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Author Topic: Street photography & cameras.  (Read 23667 times)
stamper
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« on: January 29, 2013, 07:51:55 AM »
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A subject that has had a lot of coverage here and on the internet. The type of camera used would depend a lot on someone's style. I am reading a good book right now called Street photography now.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/photoblog/2010/10/street_photography_now.html

A lot of good images, different styles and locations but unfortunately no mention of the cameras used. Michael's review of this camera prompted me to buy it. I was attracted to to the long zoom capabilities.

www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/cameras/canon_sx_50_review.shtml

Does anyone experienced in the art of street photography think it is an ideal camera? I like the idea of standing far away and using the zoom but I realise a lot of photographers like to be close to the action. The alternative is for me to use one of my dslr's but that brings attention that I wish to avoid.




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Rob C
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« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2013, 08:50:51 AM »
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Stamper, the essence of good street photography is snapper invisibility close-up: you need to borrow a cloak from Perseus.

He didn't have one in my size, so I gave up.

Rob C
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RSL
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« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2013, 10:03:52 AM »
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Stamper, One thing you don't really want in a street camera is long zoom. The only time you reasonably can use a long lens in street photography is when the background behind your subject is a wall, or something that doesn't show the foreshortening you get from a long lens. Cartier-Bresson and most of his contemporaries used Leicas with 50mm lenses; sometimes 35mm lenses. I did street for a couple decades with a Leica and a 50mm Summicron. Nowadays my favorite street camera is an Olympus E-P1 (their first mirrorless) with a 25mm f/1.4 Summilux on it. Since Olympus uses four-thirds format -- in other words, half frame -- my 25mm ends up being a 50mm. I've added a Leica 50mm bright-line auxiliary finder to the top of the camera. That way I can set up at about f/8, pre-focus at about 10 feet, and be able to simply raise the camera, frame, and shoot, without having to worry about focus. To do effective street you have to get in among 'em. You can't reasonably stand off at a distance and sneak your shots. A lot of would-be street photographers try to do that, but what they come up with usually leaves a lot to be desired.
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Isaac
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« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2013, 10:14:13 AM »
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Cartier-Bresson and most of his contemporaries used Leicas with 50mm lenses; sometimes 35mm lenses.

Did Cartier-Bresson and most of his contemporaries have the opportunity to use small light long-zooms?

Perhaps the relevant quote from Mr Reichmann's camera review is -- "Documentary street shooting needs to be discreet. Something like an RX1, or an M Leica are great tools for this, but I also like "extracting" vignettes from the world around me, and for this a long lens is what is often needed."
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Kevin Omura
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« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2013, 10:21:25 AM »
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If you want to blend in a camera in your phone is probably the best ticket. Otherwise a Point and Shoot camera or perhaps something really small in a CSC such as the Nikon V1 but basically something small that goes unnoticed by most folks. Why the Leica M is a good choice since it's relatively small and doesn't scream pro shooter like a DSLR with long lens and when I shoot street I really want to be immersed in the situation so shooting with a long lens will detract from that experience.
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Petrus
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« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2013, 10:40:42 AM »
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I like the Fujifilm X-Pro1 for street photography, with 18 and 35mm lenses (27 and 53mm in 135 land). It looks old and harmless, but is cutting edge technology what comes to sensor and optics. I also like the optical viewfinder (no time lag like with electronic viewfinders, even a fraction of a second is too much for street photography), it is quiet also. If quietness, inconspicuousness and optical viewfinder without time lag are required, it really lives us only rangefinders (old school manual focus) or similar autofocus cameras like X-Pro1, which, by the way, are the classic street cameras. While X-E1, which I have as a spare, is nice also and has same sensor and IQ as X-Pro1, it is not as good because it has electronic viewfinder only. Long lenses are against the "in the middle" approach, street photography is a contact sport, not shooting from a sniper hide with a long telephoto. There must a certain amount of 3D involved in the compositions, long lens flattens everything.

Some samples: https://picasaweb.google.com/109958612223411682295/Jerusalem2012?authuser=0&feat=directlink

Only one person in those pictures reacted in a negative way to my photography, and even that grumpy old lady laughed when I blew a kiss to her, and I never asked for permission.
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jeremypayne
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« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2013, 10:47:33 AM »
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Did Cartier-Bresson and most of his contemporaries have the opportunity to use small light long-zooms?

Perhaps the relevant quote from Mr Reichmann's camera review is -- "Documentary street shooting needs to be discreet. Something like an RX1, or an M Leica are great tools for this, but I also like "extracting" vignettes from the world around me, and for this a long lens is what is often needed."

I agree ... don't listen to anyone who says you "can't" or "shouldn't" use a long lens on the street.

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hokuahi
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« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2013, 11:05:23 AM »
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I used to use my Fuji X10. It was relatively inconspicuous and allowed zooming. I have since switched to using my 5D with the 40mm prime lens for two reasons.
The first is that I no longer worry that any image I get can't be used for anything I might want, i.e. say a large print. In addition, using that single lens allows me to develop a consistent look to my images, compared to the variations I get using a zoom lens. I can sense from the photographs that what I see is a function of where I was in the scene.
Secondly, the 5D/40mm lens combination while a little larger, just feels more personal to me. If I need a live view I have it. Mostly though I use the viewfinder. People don't seem to react much differently, I just get to where I want to be and photograph.
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RSL
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« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2013, 03:28:41 PM »
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"Documentary street shooting needs to be discreet. Something like an RX1, or an M Leica are great tools for this, but I also like "extracting" vignettes from the world around me, and for this a long lens is what is often needed."

Fair enough, and Michael has demonstrated he can do documentary street shooting very well. But documentary shooting isn't street photography, and neither are "extracted" vignettes. Street has an element of documentation, but the heart of street is ambiguity. I doubt HCB would have switched to a zoom even if one had been available. For one thing zooms don't have the wide apertures street often calls for; for another, they tend to be much larger than, say, a 50mm f/2 Summicron or Summilux. Finally, being in exactly the right place in relationship to your subject is essential. Part of that requirement is absolute positioning, but part is knowledge of what your lens is going to frame when you lift the camera. You're not going to zoom a lens to get the frame you want. You already know it's there, so zoom is unnecessary as well as time-consuming at a point where you may not have time to do it before the shot is lost.

Novice street shooters try to use long lenses because they're afraid to approach their subjects. If you're going to do good street you have to get over that.
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AFairley
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« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2013, 03:42:17 PM »
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Novice street shooters try to use long lenses because they're afraid to approach their subjects. If you're going to do good street you have to get over that

+1.  And that, alas, is why I never will be really good at street....
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stamper
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« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2013, 04:17:30 AM »
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Thanks for the replies. From what I have read here and the internet and books there isn't a right or wrong way. Like most I am hesitant to get close in a "normal " situation. For years I have shot political demonstrations - partly as a substitute for street - and because there are always a lot of police about then photographers can shoot away with little fear from members of the public. Most photographers tended to stick their cameras in demonstrators faces without any problem but I like to use a 80 - 200 f/2.8 constant zoom or a 70 - 300 slower zoom which means  photographers will get between you and your shots. I need to re think my shooting habits. I will use the canon sx50 so I can "blend in" and try to look like an old fart that doesn't know what he is doing. Smiley
« Last Edit: January 30, 2013, 10:30:20 AM by stamper » Logged

stamper
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« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2013, 04:28:32 AM »
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Quote Russ

But documentary shooting isn't street photography, and neither are "extracted" vignettes.

Unquote

In the book that I quoted in my first post some photographers thought documentary was street photography. Quite a few images had one or two people - not interacting - or none at all. Yet the authors and the photographers deemed it to be street. On the other hand many fine images with people interacting or placed in an ambiguous position were portrayed. The mind's eye ... Henri Cartier-Bresson ...is in the post so some more reading and education is needed. Smiley
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RSL
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« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2013, 08:25:12 AM »
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The Mind's Eye is one of my all-time favorite books, Stamper, but HCB's comments on photography aren't going to help much when you're trying to distinguish street photography from documentary photography. What really helps is to look at Henri's photographs. If you follow the sequence you'll see that before Cartier-Bresson became a photojournalist -- when he simply was walking the streets shooting what appealed to him -- he was doing street photography consistently. As soon as he took on the responsibility to produce a product, he began doing documentation. The documentation's very, very good, and sometimes the "street" ambiguity is there, but not as consistently as when he was footloose and fancy free.
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Isaac
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« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2013, 08:34:54 AM »
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Quote Russ ... Unquote

Just curious - why don't you use "Quote" to quote?
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stamper
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« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2013, 09:01:51 AM »
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Just curious - why don't you use "Quote" to quote?


I use Quote like now when I quote all of a post and use Quote - unquote when I quote part of a post. A habit I got into years ago. Is it  a problem? Smiley
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Isaac
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« Reply #15 on: January 30, 2013, 09:15:02 AM »
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Is it  a problem?

A problem? No.
Less easy to read? Yes.
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jeremypayne
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« Reply #16 on: January 30, 2013, 09:21:56 AM »
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A problem? No.
Less easy to read? Yes.

It also removes the link back to the original post which is a downgrade over the supplied tool.
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stamper
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« Reply #17 on: January 30, 2013, 10:24:30 AM »
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Jeremy. Whenever I use Quote I always use the name of the person. See Reply # 11 for an example. Smiley
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stamper
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« Reply #18 on: January 30, 2013, 10:28:45 AM »
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The Mind's Eye is one of my all-time favorite books, Stamper, but HCB's comments on photography aren't going to help much when you're trying to distinguish street photography from documentary photography. What really helps is to look at Henri's photographs. If you follow the sequence you'll see that before Cartier-Bresson became a photojournalist -- when he simply was walking the streets shooting what appealed to him -- he was doing street photography consistently. As soon as he took on the responsibility to produce a product, he began doing documentation. The documentation's very, very good, and sometimes the "street" ambiguity is there, but not as consistently as when he was footloose and fancy free.

Thanks for the info Russ.
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Isaac
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« Reply #19 on: January 30, 2013, 11:12:17 AM »
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Whenever I use Quote I always use the name of the person. See Reply # 11 for an example.

Even given the reference "Reply # 11" we have to search to find your example.

If you had only provided a name - "stamper" - we would have had to search and then scan 3 posts to find what you wanted us to see (there are 6 posts but sometimes we'd be lucky).

As Jeremy Payne said - "a downgrade over the supplied tool."
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