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Up for Discussion – Street Portraits

Today’s post is similar to last week, but I asked Richard Guest from The Future Is Papier Mâché to write one on Street Photography as well, but this time on Portraits.  Richard has been taking portraits of people on the streets for a couple of years, and I have been following along while he had been doing them.  I hope you enjoy Richard’s post.

Street Portraits

Since May 2012 I’ve been walking up to strangers and asking if I can take their portrait. It’s frightening, thrilling, rewarding and extremely addictive.

Nowadays we think of the street photographer as a flaneur, a wanderer, an observer, an artist roaming the metropolis, hunting for that decisive photographic moment. But in the early twentieth Lulucentury the term “street photographer” described someone who took portraits of strangers for money. Weegee (later famous for his crime reportage) began his career this way.

Throughout the twentieth, and twenty-first centuries other photographers (including Paul Strand, Walker Evans, Diane Arbus, William Klein and Henri Cartier-Bresson), have taken non-candid shots of people in the street (thus blurring the line between commonly accepted idea of street photography and portraiture). Some contemporary street photographers claim portraiture does not belong in their fast-moving, candid world. So can a portrait also be a street photograph?

One of the things I love about taking portraits in the city is that you have very little time to set up, compose, light and take your shot. You have to work with your instincts. JamesAnd the time you are given is the time your subject has to spare. Sometimes this can be the length of time it takes to press the shutter release.

I only take photographs of people I consider stylish or interesting. If I’ve got my camera with me, I’m on the lookout for possible subjects. There are times I’ll stay rooted to Jack Hunta spot (interesting background), waiting for someone to come along, and others when I’ll see someone I absolutely have to photograph in the distance and end up chasing them around Central London.

When approaching a potential portraitee, I am polite and upfront about what I want to do. I usually have a general idea of what I want to say, but have been known to blurt out exclamations of delight at what someone is wearing. And most of the time people agree to have their picture taken.

I want people to present themselves as naturally as possible in front of the camera, so I rarely ask anyone to strike a pose. I take between two and six shots from different angles and distances (and with different settings). The advantages of doing this are I can play around with the composition; and people tend to relax the more shots I take, which leads to more natural-looking pictures.

When the shooting’s done, I hand the person a business card, tell them about my blog and request permission to Joshuapublish their portrait online, (if they refuse, I don’t try to change their mind and I don’t publish the shot – it’s enough that they stopped in the first place). One really nice bonus of taking street portraits is having a conversation with someone you don’t know. It’s as important a part of the process to me as taking the shots, and I’ve met some really great people as a result.

Wilko JohnsonEvery couple of days, I upload my shots, and edit the best ones in Photoshop, usually just tweaking vibrancy, fill-light, and contrast. I shoot in RAW – the level of detail can’t be beaten and even quite radical editing doesn’t affect the images’ integrity. I also shoot in colour, which gives me the option to convert to black and white if the subject demands it. In most cases, monochrome lends a portrait gravitas and soul, whereas colour shows off clothes and style to great effect.

My aim is to present as undistorted an image of my subject as possible. When I started out it was with a kit lens – an 18-70mm, which is perfectly fine if you don’t mind a bit of distortion and is great for taking full-length portraits with a nice amount of background. But my favoured lens is a 50mm (which on a non-full-frame DSLR is equivalent to a 75mm on an SLR). I would avoid using anything wider than a 35mm, unless you want to deliberately distort your images.

Taking the portraits has broadened and deepened my experience of London and of people in general. I’m extremely grateful to everyone who has allowed me to take their picture, but particularly to George Skeggs, my first street portraitee – without him there would have been no beginning…

I hope you will all thank Richard for this wonderful post, and if you would like to see more images then please visit The Future Is Papier Mâché.  He did more images for you to look at and I will put them into a gallery for you, plus the ones above.

Introductions – Ian Spagnolo

Ian Spagnolo is a photographer that I have been following for quite some time, and one that I aspire to, especially when I want to do seascape images.  He is so good at getting sunrises along the coast and his work has stuck out to me for nearly as long as I’ve been on WordPress.  He isn’t blogging as much these days, but that doesn’t mean I can’t show his wonderful work.

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Most of you know how getting a good sunrise is something that always seems to allude me.  It is nice to see that it does happen for other people.  I know that Ian lives in Coffs Harbour, a town on the NSW coast about halfway between Sydney and Brisbane. “It really is a gorgeous part of the world with so many relitively untouched beaches and world class rainforests within an hours drive of here.”  It is nice to get to show what the coast of Australia can look like.

I did ask Ian why he took photos.

For the love being able to freeze a moment in time exactly how I visualise it. When I was just taking the odd image or two, I was looking at a lot of work from both local and international photographers and was in awe of some of the images they share, but could never get why my ‘snaps’ never looked that good. Thinking back to when I was starting out and also now when I try something a little out there, I really enjoy the learning experience too. I was mostly visiting landscape photographers sites to start off with, and of course most of these images were taken in the early morning… hours before I usually woke to start my day! Knowing I had to change my ways to see the light I wanted, I did exactly that and spent every moning I could (rain, hail or shine) on a headland or beach somewhere along the coast. Now it just feels strange if I am not up and on a beach somewhere before the days first light, and of course I always have my kit close by.

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Ian has recently had a trip away and there are some really amazing photos there on his site.  I tried not to get them all for this post, but there are also posts about camera gear and other things, well worth the read.  I love winter shots like this. They are so unique because they are something that you just can’t get here.  There is no where in Australia where you would get a scene like this in winter.

The second question was about inspiration.

My inspiration comes from mostly two things I would say… of course other photographers, and the might of mother nature.

With social media it is incredibly easy to interact with photographers around the world and see what they are shooting, and learning new techniques in either capturing an image or post production. Everyone does things a little differently, and you can learn a lot from the way others work. As for mother nature, what you can witness if you just take the time to stop and look around is simply breathtaking. The interesting things and magical locations I find so close to home still surprise me.

I also have been travelling whenever I can and capturing locations around the globe. The number of beautiful worldly sights I have seen in the last few years is amazing, and looking though my images takes me back to that exact moment every single time.

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I would love to spend a morning with Ian one day as he shoots these wonderful scenes.  The biggest hurdle for me is the 2 to 2 1/2 hour drive I have to do first, which I have been know to do, then to discover that the sunrise is a bust.

I added a new question and asked Ian how long he had been taking photos for.

I have liked photography for a long time but would only say I have been seriously shooting since late 2010, so lets say 4 years now. I still think I am pretty inexperienced, and there is always a new genre in photography to explore – what can I say… I like a challenge.

I also asked if there was anything special about the way he worked.

It’s the familiar case of get there early and stay until late which makes the best landscape images. Technically the majority of stuff I like to do these days is either high resolution multi-row panoramas for picking out mind boggling detail and printing as large as you like, or long exposure photography with anywhere from 1 second to 15 minute exposures at a time. You can get some very dramatic effects from the movement within a scene like from water and clouds – a tripod and neutral density filters are the most important tools I use apart from my camera and lens choice.

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Ian has given us all some great advice there.  I think part of my problem sometimes is that I don’t stick around long enough and maybe that is something I need to concentrate on more.

My final question to Ian was about gear.

I shoot with mostly Canon gear inluding 7D & 5D Mk III bodies, am ever growing list of lenses with focal ranges from 8mm to 400mm, Manfrotto tripods, Lee, Heliopan & Singh-Ray filters, and various remote triggers. If I had to pick one lens for landscapes it would be my 16-35mm f2.8L II, and for portraits I am enjoying my latest aquisition, a Canon 35mm f1.4L. I also use a Nodal Ninja panoramic head for my panoramas.

I am going to put the above images and some others into a gallery for you now.  I hope you have enjoyed Ian’s work and would ask they you all go and take a look at his blog, Ian Spagnolo Photography. I would also like to thank Ian for giving me permission to show his work to you.

 

 

Weekend Wanderings – The Pink Lakes

On my recent trip to the Mallee I was able to go back to the Pink Lakes and explore it some more. The Pink Lakes are part of the Murray Sunset National Park, stuck up in the North West Corner of the state of Victoria here in Australia.  I have been there twice now and I know I will be going back a lot more.  It is amazing how different it can be each time you go. This time I was expecting to see a lot more water because of the rain.

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One of the first things that struck me was how much pinker the lakes were than the last time we were there. Though there wasn’t as much water in them as I expected.  We have had so much rain down here that I assumed they would have had more than usual too and thought there might be a lot more water in the lakes.  They’ve certainly had some, but I did think they would be fuller.

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It is such a desolate (my new favourite word) country up there and it is not unusual to see trees struggling to survive.  Not much does survive up there.

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On the lake in the previous image there was a large part of it that had no water and we saw someone else walking on the salt, so we went for a walk too.  The salt was compacted and we had no trouble walking on it. Though we were told later that you have to be very careful as a wet spot could be there and it would be like quick sand. I couldn’t get over the texture.  It was like tough skin, and there are other photos on the gallery for you to see that.  I liked the above one for the salt crystals, they looked so nice.

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Out at the lakes there are still things that have been left from the days when they mined the salt.  There are these large mounds of salt just sitting there. They are very hard now, and the textures on them are quite amazing. I did climb up them to get some photos, and I took some photos from them.  They gave you a nice high advantage, though again, it is probably something you need to be careful with.

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I was told this was bush spinach and you could pick it and eat it.  I don’t really like normal spinach, so if it’s okay, I might give it a miss. This was growing everywhere.  I suppose if you got stuck there you wouldn’t starve, die of thirst maybe, but not starve.

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We went over to the third lake and it was also dry, or so it seemed, when we went to see if we could walk into it, it was obvious that is was still far too wet and you just started sinking, so we only walked around the edges. This time we saw a lot more of the old piers or ramps that were there. The above was a piece of wood from one that has swelled and buckled.  I loved the shape of it.

I am hoping to go to the Pink Lakes again in Spring, I want to see the wild flowers.  I have a gallery for you now, there are lots of photos. I was going to try and cull them, but I couldn’t decide which ones to leave out, so you are getting them all.  I really enjoyed getting these photos.  The landscape here is so different to many places and I hope you enjoy them.

 

Weekend Wanderings – Fog in Banyule

Those of you who follow the Monochrome Madness challenge know that we had fog here earlier in the week.  It was so nice to see something else besides rain.  We actually had three mornings of it, though only one was really thick, the one I went out to take photos in.

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I do love this tree.  I always think Joshua Tree, of course it isn’t one, but there are some similarities.  I have no idea what this tree is.

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The other day someone mentioned how quiet landscapes can be when there is fog.  I think that is something I really want to try to get.  I love the idea of the quiet landscape, and fog is so perfect for that.

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Even when it is really busy it still seems very quiet.

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When I went over to the swamp I was enjoying watching this black swan cleaning itself.  I wished I’d had a bigger lens, but you do what you can with what you have.  I have other photos of this too.

 

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The swamp is one of those areas that looks fantastic with fog, though the perfect thing would have been fog and a little bit of sun.  I am sure I will get that one day.

All the images were shot with the Nikon D800, with the 24-70mm lens.  They were all taken hand held.  While it was foggy and it seemed a little dark it wasn’t too dark that I couldn’t hand hold.  Looks like I used f/8 for nearly all the photos, and as I was using Aperture Priority the camera set the shutter speed.  My ISO was mainly on 640, though I did change it up to 1250 when I was trying to photograph the swan so I could get a faster shutter speed.

Going to put the photos into a gallery for you now.  I hope they don’t all seem the same.  I hope you get some fantastic weather conditions this weekend to do your own wanderings and get some amazing photos.

 

Friday’s Bits and Bobs

It has been a relatively quiet week here, though the weather has been a lot better and I think many of us are hoping that might mean the end of the rain, well so much of it.  We never want the rain to completely disappear, but it would be nice if we had a week or two of no rain, unfortunately I don’t think that is going to happen any time soon. All the images in this post were taken the other day when I went to Lorne to get some photos with a friend.

Filters

lorne-rocks-waves-waterThe first image in this post is one that was taken on the rocks near Lorne.  Recently John Holding told me about a neutral density filter that was 400+ and I thought it sounded fantastic.  I thought I might try and get one.  I had no idea how much they were, or what brand he had, so I went searching on the internet.  I found one that was a 3-in-1 filter, so apparently covered a few different types of neutral density filter. Okay it did only cost $12, so I didn’t have high expectations, but you never aireys-inlet-lighthouse-milkwayknow, right.  Well it was exactly as I thought it would be, crap.  It gave the images a weird sort of lighting, though for fun and trying some stuff it could be interesting.

I have always used the Cokin Filter system, the one that has a bracket that you screw onto the end of your lens and you slide the filter you want to use into that. However, I’m discovering that it isn’t very good for wide angle lenses, you end up with bit of the bracket in the corners of your photos.  I also find that I don’t end up using the filters much because you can’t just put it on the lens and then wander around with it, or put the camera in and out of your camera bag. So, I’ve been thinking that since I do have a favourite lens that I seem to use most of the time when I am going out, maybe I should get some filters specifically for that one.

lorne-fishing-pier-sunset-peopleI have done my research and I have decided that I want to use Hoya filters.  They seem to be good value for money and it seems I can get them fairly easily here in Australia.  So, I thought I might get a polariser than can almost live on the end of my lens, some neutral density filters, especially the 400+, and there is one that Justin Avery was telling me about, a HD Filter Protector, that I think would be a great addition as well.  I am not sure when I will get these, but I will keep you up to date, and tell you how I find them.

Social Snappers

This Sunday is the first of the Sunday Social Snappers Excursions, and I am excited about this one.  We are going to the Museum and the Royal Exhibition Building, and it looks like we will be able to do a tour inside the Exhibition building. I have wanted to go in there when there was nothing on for so long.  It will be so good to see the building on its own with no other distractions on.  It is such a beautiful building, and I know I will take lots of photos of it.

lorne-sunset-pier-man-fishingPractical Photography

There are still places available for my six week Practical Photography Course that I do in Eltham, so if you are interested in learning to use your camera and take photos in different situations, then please check out the Practical Photography Course at Living & Learning Nillumbik.

Photographing the Stars

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Seal playing in the water.

There is another New Moon this weekend, so it is the perfect time for getting out and photographing the Milky Way, or doing some star trails.  I tried doing some in Aireys Inlet the other night on the way back from Lorne, but there were too many clouds in the sky.  I am hoping that this weekend the clouds will go away and and I can get some clear nights.  Now remember, John did a post on Astrophotography for those of you who would like to try it out.  Just remember to focus your lens on infinity before you go out, or do it during the day, and turn off your autofocus.  Good luck.

That’s about it from me this week.  Hope your week hasn’t been as quiet as mine, though busy weekend planned ahead.

 

Quiet Thursday – Up in the Air

It is getting late in the day, and it is one of those days that I like to take things easy, so for today I have a photo for you that I did earlier in the week.  I know writers like images that give them inspiration for poems or short stories, so I have another photo for that.  It is a composite and you can interpret it as you will.

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The same applies as in previous posts like these, you can leave links in the comments sections.  Pingbacks don’t really work the way they used to, so it is best to leave links in the comments section.  Feel free to put the image on your blog, just please give me credit for the image, if that is okay.  So over to you.

Monochrome Madness Week 21

As someone pointed out the other day we have been doing this for almost six months, maybe when we get to week 26 we should think of something special.  So if you have any ideas let me know. It is time for another week of Monochrome Madness, I hope you enjoy all the entries this week. banyule-flats-fog-morning-monochrome

For those of you who follow my blog, especially my Weekend Wanderings posts will know that I have been upset with the weather here, but I am so happy that I finally got a change to photograph some foggy scenes.  We have had a few mornings of fog, but I haven’t been able to get out, but this is about the 5th or 6th morning, so we haven’t had many.  I went all over the place, well to a few places that I thought would be good for fog.  This is one I took of Banyule Flats.  I really like the isolated, or desolate look (thanks for the word Jackie).  I thought this would be a great entry for today. For the link today I am sending you to my other blog where I did a post on the weekend, and I have put all the photos that I have done for MM, it was nice seeing them altogether, all 21 of them.

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Laura Macky has done something completely different and sent a portrait.  If you want to find out more information on the portrait then please visit her blog post Birthday Boy in B&W – Monochrome Madness.

Don’t forget all the instructions on how to enter your own images are at the bottom of the post.  If you have entered an image then please remember to check your image in the gallery, scroll down and see if anyone has left you any comments.  

Now, if you wish to participate and submit an image here is how you do it:-

  • You must email me the image you want to include and if you have a blog or website, or somewhere else, please include the link. My email address is leanne@leannecole.com.au
  • The image size should be as small as it can be, so the largest side should be 1000 pixels or less.
  • Please insert either your name or your blogs name in the file name.
  • Remember I am on Australian time, so with GMT I am +11 hours at the moment, I publish my post on Wednesday morning.
  • If you need more help with sending images, and get confused about time zones, etc, well, there is a great website called The World Clock, if you go to that and look at Melbourne time, if it’s before 6pm on Tuesday evening, then you can still send me images.  If it’s after that time, you can send me an image, but it will be set aside for the following week.
  • Remember to include a link to your blog or website.
  • Please remember to resize your images, it is fairly simply, you just need to go into any editing software and usually under Image you will find, resize, scale, or image size, something like that and you can resize your image there. Change the dimensions to pixels and make the longest side 1000 pixels or smaller, hit return, and for most types of software that should change the other side automatically as well. Just remember to save it with a different name so you know it is the smaller version.  If you have any problems, please contact me, I don’t mind helping out.

Please note you don’t have to be a WordPress blogger to be in this challenge, you can have a link to a Facebook page, a Flickr page, anywhere really, or no link.  We just want to encourage people to do monochrome images, just for the madness of it. Just to let you know also, that as soon as the challenge is published, all emails and images you have sent me are deleted from my computer.  I respect your copyright and would never keep any of the images.

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