Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Experimenting with street photography

Although I have completed my assignments for the street photography element of the course, my interest has been sparked and I want to continue to develop skills.  Rather than use my bulky and very visible SLR I chose to take out my very compact Canon G11.  Whilst not offering the versatility and quality of an SLR this little camera has a couple of great advantages for street photography.  First of all it operates completely silently and so in combination with its small size is very discrete.   Secondly the articulating screen enables the camera to be held at waist height and operated without bringing it to the eye - this is very much like using an old twin-lens reflex.  This means that it is quite difficult for someone to know if you are looking at an image or making a new one.  The zoom range of 28-140mm (equivalent) is also ideal for shooting people.

I took this along for a walk up to a local shopping center.  On the way I grabbed a couple of images

Here it was the juxtaposition of the flowers in the foreground with the cars and modern gas station in the background that interested me.

In the second image the vanishing point perspective pulls the eye into the frame, however, the figure is trying to hurry out of the frame.

The shopping center, Arabella Park, is a popular area for the local Muslim community, and the  variety of dress codes makes for interesting subjects, although I am still wary of photographing people who value privacy so highly that they completely cover themselves.  However, maybe the fact they are so well covered means that a photograph is hardly revealing anything of a personal nature.

This image had too much foreground space so I cropped it quite drastically - makes an interesting balance between old and young, both recognizably Muslim and conforming to traditional values, but with very different views on the use of colour

In this area many people were moving quite purposefully across the open space, the G11 was quite slow to focus compared to the SLR and quite a few people were almost exiting the frame by the time the photo completed - such as this image

I found that I liked the tension in the frame created by someone walking out of it, very similar to the first shot in this posting.  Thus rather than try and hunt for shots I selected another approach and found a comfortable place to sit and waited for my subjects to arrive.  I kept the camera in my lap looking down at the upturned view screen and hit the shutter button every time someone approached the left edge of the frame. 

I was interested to see whether people noticed me and to capture the variety of passers by.  The time was around 5:30 and people were heading home from work:

Very rarely did anybody actually look at me, and then they were usually older than average.  Most younger people shot by engaged in phone conversations prior to jumping on the underground train.  I used the chair in the right hand side of the frame as a reference point and watched with interest as this was occupied for a crafty smoke by a couple of ladies.  The image I like the best, the one with the child and adult blurring as they run past, but still clear enough to see that they were having fun.

I am not sure what the point of this was, other than to spend some time observing how people pass by and how they relate to a figure sitting on a bench secretly taking pictures of them.

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