Posted on April 13, 2017
Below is one of my favourite characters, from one of my favourite places.
Let’s take a walk down some of the older lanes in Shanghai, we will see a pattern emerge of cobblers at the end of alleyways (called Shikumen in Shanghai). The Shikumen are very narrow alleyways, with small houses built in either side. Washing and cooking facilities are often outside and bathroom areas are usually shared. This moves life to the outside and makes for ideal street photography.
What has this got to do with fishermen and hunters?
The fisherman and the hunter are two metaphors for Street Photographers. A lot of what we do is hunting. We go out and see what we can catch, ‘hunting’ for the perfect picture, or scene to unfold. There is nothing wrong with this technique and it is a great way to explore a new area and find fresh locations to take photos.
The fisherman is different type of Street Photographer, and relates to a style of shooting we should all try. The above shot of the cobbler highlights how this style of shooting works. I know the area well, I know where the light will be at different types of day and have come to know how different people will react to having their picture taken. There are a few shots of this guy, at work and in his home. He happily ignores me, occasionally giving a toothy grin. On this evening I was fishing – the area is well known and photographers will have numerous characters to interact with. As with real fishing, you never know quite what you will catch, and you may come back empty handed. Yesterday I was lucky and caught myself a ‘keeper’.
What kind of Street Photographer are you?
Have fun and keep clicking, Chris.
Posted on April 11, 2017
I recently entered a competition through Lens Culture. I didn’t win, but lived to see another day. Critique is a vital aspect of improving your photography and when you enter a LensCulture event there is alway an option for receiving critique. These guys know there stuff, so it is worth listening to what they say. Here are the pictures I entered and the comments I received. The next competition is on Street Photography…. now maybe I could win that one!
I enjoyed looking through your submission, and can see that you have an innate feel for candid street portraiture. In reviewing your portfolio, images 2 and 5 really stuck out to me as strong examples to use as a guide in your continued photographing. As you submitted to the single images category, let’s take a more in depth look at these images to uncover how you can use them to push your eye and work forward even more.
Photograph 2 is all about angle and layers to me – very well seen and composed! I’d be interested to see what else you shot of this situation. When you find a compelling moment – stick with it a bit to see what unfolds. Photographs 1 and 4, by contrast, lack the sense of context and texture that sets image 2 apart. As a street photographer – use the surrounding environment to your advantage! Also – to be really picky, the focus seems to have slipped a bit in both 1 and 4. Keep an eye on these technical details, even as you respond to the need to work quickly and unobtrusively.
In image 5, while minimal, the surrounding scene and color really sets the boy apart. Quite well seen! Keep looking for color and light, and you’ll find photographs just appear for you when those two things combine. In your framing, you could have pulled back just a bit more, to include the full gesture of the boy’s hands in his pockets. These little details really add up and are often what makes a photograph “great” rather than just “good.” I’ve included some links to photographers talking about composition and street shooting that I hope you’ll find helpful and inspirational moving forward.
Above all – keep photographing! As you move to India – really spend some time editing through and evaluating your contact sheets from the day. If the focus slipped or an image doesn’t work – don’t be afraid to throw it out and move on. Editing is an integral part of the photographic process.
Above all – keep photographing! You’re starting to make some compelling images and I hope to see more!
That all folks! Keep clicking, Chris
Posted on April 9, 2017
OK, a break from my 10 tips list – heck this is the Internet, go google, there are thousands out there already. This post is more a what have I been up to kinda thing. As ever, life is full of failures and successes, on good days the success wins.
I tried a podcast, realised towards the end I was holding the phone in portrait mode and not landscape, I started the day enthusiastically recording everything but at the end of the day it dropped to almost nothing. My podcasting may die a death. The podcast related to going to Luban Lu, the Shanghai camera mall of legends, songs shall be sung about this place. I did not entirely fail as I came back with a shiny new carbon tripod that is as close to perfect as a tripod can be. I may try to publish the podcast – just for fun…
Battling GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome). I found a perfect, still in the box a Nikon FM3a. At 4500RMB (about $650USD) this baby was expensive, too expensive and I resisted. My third eye was seeing into the future as at the end of the month my son asked to go to Vietnam to play against the Netherlands and Australian national hockey teams. The camera would have been great, but cameras come and go. Experiences are priceless. A key lesson here is when you look at how much a new piece of gear costs, think of the FUN you could have with the money instead.
I am now in my third Arcanum sphere, if you do not know what the Arcanum is then google is your friend. I am now in Glenn Guy’s Travel Cohort. This is forcing me to stretch what I do in relation to Street Photography. Street Photography gets a lot of stick, much of it righty so, there are some awful examples out there and it seems everyone is doing it. The good shots have already been taken, so how do we stand out? To take a lesson from Kodak (digital cameras will never catch on!) innovate or die…
So here are a few shots taken as a ‘travel pilgrim’. Is it Street Photography? I think so, yet each shot is very heavily processed, something street photographers often cite as being unauthentic.
I love both these images and they may well be the last ever images I have of this section of Hongzhen Old Street, as there were bulldozers all over the area when I last visited. Neither are traditional examples of Street Photography and have been developed using a technique called HDR. I hate bad HDR and really do not want to live in a world full of HDR Street Photography! However, I think these examples the HDR are subtle enough for me to get away with it.
If you look at this photo, you will see not only the long stripes of colour from the cars, but there are also some people visible on the right. To get these colour stripes you need a tripod and a long exposure (FYI, I set my camera on a tripod, set the ISO to 100, went to aperture priority mode and shot at f9 or f11, you need a higher Fstop if you are shooting full-frame). I wanted the people in this shot, but there was no way it was going to happen using a 10 second exposure. Solution – this is not HDR, but uses two exposures, one at ISO100 and one closer to ISO2000. The two photos were then layered in PhotoShop and the people added from one exposure to another.
So is this cheating? Some would say yes, BUT, how does this differ to someone shooting Black and White when software is used to remove all colour. How does this differ from cameras that use a ‘film simulation mode’ to replicate the look of older footage?
Is this Street Photography? Maybe not, as there is something special about taking a picture and with minimal processing, stating, this is what I saw… However, it is always good to stretch ourselves and try something new.
Keep Clicking, Chris