My Lens Culture Submission

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!

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Additional Recommendations

Recommended Books & Photographers

Other Resources

 

That all folks! Keep clicking, Chris

Wins, fails and bits inbetween

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.

Fail!

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…

Win…

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.

Ongoing…

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.

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Hongzhen Old Street, from above.

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Hongzhen Old Street, from below.

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.

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Shanghai Overpass.

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

Street Photography #6 Try Using a Fixed Lens

Spoiler – bit of a rant here….

Just about managing to get a pagespics tip out before the weekend. There were a couple of choices I was playing with today. The first was ‘Don’t buy a Fujifilm X100f, all the reviews say they are great, so there must be something wrong with it’. The second was ‘Don’t read DP Review and PetaPixel – they say the same thing’.

I am going to talk about the X100f though. The camera sounds fantastic; there are so many reviews reporting how wonderful a tool it is. This makes me a little suspicious, particularly when many of the articles are written by Fujifilm Ambassadors. Most reviews wax lyrically about the film simulation mode. Here is the rub – if you want to use film, use film! There are some great SLR’s out there for less than $100; admittedly there is the cost of purchasing and developing stock, but a 35mm film camera is $900 cheaper than the X100f, and that buys a lot of film.

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Shot using Kodak Portra 400 with a 50mm prime.

Here is the second rub – most articles appear to be reviewing the camera based on its black and white capabilities. I’m 95% over B+W, the world is a colourful and beautiful place. Here is the 3rd rub, many reviews talk about the B+W Acros film simulation. What is Acros? I don’t know, but every other street photography shot is now an Acros simulation. Beware, a crap photo is still a crap photo, irrespective of the film simulation mode. There are however 4 reasons why I didn’t write an article about why not to purchase a X100F…

Reading articles about a camera written by someone who does not own that camera is annoying.

The title of the article would be too long for an effective article header.

I will probably purchase a Fujifilm X100F in the end – they look awesome.

It has a FIXED lens – which I like. (I got there in the end!).

So, what is a fixed lens? It is a lens with no zoom. If you want to get closer, you have to get closer using your feet and not your lens.

Why use a fixed lens? Enough reasons to use bullet points…

1. They are small and light.

2. They are (generally) cheap.

3. They have a wide aperture, this allows more light in, which makes the lens excellent      when the light is dying, or just coming up. It also means I can use lower ISO’s.

4. They have a wide aperture (again)– perfect for a nice blurry background when taking      portraits.

5. They force you to be creative.

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Using a fixed lens meant I could shoot in this rather dark room, just off the street, without using a flash.

If you have a DX crop camera, then I would recommend a 35mm lens, or a 50mm if you want something that will get you a little closer. If you have a full frame camera, you probably know all this anyway….

If you want a camera with a fixed lens, then I would strongly recommend the Ricoh Grii (or GR if you want to save money and don’t need wifi – which is crap on the ii anyway). It has a beautiful 28mm fixed lens, which I love.

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The Ricoh Gr is great for more than just Street Photography as seen with this cityscape.

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Ricoh Gr, small enough for your pocket, it’s there when you spot an interesting composition.

Then there is the, er, Fujifilm X100f. It looks awesome. I want one. If I ever start using Acros film simulation, please shoot me…

Have fun and keep clicking,

Chris

Street Photography #5. Re-visit your old photos.

 

OK, this could be a tip, or you could view it as a challenge. I have recently joined my third cohort with the Arcanum and am working with Glenn Guy, a travel photography guru. See his website HERE. Thus far I have taken to shooting most of my work for this group using 35mm film, however, after trudging again to the camera mall to have my shots developed, I remind myself why digital is so much easier. Anyway, a recent ‘Arcanum’ challenge was to post some photos I could never delete.

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Snacks sold alongside a bus.

Is there a time in your life that was filled with photography, yet you did not really see yourself as a photographer? Maybe you were starting out and still a rookie, or were loaned a camera for a week or two. I lived for a year in Bangladesh, placed in a nightmare apartment squeezed between a construction site and a demolition site, imagine trying to live at a Nine Inch Nails gig. I went crazy! Leaving the apartment was not much better;  Dhaka is a colourful and vibrant place, yet riddled with poverty and sickness. Strangely it is here where I have captured the most wonderful smiles on the planet. At the time I had a cheap Panasonic point and shoot (although my EXIF is telling me it was a Samsung?). Is it wrong to think ‘I wish’? If not, then I wish I had owned a better camera, wish I new then what I new now and wish I had taken more photographs! These pictures were not re-edited to a great extent, generally the contrast and clarity were tweaked in Lightroom, with a little vignette added if appropriate.

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Two girls who lived in Dhaka Train Station.

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Dhaka lacks solid rock, so women break up bricks for use in construction.

When you look at your old photos, you will see how much you have improved. I certainly wonder what I was thinking by keeping some of the photos on my hard drive, along with some worrying reminders that I am getting older. Who knows, maybe I have got wiser too…

Enjoy the pics, keep clicking,

 

Chris

Street Photography #4 Buy Books

Buy books, do something different, develop your own style and steal ideas… hopefully this is a post that will point newbies and seasoned Street Photographers to sources of inspiration.

I try to develop my own style but I probably never will. I get bored too easily and always want to try something new. Lately I have been getting back into film. Portra 400ISO and a 50mm lens on my Nikon body = my new best friend. I will get over it soon I am sure, maybe… At the moment though I am obsessed. I want to slow everything down and focus manually, sitting and waiting for photo opportunities to open up. If you sit anywhere long enough you become invisible.

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What has this got to do with my tip? If you buy books you will see that successful photographers don’t follow the rules so often imposed by others – but you know, to hell with what others think. One of my favourite Street Photography books is ‘The World Atlas of Street Photography’, by Jackie Higgins.

Here are some links to artists featured in ‘The World Atlas of Street Photography’. I have tried to choose examples that are very different from the norms of photography. Explore and enjoy.

Yasmine Chatila  “Stolen Moments’

Here Yasmine acts as a voyeur using a telephoto lens. Typical ‘Street’? Not at all. Successful? Oh yes!

Vera Lutter

Photos are taken without a camera. Weird huh – go and find out how. These shots tell a story and are super creative!

 Peter Funch

Street Photography that is 100% posed – intruder, get him out! There are some great examples of non-traditional crops here.

 Philip-Lorca Dicorcia

‘Heads’.  A wonderful and very non-traditional project. This link takes you to the MOMO site, have fun hunting for this project.

Mirko Martin – Los Angeles

Here scenes from movie sets are entwined with real life. We are left not knowing which is which.

 Michael Wolf

So many projects worth looking at.  I like many of his still life shots, scenes from cities that often do not include any people.

 Paul Graham

Pictures bleached to nothing and many other great projects. I think projects may be a way forward for my own photography. Focus on one thing and then try another.

 Oscar Fernando Gomez

Street Photography taken without leaving the car! Interesting views from a Taxi.

Txema Salvans – ‘The Waiting Game’

Demonstrates how patiently hanging around can help you get the shots you want (with a little disguise).

Melanie Manchot

More posed street photography (and lots more). Check out the grainy shots of ‘Fight’. As so often is the case, photos that have a ‘flaw’ can carry the most character.

Jiang Pengyi

Fine art meets cityscape meets street photography. Brilliant. Repeat after me… ‘I must get better with Photoshop’.

Nobuyoshi Araki

Medium format camera on a tripod? This does not sound like Street Photography. However, he is one of the most successful photographers out there. His photography is not always safe for work, describing his camera as a ‘constant erection’.

So there you go – some examples of some very different Street Photography (and more). Click on the links and explore why these photographers are so different. Get inspired and step outside the box. Try something new. Steal ideas and make them your own.

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Unconventional Crops, an idea worth ‘stealing!’ Shot using Portra 400.

Go buy the book, why not get it from a book store? I am over photoblogs making links to Amazon!

In the meantime… i’m slowing down and will try and work more with film.

Keep Clicking, Chris

 

 

Street Photography #3 Work A Scene…

This has to be one of the most important, yet often overlooked areas of Street Photography. You may be nervous when shooting a scene or a person, I know that I am. It is perhaps these nerves that give us a small dose of adrenalin, the ‘hit’ of getting a good shot. Unfortunately this adrenalin rush can push us into a ‘fight or flight’ mode. I do not want to get into a fight when out taking photos, but our urge for flight can be strong. Now is the time to take a breath, assess the scene and work out the angles.

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I hung around and got a dozen photos of this guy.

Read More

Street Photography #2 Have Fun…

This is where it gets strange. I’m writing 10 tips within ten tips – it is all going to get a little Inception influenced. Hold on…. spin that top.

  • Find people who are looking chilled and relaxed. Point your camera at them and wait for them to get annoyed, then take the photo. Collect these photos and publish them in B+W, add lots of grain. Complain to the world that everyone looks angry nowadays, lament the days of film and smoke an unfiltered Gitane.
  • Be unethical, the world has enough ethics. If anyone complains inform them that as far as you are concerned Bruce Gilden is unethical and he got a gig working for Magnum.

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  • Write a blog post that includes a claim that Bruce Gilden is unethical in the hope he will read it and get into a debate with you. If this does not work make a fake profile for Bruce Gilden and have a debate with yourself. I will do this – watch this space..
  • Dress in black so you look inconspicuous, then on the way out of the house unthinkingly grab the ridiculous looking hat you purchased in Khao San Road one night. Spend the day wondering why you are only getting photos of people looking at you strangely.
  • Take photos whilst out drinking with your mates. IMPORTANT – do not publish these until you have viewed them the next day.

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    Beer and Photography – a great mix.

  • Go to a second hand camera shop and ask for the price of every single Leica in the shop. Decide on the one you want to purchase and them find out that adding a lens will double the cost.
  • Pop to the camera mall to purchase a lens cap. Accidentally buy a new camera or an expensive lens using money put aside for the next holiday. Wait till you get home and share your purchase with your significant other, laugh along when she (or he) finally see the funny side!
  • If your job involves using a computer, learn that editing photos and working basically look like the same thing.
  • Write a blog post that makes the claim of providing 10 tips, then only write 9. Watch as the world pours scorn on how you are misleading your readers.

TGI Friday and happy clicking people, Chris

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