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Nuit tombe sur la ville basse / Night fall on lower town

It was the end of an afternoon of street photography, on a cold dull day when the dampness went straight to the bones. The shoot had not gone well, with few people about, no characters, nor interesting activity. I was even yelled at by one person – which rarely happens to me – and avoided a confrontation by simply walking away.

Just after parting with my friend, I lingered for a few more moments to capture this image. I like the atmosphere, and it occurs to me now that dusk in winter is a great time to get atmospheric images, and a great way to take advantage of a cold, gray day when few people are about. The image was made with a hand-held Fujifilm X-Pro1 and Fujinon 35mm f/1.4R lens, at f/1.6, ISO 1600. Two images, actually, combined in Nik Software’s HDR Efex Pro, then a layer added with Silver Efex Pro, in Photoshop, for selective colour.

The lights closest to the camera weren’t really lit – so I brushed them in using colour from the more distant lights, and brushed a little on the snow as well to simulate reflection.

Night fall on lower town

Nuit tombe sur la ville basse / Night fall on lower town

When you have to wait – create!

No matter where you are, there are always opportunities for interesting images, even in the most mundane of places. The key is to always have a camera with you. We have to do a fair amount of waiting in our lives, so I like to use the time to good purpose – either photographing, or reading.

Recently, while waiting to be driven to the airport from my hotel, I began searching around for an image, in a fairly uninspiring scene – beside an outdoor pool. Nothing was springing out at me visually. At these times, searching for unusual angles can help – look straight up, down, change your position, etc. This type of exercise can strengthen your ability to see and create compelling compositions. I noticed some interesting leaves that had fallen onto the stonework surrounding the pool, along with some nice filtered light patterns, and arranged two of them together.

The shot was made from almost directly overhead, with my carry-everywhere Fujifilm X-Pro1, which had a Fujinon 35mm f/1.4 lens attached at the time. Post-processing was in LightRoom 4.3 and conversion to B&W in Silver Efex Pro.

Expressions in Street Photography

Capturing intriguing expressions of people is one of the most rewarding results in doing street photography.

Whenever I review my latest street photography images, I’m always interested – and struck by – the relationship between myself, the photographer, and the persons in the image. Often, the subject is unaware they are being photographed, which may be what the photographer desired. At other times, they are obviously very aware, and reacting with their facial expressions. If it’s a negative reaction – a scowl or angry expression – it can make me reject the image. I much prefer, as I assume most street photographers do, a friendly smile, look of curiosity, a questioning look, perhaps one of surprise, or at least indifference – even defiance is good! In other words, anything but an angry scowl!

Expressions in candid street photography is one thing you obviously can’t control, although you can wait for the moment when you think you’ll obtain a desired expression. That requires patience and anticipation. The more experience you get, the better you get at knowing when to press the shutter. Waiting for the expression, however, makes it harder to remain inconspicuous – the longer you wait the more likely the subject will become aware of your presence.

In the photo of the bus driver, below, I was happy to see him have a friendly, slightly questioning expression. I made this image fairly slowly, over several seconds, giving him time to notice me and react. Unless you speak directly to them, one can only wonder what your subject is thinking, but it’s fun to guess from their expression. In this case, hopefully I provided a pleasant diversion from his busy routine. He simply looks pleased to have his image taken.

As an aside, one of the problems with a lot of my street photography, is that the images are taken quickly, in fleeting situations, and I always wish I could give a copy of the image to the subject, afterwards. Most people simply don’t have a image of themselves acting in their everyday jobs and lives, and I think they’d appreciate having a copy or print of the image.

The Bus Driver

Expressions, and gestures, are the most important ingredients in a compelling street image of people and, as Forrest Gump said, they are like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get! Getting a good variety of expressions is always a plus, and a positive expression is always rewarding to see.

End of a Midsummer’s Day

Unfortunately, I haven’t posted much this month – it’s been a busy one, and I like to be outside photographing during the summer, and not on the computer, of course!
Here’s an image from yesterday, made with my D7000 and Nikkor 60mm f/2.8 AFS, a lens I recently acquired and really like; it doubles as a great 90mm portrait lens on a DX (crop-sensor) camera.
It’s a single shot, with some Nik Color Efex Pro filters applied.

End of a Midsummer's Day

End of a Midsummer's Day

Lots of plans for August including a “double” picture-a-day project, starting August 1st, and using film – with my 1956 Rolleicord 3.5E, and digital. That’ll be 365/12 = 31 rolls of 120 film! I’m going to use FujiFilm Portra 400 for most, if not all of it. I’ll post the photos here, but there will be a delay due to the processing time. I’ll do the digital ones, in parallel. Not quite sure on the theme yet, but I’ll have to dream them up by end of day tomorrow! Cheers!

Canada: 145 times around the sun.

Looking across from Ontario to Quebec, on the eve of the Canada Day weekend.

Eve of Canada Day (Nikon D7000 + Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 AFD)

La décision

Sometimes, you are in the right place, and the light is just right.

La décision (X-Pro1 + Fujinon 35mm f/1.4)

FujiFilm X-Pro1

I spent an evening walking around with a FujiFilm X-Pro1, for the first time, the other day. Contrary to all I’ve read about it, it wasn’t quirky, and the auto-focus was quite fast and accurate. It’s early days, but it was a joy to work with this camera. I didn’t even read the manual – yet. It was just that intuitive – mind you, I’ve used an X100 for a year, and they work quite similarly.

En Garde! (X-Pro1 + Fujinon 35mm f/1.4)

The above image is an example of the autofocus speed and accuracy. I was following a fencing demonstration from the sidelines, and every shot I took focused where I wanted it to – on the fencers. Out of over a dozen shots, not one was out of focus. My Nikon D7000, on the other hand, often back-focuses.

Ribs, anyone? (X-Pro1 + Fujinon 35mm f/1.4)

In this second example, the smoke was pretty thick, which can fool a contrast-based AF system, but the subjects were always spot on.

Finally, here’s a shot of a Harley, made from three images, using the AE bracketing drive mode.

The Harley (X-Pro1 + Fujinon 18mm f/2)

I’m looking forward to working a lot more with this camera, and can’t wait to get out with it again. I love the feel of it, and the way it works. I’d actually like two bodies, so I don’t have to switch between the 18mm and 35mm. I’ll post some more thoughts about it, after I’ve used it a little longer.

Alexander Keith’s.

This is the original Alexander Keith’s brewery in Halifax, Nova Scotia. A classic Canadian beer.

Alexander Keith's (Fujifilm X100)

Where to read a book

…on a hot, summer’s afternoon!

Erasing History

Wandering around a city at night, with a tripod, might attract unwanted attention, but not if it’s a Joby Gorillapod and FujiFilm X100 – a great combination for this type of shooting. This is the old Imperial Oil Building in Halifax, Nova Scotia, being demolished. An eerie quiet filled this late-night scene.

The demolishing of the old Imperial Oil Building in Halifax, Nova Scotia

Erasing History (FujiFilm X100)