The Arcanum Sphere II

For those of you who have not heard of The Arcanum, it is a photography-based learning pathway, designed by Trey Ratcliff, an inspirational photographer; see his work at stuckincustoms.com.

At the Arcanum, Masters select Students, and I have spent the last four months working with Wes Hardaker of capturedonearth.com. He is an awesome photographer and a great teacher. The focus of my studies have been on minimisation, and I posted my initial thoughts here.

I learned how to strip down a photo and select the subject. Simplification led to the inclusion of additional elements.

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The wall, posts and writing were already there. I sat and waited for different kids to walk in and out of the shot. Who knows what this boy was thinking?

I do not think that photography is something we ever master 100%, there are always ways to improve. I think my Arcanum experience has helped to create some images that are pretty special. As always, let me know what you think. Go check out the Arcanum, you may get closer to photography Nirvana!

Here are some of my favourite photos that I took for my final critique. Enjoy. Thanks to everyone who has helped me on my learning pathway (including the FAACers!).

Feel free to comment – communication means a lot and is really appreciated!

Keep clicking, Chris.

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Steam Buns being cooked close to Nanjing East Road, Shanghai

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Lady laughing at a neighbour from the doorstep of her house.

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Little boy lost. There is an alternative shot of this boy somewhere here!

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I’ve posted this shot before, but it is one of my favourite ever shots.

If you made it this far – well done. I hope to entering sphere 3 soon. Watch this space…

Escaping the Comfort Zone

I feel like a slightly schizophrenic photographer. I seek consistency, yet wonder how wise this is. Each weekend I hunt the streets equipped with a Nikon D7100 and 35mm lens, or my trusty Ricoh Gr; I know my way around these cameras. Returning home my shots are loaded into Lightroom and the same process is followed: dump the rubbish, apply lens correction, desaturate my shots (just a little) and add a little ‘S’ curve. BOOM – consistency.

Recently I was challenged to go out and shoot street with the widest lens I own, a 10-20mm (DX crop). This was clearly a stupid task as nobody shoots street with a lens this wide. My camera was heavy and candid shots near impossible. Who is going to ignore a lens that large?

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Despite it’s size I still managed some candid shots.

I stuck with my WA lens for a week, roaming the streets and cursing my Arcanum photography Master for creating such a stupid challenge. However, on uploading my shots something strange had happened. My keep rate had increased. The second ‘surprise’ was the variety of shots I captured. While I had aimed at shooting street and succeeding in capturing some candid portraits, I also had some alternative shots. Shanghai has both ancient and modern architecture which I have ignored for too long in my quest for ‘people shots.’

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Not street, but with my WA lens I grabbed a shot that I am proud of.

So why was this successful? I was forced to think outside the box. To find workarounds and to explore a different style of photography. Will I stick to such a wide lens for Street Photography? Hell no, the weight alone puts me off that idea. I will, however, start using it more for architecture and travel photography. There is a huge push for simplifying your gear down to one camera and one focal length. But let’s not throw out the baby with the bath water. We are creatives and there are some excellent tools for making great images. Let’s see what these tools can do for us!

Without further ado – here are some pics from my Wide Angle Challenge. Enjoy.

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Keep clicking, Chris

Night Time Street Photography

With winter bringing daylight hours down I have found myself shooting more at night. Shooting at night is quite unusual for me and once more, variation raises its head and kicks consistencies arse. Here are some ramblings about what I found. Some of this may help you become a better Street Photographer.

Technical Stuff
Firstly, I have started to get to know my camera better. I need to locate and adjust the ISO and aperture with the camera to my eye. This practice is making me a better photographer, changing the settings becomes more fluid, making the camera a conduit between myself and my subject matter.

Read any ‘guide’ to shooting at night and you will soon realise you are going to be using those high ISO numbers. This is true, but what is also not discussed so often is the spot metering mode. Using this mode, you can frame your shot and expose for the highlights. Everything in the shadows will appear in a dark and mysterious light, but the source of light will not overly dominate the shot.

Back button framing is often referred to as back button focusing and is useful for the above. Most cameras are set up to focus and measure the light when using the back button. However, if you delve into the menu you will find you can set it just to measure light. Learn to use this button.

With high ISO’s noise becomes a problem. Noise can look quite good with B&W, but I am trying to be more consistent with my use of colour. I currently use Macphun Denoise and have just downloaded a trial of Topaz Denoise. So far I prefer Macphun, it is easier to use and appears to produce superior results.

Lastly on the technical side. I get to use my Nikor 35mm 1.8lens. Kit lenses can be cheap and effective, but not at night. Get yourself a prime.

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Smoke and Light

Locations
Alleyways are my favourite places to shoot, however, the grittier ones are off limits at night as there is just no light. Secondly, they can be quite scary! However, around these alleys there are still street food vendors, they are brightly lit with bare lightbulbs and have some flames, smoke and steam creating interest.

Shops are a pretty poor subjects during the day. How many times have you seen an interesting subject in a shop window, taken the photo and found you have taken a picture of your reflection?

City centers are always awash with light, but I have avoided going to them so far. I like the outskirts, what can I say? This is something on the planned but not promised list.

Timing
Shooting at night doubles the amount of time you can shoot street photography. It is an area of Street Photography I advocate everybody try.

Take care and keep clicking, Chris

Street Photography Resolutions, 2017

Another year over! I hope everybody had a wonderful Christmas, Winter Solstice, Hanukkah or whatever floats your boat. It’s now time to look towards next year and think about Street Photography resolutions for 2017.

Here are mine.

1. Stick to one camera. OK, this is a thinly veiled excuse for purchasing new gear. Time to say goodbye to my Nikon D7100, it is just too heavy for Street Photography. However…

 
2. FujiFilm X-T2. This camera looks awesome. I will purchase one when they come down in price

 
3. Stick to colour. I like colour and the world is a colourful place.

pagespics-1-of-1-2Rocking this pink dressing gown, it would not be the same in Black and White!
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PagesPics Street Photography Basics

Part 3 of a 3 part series:  What to do with your street photography.

OK, this is my third article so you should be getting to know me by now, I will lead with a rare photo of me and the beautiful Faye Page, shot taken by the talented artist Zakea Page.

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Now I have advised you on what camera to get and told you how to take a photo (summary – get closer, use a wide angle). In case you missed them, here are the links to part 1 and part 2 of this three-part series.

So, now you have followed my advise and got a hard drive full of excellent photos, what do you do with them? Here are ten ideas.

1. Get your photos critiqued. Have someone tell you if they are any good. The best place for advise is over at the Arcanum. You will become a better photographer, I promise.

2. Post them online. Here I am going to promote Street Photographers. It is a g+ website which I help moderate, and there is a section for critique.

3. Email your shots to me, I will post a critique here! So, yeah, critique has made it into the first three most important things to do with your photos. Ignore at your peril!

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I was really happy with this photo, but when it was critiqued friends were concerned the background was too shiny and distracting. Using masking tools in Lightroom I dulled the background considerably, making the girl pop out in the foreground of the picture.

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Pagespics Street Photography Basics

Part 2 of a 3 part series:  Framing your Street Photography

OK, you have the camera. If not then look at part one of this series, ‘Street Photography Basics: The Camera’. Now it’s time to take some shots. Here is a secret…

Framing does not matter. What’s in the frame counts.

Here are some recent pictures that I think have an interesting subjects. I will talk more about the framing later.pagespics-1-of-1-2

This was a girl on the way to school. I think there is a good story here. Although the shot of her face is fairly close up, the strap of her school bag tells us a little more. The Chinese script in the background places her location. Read More

Street Photography Basics. The Camera.

This is part of a three part series on how to start Street Photography…

Good Street Photography is difficult. I have recently read an article whereby a very experienced photographer stated that 99% of all Street Photographs are crap. He may have been more blunt…

This article may help you enter the exciting world of street photography. Let’s start with the basics.

  1. The Camera

It is not important. This is the thing that many new photographers stress out about. You are not alone, experienced photographers also obsess about gear – and this includes me. Here is the truth, the camera is the least of your worries. There are many great websites showcasing some awesome photography, go look at them and I defy you to spot the difference between a shot taken with an iphone or a high end professional DSLR.

These photos were taken with three different cameras of mine, a Nikon D7100, a Ricoh Grii and an old film camera. Can you tell which is which?

  1. The Camera

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