Sony v Nikon v Olympus

Yes, I realize I have to work on my titles, but putting a ‘v’ in anything to do with competing camera brands is in vogue at the moment. This week I have tried to return my new Sony Rx100iv. This camera was purchased in the UK and brought out to my home in India. Recently, while in Kolkata I thought I would try it as a super discreet camera for catching candid moments. Alas, the camera lasted a day, and the lens refused to retract back into the camera body.

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Serious Face

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Asking Permission to Photograph People

When do you need to ask permission to take someone’s photo? I’m going to put legal issues aside as they differ from place to place, suffice to say that you need to be aware of what they are, particularly when traveling abroad. I have met photographers who will always try to seek permission from their subjects and others who swear they never will. However, from my perspective, there is no simple answer to when consent is required.

To make this question a little easier to answer, let’s look at the types of photos you may take that include people.

The Establishing Shot

I usually have an idea of where I am going to be tackling a photography session. One of the first photos I take is a wide-angle establishing shot. The establisher is often just a personal record of where I have been, although good lighting will often lead to a fantastic photo in its own right. As this picture is a wide angle of a street, there will invariably be people in the frame. I have rarely been worried about permission in these instances. There are too many people to ask, and people rarely appear to notice a photographers presence.

The Classic Portrait

I use a wide-angle lens for portraits, and appreciate the slightly exaggerated headshot these lenses create. This style of shooting means I am very up close and personal with the subject. In these instances, permission needs to be sought. Often, I will not talk to my subject at all, a nod at the camera suffices for a question, and a returning smile indicates they are happy having their image captured. While communication is minimal before capturing this style of photo, afterward I will share the image and try to find out a little more about the person.

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Tattooed Face

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Why It Does Not Have To Be In Focus

Modern Photography Explained

by Jackie Higgins.

A Book Review (and a rant)

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Street Photography is not the sole focus of this book. The author addresses a range of genres and styles, identifying images as artwork and drawing readers away from a mindset of the camera being a faithful servant of all that is real. However, included in this book are some photographers who are well known for shooting Street and Documentary. These photographers include Lee Friedlander, Martin Parr, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Henry Cartier-Bresson, Daido Moriyama, William Eggleston, Nan Goldin, Nobuyoshi Araki and Birdhead. There are more. Never heard of Birdhead? Google is your friend.

This book has sat by my bed for a week, and I think I have read it all. Although like many photo books, I failed to read it linearly, instead I darted from one photographer to the other. The pictures in this book are much more than faithful reproductions of life, the artists have added value to the images taken. Art is evident in Friedlander’s selfies, or his obsession with his own image, which is often visible as a shadow in his work. Other examples include Martin Parr’s practice of having a local artist take his portrait when traveling, or how Nan Goldin’s original (and incredibly personal) work was a slideshow set to music.

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Few artists have documented life quite as personally as Nan Goldin.

 

I believe Street Photography is art, which makes this book important. The camera can be a witness; all be it an unreliable one, fallible to the opinions of the operator. The salience of this increases with each new camera model increasing in speed, sharpness and with more pixels than ever before. Photos do look like what they represent, and that is the problem. Street Photography can be boring. I don’t want to look at photos of people walking down the street, sitting with a coffee, or waiting for a train unless the image has been taken and processed with artistic intent; not processed in-camera to a software engineers specifications.

This book offers insights into how we can be more than a photographer and pushes us to be artists, even when focused on the mundane. Street Photography can inspire, amuse or leave us with questions. Jackie Higgins has written a book that demonstrates all the above, and it should be bedtime reading for us all. Rant over…

Now there is a long weekend ahead of me full of Street Photography. However, I will try not to be a photographer and instead try to think more like an artist. Let’s see how well I do.

Take Care and Keep Clicking

Chris

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Using Auto Mode To Learn Photography.

Firstly, thanks to Anuj Agarwal for including this blog in the Top 75 Street Photography Blogs & Websites. I’m in at Number 54, which can’t be a bad thing. I now get to use this rather snazzy looking award. Check out the full list of sites at blog.feedspot.com/street_photography_blogs/

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When to use Auto Mode

Yesterday I shot with the intention of seeing how my new Sony Rx100 iv behaved as a camera for Street Photography. Read any reviews on the Sony Rx series, and it soon becomes clear that the controls are not user-friendly. This camera begs for use of automation. Putting the camera in Auto mode strips the user of some artistic control, such as choice of f-stop, or the focus point. However, cameras appear to be growing in ‘intelligence’, and sometimes the auto mode will make a far better choice of settings then you or I ever would.

Street Portrait

The Importance of EXIF

My argument for using Auto mode is that it is a tool that can teach us more about how a camera works. To learn what the camera can do, you need to study the EXIF data. For any newbies out there, this is the information stored in the file telling you the settings used. The EXIF will state the ISO, Aperture, Shutter Speed and Focal Length. When using Lightroom, hitting ‘i’ will bring up this information. Checking the EXIF will give you a good starting point for what settings you can try, and it will also tell you a little bit about your camera.

What I Learned

My learning experience will be different to yours; this information is just an example of what the EXIF can teach us. Firstly, I was pleasantly surprised at how the camera kept the ISO low. A low ISO means less noise and a better quality photo. Unless I discover a shortcut, this particular camera is likely to remain in Auto ISO mode as I am happy with the settings it defaults to (Although I may see if I can set the front ring to adjust this setting).

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EXIF: 1/80 sec, f/2.8, ISO 800

Secondly, the camera ‘chose’ an F-stop that was much lower than I would have dialed in. I often shoot using a high F-stop to get everything in focus (except for Street Portraits), however, with the Rx100 images look sharp enough at around f2.8. There is a reason for using different aperture settings with respect to sensor size. I have always used an APS-C or a M4/3 sensor. The Sony has a smaller 1″ sensor. The smaller the sensor, the lower the f-stop can be while retaining sharpness, i.e., I will go up to f8 using my Nikon D7100 (APS-C sensor) and up to 5.6 with my Olympus (M4/3). After studying my EXIF, I will stick to 2.8 for most of my Street Photography undertaken with the Sony Rx100.

The EXIF showed the camera chose an adequate shutter speed, although it erred on the safe side, often shooting at 1/200+ for stationary subjects . With the camera’s five-axis stabilization, I know I can take photos handheld with speeds as low as 1/30 of a second. Shutter speed is one reason why I would never default to just using Auto mode. I can see how fast something is moving and know the shutter speed my camera needs to be set for keeping an image sharp.

Focus on the frame, not the camera settings.

To learn effectively, it is often wise to focus on ONE skill. If you are not proficient at getting out of auto (or slow at finding the right settings), then you can choose to allow the camera to handle all of that for you. AUTO mode will free you to think only about composition, a skill arguably more important than understanding a camera’s settings.

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EXIF: 1/250 sec, f/2.8, ISO 125

Now get out of AUTO!

I am not advocating using the Automatic mode all the time. Ultimately it will make you a lazy photographer. Learning how the different settings work will give you artistic freedom to create the photo you envision when spotting a scene of interest. However, don’t snub it – the technology is becoming better all the time, and the camera can make some significant decisions on its own. Don’t forget to study the EXIF data to find out what the camera has done. Follow this up by thinking about WHY the camera has chosen the settings it did.

That all for today folks. Keep an eye on my Youtube channel. My next Vlog post is going to go into more depth on my experience of using the Sony Rx100 iv for Street Photography.

Take care and Keep Clicking, Chris

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