learning, Photography, street, Uncategorized

Other Confidence Building Measures

Well, I seem to be have issues with formatting this blog…..sorry.  I can’t seem to get the paragraphs to remain. Another try, here’s hoping.

Looking back over my posts it is obvious to me at least, that I’ve devoted some considerable time to this subject. I think, at least for myself , that if my confidence is somewhat solid, then I am freeing my self as a street photographer to be more creative and more capable to view the streets with a photographer’s eye. The more I practice, the more self-assured I’m becoming on how to use this great camera and make increasingly better photographs .

So, what else have I’ve been trying out (again, most of what I’m sharing is what has been shared by others):

A. Shooting From the Hip Many experienced street photographers (ESPs) have suggested this technique and there are several helpful articles describing how to do it. There are also some great photographs that have been shot with this technique. If you haven’t tried it before, here are a few basic steps:

1. First,  lengthen your camera strap to its full extent.

2. Next you have to position your right hand under the camera such that you can easily tilt the lens. Using the Nikon D3200, this is dead easy. I can’t speak for other cameras, but the literature out there seems to indicate this technique will work with most reasonably sized DSLR cameras.

3. Check your camera settings. You will not be raising the camera to look through the viewfinder or LCD screen

. 4. Go out and practice. Look at each photo to see how well you’re positioning the camera. When I read about this technique, I was expecting it to take a long time before I got it right. Surprisingly, it did not take as long as I expected before I started capturing somewhat decent shots. In the beginning I would aim too high, too low, missed to the left…or right.

5.  Practice, practice, practice. Mostly now I get a pretty good result. Try shooting from different distances and try very close up. This technique definitely works; it is though a bit hit or miss. I use it often.

B.  Shoot Couples This suggestion from ESPs is supposedly based on the fact that many couples do not have many if any good candid shots of themselves. I’ve tried this I’m guessing 6-8 times, and you know those ESPs are right! Sometimes I offer my “business card” (previous post), and sometimes I don’t. In every case though I received a positive reaction.

C. Say Something Positive to the Target Either before taking the shot, or afterwards. A simple comment on why you took the shot; something interesting about what the person is wearing, the colors, a hat, anything at all as long as it is intended to make the person feel good about themselves. How would you react…….exactly..

Summary: I think I should conclude this series of posts on confidence building. For those of you following my blog….first of all thank you, and secondly I think future blogs will share my current day-to-day experiences on the street. I will likely share new projects that I begin.

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learning, Photography, street, Uncategorized

Confidence Building Part 3. The Barista Project

The previous post, #4 left off with the results of my 1st experiences on the street using initially my iPhone and then using my Nikon D3200 with 35mm f/1.18 lens. This post describes the first project with specific goals.

By way of background, the Salt Spring Coffee Company cafe in Ganges, Salt Spring Island has been a very popular watering hole for locals and tourists, since it’s beginning almost 17 years ago ( I could be out a year or so). I’ve been a regular patron for 13 years. For some time before my concerted interest in becoming a street photographer, I witnessed many memorable exchanges between staff and patrons and between staff. These observations became heightened when I started viewing them with more of a “photographer’s eye”. The idea of a candid photo project with the Baristas as the main targets developed quite quickly in my mind. Three goals became apparent:

1) attempt to capture the special exchanges that occurred with the baristas and patrons, and between baristas themselves;

2) develop a greater knowledge of camera functions and settings in less than ideal lighting conditions, and

3) increase my level of confidence in my ability to make fairly decent photographs both technically and artistically.

Getting Buy-In

I met with the manager and he polled the staff to see if they were willing to participate. Everyone signed on and I acquired an email address for each participant (8 in all).  I sent an email describing the goals of the project and asked them to the degree possible not to doing anything different (admittedly difficult with a camera a close range, 3-6 feet). I also assured them that the photos would not be uploaded to social networks or photography sites.

The Photo Sessions

I spent a lot of time observing how the baristas moved, where most of the activity occurred, attempting to develop a sense of where an opportunity might arise. I took a few initial shots with the iPhone and compared them with ones from the D3200. Lighting was a big difficulty. There are very bright overhead lights in the cafe which would project shadows from pretty much every angle.  As a result all of the baristas have “raccoon eyes”. These could be removed post-processing, but that would have entailed too much work and have taken too long.

The Results

I managed to capture many great moments. Technically many shots are not as crisp and clear, but for he most part I am very satisfied I achieved my three goals for the project. I prepared a movie maker slide-show and uploaded it as a private clip to You Tube. I then plugged in the staff email addresses and let everyone know.

Reactions

When I returned to the cafe a few days later the staff asked if I would remove the private restrictions so they could share it with friends and family. I was glad to do that, so now it is out there for everyone.

The project continues, it is not yet over. Two of the staff suggested I expand the project and take shots of  locals who’ve been supporting the café for years. I tested out the idea with 9 long time “regulars” and received an enthusiastic response. So, the journey continues.

For the next post, I will describe some of the other confidence building activities I’ve tried. As a reminder, almost everything I’m doing has in some way or another, either directly or indirectly come from my research and reading on street photography websites. These invaluable articles, suggestions, tips and encouragement have been generously provided by those ESPs who are much further along the path than I.

 

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learning, Photography, street, Uncategorized

Confidence Building Part 2. Start with a Project

While I continue to learn how to use the features of my Nikon D3200, I also try and get out and take/make as many photos as I can. Not to be picky, but I think it is important to differentiate between taking a photo and making a photo. Taking a photo is something akin to aiming at a target and pressing the shutter without much thought other than ensuring your target is in the frame. Making a photo involves more effort and attention to things (there’s that abuse again), like Composition, juxtaposition, shooting high/low, and other photographic techniques that might be the subject of other posts.

Ok, I  know I’ve  digressed a wee bit from the stated title of this post, but what the heck, it is MY blog right?

Once the decision is made to become a street photographer, and having put the money out for a reasonably priced camera, and after spending a lot of time researching and reading, and having begun to understand how to use some of the features of my camera (Wow, how many more ands can I put in this sentence), I needed to have a specific project to pull together all that I have learned so far AND hopefully improve my confidence as well.

I decided to start two activities: 1) go to the streets and start taking candid shots and see what happens, 2) I arranged with the staff of a local coffee shop (I’ve been frequently for 13 years), to take candid photos of the baristas.

I shall now describe each of these activities in more detail and share what I learned.

Neophyte (that’s me) on the Streets. The streets in this case is Granville Island in the city of Vancouver, BC. I actually live on Salt Spring Island which is an island between Vancouver Island and the mainland of British Columbia…….. Ok, are you back reading this post having done your Google walk? Great! Granville Island is a mecca for locals and tourists; perfect for street photography. Actually I’ve been there twice shooting, once with my iPhone4S and the 2nd time with the D3200. Armed with all the wisdom gained from reading and with a definite feeling of unease, I started shooting.

With the iPhone (I had the earphones attached), and without drawing attention to myself, I simply raised the phone, put the target in the frame and pressed the + button on the white cord…picture taken. After a few shots I became more comfortable and started to enjoy the experience. If anyone took notice I smiled and acted as if I was talking on the phone or texting. I came away with some very interesting photographs and a keen sense “I can do this”.

2nd trip with the D3200 was a different experience for sure. I am armed with a visible camera! But also I came with a quickly prepared and simple card (business card size). It has my name, a line that says “street photography” an email address, and a “thanks for the photo. Finally, the card invites the person to contact me for a copy of their picture. Guess what. 90% of people were flattered I took their picture! and those I gave the card to where very impressed that I’d offered to do that. The other 10% did not have anything to say and did not have annoyed or angry looks. I came away with many great shots! My confidence continued its upward trend.

Hmm..this post is getting a bit long. I shall end it here and do another for the actual  project in the cafe. Thanks for reading, and thank you again to those who are following and giving thumbs up.

Anytime you’ve got a question, send it out and I’ll do my best to answer it.

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learning, Photography, street, Uncategorized

Confidence Building Part 1. Your Camera

My 3rd post and still trying to figure out how this blogging all works. The kind people at WordPress give hints and suggestions for preparing posts. The one that struck me was “think about what you want to say”.

So, I’m sitting here pecking away on my iPad and thinking about how to write this post on Confidence. When contemplating being a street photographer, one of the initial hurdles to clear has to do with Confidence. Confidence to take someone’s photograph without asking their permission. If I’ve read one, I’ve read a dozen articles on this critical aspect. And,  I can honestly report that everyone of the suggestions I read work, and my confidence has definitely taken a jump forward.

Here are the things (don’t we just abuse that word) that I have tried and continue to use:

Know how your camera works.

 Remember I’m a slow learner (2nd post)? Sounds like a no-brainier. My cherished iPhone 4S is dead simple as a point and shoot. Sure, there are several apps out there that almost turn the 4S into a DSLR  wannabe. I’ve tried them and those apps pretty much do what the developers claim…, mostly. But if you are like me and know very little about making REAL photos, taking control of exposure, shutter speed, ISO, auto focus vs. manual mode, exposure compensation, focus points, range finder…..and the list goes on; it can be a little overwhelming.

For me, faced with this seemingly endless list of technical terms and camera features, I turned to two sources: my user manual of course, and reading articles from my research. So many of my internet searches began with “how to”, “meaning of”.  Then I at least had a basic understanding of what all these terms and features meant or how the camera can be set.

Finally, I went out and shot dozens, maybe a hundred or more shots of whatever was around. All of this somewhat aimless shooting with one goal in mind: what photo resulted from all these different settings.  And yes, it has become a lot clearer; I am very much more comfortable that I can set my shutter speed, aperture and ISO and the result OFTEN is what I’d expected. But often NOT! Remember slow learners like me still have to work at it.

An important tool.. I’ve read that all DSLR cameras have a feature called the Histogram. This is a way of seeing how the light (dark or bright) is dispersed in your photo. Viewing the histogram after each shot lets me know how correct the exposure has been. Constantly looking at each photo result is referred to as “chimping” within the ESP (see 1st post) community. But for me at this stage of my evolution, the histogram is my most valuable tool. Here’s a link to one histogram article: http://www.itsjustlight.com/tutorials/digital-camera-histogram-tutorial/ On my next blog I will describe other confidence building measures.

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