Farewell Old Friend
Posted on March 3, 2022
Saying goodbye to my Olympus OM-D EM-5 M11 (2017)
This week I have said goodbye to my beloved M4/3 Olympus camera. This camera accompanied me on many adventures, but for the last 2 years it has received little attention, as I have been using my Sony A7. I am seeing the Olympus off by posting some of my favorite pics, and will be explaining a little about the stories behind each shot. This post looks at the photos I took in 2017, the year I purchased the camera.
The old alleyways of Shanghai are disappearing fast. This pic was captured in Hongzhen Lu, which was one of my favourite locations for street photography. When I arrived in China, the area was a busting with markets selling fresh fruit and veg. I left Shanghai three years after this photo was taken, and by then most of the streets had been demolished, or were used by squatters. Shanghai continues to bury itself and move forward in the name of progress. I cannot help but wish for what has been lost.
Noodles are the ultimate comfort food. This is a scene played on many of the corners of Old Shanghai. The kitchens are usually open and on the street, which creates the opportunity for steamy street food images. I don’t think that either of these gentlemen noticed me taking their photo, so the food (or conversation) must have been good. There are photographers who believe you should always ask before taking someones photo. However, a candid photo taken discretely, will always produce the most genuine ‘slice of life’ that is found on the street.
Thailand has always been a favourite holiday destination, and Bangkok provides heaps of opportunities for street and travel photography. Statues of Buddha are usually photographed in the serene environment of a temple. This Buddha was on the back of a pick up truck, and arrived outside Nana Plaza, a notorious red-light district in the heart of Bangkok. The two contrasting worlds came together for just a few minutes for workers in Nana Plaza to give their alms to Buddha.
Sticking with Bangkok, this portrait was taken in Khlong Toey slum. The scooter driver who dropped me off advised me to stay on the main street and to leave before dark. Heading straight down a side street bought me face to face with this heavily tattooed individual. This portrait is one of my personal favourites. At the time I assumed the tattoos were gang, or prison related. Now when I look at the photo, and the calm expression of this individual, I am led to wonder of the tattoos are cultural, or maybe a mix of both.
The area surrounding Bangalore’s central market is always good for street and travel photography. Meat hanging in the open air is a common sight, and is certainly cheaper than when you purchase it in the West! Nothing is wasted, and the lady on the left is preparing the hooves, which will be used in soup and stock.
This image was taken close to where I worked. I had been up since dawn and had not captured anything to be particularly proud of. The sun had risen and the light was getting harsh. I ducked into a small underground passageway, and stumbled upon this tiffen centre (a tiffen is a traditional tin, used to carry rice, dhal, and curry). Most food centres have a jug of water that customers help themselves to. The water is drunk without the lips making contact with the container. Strangely, I find the last or first shot of a photo shoot is often the best!
My next post will continue to feature pics taken with my Olympus, that were captured in 2018…
Take care, and keep clicking, Chris
Shooting Wide Angle
Posted on February 11, 2022
Using the Samyang 24mm 1.8
Getting new gear does not make you a better photographer. Maybe. However, getting a new lens sure is fun. I previously mentioned that I was hankering after an extreme wide angle lens. In a classic case of buyer beware, I went for a secondhand lens that turned out to be an older model than I thought. It was also manual focus. However, 24mm is plenty wide enough to capture images that are slightly different from what is often seen.Read More
New Year New City!
Posted on January 20, 2022
Starting again in Gisborne
A belated Happy New Year to everyone. Once again, my New Year’s resolution is to post at least once a week; the critical ones of you will notice I have already failed this, but it’s the journey and not the goal (?)… maybe.
To be honest, like many of us, my photography is struggling post Covid. New Zealand is beautiful, but somehow misses the excitement of International travel, which is now almost impossible. However, Gisborne presents a interesting challenge. A holiday town, a surfing town, and an industrial port. One of my favourite locations so far has been a disused railway track. Lots of leading lines. Here are a few pics from my dog walking & photography exploration.
These pics were all captured using a Samyang 2.8 lens, which is a bit of a bargain and great for Street Photography. Though I am finding it a little soft for landscape and cityscape work. I am quietly hankering after the Sigma 24mm F/2, please let me know if you have any experience with this lens, as it looks quite a beautiful piece of work.
In Gisborne all good walks end up on the beach, which is generally littered with timber waste from the logging industry. A pain in the bum, but it makes for interesting pics. Next up – some street pics!
Stay tuned and keep clicking,
2021: A School Yearbook
Posted on December 29, 2021
Not an awful lot of photography in 2021, which has been (as for many of us) a bit of a topsy turvy year! One successful photography project has been the completion of a school yearbook for Ngata Memorial College, where I have been teaching Mathematics. The students were fantastic and I am missing them all heaps!
Ngata Memorial College is on the East Coast of NZ, in Ruatoria, one of the first places in the world to see the sun. It is home to the Ngati Porou, a Maori iwi descended from Maui and Paikea (the whale rider). The area and people are steeped in culture and tradition. Of course, this means there were ample opportunities for photography.
Here are some snippets from the completed school yearbook!
Traditional v Contemporary FashionRead More
Ruatoria on an iphone
Posted on July 3, 2021
It has been a while since my last blog post. However, I have still been clicking away. My go-to camera at the moment has become my iphone. Phone photography has never really been my ‘thing’, but appears to be my tool of choice at the moment!Read More
2020 Thoughts & Photos
Posted on January 2, 2021
The time has come where we can all give the final heave ho to 2020, and hope for a better 2021. I start this year in New Zealand, and am grateful to be in a country which is currently unaffected by Covid. I usually round off a year with a ‘Best Of’ post. This year my photo choice is more of a reflection.
The Angalamman Festival
If I was going to choose my top 10 images from 2020, they could have all come from the Angalamman Festival. So much colour. So much pain! I nearly died taking the first photo, so if you have seen it before, please forgive me for milking it to death.
The End of International Teaching
This boy lived in a small slum I passed everyday to go to work at the Canadian International School of Bangalore. On one occasion I took a group of International students to the local elementary school, and found to my delight that most of the local students knew me from when I passed their village. I have now taken a break from International teaching, and will be based in a local school here in New Zealand.
The Central Market in Bangalore has to be one of my favourite locations of all time. Sounds, colours, and so many different smells. For this image I was experimenting with rear-curtain flash.
Covid came late to India. Following Modi’s harsh lockdown, the decision was made to get out ASAP!
New Zealand Quarantine
In NZ, there were three square meals a day provided during the enforced 2 week quarantine. Working off the extra calories is going to be a goal for 2020!
Hello New Zealand
Continuing with Street Photography will be a challenge, particularly as I am moving to a town with a population of 750. I am not too worried, plans are afoot for new horizons. In the meantime I have worked on my landscape photography. Carrying a tripod for hours in one way to burn extra calories!
Hokitika was a port of call on my first photography road trip in NZ. I’m not a bird photographer, but the beauty below got so close I could not resist.
This picture reflects freedom and was captured at the Christchurch Wine and Food Festival. Event photography provides some great opportunities for Street Photography. There would have been more photos of this event, but the wine was far good.
For those of you that make it this far (and are doing more that looking at photos), there is much in store for Pagespics in 2021. I will be teaching in a small school in Ruatoria, on the East Coast of New Zealand. The town has 750 people and is home to the Ngati Porou tribe. The area is steeped in tradition, and is blessed by being the first place in NZ to see the sunrise. I am heading there with both digital and analogue cameras, and will have access to a darkroom. I will be teaching Mathematics and Science and will be incredibly busy. However, I am sure I will find a way to fit in some photography, whatever it may be.
Take care and blessings for 2021.
Keep Clicking, Chris
5 Mistakes when Editing Street Photography
Posted on November 24, 2020
We are all guilty of occasionally over-processing our images. Street photography can be subjective, and we have all experimented with our pictures. However, traditional Street Photography involves minimal processing and is a genre steeped in tradition. Going overboard on processing creates an unrealistic image that fails to reflect reality, which is the essence of any strong street photograph. Here are my 5 editing hates.
I have started seeing this more often and find it incredibly ugly. I am guessing that it could be done well in Photoshop, but even then, why do it at all? Street photography is about seeing the whole scene; this is why ‘f8 and be there’ is so widely referenced. If you do want to highlight a subject, then use a shallow depth of field. This technique is often applied when taking Street Portraits. The image below was shot at f1.8. The background would be quite distracting if I did not throw it out of focus. If you want the background blurred, then it is usually best to get it right in camera!
Ever seen an image that has been sharpened so much your eyes feel punctured just looking at it. Sharpening, clarity, and texture are all tools that can help your image pop by adding contrast around the lines within a photo. Too much sharpening introduces problems, including digital noise, haloing, and an unreal look to the final image.
I have tried to find some examples where this is done well. However, it just is not my cup of tea. Steven Spielberg got away with it in Schindler’s List. Colour grade, by all means, but a red balloon in a B+W image had been done to death.
Too much contrast
Two different edits. I’m hoping most people will prefer the image on the right! The black and white version loses detail in both the highlights and the blacks.
High contrast black and white can look fantastic, but using the technique will not turn a bad photograph into a fantastic image. Cameras can capture incredible detail, sometime you need to embrace the grey areas and leave the details in. Make sure you do not blow the highlights of the whites in an image.
Not getting it right in camera
Photos are often over-processed to try and camouflage a poorly captured image. This rarely works, instead try to think of editing as a process through which the strengths of an image can be highlighted. Work on improving your craft through practice and study. Try to take a leaf from a documentary photographers book, a genre that allows for very little editing of an image. Lastly, look at some of the Masters of Street Photography, and observe how they have processed their images. The image below is not a documentary photo and would not be accepted by many as Street Photography. I used Photoshop to remove the front end of a white van from the bottom left hand corner. Steve McCurry came under fire for doing this with some of his most famous images.
There are dozens of programs available to edit a photo, and there are even more apps available for our phones. Processes which required technical editing skills with Photoshop are can now be applied with a finger swipe, and it easy overdo an edit. Look at building a support network of friends who will give you honest feedback, don’t feel that getting a dozen likes verifies editing choices!
Of course, feel free to disagree, or to add your own pet hate.
Take care and keep clicking, Chris.
How To See.
Posted on September 30, 2020
I photograph to see what the world looks like photographed. Garry Winogrand
There is a great little book called ‘How To See’, written by Thich Nhat Nanh. It centres around the art of mindfulness. Eric Kim has also written an article called ‘Learn to See’. I’ve always thought this concept was a little daft. We all have eyes and we use them all the time. Recently I feel that I’ve been learning to see once again. Maybe this is influenced by my growing interest in meditation, or maybe it is because I am finding myself in an unfamiliar environment.
This is meant to be a street and travel photography blog. I’m soon going to have to add landscape photography to my working title. But seriously, that’s all there is near my current home in New Zealand! I’m finding my feet here. Fortunately for my health, landscape photography still requires a lot of walking with the positive flip side of there being healthier air than in the cities! With Street Photography I know where I stand, but now my creativity is being challenged. Here are two recent photos I am fairly happy with.
I’m not terribly happy with how the sea looks in either of these photos. Moving on, I will try and shoot at a slower shutter speed, and set the camera up on a tripod. This should make the sea a little smoother and less noisy. I do like the sky, so maybe I need to experiment with blending multiple exposures of the same image. The next issue is the time of day. I love early mornings, but at the moment I’m working online till late in the evenings. I lose my teaching job very soon, but one positive spin on this financial setback will be more time to shoot in the mornings!
With respect to landscape photography, I have yet to develop a ‘style’ of my own. However, the current method I am playing with involves using the end of the zoom, and this has the effect of compressing the layers together, and making a flat looking image. Landscape photography is much more demanding on post production, and my Photoshop subscription is starting to earn its keep!
Nothing But flowers
At the moment the beach is brimming with flowers. I’m really trying to avoid becoming a flower photographer, but the pull is there. Help me someone – I need to get to a city soon! One moment I’m enjoying a brisk walk out in the open, and the next I’m on my belly flower arranging. However, I am really quite pleased with the photo below. I wish that I had carried out a little gardening and removed the pine needles that are in the middle of the leaves.
The Future’s Uncertain
There is no doubt about it, this hippy dippy flower and landscape work may come to an end. At some point a new job will (hopefully) start and I will be heading to one of New Zealand’s bubbling cities. The most likely location for my next adventure will be Auckland, Christchurch, or Wellington. On the flip side, China is now opening up now they have Covid under control. In the meantime, I will adjust my photography to what is around me, and once again, ‘learn to see’… Right, I’m off to crawl in the grass whilst looking for flowers!
Keep Clicking, Chris
Pagespics v AI
Posted on September 14, 2020
I realise that it has been a while since I posted. What can I say, life has been a rollercoaster! Suffice to say my photos of India are probably at an end for the foreseeable future. However, New Zealand offers new and spectacular opportunities. Last weekend I headed of in my new car (yup – I’m mobile again, so lots of new photo locations to explore) to Kaikoura, which I believe means ‘To Eat Crayfish’ in the Maori tongue. This was a social trip, so I did not take heaps of photos, but at the end of the day, the light was spectacular. Before heading off along the majestic Highway 1, I managed to snap this beauty.
This morning I edited the photo using two different tools. One version was editing using Lumiar 4’s artificial intelligence filter. One version was edited using Lightroom and Photoshop. My Photoshop skills are very mediocre to say the least. Have a look at the two edits of the same photo, posted below. Which one do you prefer, I would love to know your choice!
At the moment I prefer my Photoshop edit, but this may be because I invested more time on the computer. I’m also finding my Wacom tablet extremely useful. Watch out for a full review of this gadget! In the meantime you may have noticed some rather odd signs and symbols appearing on my Instagram feed. Don’t panic, I have not gone crazy and am just having a little fun.
Keep Clicking, Chris
re-discovering your vision
Posted on August 7, 2020
Recently my photography has started to turn a corner. Leaving India in the dead of night came as a shock, and it’s taking a while for me to re-discover my photographic vision whilst in New Zealand. This is partly due to what I suspect has been some low-level depression, combined with high-level anxiety. I am sure there are many others in the same boat, and given the circumstances it is unsurprising. Photography is of course a wonderful anti-depressant, and capturing a decent photo provides a natural rush of endorphins! As with any changes in life, there are both positives and negatives.
India is arguably one of the greatest places in the world for photography. The diversity of the population lends itself to colourful images of people and places. Most of the population appear happy to be photographed, making Street Photography a pleasure. The heavy pollution found in most of the large cities creates a soft diffused light, creating etherial pictures at dusk and dawn, whilst softening the harshness of the midday sun. With India’s current Covid numbers at over 2 Million, the country is going to be off the Travel Photographers radar for a while yet. Even when I return, I cannot envisage walking around in the crowds like I once did.
New Zealand has a population of roughly five million. There are more sheep than people. Unsurprisingly, most of the population are used to their space, and an in-your-face Bruce Gilden approach of photography is likely to lead to conflict. This has lead me to try different approaches to what I am doing. As with any transition, my ‘style’ is a little ad-hoc. However, I have now been here for three months, and a collection of ideas has started to grow. Here are some of my ideas for inspiration.
The suburbs of NZ are dark at night. I like this photo, the scarcity of light creates opportunities for minimalism. While in India I viewed a project where photographers explored Bangalore at night, looking for locations where light escaped. As with all creations, I am pinching the idea and making it my own.
Still life photos can make the ordinary extraordinary. I have spent a couple of Sunday afternoons trying to capture NZ’s streets, which are often devoid of life. Time to roll in some creative ideas. Quite often I will touch these photos up, using a 35mm film preset to give the images a bit of grain. Crystal clear digital images can often look quite boring. After all, who want to see reality as it really is?
Photographing the human condition is one of the most rewarding form of photography. I may take inspiration from Magnum’s Alec Soth, and start seeking characters to photograph. Discrete candid photography also remains an option. My attitude to seeking permission to take an image has changed over the last few years. Five years ago I would have argued that a photo taken with permission cannot be a ‘street photo’. Now I am not so sure, or maybe just do not care.
Photographers can be very divisive when discussing film. Sure, it is a pain in the arse, expensive, unreliable and limiting in terms of the number of shots you take. I’m not going to be ditching digital any time soon. But I do enjoy playing with analogue technology. I also prefer listening to a vinyl records than to streaming devices! At some point I will try to develop my own film, just because I will be able to lock myself in a dark room and pretend I’m Ansel Adams. And yes – film does look better.
Portraits are a wonderful way to connect with people. The image above was taken during quarantine in NZ. Annie Liebovitz states that she is a portrait photographer because people expected her to adhere to a genre. Portrait photography may be a path into commercial work, and with a world-wide recession looming that may not be a bad idea. However, I suspect many portrait photographers are going to be struggling throughout the rest of 2020.
I’m a bit of a city boy when it comes to photography. Having beautiful nature on my doorstep is opening a whole new world. Definitely finding my feet in terms of style. One tool that is very useful at the moment is Luminar 4, the landscape profiles provide a great starting point for editing an image. In addition I have just purchased a WACOM pen and tablet, but I will save that for another blog!
Take care and keep clicking, Chris