Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Flâneur Techniques

Firstly, I found three interesting read today while doing my morning surf. All pertain to photography and in particular street, and all worth a read. The first - Thoughts of a Bohemian - addresses the changing landscape in marketing and controlling the rights of digital images. Second - The New York Times Lens Blog - looks at the varied approaches that France, England, and the USA take to photography and the right to privacy. Third - Ming Thein's blog - considers, with some tongue-in-cheek poetry, why he (and I too) must always have a camera at the ready.

To grow as an artist, craftsman, or whatever you would choose to call a street photographer requires practice. No different from anything else. What we choose to practice determines in large part how we grow and in what direction. When I first studied photography at the New School my instructor, Mario Cabrera, suggested to me that I put aside my whiz-bang-boom SLR with the fancy light meter and zoom lens, and get myself a Leica M4 (no internal light meter), a 35mm lens, and a hand held light meter. He suggested that I pick a spot to plant myself and spend a few hours there watching and measuring the light, and photographing that one spot. Over the course of a month I chose a variety of locations, mostly in Greenwich Village - Sheridan Square in particular - and by the end of the month, after becoming so annoyed with having to measure light with the meter before I picked up the camera, I no longer needed the meter to be able to read the light. And I knew spots around the Village where I could go at a particular time to find a certain kind of person to photograph in a known lighting situation. It's a practice that I indulge in to this day.

On Sunday I was at one of those spots. The sun was blastingly bright, and a good many of the shots I took suffered from lens flare. The challenge for the afternoon was to use the light as a backlight and still get a good exposure of the person(s) walking towards me - their fronts being in shadow. The second shot had big blobs of flare from the aperture blades which I was able to adjust in Lightroom and with Nik Silver Efex Pro 2. I would have passed on processing that shot, but with the expression on their faces with their chins up and the wind blowing their hair, it was too good to pass up.