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Friday, 16 November 2012

My first day out with Street Photography

I have been looking forward to this one day photography course on Street Photography led by Andrew Newson and Justin Sainsbury.

Street photography is a genre that takes me seriously well out of my comfort zone, I was excited about the task at hand yet very nervous and very anxious. The day started with Justin and Andrew sharing images and books on different styles of Street Photography. I was drawn to Henri Cartier-Bresson [1908-2004] a French photographer and one of the earliest adopters of candid photography leading to developing a style that would eventually be known as Street Photography. The book I looked at was entitled Europeans, a brilliant collection of images published in 1955 with images taken from the late 1920's to the 1970's across the whole of Europe. It captures people and landscapes from varying cultures many of which are through the depression and war but yet the spirit of humanity still shines brightly in each image beautifully captured. The cover image below has so much going on it leads the viewer to wonder what the scene is about. Is the foreground man the father of the child? The mother seems to be showing him off, and perhaps a doting grandmother. The child seems perfectly happy and being naked adds to the perception of poverty along with the workers dungarees and the barefooted mother, yet it is an image of warmth and joy. The dogs are also interesting, are they trying to defend or are they welcoming?

Justin then discussed camera settings for Street Photography; forget the traditional rule book this was completely different. Justin uses an aperture of around f/9 or greater to give the best depth of field and a shutter speed of 1/250 second. This allows for the capture to be sharp when having to keep the camera moving when taking images at a split seconds notice. Aperture priority was therefore the choice of camera setting with varying shutter speed and or ISO settings to maintain 1/250 or greater. It was a bright sunny day in the excellent location of Brighton, which helped considerably, though on a shaded street this could lead to having ISO's greater than 800 which undoubtedly means grainer images but the only way to capture the fast changing landscape of Street Photography.

Another tip on camera settings that Justin gave later in the day was to set the focal length to a 50 mm inequivalent, turn off auto focusing and focus to 1.5 m. We then did a sweep of a busy market Lane, watching Justin's technique you would hardly notice him taking images despite his his frame of 6' 6" he just blended in. 'Keep on moving never stop' was one of his best tips, the Street Photographer is gone as quick as the moment in time that the camera has captured......

At the end of the day we retired for coffee and looked at our images through the view finders. I was quite surprised that I had a few possibilities that would make the viewer wonder what was happening, being able perhaps to have varying interpretations ... it was an exhausting 8 hours, but one that I feel I am significantly better for and hope that this will help with this OCA course.

Exercise: Scale & Setting Prep

The first exercise in this course is about taking portraits in the following varying scales.

  • Close up of the face
  • Head & shoulders
  • Torso and head 
  • Full body portrait

The setting will be affected depending of the scale, for example very little will be visible on the first two types, but more so on the last two. The viewers eye will also be drawn to different parts of the images two depending on scale and it is this interpretation that is being investigated. For example in the close up the eyes will be dominant but as the portraits display more of the person then gestures made with hands will become prominent  body language revealed and in some cases the surrounding environment will become part of the interpretation of the image.

The exercise requires taking several images from the above four categories, choosing the best and critiquing them.

As I am not strong on portraiture in preparation for this exercise I first drew up a list of ideas of my own and then googled many images for each category to get more.... I was surprised that the first two types are quite limited in configuration  and my own notes had this covered. The second two were however rather bleak in my notes and the googling produced some excellent ideas.

I was really drawn towards the artist Patrick Earle [ ]  the head and full body portraits are very compelling and I plan to try and emulate some of these. Below are his examples for full bodied portraiture.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Assessment links

Dear assessors, all files have been provided on a pen drive with the assessment along with hard copies of the course work. The files are also available electronically on Google drive HERE.

The structure of each sub folder is the same for each module, with a PDF copy of each assignment report and Tutor Feed Back in the root folder.

I hope this helps,