new challenges). Recently I have been working on my portraiture. Watch this space!

Keep Clicking, Chris

 

 

Street Photography: Getting Busted…

If you are the person in this picture, then this blog post is for you. For anyone else here is a short story of what happens when you are busted taking candid photos!

pagespics (3 of 3)Fortunately before this photo was taken I did manage to grab a couple of candid shots! This one is my favourite.

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Candid photos are at the heart of Street Photography and people who look interesting are always worth a photo. When you are caught taking candid photos most people do not mind, although in the past, I have been asked to delete a photo I have taken. These particular photos I could not instantly share as I was shooting film. If this photo is you, I passed you my web address. Thank you!

Photographing Children

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Kids, apples, contrasting colours. What’s not too like?

This is of a group of kids, playing in a park as their parents looked on. I am guessing school was out for the day. I had wondered into the park as I was initially interested in a couple of old people sitting in the bench. In China, parks are great for getting pictures of people practicing their Tai Chi, dancing, or even sword play (try doing that on Hyde Park corner without being shot). Naturally parks are also a place where children play.

Being able to take photographs of children has been a special part of my time in Shanghai. Can you imagine doing this in London or anywhere else in Europe? You would quickly be chased away, and in some cases, I suspect arrested. After taking this photo I noticed the parent (or grandparent) watching me, I nodded, smiled and showed the photo. There was no suspicion, or animosity.  On my walks around Shanghai, photographing children has been a way that will open up a family to the possibility of being photographed. The child is the centre of the family and most parents are happy, or even encourage you to take photos.

In the West, we read about curtailed freedoms in China (some of which are fair points!). However, as a photographer I have had the freedom to photograph children in parks, I can set my tripod up in the middle of major cities and I can wonder around dark back alleys, seeking grungy scenes to capture and rarely feel concerned for my safety. I wonder how many other countries will allow that freedom?

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Girl in Park.

10 Things Eric Kim has Taught Me About Street Photography.

Furry Hood Girl

Taken on the Ricoh Grii. Eric Kim is one of many fans of this excellent small camera.

Blogging is important – so here it is. I use WordPress and also use Smugmug (although my Smugmug is in dire need of being updated, I’m too embarrassed to even leave the link here!).

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Include a famous person’s name in your blog post. Hopefully when someone searches for ‘Eric Kim’ and ‘Street Photography’, up will come ‘Pagespics’. If you find me when searching for Eric Kim, please tell me. Cheeky, I know.

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Give stuff away for free. OK, I’m going to start a free Ebook section – which you can view here. Have a look and download my first published book.

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Be expensive. This is where it starts making sense as I don’t even have an option to purchase prints on my site. This is another area to work on.

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OK, I know my f-stop from my aperture and can focus in 110 different ways. Maybe it is time to start tours? Also, I know some cool spots in Shanghai. Hit me up if you want a tour, or come for a day’s photography workshop. Prices start at 500RMB for a tour and a talk! If you are coming from abroad, also hit me up. I can help. Be quick – I’m not here much longer.

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The Ricoh Gr is very cool. Eric Kim is so right about this. It has a great big sensor in a small camera that fits in your pocket. It is also built like a mini brick.

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Vlogging. This was a new year’s resolution that I have still not made. So much to do, so little time. My new Olympus has a flippy screen, so now I have no excuse.

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Content matters. I MUST BLOG MORE….

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I learned a lot on simplifying my photography with the help of Wes Hardaker. Now simplification must further enter my world, I really believe photography can be a metaphor for life. A few simple elements in a frame makes a great shot, while too much clutter spoils a photo.

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Keep it simple. Include a few elements and uncluttered background.

 

10

We can succeed and make money from Street Photography, and need to promote ourselves. This is something I struggle with. Would I leave my day job for photography? Not for a while as I have just signed a 2-year contract for a school in Bangalore, India. Moving to India is going to be a dream come true, and I have long been inspired by the photography of Steve McCurry. I also love being a teacher. No-one succeeds alone, so… I guess of you enjoyed this post, please share and subscribe!

Thats all folks, don’t forget to check out my Free Stuff section, an area I would like to grow in the future.

Keep Clicking, Chris

Critical Theory & Photography

Beware – I’m about to get heavy (there are also some fairly graphic photographs). This is a bit of a personal exploration, feel free to come along for the ride. While photography is my passion, my career is teaching, and I am currently engaged with my Master’s in Education, undertaking research based on Critical Theory. Sometimes my passion and study ideas start to combine.

My studies are leading me towards a desire to affect change. Specifically, I would like to develop my photography to a stage where my photos may lead to a better society. This photographic goal leads on from my research undertaken relating to Critical Theory. Critical Theory is (very basically), the idea that we live in a world that is not equitable, or fair, and it seeks to redress the balance of power. Power is important as we live in a world geared towards the wealthy. Information is a controlled commodity, and as photographers, we have an opportunity to explore and reveal the truth.

Affecting change through images is hard to do in a world where it is widely claimed that, ‘no one gives a shit about your photography’. Perhaps this is what drives photographers to the more extremes of what can be shot, graphic and sexual violence, gun use and gangs. Extreme images can shock, and it is this shock that drives people to change society.

Struggling Girl, Photograph by Kevin Cartertime-100-influential-photos-kevin-carter-starving-child-vulture-87.jpg

Kevin Carter claimed that this was his most successful photo, and one he hated. This photograph may have been one of the drivers behind his suicide. He was criticised for not helping the girl afterwards. However, I think people are quick to blame others. This style of photograph does affect change, in this case bringing the attention of famine in Sudan to the world.

Napalm girl, Photographer Nick Ut
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There are claims that it was through photography that pressure was placed on the US Government to halt the Vietnamese war. Perhaps no photograph did it as well as this image captured by Nick Ut, a picture of a naked, young girl hit by American forces.

Now I am NOT saying I want to head off to a war zone, or an area ravaged by disease and famine, but feel there is a need to make a difference, I’m just not sure how. Yet.

Of late documentary photography has got a lot of grief, and even the integrity of Magnum founder Robert Capa has been questioned. In my next article, I am going to discuss photo manipulation – and am wondering if it matters as much as people think it does…

The Olympus EM-5ii for Street Photography

My very first thoughts…

Spoiler – I have had an enormous amount of fun with my new Olympus. There are newer cameras out there, but as a street tool, the Olympus is fast, sharp, light, and discreet. In short everything I had wanted. As always, there are pros and cons; no camera is perfect.

Size

The size was a big issue for me. I wanted something small. The micro four thirds cameras are compact, yet still have a decent sized sensor and plenty of controls. The camera was light, even with the excellent Zuiko 12-40 2.8 pro lens attached (24-80 full frame equivalent). I am a big fan of using primes, but this lens will be stuck on my camera for a while.

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Focusing

OK, my Nikon is showing its age. This thing focused ridiculously quickly, face recognition finds the portrait, selects the eye closest to the camera and then snaps the photo. Saying this, it did not always hit 100% of the time. If I have the choice, I still prefer selecting my focus point. A compromise is to select only one part of the frame that the camera will use for auto focusing – this is more useful than you may think. There is a rather excellent feature on the touch screen, where you touch the focus point, and when the shot is in focus, the picture is taken. This is super quick and discreet.

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I promised to bring more smiles to my blog!

Shutter Click

Near silent, and if that is too loud, you can make it 100% silent.

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Candid shot, with a very quiet shutter click!

Menu

Some people make out it is a menu from hell. It’s not, although some things are taking a while to learn. The super control panel is a display that shows everything you need to know all in one place, however, I still find the settings tricky to alter.

Low Light and it image stabilisation

The Olympus EM-5ii is not a low light monster. Its image stabilisation is fantastic though, and I can shoot handheld at very low shutter speeds. Pics below – so judge for yourself.

Photos

I was slightly worried about getting a camera with fewer pixels and a smaller sensor, but I have no bones with the quality of the pictures I am seeing. Care will be needed when cropping shots, but that will force me to get it right ‘in camera’. Again, I hope that the 12-40 2.8 pro zoom will help.

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Portrait, Hongkou Districts/ Shanghai

Fun Factor

My groove is back on, this camera is heaps of fun and looks gorgeous.

Will it replace my Nikon?

I love my Nikon and will probably upgrade to a Full Frame at some point (update to the D750 please!). This camera is not going to be a low light monster, or an ideal sports camera. However, as a tool for Street Photography, it hits the spot, it is fun to use and produces gorgeous looking photos. I am one happy bunny.

Have fun and keep clicking, Chris

Photography Slumps, Magnum’s Mistake, Image Theft and Bigger Faster Cameras.

Unslumping one’s self is not easily done. I think that’s a Dr. Zeus quote, if not, it should be. I have been in a photography slump of late, sometimes you’re in the zone, framing shot after shot with wild and wacky characters wandering in and out the frame. Sometimes, it just does not happen. Fortunately, there is an easy way out of a photography slump, the solution is always to buy a new camera. Armed with my new beast, I will capture the most glorious of shots and work my way back to the zone. Landscapes will be laid bare and cities will sparkle. Maybe.

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Cities will sparkle…

 

Things have been going on in my life outside of photography – yes there is one. I am in the last throws of my Master’s degree, while at the same time learning (about learning) on a course run by Harvard. On top of this, I am still battling with paperwork for my upcoming move to India. If anyone knows about moving countries with a dog, please hit me up! In between all of this, I still have to do my actual job. Meanwhile, my photography has focused on a long exposure challenge… not my thing, but it ‘s nice to be challenged. Looking back at my best photos from the last two months, I cannot help but notice they are all a bit dark. It is time to snap out of it and seek the smiles and laughter in life.

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A Time for Laughter

Back to MYNEWCAMERA. I headed off to Luban Lu Camera Mall to purchase a Fujifilm Xt2. I picked it up, held it in my hands and it was…. a little too heavy. So I went smaller, lighter, smaller sensor, fewer megapixels and purchased an Olympus EM5ii. In fairness, this will not completely replace my larger Nikon, which I still love, but will replace my much abused, and now broken Sony N5. Why did I not upgrade to a new Sony? I look at a lot of photos, and just find the Sony ones a little too crisp, although processed in the right hands excellent results can be achieved. The Olympus looks promising – I will post a review and some pics in a few weeks. It does have a flip screen which could be useful for Vlogging, something I have threatened to do for a while. It is also dust and rain proof, so should survive living in India.

Back to other news. I have entered Lens Culture/ Magnum Photo Awards on two occasions. It would appear they have just stuffed up. To market the latest competition, they featured a photo of a man raping a young girl. Yes, you read that right. They have apologised, it was a mistake, but really? And what of the guy that took this photo, is there a point where you have to say enough is enough and intervene? I do think that shocking photography is necessary for action and can help positively transform society. However, photographers, just like any other human being should draw personal ethical lines. Lens Culture runs its competitions claiming that participants will get exposure. The guy who took this photo certainly got exposure, and someone noticed one of his images looked a little too familiar. It turns out that he cut a character from someone else’s photo and then pasted it into his own. There should be a photography equivalent of a doping ban for people who do this kind of thing, two years of not being able to post anything online.

Lastly – what is it with bigger faster cameras? I wanted to update my Nikon D7100 with the D500, but guess what, it’s enormous and cumbersome. It takes 1000 images every second (I made that up – google it if you want the real specs). Henry Cartier-Bresson once said your first 10,000 photos are your worst. With this monster, you can take that many photos in less than a minute. I looked at the Sony A6500, hold the trigger down and it fires like a machine gun. The new Sony A9 is apparently even faster. Camera manufacturers have obviously reached what they can claim is necessary on pixel count, now they are selling us speed. Speed is not what I need more of; my problem is slowing down. Finding that decisive moment with a single click is super satisfying, how many of these moments will now be captured by those that spray and pray?

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Right, I’m off to learn how to work my new camera. Wish me luck. I’m seeking smiles and laughter.

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