Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

Instruction #2 : « Turn your attention to the four-legged population » by Ying Tang

Dimanche, octobre 10th, 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…

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Leica M9 with 24mm Elmarit at F2.8, 1/250, ISO200

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Leica M9 with 35mm Summilux Asph at F1.4, 1/500, ISO200

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Leica M9 with 24mm Elmarit at F4, 1/180, ISO200

10 books to read when you are stuck home

Jeudi, octobre 7th, 2010

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)

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Leica M9 with 35mm Lux Asph at F1.4, 1/3000, ISO200

Street Photography Now Project

Mercredi, octobre 6th, 2010

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 !

Fantasy in street photography

Vendredi, octobre 1st, 2010

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)

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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.

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Leica M9 with 60mm Hexanon at F1.4, 1/500, ISO200

On gear / equipment

Mardi, septembre 28th, 2010

I have noticed that quite a few comments and emails I receive are questions about gear and equipment. I have therefore added a page dedicated to this topic. Click here to discover it.

Nevertheless, let’s not forget that equipment is only a part of the equation.  Indeed, a small compact camera such as one used by this girl can do the job. As long as you arrange the subjects in an orderly manner in front of creative background such as the Arch of Triumph, you’ll be fine, right ? ;)  (click on picture to enlarge)

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Leica M9 with 24mm Elmarit at F2.8, 1/4000, ISO200

On stories – From Montmartre to Brazil

Mardi, septembre 21st, 2010

On yesterday’s picture, a very interesting comment was posted by Konstantin. He raised the question whether pictures should be accompanied by a story that describes or explains them. As he stated, I often read about street photographers refusing to comment their pictures as they think they should be self-explanatory. In other words, all the necessary information should be in the picture. That is indeed a very good debate and I do not think there is an absolute answer. In my opinion, it depends not only on the picture itself but also on what you are trying to achieve through photography.

To illustrate, let’s look at these two pictures I took over the last three days. Same city, same weather, but different hours and subjects. The first one is probably self-explanatory but it requires a close inspection. Indeed, at first sight it is about a man walking down the street at sunset. A second look will provide other clues such as his tired look, the guitar he is carrying, the moon, a hilly neighborhood and the illuminated cross of a drugstore. Provided the viewer is aware that it was taken in Paris (he should on this blog), he should be able to identify the neighborhood as Montmartre by recouping the downhill streets and musician. I guess that at this point, the pieces of the puzzle are in place to make a final interpretation of the picture: a tired musician goes home after a long day work in the Montmartre of “La vie en rose”. The cross of the drugstore probably emphasizes the impression of tiredness and adds to the atmosphere. All in all, I believe this pictures is self-explanatory to the scrutinizing eye,  eventually adding a title such as “Montmartre – back from work” to help the viewer start the interpretation. (click on picture to enlarge)

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Leica M9 with 50mm Summilux Asph at F1.4, 1/250, ISO400

Meanwhile the second picture below will leave the viewer completely clueless on what is going on. There is obviously a high chance that it took place in Paris since it is on this blog. Yet, the exotic dancer is not quite a typical illustration of Parisian folklore. So here an explanatory text or title is in my opinion necessary. The picture might be aesthetically pleasing regardless of the setting but I definitely think that some text adds to the viewer experience. It would be in that case “A Brazilian Queen celebrates the Carnival parade in Paris and contemplates her beauty in a wooden mirror”. I am sure that this picture becomes instantly much easier to interpret. (click on picture to enlarge)

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Leica M9 with 50mm Summilux at F1.4, 1/4000, ISO200, ND filter

As a closing comment, the answer to Konstantin can only be “it depends”. It depends on the photographer and what he tries to achieve. My blog is about Paris and photography. Sometimes the pictures stand on their own, and other times I like to provide side stories that I feel might result interesting. But yes, occasionally there are pictures where I feel that no text is needed. So next time you see a picture with no comment, you’ll know why.

On Inspiration – Saul Leiter

Lundi, septembre 20th, 2010

Each month, I try to purchase a photography book, mostly on street photography. I think it is also part of the learning of a photographer to look at others work. Obviously, some images attract me more than others, some I will forget straight away and some are recorded forever. It is therefore not unusual for me to have an image pop up in my mind as I am in the street taking pictures. I guess this can be called inspiration or even sometimes ‘déjà vu’. One of my favourite street photographers is Saul Leiter. He mastered both color and B&W mediums and knew how to depict atmospheres in a given place. His pictures give the impression that time stopped for a second and will never resume. He probably was a shy photographer as he very rarely shot people facing them, preferring reflections or hints of their presence. His reds were special, muted and strong at the same time. I can say that he has been an inspiration to my photography.

The picture below was shot in the Menilmontant neighbourhood. I had spotted the colors of this store front and was waiting for something to happen. This is when I noticed this man walking towards me and, all of a sudden, one of Saul Leiter’s most famous picture came to my mind (It is actually the cover of his most recent book which I highly recommend). As the man got closer, I hit the trigger automatically, inspired by the memory of Saul’s shot.  It wasn’t an attempt to mimick him, Saul Leiter’s shot is so perfect, but  just another interpretation of a similar moment, in different times and in a different place.

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Leica M9 with 35mm Summilux Asph at F2.8, 1/4000, ISO200

Manual focus series V : Hail Mary focusing

Mardi, septembre 14th, 2010

Skill : for gamblers only
Hit rate : 20%
Picture style : Out of focus mainly …

I always liked the term Hail Mary pass commonly used in American Football. It refers to a long forward pass as an attempt to win the game as time expires. Success rate is less than 5%, but at least the losing team gives it a try. Same happens in street photography when a great potential scene suddenly unfolds quickly in front of you. Unluckily, your focus ring will often be in the wrong position. Therefore, in a desperate attempt to get the shot, rotate the focus ring blindly and … pray for the best. With time and practice, you’ll get a feel of which direction to turn the focus ring to and get some success now and then. To help in that matter, I do recommend lenses with a lever since it will give you a feel of where you focus is and where you are repositioning it to.

The shot below was taken on Place Clichy in front of a movie theater. I was looking at the « Be Bad » movie poster and had focused on it in search of a shot. Suddenly two girls appeared on my right. I had no time to pre-set my focus so went for my Hail Mary focus technique. I just pulled blindly on the lever with the intend to bring the focus distance to 1 meter. And obviously in this instance, I failed. Indeed the girls were not in focus as the ring actually ended up on 1.2 meters. I still like the shot, but it does illustrate the very low hit rate of such a technique.  (click on picture to enlarge)

This concludes this series on manual focus of wide open lenses. In the coming weeks, I will follow up with a new series on exposure. Thanks for reading.

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Leica M8 with 35mm Summicron IV at F2, 1/1000, ISO160

Manual focus series IV : Collision path

Lundi, septembre 13th, 2010

Skill : advanced
In focus rate : 50%
Picture style : subjects walking towards you

As you walk in a street, many of your potential subjects will be headed in your direction and pass by very close. That is especially true in towns with narrow sidewalks or tiny streets like one often encounters in Europe. With that method, you will set the focus on your lens at a given distance depending on how close you anticipate/want to get to your subject. Almost on a collision path, reason for the new found name for this technique. In my case, I usually set my 35mm lens at 2 meters and the 60mm at 3 meters. When I spot a potential subject coming towards me, I then raise the camera to my eyes in advance and aim the rangefinder center patch toward the face of the person. Then I let the subject near (on a collision path … reason for the name of this technique) until the two images are about to coincide in the viewfinder. At that moment, I’ll quickly reframe to the wanted composition and hit the trigger. Now make no mistake, and remember that this series is about focusing lenses at full aperture, this technique is not a very reliable one and one does need to practice a lot to get a good timing. Nevertheless, I find it a bit more effective then trying to estimate the distance to your subjects while both of you are moving. As a side note, one could argue that this technique will get you spotted easily by subjects. It is true in some cases, yet most people don’t really understand what is about to happen as you raise your camera. Therefore if your timing is good, you’ll still get a high rate of candids.

The picture below was taken next to the Mouling Rouge. I saw that girl in the distance coming towards me and also spotted the red color of the Moulin Rouge in the back. As she came close to me, I raised my camera and aimed the rangefinder patch towards her face until the images were about to coincide. At that point I slightly reframed to the right and hit the trigger. The focus ended up not 100% accurate nevertheless I believe it did not impact too negatively on the overall feel of the picture. Also notice the out of focus background, result of the lens opened at F1.2.  (click on picture to enlarge)

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Leica M9 with 60mm Hexanon at F1.2, 1/4000, ISO640

Manual focus series III : Focus by anticipation

Dimanche, septembre 12th, 2010

Skill : advanced
In focus rate : 80%
Shot style : Moving subjects, preset compositions

Yesterday I wrote about how to preset your focus and then move into position to frame and trigger. Today’s focus technique is a variation of zone focus, yet in this case you will first position yourself, set the focus then wait for your subject to enter your frame. This method is most useful when facing fast moving subjects (bikes, cars, joggers… ) or whenever you have identified a specific background and wait for a subject to enter it. But let’s go directly to the pictures to illustrate that method.In the first picture taken on a bridge of the Canal St-Martin, I spotted this lady on her bike as she was stopped at a traffic light on the other side of the Canal. I therefore quickly identified the best composition possible from my position as moving around was not an option due to the imminence of her arrival. I then set the focus on one of the white stains on the ground (chewing gum residue I suppose) where I expected her to ride by. As she progressed towards me, I had to slightly modify my focus point as her path was different from the one I had expected initially. Yet as she entered my viewfinder, I was ready and only had to click. As you can tell from her dress, she was riding quite fast so a manual focus as she moved in the viewfinder would have resulted impossible, especially since my lens was wide open at F1.4. (click on picture to enlarge)

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Leica M8 with 50mm Summilux asph at F1.4, 1/1000, ISO160

The second picture illustrates a variation of this technique, more adapted to situations where the subject will enter your frame close to you. Indeed in this case, it is less effective to pre-focus on a ground pattern since you will always re-frame significantly afterwards, which will in turn result in an overshoot of the real focus point (as stated by the laws of geometry). In this situation, it is best to simply estimate the distance at which your subject will be located in your composition and adjust the focus distance on your lens accordingly. In the picture below, I spotted this musician at a pedestrian crossing in front of the Saint-Augustin Church. I identified a potential composition with the church in the background and estimated that the boy would be in focus about 2 meters in front of me. I therefore set the focus distance on my lens and kept the aperture at F1.4 for a strong out of focus effect in the background. As this young musician finally entered my viewfinder, all I had to do was to remain steady and click. Obviously, this technique is not always successful as it relies a lot on your capacity to guess the path of your subjects. And often, your subjects will actually alter their paths unexpectedly and get out of your in focus zone resulting in a misfocused shot. Obviously, you could stop down your lens (smaller aperture such as F8) for a longer zone of focus, but remember that this series is all about wide open shots! (click on picture to enlarge)

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Leica M8 with 35mm Summilux Asph at F1.4, 1/350, ISO160

Manual focus series II : Zone focus

Samedi, septembre 11th, 2010

Skill : normal
In focus rate : 90%
Picture style : candids

Zone focus is a very effective way to shoot with a rangefinder. Indeed, you manually chose the plane that want in focus by setting the distance and aperture on your lens. For example, set your 35mm lens (on full format camera) on 3 meters and an aperture of 5.6 and you’ll know by looking at the distance scale that the plane between 2 meters and 5 meters will be in focus (often referred to as the depth of field). So where does it lead us to ? To the point that you can set the focus by estimating the distance to your subject before actually bringing the camera to your eyes. No more need to focus in the viewfinder and a very valuable gain of time to take your shot, especially useful if you are after candids. Actually, you could spend a whole day without any need to focus your camera by setting the focus ring on 3 meters and the aperture on F11. Then everything between 1.8 and 7 meters would be in focus and would cover about any situations you will encounter in street photography. Easy isn’t it ? Apart from the loss of speed that would happen at F11, it also gets more complex when you like to shoot wide open as I do (with large apertures such a F1.4). Inded, the focus plane becomes very thin. For example, take the same 35mm lens at 3 meters with an aperture of F1.4 and your plane of focus now only ranges from 2.7 to 3.3 meters. This will create great blur effects in the background nevertheless your focus zone will be of only 60 centimeters and a wrong estimation of distance will fatally lead to a misfocused picture. Therefore if you are going to use zone focus with wide open lenses, you better learn to estimate distances very accurately.

Enough theory and here are two shots taken today to illustrate this technique. The first one portrays a young man in a relaxed position enjoying the sun in Rue St-Honoré. I wanted to get a candid shot and knew I would have to be quick before he reacted to my presence. Thus I mentally pre-framed the picture and located where I would position myself. I then estimated the distance that would separate him from me, that is 3 meters, and set the aperture to F2.8. Given there was no background and no blur opportunity, F2.8 would give me a plane of sharpness of 1 meter in a static situation, safe enough. Then all I had to do was to go to the postion I had previously identified, kneel down, frame and hit the trigger. By zone focusing, I gained a lot of time by not having to focus in the viewfinder. The man did see me, yet he did not have time to adjust his behaviour to my presence. The definition of a candid shot.  (click on picture to enlarge)

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Leica M8 with 35mm Summilux at F2.8, 1/4000, ISO160

The second shot shows a man smoking in front of a large fashion ad a bit further on Rue St-Honoré. This was a bit trickier since closing the lens to a smaller aperture would have meant a significant loss of speed and a risk of blurred shot. I therefore left the aperture at F1.4, positioned myself at 3 meters, quickly rose the camera to my eye and triggered. Again, the man did see me but did not have time to alter his expression and gesture. Another candid shot even if not fully in focus. 2.5 meters would probably have been a better distance estimate, yet I would say it did not impact too much on the shot.  (click on picture to enlarge)

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Leica M8 with 35mm Summilux Asph at F1.4, 1/1000, ISO160

Manual focus series : Through the viewfinder -The Happy Bunny

Vendredi, septembre 10th, 2010

The main characteristic of rangefinder cameras like the Leica M’s is that they are manual focus. It might sound awkward as autofocus is nowadays a basic feature of even the cheapest compact cameras, yet manual focus does bring some clear advantage in my opinion.

First and above all, manual focus means that you are in full control. You can’t blame the camera for an out of focus shot, it is only about your skills and interpretation of a scene. I often feel a sense of accomplishment when I nail perfect focus on a complex scene. It does bring a lot of frustration too as focusing accurately and consistently a rangefinder is not easy. There, only practice and experience will help. Another advantage of manual focusing, especially with M rangefinders, is the ability to use the zone focus technique easily. Indeed, with the detailed distance scale and aperture ring located on the lens, you can prepare your shot without actually looking at a screen or bringing the camera to your eye. That turns out to be extremely useful in these situations where stealth is needed to get a candid shot. Finally, manual focusing will often be more precise than most auto-focus systems in low light environments. The limits here are the quality of your vision, not technology.

As said above, some skills are needed to focus a rangefinder quickly and consistently, especially wide open as the sharpness plane will be very thin. This series will therefore will cover the main focusing techniques I use while in the street with my lens wide open. Let’s start today by the most common one :

Focus through the viewfinder

Skill : basic
In focus rate : 99%
Shot style : static subjects, landscapes, portraits

The standard way of focusing a rangefinder. Bring the camera to your eyes, have the rangefinder patch coincide with the whole picture and hit the trigger. This way of focusing is perfect for static objects or landscapes. You have plenty time and you can fine tune your focus. Therefore it should result in a perfect focus in all instances. Nonetheless, do not forget that a slight re-framing after setting the focus will often result in the focus point moving slightly (indeed as the lens moves, so does the focus distance), so you’ll need to compensate with a slight move of your body.

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Leica M9 with 35mm Summicron IV at F2, 1/350, ISO160

Street photography spots IX : Alexander III bridge

Mercredi, septembre 8th, 2010

A place where I like to shoot when I don’t have too much time and want to test my creativity. The Alexander III bridge, which links the Invalides to the Champs-Elysées, was built in 1900 to celebrate the Franco-Russian friendship. It is a massive steel structure topped by golden statues and featuring amazing views over the Seine River, the Eiffel tower and the Invalides. It is a favourite of tourists, lovers but also wedding and fashion photographers. It is nonetheless a challenging shooting spot since you’ll be out in the wide open and getting close to your subjects undetected will tes your stealthiness skills. Also, the architectural setting will tempt you to use super wide angles while a compressed view of the bridge, walker by’s and Invalides will have you pull out your longest lens. The Alexander III bridge is as well a great place for photographers that like to take their time and carefully prepare their shots. Patience will be needed until all pieces come together. You might even be lucky and see models or a bride and broom appear for a quick photo session. Finally, as you exit the bridge towards the Invalides, you can go on towards the grass areas where you’ll often find people skating, playing football or enjoying a picnic. Some great shots there if you can include them with the church or bridge in the frame.

Pictures type : lovers, walker by’s in compressed scenery, weddings, fashion shoots.
Your best lens : 35mm and 75mm
Favorite spot : Up the stairs leading to the Seine River
When to go : sunset
Must go : see the sunset on a warm summer day.
Metro Station : Champs-Elysées – Clémenceau

Map of the area

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Sample shots  (click on pictures to enlarge)    

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Street photography spots VIII : The Canal Saint-Martin

Mercredi, juillet 21st, 2010

 

The Seine River is not the unique water way in Paris. Indeed, facing problems of salubrity in dowtown Paris, Napoleon ordered the construction of huge canals to bring potable water as well as merchandise to the city. Nowadays these canals are mainly sailed by guided tours ships and are a great place for long wanders along its piers, as well as wonderful sights at its many floodgates and bridges. The most typical part of the canal network is the Canal St – Martin that links the Villette harbour to la Bastille.

First head to the Stalingrad metro station (a very photogenic place in itself) and you’ll find yourself overviewing the canal located on the left. Obviously, you can wander by both sides of the water way and if you have time, do so. Otherwise I recommend taking the right bank when going towards La Bastille. You will be on for a 2 kilometers walk full of pictures opportunity. Indeed, barges, terraces, floodgates, lovers, lone wanderers, fishermen, bridges, campers, joggers, .. it is all there for creative picture taking. And don’t forget your lunch for a nice meal with your feet in the water.

 

Pictures type   : Strollers, terraces, barges, group of friends.

Your best lens : 35mm and 75mm

Favorite spot   : By Stalingrad

When to go     : Very early morning or before sunset.

Must go         :  See a ship go through the floodgate system.

Metro Station  : Stalingrad

 

Map of the area

 

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Sample shots  (click on pictures to enlarge)    

 

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Leica blog interview

Jeudi, juin 24th, 2010

I was interviewed by Steve Huff for the Leica Blog last week. If you are interested in the article, please click here : Leica blog

Also do not hesitate to discover Steve’s website as it is a vast and enthusiastic source of information mainly related to rangefinder photography.

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Leica M9 with 35mm Summilux Asph at F1.4, 1/1000, ISO160

Shoot the shooter

Samedi, juin 5th, 2010

A photographer getting ready for a candid of a beautiful woman. Or a woman getting ready to shoot a photographer with a enormous vintage camera ? Or even, a photographer shooting a photographer that is getting to be photographer by a beautiful woman ?

Headaches ? Well, if you  attended the Bievres Photography Fair today, you would have ended up up dizzy  by searching through the thousands of cameras and lenses on sale. As for myself, I found a perfect sample of a Russian Beauty… a vintage 85mm F2 Jupiter 9. A cheap but wonderful lens for portraits, for sure I won’t sell it again this time.

The show ends tomorrow so rush there if you are in need of any vintage photography equipment. (click on picture to enlarge)

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Leica M9 with 35mm Summilux Asph at F8, 1/60, ISO160

Street photography spots VII : The Tuileries Garden

Jeudi, juin 3rd, 2010

Located in front of the Louvres Palace, the Tuileries Garden is the biggest park in downtown Paris. Once the Kings’ private garden, it has been open to the public for two centuries and has become a favorite of for Parisians in need of some green space.

As you enter the Garden through the Concorde gate, go left and up the ramp that overlooks the place on one side and the Garden on the other. There you’ll get the opportunity for shots with great paranomas, you’ll just have to wait for someone to bring some interesting action to your frame. Also a good opportunity to use your longer lenses for some subject compression or isolation effects. In the far left corner (as you face the Garden) stands the Jeu de Paume, a building fully dedicated to photography and featuring amazing exhibits. So do plan a couple of hours to visit it.

Once fully inspired by works of the masters, walk to the main pond area where you’ll usually find many people taking a rest in the famous green chairs. Take a seat, feel the place and hopefully you’ll find some ways to keep out of the « cliché » shots and find some creative ways to depict this area. If not, the famous couple sitting in chairs will do, heck you are in Paris, this is a must take shot. After that, head towards the wooden areas where shooting becomes a bit more challenging. Indeed, in the later part of the afternoon, sun, shadows, dust and vegetation create a special light that is great to create mysterious atmospheres. There is always something happening but you obviously need to find it so do not hesitate to roam around in search of your shots. Once out of the woods, you’ll find the second pond (and another couple shot …) and finally get in the last part of the Garden where labyrinths are located. Here again, your creativity will be put at a test but the setting is definitely there for some great shots.

 

Pictures type   : Strollers, couples, terraces, shadows plays, joggers.

Your best lens : 35mm and 75mm

Favorite spot   : Around the ponds

When to go     : Very early morning or before sunset. Avoid weekends.

Must go         :  Jeu de Paume Photography House

Metro Station  : Concorde

 

Sample shots  (click on pictures to enlarge)    

 

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Street photography spots VI : The flea market in Saint-Ouen

Vendredi, mai 21st, 2010

The flea market in Saint-Ouen, sometimes referred to as « biggest in the world », is a very special place that you cannot miss when visiting Paris. Not only it is enormous but it is also a fantastic mix of different types of markets, people and atmospheres. Best is to start your visit at the Porte de Clignancourt metro station. You will head north and cross path with many sellers and gamblers on the run. Be smart there, cameras are not welcomed so if you are going to shoot, do it extremely discreetly. You will then go through a first market which is typical French small town but don’t spend too much time there, not of much interest. Go on your way under the bridge, you will then be entering the flea market and his many worlds. It is better to inform yourself and get a map because it is so big and intricate that you would miss a lot of hidden places if you just strolled without an itinerary. Nevertheless, to give you some hints, here are the main areas to discover while there :

 

- What I would call the « R’n'B market ». Selling mainly clothing and electronics. Lot’s of young kids gangs wandering at the sound of R’n'B and Hip Hop music. Colorful and multi-ethnic.

- antique shops warehouses. These are huge building full of shops, great spots to play with the architectural structures and light.

- Vernaison market. A labyrinth of tiny old houses where you’ll find the spirit of the initial flea market. Absolutely gorgeous and great for pictures.

- Restaurant and terraces. There is nothing better than a lunch at the flea market on a sunny day. You’ll be able to blend customers with antique shops in the background for pictures full of atmosphere.

 

Pictures type   : Antique shops, crowd, terraces, multi-ethnicity, markets

Your best lens : 35mm

Favorite spot   : Marché Vernaison

When to go     : Weekends, closed most of the week.

Must go          : Have lunch in one of the restaurants featuring live bands.

Metro Station  : Porte de Clignancourt

 

Sample shots  (click on pictures to enlarge)   

 

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The Kodachrome project

Jeudi, mai 13th, 2010

Kodachrome is probably the most popular color film in the history of photography. While film processing will go on until the end of 2010, production stopped last year, being another victim to the massive switch of photographers to digital. I love the colors of Kodachrome, which are very difficult to replicate with digital, and some aspects of it did influence my perception of colors. So when Dan Bayer of the Kodachrome project told me he would visit Paris, I gladly proposed to go on a few shooting sessions in the streets of Paris. It was a great experience and very insightful to see Dan’s perception of light and colors as well as shooting technique. Dan is a professional photographer who is on a quest to celebrate the 75th (and last) anniversary of Kodachrome. Shooting mainly with Leica’s, his work will result in a book that can be considered as a the closing act of the Kodachrome history. So if you are interested in learning more, please visit Dan’s Kodachrome project website.

Exploring the streets of Paris, Dan became a Parisian the day he finally bought a beret and paused in front of the Moulin Rouge. Obviously … still scanning around for his next « Kodachrome shot ».

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Leica M9 with 60mm Hexanon at F1.4, 1/250, ISO1600

New pictures look

Mardi, avril 27th, 2010

Time for a  change in the look of my pictures!

The basic style remains the same yet pictures will have less sepia and more colors. In other words : more pop for a more modern look.  I hope you will enjoy it.