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The Midway

NewThis subject is featured in Issue #4 of  The Luminous Landscape Video Journal.


One of the best places for street photography is the midway of a country fair. People are relaxed, having fun, and are packed closely together. People with cameras are commonplace.

Every year for the past century the August Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto attracts over a million visitors in a space of less than 3 weeks. The midway area is huge, and one of the most popular attractions. I spent several hours shooting there one late afternoon and evening in mid-August, along with well known street photographer John Brownlow. Accompanying us was director/cameraman Chris Sanderson, who filmed our activities for a future segment of the Video Journal. Now available in Issue #4

Boy & Flyers — Toronto, August 2001

Photographed with a Voigtländer Bessa-T and 12mm Heliar on Provia 100F. Converted to Duotone in Photoshop 

These  photographs immediately above and below are from a series of about 20 frames shot within a couple of minutes of each other. There is a third frame in colour which will be added next week.

Though I shot from within 2-4 feet of this young man he seemed oblivious to my presence. "Just another crazy gray beard", he seemed to be thinking.

Flyers — Toronto, August 2001

Photographed with a Voigtländer Bessa-T and 12mm Heliar on Provia 100F. Converted to Duotone in Photoshop 

The 12mm Voigtländer Heliar isn't your everyday wide-angle lens, but it is capable of capturing images that simply aren't otherwise possible. The sense of space and environment that it can create is tempered by the need to control the angular distortion inherent in a lens covering 112 degrees. Not always an easy task.

Tiger Gamblers — Toronto, 2001

Photographed with a Leica M6 TTL and 35mm f/1.4 Summilux ASPH on Ilford XP2

Using the techniques outlined in my accompanying article on Street Shooting usually allows me to do photography right in the midst of the action. But sometimes in situations where emotions are running high not everyone likes having their picture taken. Even though they were just playing with dollar coins, as I took my second or third frame in quick succession, concentrating on the fellow with the tiger on his back, one of these players looked over at me with a piercing gaze. It was the last frame I took. I smiled, turned, and walked away. 

Counting — Toronto, August 2001

Photographed with a Leica M6 TTL and 35mm f/1.4 Summilux ASPH on Ilford XP2

We shot for a couple of hours in the late afternoon and then took a break for dinner and a beer. (Street photography is hard work; it needs its rewards). As we emerged into the midway about an hour later it had become night, and the whole character of what we had been shooting had changed. The coming of night had made the midway a more sinister place. People no longer smiled when you took their photograph. Children stayed closer to their parents, and people's sense of personal space seemed to have enlarged, making up-close shooting much more difficult.

If this type of photography interests you, you may be interested in my article on Street Photography.

A portfolio by well known street photographer John Brownlow, who shot with me at the same time, can be found here

Our shooting session together was filmed for the Video Journal. A forthcoming issue of The Journal will feature what that session was like as well as an on-camera conversation between John and me about our approaches to this type of photography, including a look at our respective prints and techniques.

Additional images from the Midway which were taken on another day at the fairground can be found in my article titled Black & White Revival.

One year later (September, 2002) I shot again for a couple of days at the CNE. Photographs from that shoot are included in my essay entitled Enigma Variations — a critical component in street photography.

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Concepts: Photography, Wide-angle lens, Angle of view, Photograph, Perspective distortion, Camera, Image, Focal length

Entities: Toronto, Flyers, Michael Reichmann, John Brownlow, a million visitors, John, The Journal, Photoshop

Tags: street photography, photographer john brownlow, street photographer john, late afternoon, Voigtlu00e4nder Bessa-T, Video Journal, everyday wide-angle lens, Canadian National Exhibition, crazy gray beard, essay entitled enigma, space, photographs, 12mm, midway area, Street Shooting, best places, Chris Sanderson, future segment, up-close shooting, popular attractions, past century, young man, shooting session, easy task, angular distortion, photography interests, on-camera conversation, sinister place, dollar coins, quick succession, respective prints, hard work, White Revival, forthcoming issue, critical component, Voigtlu00e4nder Heliar, Additional images, personal space, Duotone, Provia