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Author Topic: On Street Photography  (Read 21333 times)

Fine_Art

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On Street Photography
« on: December 05, 2015, 01:27:28 am »

I think of Street as "fish in a barrel" photography; the main thing you need for an undisturbed manner in the subject, is a long lens. I have a 24-600mm equivalent lens camera that uses a tablet as a focusing/ control system. You can do portraits from half a block. The lens opening is about the size of a quarter. It is basically beyond subject detection. Do I use it for people? No. It is my cheap tele until I get a good long lens on the Nikon mount.

Most people seem content with cell phones. I can't stand those cameras. You get wide angle distortion. There is no 135mm portrait lens for cell phones as far as I know. Selfie, fine. In your face photography, not fine.

IMO street is completely in the realm of the 1080p or 4K video cameras now. The lenses are beyond detection, take your pick of any 60 fps frame you like, people can, and soon will, start recording everywhere they go. You see 1080p car cams, anyone can walk the streets recording all day in 4K video. Front and back. Privacy is over.

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stamper

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Re: On Street Photography
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2015, 05:16:16 am »

I agree about the long lens but not about the 24-600 lens. A 14-150 on a mirrorless camera means you can shoot from a distance or you can set the lens for 35mm or 50mm equivalent. Imo flexibility is important. However I accept that I am in the minortity because most street photographers prefer primes and getting close to the action. David Gibson - London street photographer - stated in a book of his

http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2014/10/the-street-photographers-manual-by-david-gibson-re.html

that a prime is a must and the final image shouldn't be cropped, something that I have difficulty agreeing with. Joel Meyerowitz

http://www.in-public.com/JoelMeyerowitz

was advised by Robert Frank to not become involved in the "action " but stand back and let the "action" flow by you. In other words become a spectator. He done that and felt that his street photography improved. Like anything else there are many ways of shooting and you do what you feel is personally comfortable.

Alan Goldhammer

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Re: On Street Photography
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2015, 07:59:36 am »

Maybe it's from years using standard and digital SLRs but I find cell phones extremely clumsy to use.  I can get a shot off much faster with my Nikon then with a cell phone.  To keep the weight down when we travel internationally I usually only take the 15-85 DX zoom with my Nikon D300 and maybe a 24mm prime.  The clear advantage to using a zoom is you don't have to worry about moving closer or further from the subject.  Most of the image captures are done with the zoom and when I look at the results in LR, I generally find that most fall in the 24-35 mm range.
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Petrus

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Re: On Street Photography
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2015, 08:50:32 am »

In my opinion shooting with anything longer than normal lens is not street photography. It is too timid and cowardly.

One has to be inside the action and composition.
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stamper

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Re: On Street Photography
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2015, 09:13:32 am »

In my opinion shooting with anything longer than normal lens is not street photography. It is too timid and cowardly.

One has to be inside the action and composition.

No flexibility in your thoughts?

Guillermo Luijk

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Re: On Street Photography
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2015, 09:40:59 am »

Most people seem content with cell phones. I can't stand those cameras. You get wide angle distortion. There is no 135mm portrait lens for cell phones as far as I know. Selfie, fine. In your face photography, not fine.

The wide angle distortion you refer to is not caused by the mobile phone but by the distance from the subject you are located. Stay at the same distance from the subject as with your DSLR and 135mm and no mobile phone will produce any distortion. Of course you'll have to face two new issues: digital zoom (to achieve the 135mm equivalen FOV) and the ability to focus and shoot a mobile phone from such distance.

Regards
« Last Edit: December 05, 2015, 10:08:42 am by Guillermo Luijk »
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Rob C

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Re: On Street Photography
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2015, 11:18:59 am »

Isn't it strange how there is always a moral obligation to create a subset of 'rules' to the arts...

It's a genre I'm neither happy shooting nor much good at, probably because I'm really rather shy and unwilling to confront people - even if I know them well; I prefer to avoid unpleasantness of all kinds, if I can. However, those that do it brilliantly (shoot street!) and without causing damage to others do deserve admiration, if only because they are actually out there doing something instead of dreaming about doing whatever their something might be.

It strikes me that the genre is not really all that easy to place as genre. People oft refer to HC-B et al. and their work as if their era was the same as the one we face today: it isn't; not even remotely. The pace of life is vastly different, the actual people-types that made up a lot of the classical genre subject matter no longer exist and have been replaced as subject by addicts etc. If you look at any of the old masters' books (I speak of the Paris-based original matrix), you really see nothing of the kind: you see normal working-class sorts doing their normal blue-collar thing, or perhaps a sly dig is being made at the expense of the rich in some formal gathering or another, at which stage you must not forget that a lot of those photographers worked primarily for very leftish magazines, even HC-B, who was personally far from poor. On the whole, there seems a very clear absence of photographer malice, but depending on just how far back you care to place that dividing line, some definite changes come about - especially in the USA scenario.

I suppose that I'm really thinking, here, about the visual aggression that the extremely close 28mm work of Klein etc. shows. Yes, I do admire Klein for his nerve, his eagle eye and also very much for his fashion stuff, but I don't think the one totally excuses the other. And, as I noted about the differences, Klein is American. I think the American ethic is an entirely different one and so in-your-face that it can hurt. Which leaves the Brits (see? no offence in that abbreviation: I use it about myself!) out on a limb somewhere, not entirely sure to which group they want to belong, or whether they are indeed strong enough in volume to make up an entirely independent grouping of their own.

This, of course, leads to the next problem: what to do with street images once you have a collection of good ones? Is a book the answer? Who will publish it unless you are Magnum-sponsored? Are successful street books successful because of their images or because of the real or imaginary 'magic' created by the constantly churned publicity surrounding their authors?

Perhaps street, after all, is just another personal delusion; a dream of times past and a futile battle to recreate what's no longer there, critical (as well as much personal) acceptance being given to anything that remotely mimics what went before?

Isn't it a bit like Hollywood suddenly thinking of making its movies in black and white?

Rob C
« Last Edit: December 05, 2015, 11:23:13 am by Rob C »
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Fine_Art

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Re: On Street Photography
« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2015, 11:40:57 am »

Thx, Guillermo.

Good points Rob. I think part of the reason photogs in the US feel free being more agressive, is their laws are more toward free speech than privacy in the public domain ( public places) than Commonwealth countries.

The old days required far more skill. You might go out with 3 rolls of film, needing to make the most of each shot. Decide, compose, shoot, instantly was a learned skill. Now a person can drink their latte, while their gopro records everything.
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Isaac

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Re: On Street Photography
« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2015, 12:30:17 pm »

(see? no offence in that abbreviation: I use it about myself!)

Why would there be offence in an abbreviation you choose to use about yourself?

otoh when others choose names to call you… see?

(But you already know, and choose to cause offence for your own amusement.)
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drmike

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Re: On Street Photography
« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2015, 02:48:25 pm »

As ever arrive late to the party but I am quite shocked that this is even being  discussed. It surely doesn't matter what focal length you use, the image will dictate this. If I had the time which I don't right now I am sure I could find classic street shots taken with long and short lenses. It's the photograph that counts and if compressed perspective is required then a long lens will be selected.

If you're using a long lens to avoid the possibility of the subject reacting then maybe you're letting the lens dictate the image?

I have mixed feelings about these really in your face street guys with their very wide angle lenses it seems invasive and disrespectful. I admire Martin Parr's works amongst others as he seems to get a good balance of 'being there' and not invading. I saw some guy at the Columbia Road flower market use both flash and what must have been a 20mm lens lean into the face of a guy in a wheelchair which just seemed plain wrong. If you tried that in my local town Kidderminster you'd be lucky to walk away. These London folks though.

Mike
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amolitor

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Re: On Street Photography
« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2015, 03:17:32 pm »

The reason we feel the need to define "rules" is so that "words" have "meanings"!

If we allow "street photography" to mean anything at all, then we might as well drop the word "street"

But such is the evolution of language. All words converge, eventually, toward a sort of meaningless grunt as new words arise with actual, albeit temporary, meaning.
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mecrox

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Re: On Street Photography
« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2015, 03:55:05 pm »

I have mixed feelings about these really in your face street guys with their very wide angle lenses it seems invasive and disrespectful. I admire Martin Parr's works amongst others as he seems to get a good balance of 'being there' and not invading. I saw some guy at the Columbia Road flower market use both flash and what must have been a 20mm lens lean into the face of a guy in a wheelchair which just seemed plain wrong. If you tried that in my local town Kidderminster you'd be lucky to walk away. These London folks though.

Mike

Lol, having shot in Columbia Road a few times myself, I agree. I much prefer the hang-back approach using something in the 50-100mm range. "In your face" isn't cool at all, imho. Maybe the clue is in the name. If the shot doesn't show something of street life, or at least an environment of some kind, then maybe it's another kind of photography, portraiture perhaps. That's the point of wider angles, isn't it (?): to show some context, even if only a few other people rather than a large, distorted face in the frame. Anyway, I much enjoyed the article.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2015, 04:29:51 pm by mecrox »
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Rob C

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Re: On Street Photography
« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2015, 04:39:48 pm »

Why would there be offence in an abbreviation you choose to use about yourself?

otoh when others choose names to call you… see?

(But you already know, and choose to cause offence for your own amusement.)


Hands up, all you Brits, who feel offended being called Brits!

;-)

Rob C (British beyond doubt - check the passport!)

Petrus

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Re: On Street Photography
« Reply #13 on: December 05, 2015, 05:11:23 pm »

No flexibility in your thoughts?

Like Isaac says above, there have to be certain rules to make definitions work. For me "street photography" has something to do with dynamics and action and composition including apparent movement vectors, eye directions etc. You can not call just any photograph taken in town a "street" photograph. Many photographs also here marketed as "street" are really just still lifes and portraits (if not just boring snaps converted to artsy B&W or taken with Leica Monochrom). Is a landscape which has a little bit of street in it a "street photograph"? Actually a "street photograph" really can be taken in the countryside, if it conforms to the rules of dynamic composition and decisive moment. That is the way I see it.
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Isaac

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Re: On Street Photography
« Reply #14 on: December 05, 2015, 07:12:59 pm »

Hands up, all you Brits, who feel offended being called Brits!

As before -- Why would there be offence in an abbreviation you (plural) choose to use about yourselves?

otoh when others choose names to call you (plural)… see?

But you (Rob C) already know that, and you (Rob C) choose to cause offence for your own amusement.
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drmike

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Re: On Street Photography
« Reply #15 on: December 06, 2015, 04:21:33 am »

I take no offence at Brit but usually say English (which I am) or from the UK. I'm not sure every culture would be familiar with Brit. Can't see the French using it. I can live with Pom and Limey if I have to :)

What does distress me is being mistaken for a German when abroad. How on earth can anyone not see I'm as British as the most British thing you can think of? Possibly Rob C for example :)

Mike
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Rob C

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Re: On Street Photography
« Reply #16 on: December 06, 2015, 05:19:40 am »

I take no offence at Brit but usually say English (which I am) or from the UK. I'm not sure every culture would be familiar with Brit. Can't see the French using it. I can live with Pom and Limey if I have to :)

What does distress me is being mistaken for a German when abroad. How on earth can anyone not see I'm as British as the most British thing you can think of? Possibly Rob C for example :)

Mike

I was once mistaken by a local Spanish girl I was trying to get to model for me, as being French! She thought my Spanish had a French accent. My French accent, when I try to use what I can remember from school, sucks... go figure. In truth, pretty much all the local folks are able to start brief 'buy this' conversations with 'foreigners' (is that un-PC too? Isaac, help me on this one!) in either German or English, and they generally get it right. I think it's a combination of eye-colour and facial features lending some overall identity conception to the local folks upon which they make their instant call. I think Germans generally appear a bit taller and heavier built - perhaps not so much of the blonde and blue eyes, though, except for some of their women and children whom I often mistake for visiting Scandinavians. I'd hate to carry the responsibility of a border guard... maybe that's why they all shrugged, gave up, and just went home for breakfast.

Rob C

GrahamBy

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Re: On Street Photography
« Reply #17 on: December 06, 2015, 06:14:08 am »

The most exotic mis-guess of my origin was Luxembourgeois. I was riding up a hill with the French cyclist who made the guess, but clearly he didn't mistake me for one of the Shleck bothers...

Having just read the article, which is refreshing for its lack of artificial definitions, the thought occurs that one can do street photography in non-street locations. I've photographed friends of friends at parties in a way that would meet the requirement of capturing the subject as he or she is, rather than posing. No I don't use a flash, I've always hated being shot with a flash and I wouldn't expect anyone else to appreciate it, and I'm not about to carry a 1m soft-box about with me :-)

The other advantage is that I can usually contact the subject to ask if he or she objects to me using the photo...

(This is Julie Cherki, herself a photographer)
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GrahamBy

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Re: On Street Photography
« Reply #18 on: December 06, 2015, 06:19:16 am »

I'm not sure every culture would be familiar with Brit. Can't see the French using it.

No, you'd be un rosbif (roast beef), but that's better than being called an "anglo-saxon", the all-purpose dismissal of anything perceived of as being from the English speaking world :-)
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Rob C

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Re: On Street Photography
« Reply #19 on: December 06, 2015, 10:09:43 am »

The most exotic mis-guess of my origin was Luxembourgeois. I was riding up a hill with the French cyclist who made the guess, but clearly he didn't mistake me for one of the Shleck bothers...

Having just read the article, which is refreshing for its lack of artificial definitions, the thought occurs that one can do street photography in non-street locations. I've photographed friends of friends at parties in a way that would meet the requirement of capturing the subject as he or she is, rather than posing. No I don't use a flash, I've always hated being shot with a flash and I wouldn't expect anyone else to appreciate it, and I'm not about to carry a 1m soft-box about with me :-)

The other advantage is that I can usually contact the subject to ask if he or she objects to me using the photo...

(This is Julie Cherki, herself a photographer)


I've only been to Lux. once: an IWS shoot on which I temporarily lost my exposure meter (left on a doorstep) but had it returned, on my own return to the scene of the disaster, by a kind lady whose doorstep I'd stepped - thinking the place empty, no doubt. I therefore have a great general regard for the Luxers, their honesty, and especially for their old and reasonable concept of banking. We need more of the same!

Rob
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