Leica M9 with 60mm Hexanon at F1.4, 1/4000, ISO200
Archive for octobre, 2010
It is already week 2 of the Street Photography Now Project, so if you haven’t register yet, there are still 50 weeks of instructions for you to participate in. Give it a try, submissions for this instructin end on Thursday night. Also, I will try to reflect on these assignments and give you some feedback of my shooting around the theme. Do not hesitate to do so too, it is always interesting to read about other’s experiences and this whole project is a learning experience.
Unless you are very lucky or go to the zoo, your chances to see an elephant in a corner of the street in Paris are pretty low. Therefore I decided to look out for dogs for the last couple of days and I did learn quite a few things :
- dogs are small in relationship to humans, so one needs to get close, actually very close in most cases. That is not easy as you can’t anticipate the animal’s reaction.
- you have to willing to go low, as low as the ground to get to the same level as your subject. Indeed, shots from above will result in pictures with no depth and therefore it will be very difficult to include the surroundings. Thus be ready to look silly as you crawl on the ground.
- talking about surroundings, this is a street photography excercise and there is often a very fine line between a portrait and a street shot. If the picture is only about the dog, lacking any interaction with its surroundings, then it most probably will fail as a street photography picture.
- I started with the 60mm focal, then went on with the 35mm, to finally use exclusively the 24mm today. I found long focal to result in many chopped head and little surroundings. I found the 24mm to be the most effective though it meant getting even closer to the dogs.
- full frame sensor is not an advantage here. Indeed when getting very close (less than 1 meter), I had troubles to get large depths of field, even with a 24mm lens. So many of my shots had the animal partly in focus while the surroundings were blurred. It is part of my style but it does mean that the surrounding will often have substantial blur.
- manual focus was a nightmare. Dogs are like kids, they change tempo, path and love to turn their head inexpectedly. I even had to whistle a few times to get their attention.
All in all it was fun, except for my encounter with that big fellow below . He attempted to jump on my face yet I am ot sure whether it was to bite or lick me. But well, no risk no picture I guess. I still haven’t decided which picture I will submit. And who knows, maybe I’ll cross path with an elephant tomorrow on my way to work…
Leica M9 with 24mm Elmarit at F2.8, 1/250, ISO200
Leica M9 with 35mm Summilux Asph at F1.4, 1/500, ISO200
Leica M9 with 24mm Elmarit at F4, 1/180, ISO200
Next to the Opera a waiter « takes a breath » at rush hour. (click on picture to enlarge)
Leica M9 with 60mm Hexanon at F1.4, 1/500, ISO200 Tweet
A reader (temporarly stuck in his house due to illness) asked me if I could write a list of street photography books that I would recommend. I have therefore added a page with a 10 books listing, all with a quick synopsis and what can be learnt from them regarding street photography. They are not necessarly the very best out there, but they all taught me a lot.
Yet meanwhile we talk about books … somecruise in Saint-Germain in the most beautiful car with an open view on Paris. What else ? (click on picture to enlarge)
Leica M9 with 35mm Lux Asph at F1.4, 1/3000, ISO200 Tweet
A group of friends wanders on Les Champs-Elysées dressed up for an event. A girl sits, grabs a cigarette and suddenly stares at me. Was it an angel look … or a devilish look … or an angel with a devil look ? I still haven’t figured it out. (click on picture to enlarge)
Leica M9 with 35mm Summilux Asph at F1.4, 1/350, ISO200 Tweet
The Photographer’s Gallery and the authors of the ‘Street Photography Now book’ have launched a great initiative for the next 52 weeks. Basically, you will receive instructions weekly based on a quote of a contemporary street photographer. You will then have 7 days to take a shot in relationship with the instruction and post it to their Flickr Group. I usually never participate in contests but I think this is, above all, a great learning experience and challenge. So for all of you that love the street, register and make sure you get your first photo in by tomorrow. Click here to discover the site.
Instruction #1 is « If you can feel the street by looking at a photo, it’s a street photograph » by Bruce Gilden.
My submission for this instruction was the shot « In hope of good news » posted earlier this week. I couldn’t resist the bad joke ;) If you’d like to share your shots with me, add me as contact on Flickr, my nickname is also yanidel. I’ll gladly discover your own interpretations !
Half scrutinzing and half in admiration, the eyes of a draftsman lock on their target and forget about the world around it. (click on picture to enlarge)
Talking about eyes and to follow up on the manual focus series, here is a great link to a test that compares the Canon 5DII, Olympus E-P1 and Leica M9 in various situations. It seems that manual focus cameras are still kings in low light conditions ;)
Leica M9 with 35mm Summilux Asph at F1.4, 1/1000, ISO200
At first, I thought he was moving. But tonight I realized he was hosting the Yves Saint Laurent fashion week show. Here they were, the world’s most beautiful girls just across the street and … I wasn’t invited. (long sigh). (click on picture to enlarge)
Leica M9 with 60mm Hexanon at F1.4, 1/250, ISO200
Leica M9 with 60mm Hexanon at F2, 1/4, ISO200 (tripod)
For those of you that have been following this blog for a long time, you probably have noticed by now that I do like to invent stories around many of my pictures. Indeed, some scenes inspire me so much that tales immediately pop up in my mind. That logically brings up the question of whether it is a legitimate act to transfigure a street scene and turn it into a fantasy.
Gary Winogrand provided a great answer to that by saying « A photograph is the illusion of a literal description of how the camera saw a piece of time and space. » That made things pretty clear to me here, and to put it into other words; as descriptive as a picture might be, its interpretation is only a viewer’s fantasy. This leads me to the fact that when ones writes a fantasy, he must make sure that the story has a close link to the elements depicted in the photograph. Otherwise, the text and picture won’t blend and the fantasy will fail.
As an example, the following picture taken in Saint Germain shows a woman walking in the street with no other identifiable event. A potential text could be “a woman walks in Saint-Germain and think about her past loves”. While the picture might be aesthetically pleasing, such a story is simply not credible and weakens the picture. (click on picture to enlarge)
Leica M9 with 60mm Hexanon at F1.4, 1/250, ISO200
Meanwhile, the picture below depicts a women riding a bus whose sides are covered with an ad featuring a man’s mouth and two cards. A potential story could then be “In the game of poker, the most dramatic grin often hides the best bluff”. Here the text directly alludes to the three main elements of the picture. A surrealist scene obviously, but this is also what fantasy is about.
Leica M9 with 60mm Hexanon at F1.4, 1/500, ISO200