Close and Involved

First attempt with a wide angle lens 17—-35mm—-my least favourite lens. A disaster as regards obtaining any decent candid  pictures. Went to a skate park—-the young boys said ” you aren’t allowed to photograph us” !!!! I told them what I was doing ——they then proceeded to pose for me. Not very representative of people unaware!!!!! Never mind will try again another day. I felt horribly self-conscious though, there were not that many people about and I felt very conspicuous. I missed taking a fabulous image of a beautiful toddler in a very old fashioned high pram as I really felt I could not take a picture of an unknown child. Not much more success at a fairground just around the corner from the skate park, hardly any body there and I was getting scathing looks from a very scary looking mum, I decided to give up.

The boys !!

Sean O’HaganWhy photography is facing a moment of truth” Sunday  Observer newspaper, New Review, 18.4.2010 , discusses the problems facing photographers today. Helen Levitt “famously began shooting in colour in New York in the early 60’s , often photographed children at play in the streets and never though twice about it” However  I think I am going to have real problems attempting any candid shots of children in 2010  as “photography–and street photography in particular—-is a contested sphere in which our collective anxieties converge———we live in an age of anxieties , both big and small, real and imagined

This image  taken @ 17mm   demonstrates how a wide angled view can pull the viewer right into the centre of the scene. It also slightly distorts the facial features of any individual right in front of the camera, creating a flat perspective. Taken in a busy street in Worcs the surrounding area is included in the view. However I felt really embarrassed  walking along with my camera here.

F5.6         1/125          ISO 200

At  19mm. I was surprised whilst taking this image, as although I was very close to the subjects they were mainly oblivious to my presence. Perhaps its the angle I was stood at?

F5.6       1/125             ISO 200

Taken at 26mm and spotted by the stall holder however the passing crowd were unaware they were included in the frame. Not a particularly good image, more people in the frame would have been better. I felt rather uncomfortable, I expected someone to turn around and challenge me.

F5.6        1/125           ISO  200

Taken at 27mm , a more comfortable focal distance for me, the gentleman to my left was interested in what I was photographing. Again the viewer is drawn into the scene and again this image creates a feeling of being right in the middle of the street alongside  the subjects. Taken as I walked along with the camera held to my face to avoid eye contact!!!

 Holiday locations are far easier to feel at ease when photographing strangers. I felt far more comfortable here using a wider angle of view, it was reasonable busy and there were many camera wielding people. Like Jane Bown I prefer “places with lots of people where I can blend into the crowd and work unobserved.” pg 22 “Unknown Bown 1947——1967”  Observer Books London 2007.

28mm              ISO 100

I was stood close to this group of people on Chapel rock, Marazion. Not an extreme wide angle view but one I felt comfortable with.

As I stated  in exercise 9, a comfortable situation, I normally use a long lens for candid photography. I am surprised at how much I enjoyed taking the following shots once I had overcome my initial discomfort. I like the way this angle of view draws the viewer into the scene, it creates quite an intimate image, a feeling of being part of the activity. A May day celebration on the beach at Marazion gave me the opportunity to get really close to the participants. To begin with I felt horribly conspicuous and I was just “snapping” anyone and anything, but I found as I got into the session I was much more comfortable, the Maypole dancers were enjoying themselves far too much to be concerned about me and my camera. I certainly think the atmosphere of the day helped the ease I felt.

The images below are not particularly spectacular, I found it difficult to frame quickly and effectively , the dancers were moving quickly and I found sometimes the action had moved on from what I had framed, but as an exercise I have found it invaluable. However I found as the afternoon progressed so did my confidence, I found myself starting to anticipate what might happen and framed accordingly.

Coming to the end of this exercise I am beginning to see the visual advantage that this angle of view can have on candid shots. The sense of activity and of being physically involved is tangible. I am even considering treating myself soon to a better quality wide angle lens (just don’t tell my hubby!!!!).


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