A Street Photographer’s Camera

I’ve been thinking a bit about the tools we use.

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A street camera is a machine for seeing.

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Frankly, any camera will do. But I prefer film cameras.

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For me, it’s a Leica M6 most of the time, because I need the meter once in a while.

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At other times, it’s a Contax TVS II, a Canon 600D (yes, a digital camera) with legacy lenses, or an Olympus XA 2, just to switch around a bit, to refresh my vision.

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I’m not adverse to using digital. But film cameras do last a long time.

Like my (2001 model) Toyota Corolla, which in Hong Kong, seems to be a mechanic’s favourite car.

It’s forgettable, reliable and replacement parts are easy to find.

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I’ve been reading about self-drive cars and their amazing electronics.

But I wonder how long the electronics would last.

Do we have to replace them the way we replace our tablets/smartphones/laptops?

I’m suspicious of planned (compelled) obsolescence.

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Would a digital camera last more than 3-5 years?

That’s the question I ask whenever I experience that rush of gear envy.

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Thanks for reading!

Camera: Leica M6

Lens: Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f/1.4 SC

Film: Ilford XP2 400

Shanghai Monochrome: On Finding Your Street in Street Photography

I was in Shanghai last week and so, quite naturally, I brought along 3 cameras.

Assuming the scans turn out fine, we’ll have quite a few posts on Shanghai.

A warm up shot while hiding behind a pole.

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Quite literally, this is street photography.

I walked up and down the same street for about an hour, happily snapping away.

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This is Huashan Road on a weekend mid-morning.

There’re lots of malls along this road.

I was told this is where Shanghai people do their shopping, whereas those malls at Nanjing Road are for clueless tourists.

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I suppose a shot like this is not too difficult.

While I was in his face, his attention was elsewhere.

It’s amazing how people (myself included) are generally unaware of other people.

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I was distracted (only) momentarily by the yummy international (check out the flags) street food… but resist I must.

After all, as a street photographer, I need to know myself.

I have yet to master Level Nine of Street Photography Kungfu, which involves taking photographs while munching on a chicken wing.

I hear that very few people attain this level in their lifetime.

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Shanghai people are known for their very cosmopolitan dress sense.

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People here are generally very stylish.

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Handbags do matter, as my wife tells me.

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There goes a happy couple.

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Another strolling couple.

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Teenagers out for a walk.

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A street vendor selling handmade miniature bicycles.

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I chatted with him for a bit – he says it takes 4 hours to make one, and they go for 40RMB, in case I’m interested.

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I assume they’re policemen – they always walk in pairs.

I’m right in front of them with my camera, and they seem quite used to having their photographs taken.

They’re actually quite friendly, as many people stop them to ask for directions.

The advice though, needs a bit of work. Once in a while, I hear them say “walk in that direction for a bit and ask someone there”.

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People at work – I’m quite proud of the composition here. The bodies are pointing to the centre, guiding the eyes to where the boss is.

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Ladies chatting.

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Scooters, motorbikes and bicycles are very popular modes of transport here.

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There’re special lanes for bikes and scooters.

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A scooter on the road.

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A scooter on the pavement.

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Scooters and bikes parked on the pavement, with an attendant.

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Interesting scooter handles. That’s a good hack.

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This person spotted me and stared for a bit.

Naturally, I responded with the street photographer’s standard operation procedure.

I fumbled with my camera, tried to look confused, and uttered a few choice words in a lesser-known Klingon dialect

All images here were taken with my relatively hard-to-find Minolta Af-C with an unbelievably accurate meter, loaded with the acclaimed chromogenic BW film, Ilford XP2 400.

They’re all from the same roll of film.

The light was good that day.

For collectors: a few images here are available at my Saatchi Art page as affordable open edition prints.

Thanks for coming by!

 

 

Why Street Photography?

Why street photography?

1. Because it is always work in progress.

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2. Because we’re all looking for something.

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3. Because we’re waiting.

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4. Because it deals with the mundane, and reality can be mundane.

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5. Because it’s another way of looking at ourselves.

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6. Because it is artful waiting.

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7. Because we’re born to say “Let there be art”.

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8. Because it’s a way, like any other.

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