I have no idea if the guy staring into his cellphone was checking the weather. But a weather check for the Streets of Nuremberg would have shown a cold front passing through today, with heavy rains and a significant drop in temperature. Was definitely time for a warm jacket for everyone out and about.
I was playing around with my Elmarit F/2.8 90mm on the Leica M. Image specs 1/125 sec @ f/4 and ISO 3200. The high ISO is not a problem for the M, and the monochrome images directly out of camera are quite beautiful. The backdrop shows the historic Heilig-Geist-Spital with the River Pegnitz passing underneath.
Happy Mayday from the Streets of Nuremberg. A strange first day of May it was. Covid-19 lockdown, stormy weather, empty streets – far away from the usual cheerfulness at the start into what we Germans call the “Wonnemonat”. Dearly in need to see something else than our home and the supermarket, The Significant Other and I headed downtown to the Wöhrder See, where the Pegnitz River is dammed to a lake just before entering the city walls.
Public life has come to a total standstill on the Streets of Nuremberg. Bavarian state authorities have issued a 24/7 curfew for the next two weeks. We can leave our homes only to go to work (if we have a pass from our employer), to seek medical assistance or to buy groceries. Single persons (or people living in one household) can also go for a walk outside. Only grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations and places selling take-out food are open. When things got bad in China and the government locked up 15 million people in Wuhan, we all said that would be impossible to do in our western democracies. Four weeks later we know better. Crazy world. Amazingly, the majority of the affected population is fully supportive of the measure. Including me.
Took the Leica on a stroll into town on Saturday. There were noticeably fewer people on the streets of Nuremberg. Could have been due to the week of school holidays. But maybe it was the fear of getting infected with the new coronavirus that leaves people confined to their houses.
Shooting street photography with a Leica produces what I call “the rangefinder effect”. While people in the streets have a tendency to find it disturbing having a big ass DSLR pointed at their faces, their reaction is definitely quite different when they see the casually wandering photographer working the manual focus and the aperture ring of an almost anachronistic looking small black camera.
Obviously, shooting with other retro looking cameras like the Olympus PEN-F or the Fuji X100F is also much less intimidating than using a big DSLR with a huge lens attached. But those cams use autofocus and thus the process is often reduced to a simple point and shoot. The point and shoot approach would also work on a rangefinder using zone focusing (the systematic pre-focusing of a lens at specific distance and aperture to achieve a sharp image), but to get the hang of using a rangefinder I mostly take the time to set up the shots individually. Which, as totally unusual these days, draws curiosity and often a (probably pitiful) smile, the rangefinder effect. Especially when you are close to your subjects, what you have to be when you shoot street photography using a 35mm lens.
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Street Photography is about capturing scenes of every day life as it happens. Like this girl reading a book while sitting in the window of a coffee shop in Portland. I liked her style and the just so slight smile on her lips. I was standing on the sidewalk directly in front of her, snapping a few initial photographs. I always want to make sure to capture at least one good shot before the scene changes. Continue reading “She didn’t look up”→
This capture of an intimate moment between father and son is not a perfect photograph.
I took this photo late in the evening in a dimly lit street cafe. It was a difficult situation to focus in as there was just not enough light. Aiming and shooting quickly the auto focus did lock on the contrast rich edge of the toy tiger in front of the two main subjects of the photograph, resulting in their faces being thrown out of focus due to the long focal length and the wide open aperture of f/5.6 at the far end of my zoom range.
I took only this one shot, as a second later they changed their posture and that intimate moment was lost.
Missing the focus makes this technically a failed image. Is it a failed image? I think it is not. A photograph needs to have heart and soul, needs to carry a story. It’s contents over form. A technically flawless photo isn’t any good if it’s missing heart and soul. If you study the work of the masters of Street Photography like Henri Cartier-Bresson or Elliot Erwitt, you find many of their great photography are technically imperfect images. But they carry a strong story.
So my advice is press the shutter when you see something that touches your heart and your emotions and worry about the settings later. Having perfect settings or a perfect focus doesn’t help you when the moment is lost.
The photo was taken with my OM-D E-M1 and the mZuiko 14-150mm F/4.0-5.6 travel zoom, image specs are 1/13 sec @ f/5,6 and ISO 1600, 120mm focal length.
During last weekend’s trip to the Oregon Coast I took some photographs that due to the high contrasts within the composition, I thought would look good converted to monochrome. When shooting with B&W already on my mind, I typically set my camera to a monochrome preset (most modern cameras have that feature). So when composing, I’m looking already at a monochrome image in my viewfinder or on my LCD screen. This helps me judging the impact of light and contrast before pressing the shutter. Maybe this is not the right approach for a purist, but I gladly take this as a great supportive feature of modern cameras and is as helped me discover the fun in B&W photography. For more monochrome coastal images and some more thoughts around it continue reading after the jump…. Continue reading “Some thoughts on monochrome shooting”→