Archive for the ‘Candid photography techniques’ Category

Candid street photography in Morocco with Pentax K-5 and 21mm f/3.2   8 comments

Candid street photography in Morocco is exciting and challenging. In preparation for this trip, I decided to take my new Pentax K-5 with my favorite street photography lens – Pentax 21 mm f/3.2. I picked up a Pentax 70mm f/2.4  in the unlikely case I needed extra reach along with a Pentax K20D for backup. In fact, for most of my pictures I used a K-5 with 21mm, except for the few shots in a Fez tannery with a 70mm.

Morocco is a wonderful country. Unfortunately for photographers, the general attitude towards being photographed is very negative.Street performers and water sellers (nobody buys anything from them any more) are very happy to pose…for a fee. Since I’m only interested in candid photography, I used extreme discretion.

On narrow streets you are almost always close to your subject. Wide angle lenses are probably the only right tools for this situation.  All pictures that involve people are taken without using the viewfinder by shooting from the hip.  I kept the camera in my hand with a wrist strap for assurance.

Portrait oriented pictures are taken with my hand straight down at my right side.

To make the landscape oriented shots I had to raise my hand just below my chest.

Framing is not the only challenge. Bright sun, narrow streets, and covered souks make very high contrast scenes.

In retrospect, I think that my choice of a 21mm lens was ideal for my shooting style, even though I regretted not having a 14mm lens with me. The relatively quiet operation of a Pentax K-5 definitely helps, at least psychologically, for taking candid pictures in close range.

I will be back in Morocco, “Insha’Allah” (God willing).

For more pictures go to Morocco 2010

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What is “the candid photography of strangers”?

Why is the candid photography unique?

Pentax 14mm f/2.8 for Candid Street Photography

Rules and myths of candid photography: To ask permission or to invade privacy

Canon S90 for Candid Street Photography   5 comments

I have an advanced compact (aka Point-and-Shoot) camera for one specific reason – I can easily keep it in my pocket. These amazingly small devices produce good image quality, if you don’t have very high expectations. I only use the RAW file format for flexibility in post processing.

My settings are all manual. It is easy to set the exposure using a live histogram. Just remember to point at the potential scene with the largest contrast. The Depth of Field (DOF) is so large that changing distance (using manual focus) is required only in very special cases.

I use a ring around the lens for changing focal length. Focal length is almost always in its widest range (28-35mm). I don’t use LCD for framing. I hold it with the LCD faced to my palm and I use my thumb to trigger.

I can have it during my walk for a lunch.

There is no danger in forgetting your camera in the restaurant after a good bottle of wine.

Rules and myths of candid photography   Leave a comment

Let me know if you would like to discuss other rules and myths of candid street photography.

Use your own judgment and be creative.

Related topics

What is “the candid photography of strangers”?

Why is the candid photography unique?

Rules and myths of candid photography: To use post processing or in camera only imaging   Leave a comment

Some experts support the notion that for candid photography to be “authentic” you cannot use postprocessing for enhancement. Some may say that while it’s ok to use mercury during image development and spiral into insanity, the computer is the “poison” for your creativity.

This idea probably stems from the fear that the computer makes things so easy, professionals are going to be overwhelmed by amateurs.  It is similar to the perpetual struggle of professional gilds against mass production. Ultimately, progress is inevitable.

Opponents of postprocessing are fundamentally misguided because the more good pictures we have, the better. Even with the edition of postprocessing, nothing can make a dull image interesting.  The art of photography will always remain in the skill of the photographer.

I use very simple post processing tasks:

  • Cropping and rotating
  • Converting from color to B&W
  • Enhancing contrast
  • Sharpening

Usually this takes no more than 10 minutes. If I feel that my postprocessing is taking me too long, it’s probably a bad image in the first place.  It’s better to take the time to find a better shot, than slave away behind a poor composition.

I chose this image as an example because I did nothing with it.

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Rules and myths of candid photography: Black & White or Color

Pentax 70 mm f/2.4 DA Limited for Candid Street Photography   Leave a comment

After work one day, I had about 3 hours to myself.  I decided to kill the time shooting with a 70 mm f/2.4 using a wide open aperture.

Considering its reach, this is an amazingly small lens. With 70mm I can always use the viewfinder and there is no reason to think about shooting from the hip.

The depth of field (DOF) of f/2.4 is shallow and my only goal is to focus on the object. This is a liberating experience. The challenge is to focus on the moving target, so don’t think about what else you want to be sharp.

For more pictures go to Shooting with Pentax 70 mm 2.4 wide open only

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Rules and Myths of Candid Photography: Wide angle or telephoto lenses

Rules and myths of candid photography: To ask permission or to invade privacy   6 comments

First and foremost, this blog is about candid photography.  If you ask the subject for permission, no matter how you do it, the person has time to get ready for the picture. The photographer can get an interesting and excellent artistic result, but this cannot be considered candid.

If you’re worried about privacy invasion, law-breaking, possible confrontation, or other problems, don’t do candid photography. There is no other solution. It is the same as driving a car or traveling. You can get a ticket, be mugged or just get into a bad accident. Photographers have to use common sense and accept the risks.

After you’ve made your shot, please, feel free to talk, ask permission, and give business cards or anything else to resolve a possible conflict.

Sometimes you can be pleasantly surprised from your “victim’s” positive reaction.

These pictures illustrate another point. Even a person, obviously seeing a lens directed at him, creates genuine expression of confusion. This interesting case deserves a separate topic.

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Every Face Has a Story

What is “the candid photography of strangers”?

Pentax 14mm f/2.8 for Candid Street Photography   Leave a comment

I bought this lens a couple of years ago to take pictures of architecture and landscape. In the last two weeks I’ve tried it for my candid street photography. This is the widest lens I have and it requires a very close range to the subject to take a picture. Don’t even think about using the viewfinder and autofocus. The mode of operation is “point and shoot”.

This is not a small glass, but when you are very close to the person it is hard to conceal your intentions anyway.

The lens is fast. I often use it wide open. I don’t think that a faster lens would be useful.  When you are in a range of six feet or less, it becomes a shallow depth of field.  This makes the misfocus problem more pronounced.

For more pictures go to Shooting with Pentax 14mm f/2.8

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The Rules and Myths of Candid Photography: Wide angle or telephoto lenses