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Messages - distant.star

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135L is the longest I have used on the street...last time sitting on the sidewalk bench with a bagel and coffee. But frankly it is not my favorite way to shoot street...it is too distant and one of the more alluring parts of street photography is the immediacy. And interaction with the subject(s) is frequently part of that equation.

This goes to the essence of it for me.

I read comments about using long lenses and trying to hide what you're doing and having some means to escape; I wonder why anyone would take pictures of people if they're afraid of people. What's the purpose? Hell, go take pictures of buildings or cars or something you don't have to fear.

Honestly, I don't think you can be good at classic street photography if you don't genuinely like people or at least have some feeling for them. And if you fear people, I don't know why you would be taking pictures of them.

As RS says, there is immediacy and interaction -- that's the intimacy of real street photography. And like all human interactions, some will be great, most will be good and a few will be not so wonderful. That's life. You can use a camera to celebrate that or you can use a camera to aim at it and run away before anything meaningful happens.

If you read the Christian Bible, you'll see that any time an angel appears to a human, the first thing they say is "Fear not."

That's important advice for anyone taking pictures in public. And I especially counsel that you do not heed the words of posters here who are ill-informed, don't seem to understand the concept of a free society and apparently live their lives in fear. The only time you would need a release for someone you've photographed in a public place is if the image will be used for commercial purposes.

Your question is vague so I'm not sure what the answer is for you. To say you're "...just pointing the camera in general directions without focusing on any one person in particular" is a bit suspect in itself. A camera requires focus, and I don't know anyone who takes pictures randomly without some point of focus. If that's all you're doing, get a pinhole camera -- nobody will even know what it is.

I do a lot of photography in public places, and I have general guidelines I follow. You'll find accomplished street photographers will all tell you generally the same thing.

1. Fear not. If you look tentative, it triggers apprehension in other people. The merely assertive may ask what you're doing. The aggressive and/or angry types may threaten you or at least try to intimidate you. If you're out there to take pictures, look like you know what you're doing and go about it in a businesslike manner. Don't look like you're afraid or like you're doing something you're not supposed to be doing.

2. Dress appropriately. If you're dressed in some extreme fashion, it calls attention to yourself for reasons that may make the camera suspicious. Military fatigues and leather are great for photographing streets scenes in the Castro -- it's not going to look so good shooting around Wall Street. Be aware how you're presenting yourself in both dress and manner.

3. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that your best defense is a smile and a casual, personable demeanor. If you're not comfortable talking with strangers, you'll have to overcome that. You may want to explore the science of body language. I know and use gestures and mannerisms that communicate I'm not a threat. But the smile is the most powerful force you have -- use it freely! And keep smiling no matter what!

4. One street photographer I know uses lies if someone challenges him -- whatever it takes. If you're young, say you're doing an assignment for your teacher in class. Tell them you're scouting the area because you want to propose to your girlfriend here one day soon. Tell them you're looking for a place to shoot a big bikini layout for some magazine. If you've taken a picture of a person tell them you did it because they look so great or you love their clothes -- flattery can't be overplayed. Hell, tell them Walt Disney sent you. I've never had to use this tactic, but I've got it ready if I need it. Oh, and don't use this one with the police. If the police want to know what you're doing, be honest.

5. As someone already said, take someone else with you. It doesn't even have to be a photographer. People who will challenge one person rarely want to take on two people.

6. If someone tells you they simply do not want you to have their picture, smile and delete it for them. Show them as you delete it. Whatever it takes to keep the peace. But keep smiling. And for years to come you can tell the story of how you took the greatest photo ever made by man, and you had to delete it. Like all good stories, over the years it will be embellished, and eventually you'll have done it while the person held a "Dirty Harry" 44 magnum at your head!

7. One thing I do that I've never seen anyone do is carry what I call "Who the hell are you?" cards. They're standard business cards with a Web address, phone number, etc. I hand them to anyone I talk with on the street. (No physical address. Use a disposable cell phone if you don't want to use a real number.) Often I invite people to look at pictures I've taken of them on the Web and contact me if they want to use them or have prints -- making sure to say I'm not selling anything. Very few people have ever contacted me. What I've found is the mere existence of something they think is a business card instantly makes me legitimate. It's silly, as you can get a box of decent business cards for $10 from Vista Print, but it sure works. Again, whatever it takes to keep the peace.

8. Be aware of children. Nothing gets people excited faster than thinking a stranger is photographing children. While it is plainly legal in the U.S., to take pictures of children in public places, we've become a paranoid society, and it's better to self-censor yourself a bit in this regard.

9. Know and understand your legal rights. Here's the ACLU guide for photographers. This is applicable in the U.S.

Taking photographs of things that are plainly visible from public spaces is a constitutional right – and that includes federal buildings, transportation facilities, and police and other government officials carrying out their duties. Unfortunately, there is a widespread, continuing pattern of law enforcement officers ordering people to stop taking photographs from public places, and harassing, detaining and arresting those who fail to comply.

Your rights as a photographer:

1. When in public spaces where you are lawfully present you have the right to photograph anything that is in plain view. That includes pictures of federal buildings, transportation facilities, and police. Such photography is a form of public oversight over the government and is important in a free society.

2. When you are on private property, the property owner may set rules about the taking of photographs. If you disobey the property owner's rules, they can order you off their property (and have you arrested for trespassing if you do not comply).

3. Police officers may not generally confiscate or demand to view your photographs or video without a warrant. If you are arrested, the contents of your phone may be scrutinized by the police, although their constitutional power to do so remains unsettled. In addition, it is possible that courts may approve the seizure of a camera in some circumstances if police have a reasonable, good-faith belief that it contains evidence of a crime by someone other than the police themselves (it is unsettled whether they still need a warrant to view them).

4. Police may not delete your photographs or video under any circumstances.

5. Police officers may legitimately order citizens to cease activities that are truly interfering with legitimate law enforcement operations. Professional officers, however, realize that such operations are subject to public scrutiny, including by citizens photographing them.

6. Note that the right to photograph does not give you a right to break any other laws. For example, if you are trespassing to take photographs, you may still be charged with trespass.

And keep smiling!!

Black & White / Re: street photography...feedback please!
« on: March 17, 2013, 04:29:08 PM »
Here's my little mental checklist when I'm thinking B & W:

Light & shadow

Dark & bright

Shape & form

Pattern & repetition

Line & space

The world definitely looks different when you look at it that way.

Third Party Manufacturers / Re: Crazy... go Nikon?
« on: March 16, 2013, 11:21:08 AM »
Your logic appears sound. Damn shame people in business have to face such perplexing choices. As good as camera/lens makers are you'd think they'd see this and create specialty equipment to hold their customers.

I think you're looking at a business decision. If you go with Nikon for one part of your business, will it generate more revenue? It seems like it may be more personally satisfying for you, but if it doesn't add more to the bottom line, why are you really doing it?

Either way I'm sure you'll do fine -- and have fun and satisfying photographic experiences.

Sports / Re: Trying to get noticed...
« on: March 15, 2013, 02:29:57 PM »
It's not my intension to upset or piss anyone off, which I can see I have from a few of the comments... All I want to do is learn from others and progress. So I am sorry if my original post has annoyed anyone

I'm not annoyed, and I don't see any posts that suggest anyone is really. You seem like a young guy asking questions -- that's a very good thing. All most of us are trying to do is help you ask the right questions.

If it's good, solid critique you're after, I think local camera clubs and some classes are good. Take everything with the old grain of salt though, as no one is you or has your vision. Take what you need, and leave the rest! The suggestion made about looking at the great pictures, the ones that tear your eyes out is a good one. Study those pictures and try to figure out how they made it happen -- then go out and make it happen yourself.

Have fun, and keep asking for help. Eventually, if you keep at it, someone will be asking you for help. Be prepared to give back!

I use it most of the time. Once you know exactly what is affected by the "correction" in each lens, you can make a decision picture by picture. Many people I know will make it part of an auto preference, probably smarter so you can undo it for a particular picture.

There are times when I've had to just go manual and use the lens corrections manually instead of the profile -- usually with really wide architectural stuff where lines are badly bowed.

Anyway, it's fun to play with either way.

Canon General / Re: Creative Canon Invite for March 22
« on: March 15, 2013, 12:23:55 PM »
Holy photons, Batman!!!!

They're introducing a Bat Camera!!!!!

Sports / Re: Trying to get noticed...
« on: March 15, 2013, 12:01:10 PM »
I have to ask why you want to get noticed? And who do you want to notice?

If it's just an ego thing, flood all the photo sites (Flickr, FB, Red Bubble, that 500 site, etc.) and cultivate many contacts/friends. Comment favorably on all their images, and they will all come back and tell you how awesome and fabulous yours are. You may or may not create good images, but you'll feel good about it -- if that's what you want.

If you want to get noticed in a business sense and sell images and/or services, you'll probably have to go in a whole different direction. If you want to get to that level, I'd suggest training and experience over time. Eventually contacts are built up and a business plan can be executed.

If you want genuine critique, I'd suggest you leave EXIF intact when posting pictures or explain how each image was processed and what equipment was used. You've got an enormous amount of equipment, I suppose from having worked at Jessop's.

For help here, you might be specific about where you'd like to go. Maybe answer the old job interview question, where do you see yourself in five years?

Perhaps it's less about photo critique and more about career planning?

Canon General / Re: How to Pre-Visualize like Ansel Adams
« on: March 14, 2013, 01:25:20 PM »
Thanks, Graham. Very useful and a superb job of distilling the essence.

Interesting thing for me is that I've always done this instinctively, and the more I take pictures the more I do it (and the longer it is sometimes before I actually use the camera). My challenge, and the challenge I thought everyone had, is using the camera to reflect the vision. Adams, in his little video clip, says "If you have enough craft, if you've done your homework and your practice, you can then make the photograph you desire."

So, I keep working on it. I'm thankful I get to practice every day. Visualizing is great, but without the craft, I could never be satisfied.

Thanks again!

Canon General / Re: Inspirational
« on: March 14, 2013, 12:56:21 PM »
I read that a couple of days ago. For me, it was more guilt-inducing than inspirational.

He's got 100X more talent/skill than I do, yet he's having to sell his one body and three lenses for food, rent, etc. Meanwhile, I'm sitting here with all this equipment he could use far better than I can.

Sort of makes you think "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" may not be such a bad approach.

Portrait / Re: First paid photo shoot - DATE: 23 March 2013
« on: March 14, 2013, 10:55:48 AM »
That's funny. Reminds me of the time I hired a young man as an editor. I based my decision largely on his having worked for National Geographic. How could I go wrong if he'd worked with them as an editorial employee? Turns out he was dreadful -- he couldn't find his own desk each morning without asking someone where he should sit. He didn't last long. I think he may have gone back to National Geo!!

I agree that the gear doesn't really matter to produce great photo's, but once you start to take on paid and serious work, you'll need the basic kit. Kinda reminds me of this....

Landscape / Re: How Would You Edit This Landscape Photo?
« on: March 11, 2013, 12:40:29 AM »
I really like this crop. Seems like it's what been missing for me in all the ones I've seen. It fills the frame!!


Ok, I came in late, so to try something different I cropped to a square format. Why should landscapes be landscape?

Edited in LR4. Cropped to 'thirds on the key peak (left top). Adjusted overall exposure and contrast, used a grad filter to darken the sky and then added some saturation there, used clarity and temperature to make the background distant range 'pop' a little more, added vibrance and clarity but de-saturated the closer mountain range.

Done quickly so some of the 'brushing' is a little rough (just like home - my wife doesn't let me apply the top coat...)

Great idea and responses everyone.



Canon General / Re: crap portraits of me
« on: March 09, 2013, 09:51:45 PM »
Can't give you much from a tech standpoint. It's the luck of the draw -- keep settings as simple and foolproof as possible and hope.

You may also want to think about karma. I know anytime I see tourists or families I offer to take a picture of all of them with their camera. I pay attention to background, get them posed well, make them smile a bit -- and take six or eight pics real quick. I've taken pictures of thousands of people that way over the years.

Maybe it comes back. Who knows!

Portrait / Re: Bikini girl in my studio with my first scenic bacground
« on: March 09, 2013, 12:07:55 PM »
I don't think anything about the background is meant to look realistic.

Landscape / Re: How Would You Edit This Landscape Photo?
« on: March 09, 2013, 09:32:12 AM »
Now for the "artistic" psychedelic interpretation :o

What I like here is that intensity of color seems to begin erasing the line between earth and sky. Not entirely, but it makes that demarcation less certain -- almost like a mind altering experience. Disclaimer: I know nothing about art and less about drugs!

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