Different areas afford different photographic opportunities. I probably have some sort of photographic style. I haven’t given it much thought but there are certain elements that I love in a photo. India is one of those places that just keeps giving me those things that I love. We travelled from Mumbai to Kerala and this is a mix of them.
You can choose from a lot of different lenses and cameras combinations. One mean, lean, street-shootin machine combo was the Voigtlander R4M and Zeiss 21mm 2.8 Biogon. I sold them off earlier this year (the lens and body separately of course to increase the value). This was from a roll of film I found lying around that hadn’t been developed quite yet. Seeing these fruits makes me miss her.
She was sold to purchase the Mamiya RZ67 Pro ii; a massive studio-oriented camera that is antithetical to the rapid fire shooting that a small rangefinder will allow. This is also a bid to further remove myself from 35mm film and dive deeper into 120mm. My Hasselblad SWC should be able to provide some of the same types of images (almost same field of view but square format, shallower DOF and different ergonomics). This is making me want to go on a walk!
I am still in the 35mm film world though. Below is my trusty Nikon F3HP with 35mm lens. A gift from my brother, she’ll never be sold.
I am now fortunate to call a very special woman my wife – yessir, I am a very happily married man. We were married on February 23rd at 4 PM in Miami, FL. I would post photos of the wedding but our photographer is still busily editing and developing. That will come soon enough.
After the greatest night of our lives, we woke up early on Sunday morning preparing to leave for the trip of our lives – Thailand. Twenty six hours later, we arrived in Bangkok! Do honeymooning and street photography mix? I think so…
*All shots were taken with my Pentax 67 and either a 75mm or 105 mm lens using Provia 100f slide film.
Why? The man’s hands above are larger than they should be (proportional to his body). This is perspective distortion and it can’t be helped (all lenses do it). Another issue is that the lines of the building in the back make it look like it is going to fall over. Mind you, no distortion is 100% bad, you can use it to your advantage… but most of the time pointing the camera up doesn’t work that well for me (unless carefully thought out).
Here’s an example that does work:
Things feel natural in the above photo. The framelines of the image mesh well with the lines in the photo. A contrary illustration being the first shot in this post (the building should be standing up straight… not diagonally).
To further the argument, let’s look at some photos in the subway. I took the next shot with the camera pointed slightly upward:
Now look at the edges of the second photo – notice how the pillars in the subway match the lines of the frame of the photo. Which feels better to you? To my eye, the second (post-processed version) is better.
Now the frustrating thing is that you sometimes want to shoot upwards to get other elements. In particular, I wanted to get someone walking along the top corridor in the above shot. So I shot upwards. Well… sometimes you have to. But keep in mind what it is doing.
Simplifying your life can really teach you what matters. Imagine everyone got rid of the dish washing machine, car, computer, television, espresso machine and alcohol cabinet. America’s obesity problems and alcoholism would probably decrease and thereby increase our standard of living! Easy peasy!
Well maybe throwing out your modern conveniences is not so easy. But simplifying your photos is! This is the first lesson in taking better pictures and the first thing that amateurs should focus on. So imagine yourself a stripper and take off all of the extraneous fluff until you get to the bare essentials.
Photography has often been referred to as an art of reduction, so here are some tips about things to avoid:
1) Don’t photograph crowds. Focus on one individual.
In shooting street photography, it is really tough to shoot crowds unless you can find some way of making the crowd form some kind of pattern (if everyone is wearing a uniform for example). Normally a crowd is filled with people wearing different colored clothing and this just gives you a hodge-podge that is not that appealing.
Focus on shooting one individual that stands out from the crowd. This brings focus to your photo.
2) Take out multiple and conflicting lines. Focus on one or two lines.
Too many lines, or too many conflicting lines can be confusing to the eye. Remember this is about “visual comfort”.
3) Take out color. Shoot black and white.
There’s a reason black and white photography is so popular. It strips out the unnecessary complications of color! Taking away color allows the eye to focus on facial features, patterns, lines and shade gradations in an easier way than color does.
4) Take out text/brands/logos.
I have written about this subject here. Text is a major focal point and a major distraction. Brands make photos seem like advertisements. Stay away!
5) Shoot fast aperture and shallow depth of field.
By having the background out of focus, it brings focus to that which is sharp. In the majority of cases this should be a face.
6) Stay away from crazy camera angles and shoot at the height of your subject’s face.
This is a comfortable perspective for the viewer as we normally see others at eye level (unless you’re 4 years old).
7) Make portraits.
Making images of buildings is overrated (and very difficult to be successful at). Everyone comes to NYC to look at buildings. Look at the people you’ve come across and photograph them.
So those are some simple starting rules for street photography. These practices work for me so read through them and see which ones suite your fancy. Then incorporate!