One of the best things about street photography is that it is like going on an unknown voyage. You just never know what you are going to find, or what shots you are going to make. Maybe a real nightmare for the average coordinator but such a treat for those who dislike any form of planning. And mind you, most other forms of photography demand heaps of preparation in advance. So there! A life shot in black and white.
Many people believe it is necessary to study arts and design in order to come up with a satisfactorily constructed picture.
But since photography is a tool for both documenting and self expression, the design of a photograph is inferior in importance. The composition of a photograph should be spontaneous to the scene and employed by the photographer’s vision not by a set of rules for correct design.
Not that a basic understanding of composition and design could hurt anyone, but don’t let that bother you too much and definitely don’t let it be the main factor when making your choices.
Next I’d like to quote an article from a young photojournalist, Lizane Louw, where she described how her passion in photojournalism has affected her life very much. This is what she had to say,
“In my job I meet many influential people. Sometimes my road crosses with a person that inspires me on various different levels. I had the privilege to meet someone that changed the way I think, that changed my spiritual perceptions and that moved me and my thoughts very deeply.
Since meeting Hylton, I have been spending many days sitting and thinking about his story. In my heart and in my mind there are so many emotions that jump around if I think about our brief encounter. I struggle to find words to describe my gratitude and admiration. I thank the creator for choosing me to take these photographs and to let my path in life cross with his. It was a privilege to speak to him.” (Quote from Source: Lizane Louw)
However, one has to remember that in some unfriendly neighborhoods, shooting on the street can be extremely difficult and close to impossible. Any attempt to take pictures would inevitably lead to unwanted attention from the neighborhood drug dealers who populated the street corners and alleys. I personally do not believe in “assaulting” people with a camera. Don’t be surprised when most of the subjects that you approached may not be willing to be photographed. Should they be blamed?
There have been so many approaches to street photography, so far ranging in their unique style, that I believe the lack of exploitation and ability to contain meaning into the image which is technically competent are the big necessities in street photography or photo journalism.
I’ve been craving for a medium format system and had done quite some research over the web for the said objective. Thus, over the last year or so I’ve tried (i.e. tested and borrowed) a few medium format bodies, namely RB67, Hasselblad 500 C/M and a Seagull 4A (TLR).
One thing that marks the medium format experience is the feeling of expansiveness, closeness and detail that is visible through the finder and the elegance of the shape relative to the angular, distant and cramped (my view) 35mm view. I get these things with 6×6 and 67.
Personally I don’t get this feeling with a 645 system results that I see on the web which I guess is another way of saying that it all looks too similar to 35mm for me. I hope I could have my hands on a 645 system so that I can really get a proper feel for the system.
That said there is certainly enough film size to produce great large prints. At the moment I am more inclined towards getting a camera with the largest negative that I could afford (i.e. 6X6 or 6X7)… Maybe a system with reputable lenses like Mamiya or Hassleblad. They are quite easily acquired from some good stores like KEH, some camera strores in Singapore or Evil Bay if my budget gets too tight.
Quoting Mr. Philip Partridge, Jan 09, 2006; 02:15 a.m. (Photo.net Forum)
I sometimes ponder why some people cannot see the ‘sharp edge/ poor tonal separation’ syndrome one encounters all over the place with digicam images. Maybe there is a kind of visual literacy at play?
In a word, better images, so typical of larger pieces of film real estate, exude *authenticity*. It’s a combination of clarity, fine detail rendition, lack of obvious grain, and tonality (or tonal separation) and even the range of tonal values. It’s not apparent sharpness (MTF) as such – many top MF lenses rate with the finest from Canon/Nikon; check out photodo.com.
Notice that most of these qualities do not lend themselves to ready quantification or measurement. Which explains the plethora of ‘6mp vs (pick a film camera)’ comparos on the web, that narrow it all down to *resolution*, which is perhaps the least significant metric of photographic image merit. Witness the rich heritage of the accumulated photographic record from the olden times down to the present. Not too many ‘L’ lenses in that lot…
IMNSHO, the jump from small format to medium format is a good leap, whereas the step from there to 4×5 is well, a good step. It’s a threshold in image quality you cross when jumping to MF. LF cameras also suffer all manner of drawbacks technical and practical – you miss plenty of shots that are eminently takeable with MF, esp. the more auto ones. Most LF guys use dumbed-down flatbeds; no good desktop film scanners are available for them..
The tonality smoothness is the biggest benefit of MF over 35mm. If you look at the LPM figures for assorted lenses, there are actually 35mm lenses that can resolve detail nearly as well or better than some common MF and LF rigs, but film grain and the need for greater enlargement prevents that resolution from ever approaching the clarity of even a relatively low grade MF or LF lens.
These are the findings of Mr Rick Denney which I find very useful and which you can also read at length on his site
1. Bokeh has several components, including edge effects around out-of-focus highlights and false edges in the rendering of out-of-focus details.
2. Bokeh rendering is not the same in all situations, and some lenses will be better than others in some situations and worse in other situations. The Vega in this test has produced some really ugly bokeh, not consistent with these results. Lens bokeh is not a single value, and each lens requires considerable experience to understand where it is good and where it is not.
3. Wider apertures do not necessarily improve bokeh.
4. Specular highlights and other out-of-focus bright spots don’t tell the whole bokeh story.
5. Longer focal lengths improve bokeh. If smooth rendering is important, get a longer lens and back up.
6. Double-gauss designs aren’t necessarily bad, but the bad ones are really bad.
7. Sonnar designs don’t necessarily have better bokeh, but they have the potential.
8. Reputation for good bokeh (e.g., the Jupiter) don’t always show in actual results.
9. Lens complexity seems to have little bearing on bokeh. Lens design, however, is paramount.
10. Apertures shapes are not really an issue with bokeh, especially near wide open. In none of these tests was aperture shape the main determinant in apparent bokeh quality. So, we should stop counting aperture blades. The lens with the most aperture blades was the B&L Tessar, but it had uniformly the worst bokeh.
11. Bokeh is subjective, but it is not an illusion.
12. Canon knows how to design a zoom lens. Nikon didn’t do too badly, either.
13. The Biometar is NOT better than the Vega, at least in these tests.
14. The inexpensive Zeiss Jena Sonnars provide a lot of bokeh quality for the buck.
Do you ever think what orientation suits best for the subject you are trying to capture or do you just press the shutter release button and try your luck?
Orientation can greatly affect how and what image is presenting.
Most novices shoot everything horizontally – well it is much easier to hold and shoot in horizontal mode – especially the compact cameras, no?
Gears: Leica R6 and Leica Summicron 35mm F/2.0, on Kodak Colorplus 200 Negative
Location: Tok Jembal Beach, Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia
Being limited in its maximum aperture, dramatic bokeh isn’t expected; however, you can see how there is a smooth gradation between the in-focus foreground and the out-of-focus background (an important consideration). That is one aspect of bokeh character that I like most with my Leitz Wetzlar Elmarit-R 90/2.8.