Photographing Varanasi

Chaos

Varanasi is the spiritual home for Hindus and sits on the banks of the Ganges River. The city is sacred to Hindus and is credited as being one of the oldest cities in the world. What many of the guidebooks forget to tell you is that it is thick with smog and full of people who are more interested in your finances than your spiritual life! However, don’t let that put you off, the opportunities for photography are fantastic.

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Instax Cameras and Street Photography

Using The Fujifilm Instax 90 Neo Classic

This is not a review, more of a discussion. This camera is NOT going to create award winning photos, does not have great dynamic range and, believe me – you would not want to be paying for this thing to spit out 12 shots a second. However, it is fun and a great conversation piece at parties. It also enables the the act of giving. Instantly.

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Giving a Photo!

While far from a ‘specs’ list, here are some points you may like to know.

  • It shoots at a high f/number – generally, everything is in focus.
  • It looks cool and rugged, but is made entirely of plastic.
  • The Instax 90 has a few more manual controls than other models – but not that many.
  • The film is quite expensive.
  • The quality of the photos is either poor, or hip and grungy. Depends on your viewpoint.

I suspect that these comments would be the same for any model of instant camera. In general, they really are not that good for high quality prints. But they are instant, and that is pretty handy.

Opening Doors

Street photographers take. We take a lot. We take tiny snippets of people’s time and lives. Sometimes these moments are never noticed, other times they are appreciated, and unfortunately, there are times when photographers are just damn intrusive. It should come as no surprise that sometimes we are not wanted!

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Sharing

Every day I take a shortcut from work and pass by a group of families that live in a small squatter camp. They herd goats and appear to have a couple of cows. The camp looks ragged and is created from waste construction site materials, tarpaulin and scraps of plastic. I have been invited into a hut once, and the interiors are clean and tidy. Children play, women cook, and men head out looking for manual labor jobs.  Although I always get a friendly wave, the people living there become shy when my camera is out, and are reticent about allowing photography.

Equipped with my Instax, I have been able to give the families photos they can keep. The act of giving opens hearts, particularly when you are providing mothers with pictures of their children. Using this technique I have started to make inroads in the community. This is not the only location where I have used this method to build bridges. The Instax camera is now a tool I keep in my bag.

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Final Image

Tips and Tricks

  • If you try this method, make sure you only take as much film as your budget allows. I give myself one roll a day (10 pics).
  • Warning. Once you have handed out photos, any subsequent images you take with your ‘proper’ gear will be of people looking at their prints!
  • Clear some wall space at home. These photos are quite addictive.
  • Wonder at how you are managing without memory cards, Lightroom and Photoshop!

Take care and keep clicking, Chris

 

Olympus (1 of 1)

 

PS – you may notice the site has been re-designed. Feel free to explore and follow!

 

The World’s Highest Street Photo.

Bit of a long post here, mainly a reflection on a great adventure. Feel free to read it or pass it over. If you just want to see the pics, then here is a link…

https://pagespics.com/himalayas/

A Story…

This is a tale of friendship, family, photography, and travel. Forgive me if I stray from the narrative of cameras and the like, but photography does not exist on an island. My claim to have captured the highest Street Photo in the World admittedly relies on a relatively restrictive definition of what this genre entails. However, I will leave the nit-picking of definitions to others. I believe a Street Photo usually has to be taken from a Street (duh) and in an urban environment. Komic, a small village in the Himalayan Mountains, fits this definition as it is the highest village in the world accessible by road, sitting at 4587m above sea level.

Komic

Proof I Made It (Photo by Taeko Page)

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Failing with a Flash

Flash Photography

I felt like a newbie. I really have not got much of a clue when it comes to using a flash. Tonight I was walking home and was told our local village was having a dance party at 7 pm. Locals dancing is something I definitely wanted to capture. I set out just after 6, taking along my flash unit. I have only recently purchased the Nissan i40, and really have not had a chance to try it out with my Olympus EM5ii.

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I had some success.

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Walking Home and the Imperfect Photograph

The Challenge

Recently, through the StepOutPhotography Collective, my friend Birka Weidmaier has challenged me to take imperfect photos. This challenge is harsh, I know what you’re thinking, there are never any imperfect photos posted to pagespics.com! To rise to this challenge I need to look at unusual angles and focus points. Secondly, I am not allowed to crop or adjust the horizon on my photos. I can take a week deciding if a horizon is straight, and trying to get it wrong ON PURPOSE sends shivers down my spine.

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At an Angle!

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Photography Gear For Hot Climates

What do you need for a Days Street Photography in a hot country?

India is HOT at the moment. Currently, Bangalore is subject to brief, but heavy tropical rains. This weekend I found myself taking photos in one of the Cemeteries close the to centre of town. On the way to town, the skies turned black. By the time I arrived at the Graveyard the heavens had opened, and it was raining cats and dogs. I ran to the nearest area of shelter, on the edge of the cemetery and sat amongst the gravediggers waiting for the rain to subdue. Sometimes adverse conditions lead to opportunities, and I came away with photos to compliment a project I am currently working on.

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Traveling with the Olympus EM5ii.

During the last couple of weeks, I have not been posting much online. I have been visiting a remote location with no wifi and a phone that ran out of credit. However, I have still been busy on a couple of projects. The photos will emerge at some point, so watch this space. Here is a little teaser of what I have been doing.

Karate Kid

Karate Kid was happy to perform for the camera.

The Nilgiris Hills, India

I am fortunate to have spent the last week camping out with my Grade 6 class at the Nilgiris Hills, in Southern India. As well as being responsible for student wellbeing, I also had the task of photographing the week’s events. My gear of choice was the Olympus Em5ii with the 12-40mm and 25mm lenses. I am used to using this camera for a day’s photography. However, using it for a full week, from when I woke up to when I went to bed was going to show up its strengths and weaknesses.

Battery Life

I took two batteries with me; one is an official Olympus battery and one a cheap knock-off from China. In general, there was always a charging point nearby. However, the life of these batteries is still way shorter than with my Nikon D7100, which can run for days without a charge. A couple of tips, turn the screen around and just use the EVF. I also turned off the image stabilization for a lot of the time; mainly when there was a lot of sunlight. Mirrorless has caught up with DSLR’s in every aspect but battery life, and the Olympus range of cameras is no exception.

Lens Choice

The 12-40mm lens will remain my go-to choice for Street and People Photography. However, in this situation, there were times when I wished my lens had more reach. While nature photography is not my usual bag, if I see a wild animal then I damn well want to capture of shot of it. As well as a plethora of exciting bird life, I was privileged to witness a herd of wild Gaur, these are huge horned cows and are pretty dangerous. I managed to get reasonably close for a picture but would have loved a longer lens. The 12-40mm range also falls short when needed for sporting activities, such as abseiling. On the Street, I can get close to people, but with nature and sport, this intimacy is not so achievable. Olympus have a 12-100mm lens that would be ideal for this kind of camp, but I don’t think I would want to be using a lens that big and heavy every day. The strength of the 4/3’s system is, in part, due to its compactness.

Wild Gaur

A Wild Gaur. One of the few times I wish I had more reach with my zoom.

Firmware and User Experience

I had updated the firmware and lost my customized settings, and this meant I had to set my camera up once more. Re customizing my camera turned out to be a good thing, and I am now pretty happy with my settings, which I will share with you at some point. People criticise the controls of the Olympus cameras, but time spent customizing your Olympus camera will make it sing. While away I also had a chance to play with the pixel shift technology, for some reason the camera chose to shoot in Jpeg format, which while not ideal, helped to ensure that I got it right ‘in camera.’ However, this is not a feature I am likely to use much.

Nilgiri Hills

Landscape taken using the Olympus ‘pixel shift’ technology. Edited with a filter using On1.

Photos and Video Quality

Once again, I love the images captured with this camera. For a short period, I will leave the album up on this site (https://pagespics.com/nilgiris-camp/). The photos are a little different from my usual fare, but it is a great way to share the images with the students who came on camp. Again, I always shoot RAW to get the best out of my camera.   To edit the multiple photos quickly, I used the synchronize option in Lightroom.

I do not usually use my Olympus for a lot of video. However, this may change as I am happy with the footage captured. The 5 axis image stabilisation worked a treat. You can see the final edited version of the movie on my YouTube channel. The image stabilization meant I could leave my tripod in the bag. Again, with Micro 4/3’s less is more! I love to travel light. My editing was carried out using iMovie, although basic, it is a piece of software that gets the job done, plus the price is perfect!

Final Thoughts

I had a great week, taking pics with my camera. I loved its compactness and versatility, and the photos look great. I would have liked the batteries to have had a better life and would have appreciated a little more length on the zoom. If I threw money at these issues, I could get a battery grip and the 12-100mm lens. However, there is no extra pay for taking photos when I am at work, so it would be hard to justify the cost. Adding these extra’s would also negate the advantage of the system’s compactness, plus I do not need either of these items for my Street Photography.

The Week Ahead.

Tonight I head for a brief stint in the UK, which is covered in snow. It has been a few years (at least) since I last experienced cold weather and I own NO warm clothes. Hopefully I will get a chance get out and capture a little Street Photography.

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