Saturday, 10 March 2012

Street Photography: Figuring Out How

R9364926L (Ricoh GRD4)

As I started out on the journey to street photography with Ricoh GX200, it is befitting to use a shot done with the GRD4 from Ricoh to adorn this post listing out links to the past week's discussions on practising the tactics of street photography.

(P.S.: A few days later, I tried wearing not in black - black definitely makes you look a serious somebody - and brought with me not a Leica. I approached passers-by for permission to do snaps and was turned down. So I did it in literally the same fashion again a few more days later. Now there are two points to be added to this "going up to ask for permission" tactic, namely, to dress in something to look serious and to use a camera which impresses people as serious.)

Friday, 9 March 2012

Anticipate and Go Ahead

L1000578L (Leica D-Lux 5)

This is the last instalment of this week's posts to follow up the video on street photography tactics featured last Friday.

The most exciting moment in street photography is probably when a scene presents itself around the corner. With a bit of practice and a trained photographer's eye, you will have a hunch that a certain scene will make a good photo. Surely, for most of the time, a street photographer should anticipate a scene to come up well before it actually unfolds in front of your eyes.

Here, for today's shot, I was walking at some 7 metres away when the monk of short stature hurried from the left. I spotted that his claret gown stood out against the pale wall. At this moment, a tall man in black (the one walking to the left in the photo) was walking far in front of me. Probably with a photographer's instinct, I paced quickly forward while zooming the lens. As the desired combos were stored in the customisable slot, I could quickly recall them all at once. I hesitated for like half a second and wondered if the man in black would turn to the left. Having made certain that the monk and the man would cross one another to the opposite directions, I got ready and took this shot at the moment when they just did so to maximise the contrast in colours as well as of the subject's height. The monk's suspicious facial expression added an interesting focal point to the image.

So, to anticipate a scene is a common tactic in doing stree photography. Get your camera ready and go happy snapping!

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Twice

hug (Leica X1)

Twice – thinking twice before shooting rather than asking twice afterwards. Sometimes we can grow from mistakes. This one is the case in point.

Look at this photo. Wouldn't it be a much better shot if the lovers posed with a kiss on one another's lips? Same as what I have been doing to practise the tactics in street shooting, I went up to them and explained myself to ask for permission to shoot them in this pose. At first they turned their heads and looked into the camera. But I cued them to pretend that they didn't see me. I snapped, thanked them and walked away.

I should have thought twice before taking the shots because at some tens of steps away, I realised that it would make a better shot with them kissing one another in this very same pose. What did I do? I walked back to the spot and had the chutzpah to ask them to do just that. If you were me and had seen the frowning on the lady's face, you might have backed away. Asking for permission twice almost scared her away. She became suspicious of my intention at least. But the man came to my rescue and agreed to pretend a kiss. At this juncture, the waiter in the restaurant came out for them. Their table was ready, worse luck for me.

Regretted that I hadn't thought twice before doing the shot.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Stay Ready and Snap

L1010190L (Leica D-Lux5)

To carry on this weeks' theme on tactics in street photography, I offer this picture to illustrate a tactic which seldom goes awry and which many of us have tried. This one best suits settings or places where the sense of privacy is prevasive and going up to ask for permission will be too awkward.

Scout the site and stay ready with the camera at the chosen location. Tune it to zone focusing at f8 for a camera fitted with a APS-C sensor (in the case of cameras with a smaller sensor, don't bother coz you'll have an extensive DOF anyway). Use a priority mode befitting the shooting situation. For today's shot, I just recalled the generic profile used for doing daily street shots which is set to ISO 400 to cater for wider situations and zone focusing at f8.0 to achieve an extensive DOF. Visualise the final image in your mind but DON'T point your camera to the desired scene (people will be alerted and avoid the route) until your subjects walk into it. Snap. Voila.

Once again, as a general rule of thumb, the safest slowest shutter speed is 1/30s to freeze passers-by going across the screen, and 1/20s for those coming towards the you. To avoid blurry images, consideration should also be given to the safe shutter speed on account of the focal length of the lens and the shake correction effectiveness of the camera. But if the image is meant to be blurry for an effect, try from 1/2s upwards when handholding the camera. With a handheld camera, any shutter speeds below 1/2s may result in an image too blurry to be meaningful as far as street snaps are concerned.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

You'; ) re Good

L1010163L (Leica D-Lux 5)

This week, I'm showing you results as per the tactics of street photography shown in last Friday's video clip. This is the second post on this theme.

The likes of "You're good? May I take a photo of you?" is the sure-fire icebreaker when going up to strangers in the street who look in the wide range between really good and on the blink of not so. This is especially foolproof on passers-by with a leisurely or jovial look on the face. Mark your subjects and off you go. If you're lacking a bit of confidence, practise it on, say, models at any road show like in the shot above. Don't just go up and shoot, shoot, shoot. Give verbal feedbacks and instructions, which is not for reasons of the final image but for the sake of your practising.

With a better skill and a bolder heart, put on an amicable smile and try it out on real strangers in the street like:

"Hi, you two are great. May I take a picture of you."

"Again, one more."

Which ended up in:

L1010166L They're good, ain't they?  I stopped them in street and took two shots of them. They have a face of a movie star. And look, I had them turned to the direction to shine catch lights in their eyes. If I can do it, so can you!

Monday, 5 March 2012

Heels Over Head

gym (Leica D-Lux 5)

The title is obviously not a typo of "head over heels".

This is Michelle, a gym coach in fitness centres including the Gymnastics Association of Hong Kong. She is a friend of mine…not. Remember the educational video for street photographers last week?  I promised to show you my results as per some of the strategies shown in the video.

"Hi, I was walking over there and was stunned to see how you kick your legs," I started.

I came across Michelle doing her morning physical workout in a park, and was amazed by the nimble moves of her flexible body and limbs. So I decided to go up and chat a bit with her.

gym2

"Oh, I feel a bit sore in the neck and just come out for some stretches."

After a short while, I asked, "Your kicking is amazing. Can I take some pictures of you doing it again? Just go on kicking and pretend that you don't see me."

With her permission, I took shots of her for 10 minutes, giving her constant verbal feedbacks to keep her going.

gym3   DSC05107L(Sony A55)

This is the kick. And she can do it nonstop in like 30 seconds. Incredible.

If you want to show your results, just send it to my email account.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

When Coffee Lacks Punch

coffee (Leica X1)

This is Sunday. You can take more sleep than coffee for that matter.