According to Wikipedia, Street Photography – which is not always shot in the street, but which is nearly always black & white – has its roots in Paris. What better place then, to try to master the craft? Luckily, my new Fuji x100T may be the best camera available for the genre. It’s perfect because it’s small, fast and completely silent.
Street photographers in the past chose black and white film due to its greater light sensitivity. This allowed them to stop motion blur. Today’s digital cameras with their super-fast lenses and sensors are well-suited to freezing motion. I chose shutter priority at about 1/500th of a second for most of these.
Focusing is a bit trickier. I am usually not looking through the viewfinder when I make these shots. Instead, I carry the camera at or even below my waist and pretend to be fiddling with it, while in fact I’m snapping pictures as fast as I can. I thought that maybe I should try a fixed focus distance – say ten feet – and shoot everything from that distance, but this proved to be difficult and produced a lot of blurry shots. It’s easier to let the camera (attempt to) autofocus. Naturally, when you or your subject are on the move, you will still get plenty of out-of-focus shots, but occasionally, you’ll achieve something wonderful.
Yes, shooting this way is a bit random, and you could argue that there is little skill required to make shots this way. That’s mostly true. The thing is though, that shooting “from the hip” can result in images which are more interesting and more emotional than shots of the same old architectural and landscape subjects. This is especially true these days, when virtually every square inch of the planet has been photographed by someone with far more talent and much better hardware on that one day when the light was just perfect.
This year we decided to avoid the depressing spectacle that is Christmas in the US by traveling abroad for the holidays. This turned out to be an even better idea than we thought it could be. The usual guilt and stress of our most dreaded holiday melted away, and we pretty much forgot about the whole mess. For me, this year’s non-celebration meant it was easily the Best Christmas Ever. (Thank you, Kellster!)
It should some as no surprise that I took a few pictures with my new Fuji X100T. I tried a few new techniques along the way, which I’ll share in a later post. My goal now is to make a blog entry for each day of the trip with a few photographic highlights. (This may take some time.) In parallel, I’m working on a Google+ Album with all of the best images. You can view it and the hundreds of images it will eventually contain here.
We begin with a nice trip to SFO, followed up by the most uncomfortable flight ever. Where there had been three seats on our Air France 777, there were now four of the narrowest seats we’ve ever seen or sat in. Flying has become so awful. Oh well… Kelly made friends with Charlot and Marion, who offered plenty of advice as to how to part ways with our money, a few of which Kelly really took to heart. (More on this later.)
After landing at the huge Charles de Gaulle Airport, we were greeted by our driver who mentioned that I have a French name. When I told him it is actually Belgian, he offered his condolences. We dumped our luggage on the ship and despite near total exhaustion, headed out for a 40 minute walk to the Eiffel Tower. Guess what. It’s big.
We are tired, but very happy…
We’ve had about enough of the almost non-stop helicopter sounds outside our window. There are three or four in the air almost every evening that doesn’t include rain.
Click for a closer look at this 15,000 pixel-wide view from my rooftop. It’s not the sharpest image ever taken, but this is because the shots were handheld at high ISO with the lens wide open and manual (out of) focus. I sort of forgot that my 35mm lenses don’t perform as well wide open as the awesome lens on my X100T.
The last time I did this sort of thing, I used a tripod, lower ISO, smaller aperture and auto focus. The resulting image received more attention than any other in the history of thedude.com.
DISCLAIMER: Just as the moon was not really in that spot in my earlier panorama, there was actually just one helicopter with a searchlight in this one. I took about 5 shots of the police chopper in 2-second intervals thinking that I’d combine them all in the final pano, but this is what came out of AutoPano Pro on the first take, and I like it. Done. Well, that is until Kelly saw it and suggested this tighter crop. Yes, I like this one too!
While the thought of shooting kids (with a camera) is not something I’d normally consider fun, I really could not refuse when my boss asked me to shoot his kids for the holiday. (Did I mention how adorable his kids are? Yes, they really are. No, really!)
I get butterflies before all photo shoots, and this assignment had me more nervous than most. It’s easier to focus the camera than four kids, but as always, fear morphed into fun as soon as I started working. The kids were great, and we managed to get a few winners. I can’t spoil the surprise, so you’ll have to wait until after the holidays to see them.
Working on a cover of a book about pirates.
The image started as a model from the Sketchup 3D Warehouse, exported in 3DS format, imported into Cinema4D. What you see is pretty much straight out of Cinema.
I photographed my first East Bay United Soccer match today. Simon has not had much success shooting his son’s matches with his point-and-click. I explained that you need a long lens, fast shutter speeds and a lot of patience. Great action shots are few and far between. Most of the time, they turn out like this.
It’s true – the new 5K iMac is mind-blowing. Ii takes just a few minutes on a 5K retina display to realize that there will be no going back. After my boss saw it, I had no trouble convincing him that I could not live without a 5K display at work. So now I’ve been busy going through my entire image library – finally seeing my images in their full glory. This is the main reason you haven’t heard from me for a while.
My advice? Sell your kids and get a 5K iMac immediately. It will change your life. Did you do it yet? Yes? Good, because I don’t want my efforts to make thedude.com retina-ready to go unappreciated. (Actually, there’s an awesome retina plugin for WordPress that made the whole process very easy.)
Another distraction is the work we’re having done on our largest wall. Andrew has been working his magic. The Venetian plaster is even more spectacular then my visualizations. They do not convey the tactile quality of the plaster. When you see it, the first thing you’ll want to do is touch it. It’s amazing.
Now we need to have a bunch of LARGE prints made. We’re in no hurry though. Why rush to cover up Andrew’s masterpiece?
The most amazing thing about this mini-vacation is that I managed to stay completely away from any form of Internet or phone access for more than five days. This may not seem like much of a feat, but I challenge you to try it.