Loosening Up in Street Photography

I’m a bit of a maximizer (as opposed to a satisficer) when it comes to choosing/doing things.

I try to find out all there is to know before making a decision.

When it comes to execution, I try to go through the various steps in my mind in order to get everything right beforehand.

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Which is why zone focusing and street photography is such a re-creation for me.

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We’re working with a circumference of acceptability.

Is good enough good enough? There’s motion blur here which adds to the sense of movement.

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I was close enough, but it doesn’t mean I could see clearly.

And if we don’t always notice everything around us, why should we demand a photography that sees everything accurately and in sharp focus?

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On the other hand, how much loosening up can one do before one loses discipline?

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There’s a spectrum here, between trying to get everything clinically right and hence losing the moment and operating without some sort of discipline, as if one is holding a camera for the first time.

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Sometimes, good enough is good enough in street photography.

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Try to get everything right and one might lose the “street”.

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There’s that tendency to overthink and hence lose the art.

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On the other hand, one must possess discipline in order to lose it.

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So my job is to learn everything I can, and then forget all I have learnt.

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Imperfection is an art in itself.

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And so is perfection.

And perhaps art is about improvising and about knowing how to move back and forth between perfection and imperfection.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

Camera: Leica M6

Lens: Summicron 50mm Type II

Film: Ilford XP 2

 

 

 

Zone Focusing with the Leica M6

Given an ISO 400 film, if the light is good, I’d simply set the aperture to f/16 and shutter to between 1/60, 1/125, or 1/250 depending on whether I’m in the shade.

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The f/16 aperture would allow for a broad depth of field, which allows me to zone focus with a wide latitude.

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The whole procedure sounds complicated, but it’s for me the mid-point between going fully auto with a point and shoot camera, and going fully manual and getting all finicky and missing the moment.

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It allows me to work intuitively and be disciplined at the same time – that’s the flow state I look for, whether I’m teaching, writing or on the streets with my camera.

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I’m at Wu Kai Sha beach – yet again.

All images are from the same roll of film, all taken within an hour or so.

I like the word “take”. To take a photograph is to take something from the world you see.

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There’s a contemplative and leisurely mood here I’d like to immerse myself in.

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It’s nice to see people relax and do nothing in particular.

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Like a frame with nothing at the centre, because the image is the frame.

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My favourite street photography trick is to start whistling – people will look at me for a bit while my camera is pointing elsewhere and then ignore me after that.

They’ll think I’m a normal person… though the guy above wasn’t quite convinced…

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At other times, they’re too involved with their own thing to notice.

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I’d like to think that every photograph I take is an image of myself.

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Sometimes there’s no need for explanations – it just is.

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It’s a way of life – this awesome village house faces the beach.

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We all have our journeys to make.

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I wish I understand jogging.

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I’m learning to look for patterns.

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Looking for moments of insight.

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We wait.

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We’re on the lookout.

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We look at ourselves.

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We think some more.

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Our pigeon thoughts will lead the way.

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The pigeons are lining up in my mind.

Thanks for reading!

 

Camera: Leica M6

Lens: Summicron Type II 50mm

Film: Ilford XP2 400

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mongkok

Again, I find myself wandering around in Mongkok.

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I find that the side streets parallel to Nathan Road are more conducive to street photography.

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The pace is slower, it’s less crowded and so you can see further and anticipate, unlike the pavements on both sides of Nathan Road on weekends or during rush hour.

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For the above, I zone-focused, snapped and turned around without even stopping.

Yes, it’s my Olympus XA2 again, loaded with Ilford XP2 400. It’s so small once you remove the flash.

So it’s always with me.

There’s yummy sugar cane juice at the coconut master’s shop.

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There’re quite a few shops selling traditional Chinese foodstuff along Woosung Street.

They sun some of their goods on the street…

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There’re lots of people in this particular shop.

So I hung around outside for a bit.

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This por por in the photograph below took some time to select the lap cheong (Chinese dried sausage).

So naturally I took a few shots of her.

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She suddenly turned around and said in Cantonese, “Oi, handsome, are you done? The hook is too high.”

So naturally I obliged.

Street photographers are supposed to fade into the background, but I suppose it’s hard to do so for me given my looks …

😛

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Thanks for reading!