A Morning Shoot with Angelo Gifford
A short post today as I am now on holiday, currently located in Devizes, near Bath. If you are near the area and fancy a shoot let me know. Last week I arrived in London and had a chance to take a photography walk with my friend Angelo Gifford, who is a co-owner of Mewe’s Street Photography Community (SPC). Angelo often captures photos of the street just South of the Thames, and is an expert on the how light bounces around the area and the locations that can be found.
Slow Shutter Speed
Seeing with New Eyes
If there has to be a point to this blog, then it would be to encourage more people to explore an area with someone else. We each only have one pair of eyes, and can get into habits which crush creativity. It is also nice to have someone to talk to. Lastly, if you are in a new area, it is certain that a local photographer will have some insider information on the location, including the interesting spots and how light works at different times of the day.
Next month I will be heading to Glasgow, on some unrelated-to-photography engagements. However, I would love to meet up with someone for a shoot if you can get to the town centre. Towards the end of the month I will be in Thailand, shooting street with a distinctly ‘beach’ theme. Locations will include Phuket and Pattaya.
That is all for today folks, so find a friend and keep clicking!
MEWE – why not join the SPC Mewe Community? Come on in, you are all invited (and the water is warm).
Mumbai continues to offer world-class opportunities for street photography. It is also hot. Very hot. I’m developing a Mumbai smell, and think my t-shirts and running shoes may soon need their own room. My camera is proving to be wonderful company. The batteries on the A7iii run forever, and I am shooting regularly at higher ISO, which is opening locations I would not be able to photograph using my M4/3 gear. Read on…
Yesterday I visited the Dhobi Ghat, a vast area that washes linen and clothing for 1000’s of individuals and businesses. This location has been the highlight of my trip so far, and I came away with some keepers, despite the harsh lighting conditions. It is the largest laundry ghat in the world (I got lost inside it).
Dharavi Slum was something I don’t ever need to see again, although I am glad I went there. Pottery appears to be one core business in the area, and this created a haze of thick, eye-watering smoke. Most adults did not want to be photographed. However, there were 100’s of kids who wanted to be snapped, and then look at their photo. I obliged as much as I could, then feeling a little over-whelmed, retreated fast! This location was home to Danny Boyle’s ‘Slumdog Millionaire’.
Worli Fishing Village
I arrived at Worli Fishing Village at 6.30 this morning. The shore line was full of rubbish, both washed up from the sea and thrown out of the houses. On the other side of the village I poked my camera over the sea wall, only to be greeted by a row of people defecating. However, this did not put me off heading back to the hotel for breakfast.
Today I plan on taking a train to Mumbai’s Central Rail Station, which I shall catch from Grant Street. The station is a national heritage site, although I am more interested in the ride than the destination! Hopefully I will have enough energy at the end of the day to photograph some of Mumbai’s famous street-food vendors.
Tomorrow I head back to Bangalore, with a photos to sort through, aching legs, happy memories and a bag of dirty washing.
Yesterday was a long day of exploring. After the a mid-day nap I headed out to Chor Bazaar, the interpretation being ‘thieves market’. The taxi driver dropped me off, pointed straight ahead and let me walk the rest of the way. Obviously I became instantly lost and took the next hour and a half finding the location. However, as is often the case, my best photos came from the area surrounding the location I was planning to shoot.
Chor Bazaar is located close to Falkland Road, home to what was one of Asia’s largest red-light areas. It is safe to say that my camera and I were NOT welcome in the area and I disappeared fast. However, if you would like to see a photo essay on this location you would do well to investigate the work of Mary Ellen Mark. Be careful what you wish for, as the images are quite harrowing (they are not safe for work or children). The day ended with a rather nice buffalo steak at Leopold’s Cafe. This is an iconic location which was attacked by terrorists in 2008, it also briefly featured in the book Shantaram.
Today I woke up later than planned, and with aching legs and headed for Sassoon Docks, in the south of Mumbai. The location did not disappoint, although I now smell strongly of fish! I have still to upload the mornings images, however, expect more pictures of women with baskets of fish on their heads and men pushing heavy carts.
This afternoon I plan to visit Dharavi Slum, an area that featured strongly in Slum Dog Millionaire. While there I hope to visit the Laundry Ghats, as well as a few of the temples. The area is key to the workings of Mumbai, and should be an eye opener to how so many of the world’s population live.
Thats all for today folks. Take care and keep clicking, Chris.
I arrived in Mumbai last night and after a quick drink, went to bed for an early start this morning. At 5am I was up and out of bed, ready to shoot Marine Drive, an iconic location for Street Photography. I set out using the classic setup of a 50mm lens, set to f8. This set up is coined, ‘F8 and be there‘, as using this setting is most likely to result in everything being in focus.
While Marine Drive is full of people, it is unlikely to become my No’1 Mumbai haunt, it is just too clean cut. Today I will go searching for something that is a little more ‘my style‘. The itinerary for the remains of the day is as follows:
Chor Bazarre (a 150 year old market, once famous for stolen goods)
Kamathipura (once a large red-light area, now a seedy underbelly of Mumbai)
Back to the hotel to download pics and plan tomorrow!
This man is from Nigeria. He told me it was unsafe for him to return home. However, he would not tell me why.
For now I am off to bed. My day is strange when I am shooting. After a 5am start I shoot till about 9. After that I head to the hotel, have breakfast, shower and wash my clothes, blog, sleep for a couple of hours and then shoot till my legs fall off. Repeat…
Catchy title I know, this is a blog post deemed to never go viral. Recently, I have not had enough time to do half of what I plan for. Arguably, head butting a metal door and spending Friday afternoon in A&E has not helped, an accident that ruled out weekend shooting. However, I have been walking to work, a journey that takes me past a rather interesting wall.
Go Slow. Sounds like good advice!
This technique is often called, ‘making something out of nothing‘. It can be amazing how the mundane can be transformed if looked at a certain way. These photos would also fall under the subject of minimalism (or still life for that matter). Capturing these kind of images is an affective way to practice framing, as the subjects remain motionless. The strong geometric lines would look good in black and white. However, I think the contrasting reds and yellows make a striking contrast.
This style of shooting opens locations you can go back to time and again. The same areas will look different depending on the time of day and the position of the sun. On a personal note, I can see this theme growing into something of a long-term project. Now there is an idea!
This month I will be heading to Mumbai for a weekend of photography. Mumbai has been shot to death by photographers far greater than me, but I am hoping that I will be able to capture something new and unique. Here are some of the things I put on my check list when planning for Travel Photography.
The photos for this article are part of a book project I am working on, with the working title ‘The Bangalorean’. You can hunt for more photos taken while shooting for this exciting project on Instagram, #bangalorean and #bookaboutbangalore.
We all spend too much on photo gear, but let’s not spend too much on flights and hotels. Book early to get the best rates. When making a hotel reservation, check that you will be staying within walking distance of the main city features you are hoping to capture. Getting some quality rest during your stay is important, so don’t scrimp too much on your accommodation.
Pack light! If you can get away with only a cabin bag then do it. This saves time and lightens the flight load, helping to keep our planet clean and green. You are allowed one cabin bag, but can often get away with an additional shoulder bag and a bumbag (fanny pack in the US, which us Brits find quite funny.) I have a Lowepro shoulder bag that can hold two cameras and a couple of extra lenses, this bag tends to fly under the radar when checking in.
Lowepro Passport Sling iii
Remember to keep your camera batteries in your cabin bag. These should have the terminals taped over and be placed in a sealed plastic bag.
Take as few clothes as you can get away with. Dryfit shirts are lightweight, can be washed in a hotel sink and dry in a couple of hours. Two pairs of shorts should cover most eventualities. Bring sturdy shoes, you are going to need them. I like to include a pair of flip-flops to wear around the hotel, as in India my boots get covered in cow poo…
I travel with two camera bodies. Planes and hotels are not cheep, and if one camera gives up the ghost I do not want to spend time getting it fixed. Many Street Photographers only use a fixed prime lens. However, zooms are getting better and provide more flexibly. I will take both and use whichever one takes my fancy. Prime lenses are best for late evenings and night as they are faster that a zoom and are suited for low light. Take a tripod if you are going to use it.
One of the first sites I look at is Shooter Files, run by F.D Walker. It is a superb website and the guy who runs it appears to have been everywhere! Pinterest is another site that is slowly growing on me.
Wherever you go, someone has been there before. If you are seeking inspiration then look to the best examples of photography taken in the city your are visiting. India has been captured by many of the greats, including Steve McCurry, Bruno Barbey and Alex Webb. Of course, this can be a little daunting but it is good to set your goals high!
What next? This is the time to think about what your viewpoint on the location is going to be. Make sure you don’t just go where others have been, and think about how you are going to approach the city. Speak to non-photographers who have been to the city and will have viewed the locations though a different eye.
Make sure you take time to find out what else is happening. What are the local foods? Are there any festivals on? Lastly, whilst I enjoy my own company, it is always nice to meet up with fellow photographers. Make a point to let other people in your online community know where you will be, it is a small world and it is good see our online buddies in ‘real life’.
If you are in Mumbai at the end of the month, drop me a line and we can plan a shoot. Take care and keep clicking, Chris
There is much debate on whether or not photographers should watermark, or place a logo on their photos. I am not going to sit on the fence here as I fall solidly into the NO camp. I will accompany this article with some recent un-watermarked pics!
Street Portrait. Yelahanka/ Bangalore
Most people don’t care who you are.
There are a number of articles that explain why nobody cares about your photography. I don’t think this is necessarily true, most people enjoy great images, even if your photo holds their attention for less than 10 seconds. However, while a good photo is appreciated most people don’t really care who captured the image. The exceptions to this are when:
you are a famous photographer
there is a personal relationship between the photographer and the viewer.
There are probably not that many famous photographers who read this blog. Spend a few minutes Googling some of the greats, and you will notice that they do not write over their images. Famous photographers don’t need to tell the world an image is theirs.
But some people DO care who you are.
If you are active in an online community, people will start to get to know you and the images you take. There are friends I have made online and I can generally spot their photos from a mile away, and they do not use watermarks. People will recognise your photos if you stay consistent and post regularly. Even better, people will start searching for your images.
What if my images get stolen?
It is easy to add your copyright in Lightroom
Hopefully your images will get stolen by a big business and you can sue the company for millions. Maybe someone will copy your image and pretend it is their own, but people who do this get caught in the end. Even a watermarked image can get stolen, as logos can be cropped or removed using an app. If your image does get pinched, just take it as a complement. A better way to protect your image is to make sure you have included the copyright and ownership information in your Exif data.
And it ruins your work!
Where would the logo go?
Finally, you have spent precious time capturing an image and spent an evening editing the shot until you are happy. After that you are going to spoil it by placing a logo over it? The composition will look wrong and the logo just distracts the viewer from the subject.
So if you want to look professional, don’t write all over your images. Instead, create your own unique style and people will soon associate you with the images you create. As always, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section.
Instagram is testing a change to the ‘Likes’ feature. In Canada, viewers will still be able to ‘like’ an image, but only the owner of the photo will be able to see the count. A spokesman from Instagram has stated, “we want your followers to focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get.”
My most popular post on Instagram, though far from my personal favourite.
Don’t Chase ‘Likes’.
Stating ‘don’t chase likes’, is the flavour of the decade, although we all do it. A high ‘like count’ provides a mini shot of adrenalin. Ultimately however, ‘likes’ mean very little. I would trade 10,000 Instagram likes, for an individual to enjoy an image enough to actually make a purchase! Secondly, constructive feedback on a photo is more useful than a like. Maybe hiding the count will shift the the pressure towards increasing followers? Unfortunately a high follower count is now seen as a measure of success, as recently evidenced with Cannon dropping one of their Ambassadors for not having enough followers.
A winner on Instagram, as everyone likes chicken! (Apologies to my vegetarian friends)
Obviously we have to spare a thought for all those businesses that offer 1000 likes for $10 (made be real people – will they be out of a job?). Unfortunately, these leaches of society will still create mythical follower counts, and post bland comments designed to fit any photo. This phenomena has recently been explored by Trey Ratcliff, with his book ‘Under the Influence – How to Fake Your Way into Getting Rich on Instagram‘, where he explores the artificial world of social media. We know people are not as they portray themselves online, but are we aware of the extent individuals will go to creating artificial perspectives of themselves?
Here at pagespics.com, success is not measured by likes and followers. I just enjoy putting forth high quality content. So if you like this article, please ‘Like’ and ‘Follow’. Did I mention I was on Instagram?
Upgrading your skills is a sure-fire way to improve your photography. One way to do this you need to think of a goal, it can relate to how you shoot, or how you process images. Here are a number of project ideas to get you started, although I am sure many of you can think of your own. As you will see later, this relates closely to my KISS philosophy (read on!). Through focusing on just one specific skill at a time, your photography will rapidly improve
Using a flash can open up the night for photography
Using a camera flash. For this project you could start with just using your flash in ‘fill’ mode. This will add instant punch to your images, particularly if you are shooting against the sun, or during the middle of the day.
Photoshop is often frowned upon for Street and Documentary photography. However, Photoshop is more than a tool for removing distracting objects or people. It can be used for colour grading, exposure settings, dodging/ burning and selectively sharpening images.
Changing your exposure settings. I have recently completed a project that looked at over, or under exposing images. It is rare an over-exposed image excites me, but a dark and broody image can certainly light my fire.
This image was underexposed, as I wanted to keep the details of the shrimp. The hand just adds a little human element.
My Current Learning Project
I am still getting to grips with my rather wonderful Sony A7iii (and still saving for some better glass to go with it). At the moment, the focusing method I most often use is to manually select the focus point using the joystick. Things happen quickly on the street, and using this method leads to many missed shots. This has led me towards a path of upgrading my focusing skill-set. Sounds simple, but there are a many different options out there (centre focusing, zone focusing, single shot focusing, continuous focusing, back-button focusing… the list goes on).
Keep It Simple…. Stupid
With so much talk of different skill-sets we can become easily overwhelmed. Cameras are becoming increasingly complex. However, they are also becoming increasingly ‘intelligent’. For me, this means learning how to get the best out of the automatic functions, such as eye autofocus and continuous focus modes. At the end of the day, the better you know your camera, the more you can ‘forget about it’ and concentrate on spotting, and framing great shots.
Feel free to join the conversation and add any other ideas you have to start a skills-based project.
Take care and keep clicking, Chris
If you have not done so already, check out part one and two of this article. Links below!
Street Photographers love fixed prime lenses, and for good reason. Fixed focal-length lenses are generally cheap, fast, and produce sharper images than many zooms. For this project idea, I am going to suggest picking a focal length and sticking with it. If you only have a kit lens, you can still participate, just zoom all the way in, or out, and then leave the lens alone.
Vietnam, beautiful whatever focal length!
What is Focal Length?
Focal length is how wide, or narrow the lens is. Basically, what you can see from top to bottom and left to right. Higher numbers mean the lens is very tight (narrow), and will be good for portraits, or shooting subjects from a distance. Lower numbers mean the lens is ‘wide’, and will generally be useful for Street and Architectural photography.
Here is where it all gets strange. Photographers always talk about full-frame equivalence. This is because a lens that is designed for a crop-factor camera, will create a different field of view when attached to a full-frame camera. The opposite is also true. There are many articles already written on lens equivalence and I am not going to delve into the details here, just be aware of this if you are reading about lenses, or researching your next purchase.
What Focal Lengths are Good for Street Photography?
The most popular focal length for Street Photographers is 50mm. This is what Cartier-Bresson used and is often compared to the field of vision we experience with our eyes. This lens is often referred to as the ‘nifty-fifty’. If you are shooting using a camera with an APS-C sensor, then you would use a 35mm lens to get the same effect.
Extreme Wide Angle (actually a number of images stitched together).
Another popular focal length is 35mm. The number is lower than the above 50mm recommendation, meaning the area viewed is wider. The popular Ricoh Gr series have this lens, as does the FujiFilm X100 series – both legendary cameras for Street Photography.
You can go wider and closer than the above. I often reach for my Olympus 45mm f1.8, which is a wonderful lens and useful for capturing Street Portraits. I have also undertaken projects using ultra-wide lenses, although this can be tough as strange distortions come into play.
Make it a Project
You may have recently purchased a prime lens, or be planning to do so in the future. Alternatively, you may have an older lens tucked away somewhere that you have not used for a while. For this project, simply attach the lens and leave it on your camera. Sticking with one lens will make you a better photographer. You will understand the benefits, and negatives, of each focal length you use.
Captured for a ‘wide angle’ project/ Shanghai.
Zoom with your Feet – Sort of…
If you want to get closer, you must physically move towards your subject. Your lens has no zoom to do this for you. However, do not expect to see the same results as when you use a zoom, the effect is quite different. When you shoot using the end of a zoom the picture gets compressed. Getting closer will open the frame and create an image that is much more ‘Street’.
Lenses I have Owned.
Here are some of the lenses I have owned, and often loved.
Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35 mm f/1.8G. If you have a crop sensor Nikon , purchase this lens. You will not regret it.
Cheap and fantastic.
Olympus M. Zuiko digital ED 45mm F/1.8. This is my favourite M4/3 lens so far.
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17mm f1.8. Small and compact, this gets the job done. Also consider the Panasonic Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 II.
Sony FE 1.8/50mm. I am a little ‘off’ with this lens to be honest, and will upgrade next time I am feeling flush.
Ricoh GRii. OK, I know this is a camera. But the 28mm fixed lens is rather fantastic. There is now a GRiii out, with a newly designed lens.
Next week we will be looking at light as a project idea. The sun is around most of the time (at least during the day). It makes sense to carry out a project on it at some point in your photography life.
That all for today folks. Take care and keep clicking, Chris