‘Am I getting closer?’ should have been the title of this blogpost, but ‘Getting Closer‘ suited my opening image. The answer to that question I posed is possibly yes. I am working a lot closer to my subjects when I’m on the Street which is what I want to achieve with my Street Photography. I see so many images where the central interest, which should be the people and their interaction with their environment or fellows, are so far away as to be superfluous to the frame. The image then becomes meaningless unless we’re attempting to show a scene or tell a story.
With the Leica M I’m never going to get that close if I want to be in focus, at least with my current setup for Street. I prefer using the hyperfocal method, whereby I know without the need to focus that everything at say f/11 will be sharp from around 6 feet to infinity. It’s good, but I’m toying with the idea of changing to Zone Focusing to get a little closer, currently anything closer to me than six feet away is going to be blurred. I’ve never really bothered with Zone Focussing because I either use hyperfocal or focus manually at larger apertures. If you clicked on that ‘hyperfocal’ link you’ll see my lens markings. It was dialled in for hyperfocal, essentially I’ll change it so that the yellow focus ring is set to 2.5 feet instead and keep it at f/11. I’ll experiment on my next trip to Bath. Enough with the technical stuff, it confuses me when I write it, I know what I mean, ‘trust me I’m a photographer’!
So getting in close is a good thing, if we’re to improve our Street Photography it’s a must, but that’s not all there is to it. It isn’t telling a story or showing any kind of emotion and we don’t want to be so close that we don’t see the environment that our subject matter is currently in. Here’s some examples of me being up close, but that’s about it. They’re really not very good Street photographs. I included the colour one to demonstrate that using the hyperfocal setup has its drawbacks.
So much better I believe to capture some emotion like this shot of two friends meeting up;
I feel as though I’m getting closer, improving to get nearer to what I want my Street Photography to be. It’s so subjective, I’m not catering to what others might want to see, I’m not trying to conform. I am shooting the Streets the way I want to, or nearly how I want to. And that is about as good as a self compliment gets from me, you’ll know if you’re a regular reader that I am my own worst critic. I’m happy with two or three images here…hallelujah!
All these photographs were taken at the beginning of the week in Bath. I still took the obvious shots, like these two by a parked van;
However it wasn’t until I got to the other side of the van that I saw more of a scene that I preferred. I include this last photo below because my friend Jeff Chane-Mouye published a blogpost a couple of days ago concerning kids in Street Photography and any implications of that. My first thoughts were that I tend to not bother with them. I spend too much time photographing my own children and those of clients to pay them any attention when I’m on the street. A small concern is the reaction of parents. I changed that initial comment after giving some further consideration; they make for good subjects, it is perfectly innocent and as Jeff points out no different than taking shots of adults, they are just a part of storytelling in the street as anyone else and if we look at the iconic photos of the ‘Great Photographers’ we often see children in their images. I’ll be honest here and admit that I was drawn to click in the first place because the fathers sweater matches the colour of the shop signs in the background, then there was the lady vaping and her reflection. The little girl in her yellow dress completes the scene, but was an after thought at the time. That said there could be a story, the way our vaping lady is looking at the child perhaps. A simple scene yes, but one that typifies much of what I see wandering around the streets of Bath and so I like it.
As always my sincere thanks go to anyone taking the time to read this blog.
All images can be opened by clicking on the thumbnails and are taken using a Leica M with Summicron 35mm Lens fitted.
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