Farewell Old Friend

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.

Girl on a Scooter/ Hongzan Lu

Shanghai

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.

Noodle Time

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.

Bangkok

Buddha

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.

Tattoo

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.

Bangalore

Butcher Shop

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.

Alleyway

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

An Apology to Landscape Photographers!

It’s an odd thing, how we can mentally beat ourselves up over something we said ages ago, and certain words come back to haunt us. My latest mental rumination comes from a comment I said about landscape photography. I said it was easy. In fact I went further than this, stating that if you lived somewhere that looked good, all you had to do was step outside your door and take a photo. Now I’m in New Zealand, and my current accommodation is a stones throw from some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. I’m talking about a misty township set amongst rolling green fields, and rows of grape vines leading to snow-capped mountains. It should be easy. It’s not…. Landscape photographers, I am sorry and I was wrong. It turns out landscape photography is quite a challenge!

Wither Hills, Blenheim

Why Landscape Photography?

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. I am currently recording my time spent in New Zealand’s South Island, and will continue for however long this may be. This ‘project’ will hopefully cover travel, street, and portrait photography. In addition it will inevitably include close family. To document NZ without recording the majestic ‘Lord of the Rings’ landscapes, would surely be remiss. I am also getting pulled towards this genre by Thomas Heaton’s excellent Youtube channel (google it – you will be entertained and informed!).

So it’s Harder than it Looks?

My most recent attempt at landscape photography took me up the Wither Hills, which are situated about 1km away. I got there on my mountain bike and proceeded to peddle up the hill. Actually I ended up pushing the bike. Here is the first problem, getting to a spot that looks good can take a lot of work! As with all genres of photography, lighting makes or breaks a photo, hence my early-morning start. Note to self: spectacular sunrises do not always happen, and I seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time for the shot I had planned! The third challenge is post-processing. There is a LOT of post processing undertaken with the landscaping crowd, far more than with the conservative approach of Street Photography. Shooting RAW means that some level of post processing will always be needed, but I am still finding my feet when it comes to developing a ‘style’. Luminar 4 is one programme that helps bring the most out of even the poorest landscape photos. However, this genre is sure to stretch my photoshop skills.

Vineyard (Stitched Panorama)

Try it Yourself

Landscape photography definitely provides something new to try, and studying this genre will make me a better photographer. Any time spent studying light is time well spent! If you do try this yourself, you will probably need a tripod, particularly if you aim to shoot in low light. In common with street photographers – a strong pair of shoes will also come in handy!

If you do have tips or resources on landscape photography please let me know below. I’m learning!

Wither Hills, Blenheim

What Next?

Documenting a quieter place is a challenge. The anonymity of a city is lost, and the candid snapshot feels more of a threat. Asking permission and seeking interesting characters may be a way forward. On a wider scale, the opportunities for far-flung travel photography appear to be receding, or at least becoming a greater challenge. Photography on the doorstep is to be one current path forward. Either way, a day spent with a camera in-hand is sure to bring some peace and joy.

Peace, and take care wherever you are taking photos, Chris.

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My Favourite Street Photo’s of 2019

Without further ado and very few words, here are my favourite Street Photos of 2019…

Captured in a fishing village (Mumbai).
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India’s Golden Triangle

The Golden Triangle is India’s most popular tourist route. Not surprisingly, the journey encapsulates three major sites. The route generally starts at Delhi, a street photographers dream and a city steeped in history, myth and architectural beauty. From Delhi you head to Agra, home of the Taj Mahal and numerous lesser-known heritage sites. The final destination is Jaipur, also known as the Pink City.

Taj Mahal
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10 Tips for Better Travel Photography. Part 2

Firstly, thanks to Brenda for pointing out that for most of these tips, you do not really have to travel far. This brings me to my first discussion point…

Long Distance Travel not required!

Bangalore City Market – 30 Minutes travelling time from home
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10 Tips for Better Travel Photography

Part One

Everybody has a camera and can call themselves a photographer. Last year over a trillion photos were captured, that is a one with 12 zero’s on the end. If you can’t image just how large this number is, think of it in seconds. A trillion seconds is the same as 31 thousand years. Travel is also becoming cheaper and more people are escaping to exotic destinations than ever before. If everyone is a travel photographer, then what can you do to differentiate yourself, and give your images a professional touch?

Signs help tell a story

Tell a Story of Place

Often more that one photo is required to tell a story of place. Look out for roadsigns and displays as well as people involved in day-to-day activities. If you have a travel zoom make sure you take a wide shot that includes the landscape, then zoom in to capture significant details. If you shoot with primes, don’t be afraid to change lenses, or use your feet to get the wider view!

Tell a Story of People

It is hard to think how a photographer could succeed in travel or street photography without some skill in capturing people. If time allows aim to get more than just a head shot. Hands, feet, wrinkles, muscles and lines all tell a story. 

Holy Bull Walker/ Bangalore

The Environmental Portrait

I was taught the environmental portrait by my friend Glenn Guy, who runs the wonderful website www.travelphotographyguru.com. I kicked and fought against this style of imagery, preferring the candid image. However, the style has slowly won me over. The environmental portrait is a collaborative image between the photographer and the subject. Permission must be sought from the subject for this photo. The image should capture the person in his or her environment (duh!), which could be work, home or play. As the photographer has gained permission, they can take a little more time over composition and light.

Composition and Light

Is there any genre of photography that cannot benefit from a stronger understanding of composition and light? Most successful photos will adhere to one guideline or another, even when you are trying to break the rules! When traveling take into account the time of day and the direction of the sun. Mornings and evenings are obviously the prime times for photography. However, the harsh shadows of mid-day can also create effective photos.

Fishermen/ Vietnam

Capture the Vernacular 

When traveling it is easy to focus on the major tourist attractions. Yet is is often the smaller, domestic buildings that tell a story with greater clarity. The vernacular deals with the functional, domestic architecture. These buildings will reflect the environment and cultures of a surrounding area. Weather will play an important role in the construction of these buildings, as well as the materials they are made from. In many countries religion will play an important part in the design of a house, look for symbols to ward off spirits, or shrines used for worship. 

Cao Dai Symbolism (Vietnam)

Well that is all today folks. It WILL be a 10 part tip sheet when I have written part 2. What can a say, life happens.

Take care and keep clicking, Chris

Cheeky Monkey

Recently I visited Lepakshi, just North of Bangalore. The light was mid-dayish, and not fantastic for the temple’s magnificent architecture. There was a group of very photogenic women singing their hearts out by the entrance of the temple, unfortunately they were camera shy. However, third time lucky! Monkeys surrounded the grounds and were very tame (to the point of pinching people’s bags and snacks). This monkey posed just long enough a portrait.

For those of you who are interested in such things… This image was edited in Lightroom, and flipped left to right so the monkey was looking to the right. I then colour graded it using On1 and added a film filter. The eyes were lightened and sharpened. Lastly, I added a slight vignette.

Now my regular Street Photography Group on Mewe will only accept images that feature a human element, and this does not count. However, these delightful creatures are soooo close to human I may get away with it!

Take care and keep clicking, Chris

If you are interested in joining the Street Photography Community (SPC) please use the link below.

http:// www.mewe.com/join/street_photographers

Farewell 2018, Hello 2019…

Wishing all my readers a great new year, I hope it goes out with a bang. This month I have been busy with Wes Hardaker who has been guiding a select few photographers on the different applications of exposure control. I generally leave my camera set at -0.3, so it has been an education to finally play a little more with my exposure compensation dial.

New Zealand loves its Bees!
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Best of 2018. Part 1

“Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.” – Ansel Adams

As the year comes to a close, I find myself reflecting on what I have achieved with my photography in 2018.  Today I scoured by hard drive for my favourite photos of the year. I will try and explain a little of what is behind each image. There will be six images in this post, and six in the next.

Varanasi
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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.

Varanasi (1 of 1) Read More

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