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Author Topic: Shooting with the technique of WeeGee?  (Read 69551 times)

mpower

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Shooting with the technique of WeeGee?
« on: December 19, 2017, 10:12:18 PM »

I don't yet have a large format camera. But I got this idea of fixed-focus, fixed-aperature, very bright flash that I think WeeGee might have used. Perhaps shooting my New F-1 with a 50mm lens, infinite focus, staying at f8 (or higher), and using the 577G flash at high power with something like Ilford 400 film.

I will of course explore on my own... but while I'm setting this up I'm curious if others have done something like this. Any recommendations?

I like the idea of the camera always being ready, you only have to move your feet.
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Eric Myrvaagnes

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Re: Shooting with the technique of WeeGee?
« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2017, 11:31:42 PM »

You need a Speed Graphic and a monster flash gun with a big pile of flash bulbs to do it right. No wimpy electronic flash, even if it's bright.  ;)
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mpower

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Re: Shooting with the technique of WeeGee?
« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2017, 12:19:39 AM »

There are a bunch of Graphic cameras to chose from. WeeGee's was a Speed Graphic?
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Rob C

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Re: Shooting with the technique of WeeGee?
« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2017, 07:33:53 AM »

You need a Speed Graphic and a monster flash gun with a big pile of flash bulbs to do it right. No wimpy electronic flash, even if it's bright.  ;)
[/qu

PF60s are about as small as you want to go. You had also better equip your vee-hickle with a police radio and get into the cigar habit. In the end, this could kill you. Do you really, really want to go there? Not you, Eric, you're far too wise and experienced for these youthful adventures in the Tardis. I hope!

Rob

viewfinder

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Re: Shooting with the technique of WeeGee?
« Reply #4 on: December 20, 2017, 09:19:59 AM »

Interesting that you want to try this.....WeeGee essentially just used the press photographers standard technique of the era, ie., a big flash output and a single chance to get the shutter released at just the right moment,..there was usually no second chance to do it better.    The interestign thing about WeeGee is that his mind lead him to see a greater significance than just newspaper illustration and that 'art' might be possible....

The  basic technique/idea was hardly new and has been unwittingly used and adapted by many other photographers before and since.

Probably the greatest modern exponent is the English photogralher Martin Parr, although much more subtle than WeeGee the 'one shot' 'in your face' method is still very much there......https://www.martinparr.com/
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Jim Kasson

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Re: Shooting with the technique of WeeGee?
« Reply #5 on: December 22, 2017, 06:35:39 PM »

I don't yet have a large format camera. But I got this idea of fixed-focus, fixed-aperature, very bright flash that I think WeeGee might have used. Perhaps shooting my New F-1 with a 50mm lens, infinite focus, staying at f8 (or higher), and using the 577G flash at high power with something like Ilford 400 film.

I will of course explore on my own... but while I'm setting this up I'm curious if others have done something like this. Any recommendations?

I like the idea of the camera always being ready, you only have to move your feet.

With modern lithium-ion batteries and powerful electronic flash, plus faster films than WeeGee had, you don't have to go back to burning your fingers on flashbulbs.

Get yourself a cam-focusing press camera like a Speed or Crown Graphic (you won't need the FP shutter of the Speed), or a Linhof if you're feeling flush. Godox makes a 200 Ws battery powered strobe that might be a good place to start.

F/8 and be there!

Jim

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Re: Shooting with the technique of WeeGee?
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2018, 07:51:23 AM »

I don't yet have a large format camera. But I got this idea of fixed-focus, fixed-aperature, very bright flash that I think WeeGee might have used. Perhaps shooting my New F-1 with a 50mm lens, infinite focus, staying at f8 (or higher), and using the 577G flash at high power with something like Ilford 400 film.

There's a good chance you'll get punched in the face. And I'd cheer.
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mpower

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Re: Shooting with the technique of WeeGee?
« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2018, 10:00:25 PM »

There's a good chance you'll get punched in the face. And I'd cheer.

Well then you must be a very sad individual. Have a nice day.
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tom b

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Re: Shooting with the technique of WeeGee?
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2018, 02:22:55 AM »

WeeGee wouldn't work today. Try to think where people are comfortable having their photo taken. Tourist areas in large cities, whatever… think small cameras: Sony, Leica, Lumix and get the HCB "vibe".

Just thinking,
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Rob C

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Re: Shooting with the technique of WeeGee?
« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2018, 09:39:06 AM »

Well then you must be a very sad individual. Have a nice day.

By no means a sad individual.

But yes, you could certainly get a well-deserved kick in the cluster. What in the name of all you hold holy makes you imagine that anyone wants you to stick a bloody camera into their face and blind them? Are you nuts or something? Have you ever used a real flashbulb? The mothers can burn.

If you want to do street, and imagine it will make you an artist - or you imagine Weegee ever was - then at least try to use stealth and learn the "melting into the background" trick. If nothing more, it will conserve your scrotum and contents for better - possible, don't knock the idea - purposes.

I am assuming you to be male; women tend to have more common sense. Ask any wife.

Rob

drmike

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Re: Shooting with the technique of WeeGee?
« Reply #10 on: February 01, 2018, 03:20:35 AM »

I find this in your face street approach interesting. If you tried it in my local town (Kidderminster) you wouldn't last long, but I have seen it done in London and no-one bats an eyelid. This is leaning into a wheelchair with a short lens and flash. Not only would a Kiddy person whack you with their walking stick bystanders would almost certainly get involved.

It can only be the anonymity that large populations grant that makes this possible. That and in London generally you just don't get involved in third party interactions.

I'm not sure the sneaky blend in approach is much better, it still invades your privacy and you don't even realise. I give a cheery wave if I catch someone using me for a photo.

Mike
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Rob C

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Re: Shooting with the technique of WeeGee?
« Reply #11 on: February 01, 2018, 06:41:57 AM »

I find this in your face street approach interesting. If you tried it in my local town (Kidderminster) you wouldn't last long, but I have seen it done in London and no-one bats an eyelid. This is leaning into a wheelchair with a short lens and flash. Not only would a Kiddy person whack you with their walking stick bystanders would almost certainly get involved.

It can only be the anonymity that large populations grant that makes this possible. That and in London generally you just don't get involved in third party interactions.

I'm not sure the sneaky blend in approach is much better, it still invades your privacy and you don't even realise. I give a cheery wave if I catch someone using me for a photo.

Mike

I've always been in two minds about street and similar snaps of people unaware (hopefully!) of the thing one is attempting to do. On the one hand, I do admit that I believe it to be an invasion of privacy, even in public, because public does not automatically mean a statement that one is open to exploitation. But, on the other hand, there is also the thrill of the act as well as the knowledge that one is not doing it in order to mock somebody or cause them harm. At least, in my case I never want to damage anyone or their reputation: I want to make an interesting image, and in my book, people are what make most images interesting.

I suppose that above all of the obvious motivation hovers the challenge to oneself to come up with something perhaps matching the abilities of past masters of the genre. Even once would be cool. Trouble is, if we consider the challengers to be photographers working decades ago, we can't do it: life and places have changed as have attitudes and awareness and the subject's knowledge that he might be used to commercial advantage of which he will know nothing, and from which he will derive no benefit; a free model, then. Such a subject probably knows nothing about the reluctance of markets to use non-model-released images of people.

As important is the fact that should you seek permission first, you have instantly changed the dynamic of both the relationship as of the result: that person will be self-conscious and try to act; most of us are not as good at it as the kid with the pistol in Klein's iconic hit which, ironically, was a set-up!

To my memory, I've only asked strangers to let me make a snap with them twice: once a lady with a dog in the basket of her bicycle, then this one, and it wasn't street, it was a mood shot:



They have little face on display and so contribute only mass, and nothing as intrusive as expression.

Rob

« Last Edit: February 01, 2018, 02:01:38 PM by Rob C »
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drmike

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Re: Shooting with the technique of WeeGee?
« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2018, 08:14:55 AM »

I share your two minds about street in general which I think is separate to reportage or documentary - of course not all agree. There are many examples of good photographs involving people in a public environment but many times they are sort incidental parts of the photograph's structure and composition not the be all and end all.

It's probably best that we all just get on with what floats our boat and not agonise over it too much :)
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mpower

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Re: Shooting with the technique of WeeGee?
« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2018, 09:41:22 PM »

I think my question has taken a turn into that I wanted to rush up to people and fire a bright flash in their face. Not at all. Everything is done with permission. I'm more asking about how Weegee set up his camera so that he could just move his feet and press the button.

Weegee had a certain tonality to his photos that always "looked right". That's what I'm asking about. I recently found Rollei Ortho 25 and I really like the look of ortho. Setting an aperture and strong flash with a lens at infinite focus that lets me just push the button after moving my feet, that's what I'm asking about.

I apologize that I got a bit cranky about the punch comment.

If anyone is curious on my feelings about modern street photography, as suggested in the responses, I have started using a Minox C. Getting the film and having it processed after is a project to say the least.
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Jim Metzger

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Re: Shooting with the technique of WeeGee?
« Reply #14 on: February 01, 2018, 11:17:45 PM »

Not germain to the conversation but Rob C., that is one gorgeous image, composition, tonality, exposure!

Germain to the conversation, I do wonder why people want to "copy" someone else's signature style? I may have it wrong and the OP wants to use this as a starting point but it seems not from their comments.

As Jackson Browne said, "Into a dancer you have grown, from seeds someone else has sown, now go ahead and sow some seeds of your own".

Jim
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drmike

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Re: Shooting with the technique of WeeGee?
« Reply #15 on: February 02, 2018, 02:44:12 AM »

Don't you sometimes try technical exercises like reproducing the Weegee style just so you know you can if you want to? Then again maybe you're right and he wants to shoot that way. Personally I can't see any reason to use a 5x4 and flash bulbs to do so when there must be more modern technologies that can produce comparable results.
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Rob C

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Re: Shooting with the technique of WeeGee?
« Reply #16 on: February 04, 2018, 11:12:39 AM »

Not germain to the conversation but Rob C., that is one gorgeous image, composition, tonality, exposure!

Germain to the conversation, I do wonder why people want to "copy" someone else's signature style? I may have it wrong and the OP wants to use this as a starting point but it seems not from their comments.

As Jackson Browne said, "Into a dancer you have grown, from seeds someone else has sown, now go ahead and sow some seeds of your own".

Jim

Thank you, Jim, it was a very chilly day!

The original idea had been to go up there to make some pix of the view towards Formentor, but even on such days the tour busses arrive! This time, I was both happy and annoyed. Truth to tell, the blonde woman caught my eye because of the way the wind worked her hair, but as I didn't know who the hell she was, I could hardly separate her from her companion and mess around making variations. Anyway, the other lady would have felt slighted, and I wouldn't want to do that to anyone.

But back to Weegee: folks can forget that his pix come from film or plate, and were originally reproduced in magazines from hard copy: wet prints on white smooth glossy paper, perhaps sometimes glazed. That's where the last step in tonal control came from back then, apart from repro hassles, of course. It's difficult to ape old styles unless you have both the understanding of why they look as they look and have the skills to travel those paths too.

OP is perfectly free to do as he likes, of course, but that kind of camera was the very last type one would have chosen if anything lighter was available. But anyway, Wegee was a showman at heart, so maybe it suited his purposes. Also, many media outlets were hooked on large format; even 120 had a bit of a struggle at first.

:-)

Two23

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Re: Shooting with the technique of WeeGee?
« Reply #17 on: February 04, 2018, 09:27:08 PM »

Don't you sometimes try technical exercises like reproducing the Weegee style just so you know you can if you want to? Then again maybe you're right and he wants to shoot that way. Personally I can't see any reason to use a 5x4 and flash bulbs to do so when there must be more modern technologies that can produce comparable results.


When I began using technology from the past, I found it quickly sharpened my skills.  It also gave me a lot of satisfaction to know that I could pull off nice shots using (sometimes) ancient photo gear.  For me it's often about the challenge.


Kent in SD
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tom b

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Re: Shooting with the technique of WeeGee?
« Reply #18 on: February 04, 2018, 09:52:59 PM »

The technique has been exploited by paparazzi. Nobody loves this except publicity seekers. In today's environment it is seen as ugly, good or bad.

If you want to be hated, go for it.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2018, 09:57:38 PM by tom b »
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Two23

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Re: Shooting with the technique of WeeGee?
« Reply #19 on: February 04, 2018, 09:53:47 PM »



OP is perfectly free to do as he likes, of course, but that kind of camera was the very last type one would have chosen if anything lighter was available. But anyway, Wegee was a showman at heart, so maybe it suited his purposes.


Well, you could always try the Bruce Gilden method.  He certainly gets attention:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkIWW6vwrvM


I don't get a lot of opportunities for classic "street" photography, but I do get to Chicago once or twice a year.  My favorite camera is my 1954 Rolleiflex loaded with Ilford HP5 during the day, but I generally shoot a small (Nikon D5300) for night shots.  My favorite time of day is night; I like the slower pace and sense of loneliness a big city gives after the rush.


Kent in SD
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