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The Constraint of a Prime Lens

R0017430(L)(Camera: Ricoh GX200)

A user of riochforum asked a question in a post, "I'm just curious as to how some of you take your shots without getting a subject paranoid or if they're like whoa who's this person with that camera?"  The title of his post is "How to overcome 28mm limitations?"

Although not all the cameras I have tried and owned are fitted with a prime lens, I have taken tons of street photos and here are some tips under my belt:

1) Most people are curious, especially young people.   Just point the camera at them in the street.  You may ask for permission.  I ask for permissions for roughly one third of my shots.

2) Point the camera to a spot where the subject will pass.  Surely, you'll have to anticipate his or her route and pace.

3) Use a viewfinder, the best being the upward tilting ones.  People are less allergic to the camera when the photographer shoots with his head bowing down to see through the viewfinder.

4) Half-press the shutter for several time to beam out the AF-assist light to draw attention.  You'll end up with shots in which the subjects all look into the lens saying, "Whoa, who's this person with that camera?".  Works great at night.

5) A variant version of tip 5 is to do it to your subject after making sure that she (this works fine with pretty ladies) knows you have checked her out.  The photo of today was shot in this way.

6) Stay at a spot and make it known that you're taking photos.  The curious eyes will check you out and don't hesitate to press the shutter release at those moments. 

7) Take some time to walk the scene and see the final images with your mind's eye.  Imagine how to take the shot while you walk.  Set the shutter speed to at least 1/500s.  Pre-set the exposure or set it to auto.  Ricoh's cameras have the nice function of exposure lock at the press of the customisable fn button, which in M mode works to quickly tune the exposure "right".

8) Regarding tip 7, practice makes perfect.   You really have to practise how to hold your camera in your palm to make the image come out right.

9) Be decisive.  Don't walk past the same spot several times and worry too much before taking the shot.  Most people won't mind after you've taken the shot.  Most likely, they don't even know it.

10) Always get your camera ready.

The same curious user added later, "Photography has taken some changes in the USA, you can't just go into a city and start taking snapshots of people. You can be sued if the person doesn't want you to take a photo of them in some cases. So my issue with a 28mm would be getting close enough to take street shots that will not cause trouble."

There is a way out too -- move to live in Hong Kong.


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