How dare you take that photo! – London Street Photography Festival 2011

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Do you have the balls to argue with a police officer? Apparently you have the right to, at least in London. In most countries, taking photographs in public is allowed (even of private property, as long as you are not physically in the property). Do you agree with the approach these photographers are taking to defend the right of their cameras and photography?

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Which is your favorite?

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Hey guys, I’m submitting my works to the B+W Photographer of the Year contest, just to see if I can make it =P

Here’s the hard part: I can only choose 3. Which are your favorite 3?

The little girl who could

Boy, Pondering

Lost in the City of Light

The Children of Light 2

XXL

The Coming of Age

Stride

Just Married

Into Forgetfulness

smile

Float Me Away

Bubbles or Kiss

They Live in Another World

A Fragile Bond

Let’s go on an adventure

Still Life with Boy on Wall

Il Bruno, Il Macho

Thanks so much!

&&Phil

As always, please comment below, like, or tweet! The more the merrier!

The Shadow Photographers #7: Ali “Waxy” Waxman

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Hey there street photographers! Today I have a very special treat for you guys: Ali “Waxy” Waxman in the next segment of the street photographers. I have interacted with Ali online and I have been constantly impressed by her work. Based out of Pennsylvania, Ali has an extremely unique style to his shots, experimenting with various flash triggers (for extremely fast exposures) as well as long exposures that lead to interesting results. Look for his exhibition information at the end of the article!!!

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Q. Nice to meet you! A brief introduction?

A. My photography work explores the relationship between a consumerist desire and daytime ESPN.

With influences as diverse as Timmah Sinclair and Halsman to Building Crusher and Peter Yumi, new insights are generated from both simple and complex structures.
Ever since I was a pre-adolescent I have been fascinated by the unrelenting divergence of the mind. What starts out as vision soon becomes finessed into a dialectic of distress, leaving only a sense of dread and the dawn of a new reality.
As subtle forms become undefined through frantic and personal practice, the viewer is left with a new agenda of the undefined of our era.
Q. What got you into photography?
A. I am a second-generation photographer. I acquired my technical expertise at the side of my father (whom I’ve never met), a renowned “glamour” photographer in NYC’s heyday.
I refined my technique and expanded my creativity while shooting sports teams for Hershey Schools, weddings and pushing the limits of my equipment and squeezing out every bit of creativity in them.

Q. You have a very, very unique style of street photography. What’s the story behind it?

A. The shaky face project began at the cross streets of Second St and Walnut Sts in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. A somewhat juxtaposition of life. On one side, there sits a Hilton Hotel where Jaguars and Mercedes are being valet parked. On the other side of the street is home to the bus station. Where people beg for money and the homeless are fed by the food not bombs kids. Kids that are seriously struggling themselves, but giving everything they have for those less fortunate.

I enjoy shooting both sides of the street. And because my daughter was cast in a play not far from this cross street at Open Stage of Harrisburg, I had to be there twice a week for her rehearsals.
Let me tell you, getting complete strangers to allow me to photograph them is challenging enough…having COMPLETE STRANGERS shake their face like a dog shakes off water has got to be the hardest thing to do. EVER!
Because, this is not an isolated environment. I approach people at the bus station…where there are loads of people… Or getting out of their BMW’s….where the valets are waiting for their keys…
AND…I get a lot of people who tell me to piss off…OR…a lot of get that camera out of my face reactions…but I also get the coolest people ever to comply.
It’s getting them out of their comfort zone. Letting them go nuts of a few minutes…and I am so thankful I am there to capture the zaniness!
Q.Why the strange expressions?
A. I encourage the people I shoot to let loose for a few minutes…to relax all the muscles in the face and then shake it crazily from side to side.
Q. What is your most interesting story from shooting strangers on the street!
A. One time, I took my daughter with me to an area near a train station. I wanted to get some shots of people waiting for the train. So, I set up near the platform and began randomly shooting…
Quite soon after I began, I was approached by what looked like someone who worked on the trains. He was dressed in a florescent jumpsuit and was wearing a hardhat. He asked what I was doing. I told him I was taking pictures…
He then asked for my passport. (not sure why he asked for that rather than some form of ID)…and that made me crack up laughing. He was really mad that I laughed at his request and got loud with me…
He insisted I give him some ID…
My daughter looked really scared and intimidated by him. I responded by asking him for ID…I told him loudly, “I don’t know who you are too…If you show me identification, I will do the same.”
He was so shocked by this, he walked away.
Moments later, he returned with his ID in his hand. I then showed him my drivers license and told him, I mean no harm…just want to take pictures…
He was much more calm and asked me how long I was going to do this…I knew it was not a good scene, so I said I was wrapping it up and would leave in a few minutes.
He said that was okay and let us stay.
I used this as a tool to teach my daughter that just because someone tries to intimidate you into something, they are not always what they appear to be. You should always ask for their ID as well.
Q. Describe your workflow real briefly. From shot to website, what’s your process?
A. After importing into Lightroom, I usually do all my major changes and corrections there. Then it’s onto Photoshop for finishing touches. I also heavily use the nik collection as well. Fantastic plug ins for PS!
Q. What are your favorite subjects to photograph?
A. Currently, I am digging shooting sports in a creative way. But, I also love portraits, street photography and photographing my family!

Q.Your use of long exposures are very interesting. How exactly do you use them?
A. This technique was taught to me by an extremely talented photographer names Os Ososment. I simply created my own niche. When shooting my entended exposures, I like the use of props, and try to get an image of the subject acting way out of their usual personality.
These are difficult to shoot and take a lot of time to get it just right.
Q. Your weapon of choice? (camera, lighting, etc.)
A. I shoot Canon. My lenses include a 30mm 1.4, 60mm 2.8, 70-200 2.8 and 10-22mm. As far as lighting, I use a novatron light kit and my flashed are 430exii and 580exii. I also use triggers and remotes…
Q. If you could give just one piece of advice to budding street photographers, what would it be?
A. Develop a thick skin. And learn how to defend yourself. People are crazy on the street!
Ali has an EXHIBITION COMING UP! Make sure to check out his work directly if you’re in Pennsylvania! You go and mention my name now, so I can get brownie points.
EDIT: I, for unfathomable reasons, referred to Ali as “she”. That has been fixed, sorry! *shameface*
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&&Phil
Message, Like, or Tweet!

Steve Huff’s Review of the Pentax K-01

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Steve Huff’s Review of the Pentax K-01

A thorough review of the Pentax K-01 from our good friend Steve Huff, unobstructed by marketingspeak or advertising bull. Although the Fuji X-Pro 1 and Olympus OM-D have been in the limelight, Pentax has been the dark horse of the race. Check it out.

Welcome to Tenerife– the Enchanted Capital of the Canary Islands (And its dark side)

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From the Dragon tree, to the bustling Puerto de la Cruz, to the architecture of Castillo de San Andrés, Tenerife is a magical, strange, and raw setting of a variety of inhabitants– animals and tourists alike. I immediately felt at home (being from Hawaii) stepping on the volcanic earth and the windy currents near the beach. Off I set with my Fujifilm X100.

But it wasn’t quite what I expected.

The Tenerife/Canary Islands portrayed by the tourism industry shows only a small portion of the island– where the hotels and resorts are clustered together. In the image above, “Guia de Isora” represents the region where a large majority of the hotels lie.

Don’t be fooled– there’s a good reason why the hotels are here. It’s away from the bustle of the City Capital, Santa Cruz. It also probably meant less money to spend on real estate.

There was plenty to take pictures of– kids, families, more kids, and more families. Something about the air of “vacation” makes for interesting photos of kids, who somehow seem to enjoy the time better than the parents who planned the entire thing (who, by the way, make for extremely boring photos). The kids there were extremely cooperative, and I was vying with some paid photographers for photos of the kids there.

Children, I always find, are fascinating subjects. They are never reluctant to show their emotions and express them to their fullest extent. I learnt this through several dangerous encounters with angry Italian and British parents who thought I had misguided intentions. (Rest assured, they are wrong.)

(Interestingly enough, the parents of the child above were upset at the fact that I would use their child’s photo for commercial profit, and assured them I was not making money off of the photo and gave them my contact information.)

But what about the rest of the island, you may ask?

Ironically many come to the island to escape bad weather, but that’s exactly what we ran into when we got on an acquaintance’s motorboat. But there I saw the true complexion of Tenerife– untamed, wild, and organic– a breathing island with hundreds of birds and fish.

This man, who drove the boat for us, explained that hotels consume 80% of the fish on the island caught by fisherman, driving down supply at an alarming rate. In response, the island has strict fishing policies and require licenses to go catch fish, and have made fish nurseries/underwater farms to meet demand.

The capital of Santa Cruz was also a fascinating site. The fisherman explained that although largely gentrified by past Spaniards, a large majority consisted of natives who had stayed when many moved to the mainland of Spain back in the 19th century. Due to cruel treatment, there was a lot of blood spilt back then. The inhabitants, and their photos, suddenly looked a lot darker.

Street photography is much more meaningful when you layer history on top of the photos. This trip taught me that lesson in a somewhat bittersweet way– unfortunately nurturing slight disdain for the way the hotel lay sparkling like a cheap diamond on a beautiful ring, or a glittery, airy prostitute in a five-star hotel. Wait a minute, that analogy is ironic…

What do you think of hotels, and resort spots around the world? Am I the only who feels this way?

For more photos of Tenerife and to judge yourself, visit www.phillipehan.com. And as always, talk to me! Comment below, or follow me @Phantasyphoto. Or find me on Facebook.

&&Phil

What is the best camera for you?- Digital Edition

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*Note: This is aimed squarely at non-professional level of photographers. If you own as much as as Canon Speedlite or a strobe, this will bore you. You have been warned.

SO YOU WANT TO BUY A NEW CAMERA.

Unfortunately, you’ve had the dismaying response of “There is no perfect anything” thrown at you one too many times. Fortunately for you, there is a camera that is “right” for you! Let me help narrow it down– yes, you’ll eventually have to put the nail on the coffin yourself, but I’m not your mother or for that matter your unhygienic Best Buy employee trying to market a camera down your throat. Trust me, this is easier than it looks.

But stop and think about this question: what made you determined to buy that big new DSLR? Your point and shoot produces photos like an annoying facebook girl’s latest obsession? You need to take prettier photos of your girlfriend? You’re determined to shoot fascinating landscapes that will make every lady swoon? Fear not, we’ll find the right one for you.

THINGS TO FRET OVER, BITE YOUR NAILS, SQUIRM NERVOUSLY ABOUT, etc. :

Weight- This is big. Do you mind that your shoulder aches after about 2 hours of shooting? Or is hurling around Big Bertha your thing? Read on.

Size- Another physical trait– do you care whether it fits into your backpack? Your luggage? Your handbag? Your man-purse? Your jean pocket?

Image Quality- Look at the two pictures on the top. Can you tell the difference in quality between the right and left? If not, good news– you won’t have to shell out another $1000 to satisfy your ravenous appetite for megapixels. If you do, then, well let’s just say you’re burning a bigger hole in your pocket.

Lens– Yes, you have to buy a separate lens. No, they are not cheap (depends on your budget). But it’s these lenses, NOT the cameras themselves that determine the quality of your picture! I can’t emphasize this enough. So I’ll stop here.

THINGS YOU MUSN’T WORRY YOURSELF WITH:

Megapixels– No, really. Trust me, this means nothing past 10 megapixels, unless you have a fashion shoot with Vera Wang next week. (Which, if you do, count me in)

Touch Screen/Swivel Screen- If anything, this sucks up your batteries. The larger the screen is not necessarily the better for two reasons: a) you waste time ogling over your picture (called “chimping”) or b) your are unhealthily addicted to the latest technologies– neither of which really assist your photographic skills. So no, I don’t care if it’s made of OLED, I really don’t.

Megapixels on your Touch Screen- Don’t start, now.

Color– Unless you tend to discriminate severely between black and grey.

Now that we’ve made some things clear, let’s start figuring out who you are.

But consider this first:

1. the iPhone

Statistically speaking if you’re reading this, you have a 40% likelihood that you already own this little guy– and this has more computing power than the entire NASA supercomputer campus combined from 1969.

Combined with a reasonable camera (8 megapixels! for iPhone 4S), apps that you can get for free (Instagram, Camera+ for $0.99) get your phenomenal results that you can take, all the better for staying quiet and unnoticed on the streets. With a little bit more (Snapseed, for example) you can make fantastic results.

There are some serious photographers out there now making movies and taking pictures quite seriously, for instance at iPhoneography (www.iphoneography.com).

But let’s say that still doesn’t satisfy you, let’s consider the first “real” option:

2. the DSLR

The DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera market has matured to a point that these things are dirt cheap. Why? Because they’re heavy! No one wants to lug these around when there are smaller alternatives that are “good enough”! But don’t be fooled, the image quality of these DSLRs are noticeably better than those of the new trend of cameras, which we’ll get to later.

Moreover these things are big– as in if you’re paranoid enough to not allow your DSLR to hang on your café chair, and instead place them on the table, they’re going to be an unwelcome guest. Yes, they won’t fit in your pocket.

But the image quality is fantastic. The above image shows “bokeh,” an important concept that basically boils down to “the main subject being in focus and the background being out of focus.” This is called having a shallow depth of field. Is this what you want? Then you’re going to want a DSLR.

Recommendations:

*Note: I’ve only used Canon so I can’t give an accurate picture for Nikon, Sony, or Pentax. You can ask your fellow Nikon/Sony/Pentax geek about that– but at the beginner level, DSLRs don’t vary that much (in fact, if it does a lot, that’s a sign it’s trying to sell you bells and whistles you probably don’t need)

I’m an absolute cheapie, not sure if I’m interested in photography

-The Canon Rebel XS (literally the cheapest DSLR out there): Currently at about $370, with the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens at about $90 = $460.

“I’m serious and want serious results.”

-Above Canon XS, or Canon T2i* at $500 with the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 lens at $490 = about $1000.

OR Nikon alterative:

Nikon D7000 at $1100 with a Sigma 30mm f/1.4 lens at $470 = $1570.

*Yes the T3i is the newest, but it’s actually worse in terms of image quality. Newer isn’t always better!

“I’ve been interested for a while and care to invest more. Like, playboy more.”

Canon 60D at $900 with the Canon 35mm L f/1.4 at $1300 = $2200.

With that, let’s move on to:

3. Micro Four-Thirds (aka m4/3, MFT)

This is the newest group of cameras. Marketed as half the weight and size of DSLRs while maintaining DSLR-level image quality. That’s only partially true, look at this:

As you can see the “APS-C” labeled sensors are used by DSLRs, which gather the light to form your picture. The “Four Thirds” systems is anywhere between 40~60% smaller in surface area, so it gathers that much less light. So in reality you’re getting a slightly better deal in terms of weight, but you’re sacrificing a bit of image quality (grainier, blurrier)– still much better than a point-and-shoot you carry though (the smallest 1/2.5” sensor). But it’s much larger than your regular point and shoot:

Left: Your average point and shoot sensor; Right: Spanking new Micro Four-Thirds.

Are you willing to make that sacrifice? If earlier you couldn’t tell the difference in quality between the two pictures, you’re in luck– there are some fascinating cameras being made out there.

One important thing to know: ALL micro four-thirds cameras have the same mount. This means that regardless of whether the lens is made by Panasonic, Olympus, or Leica, the lenses work on any M43 body! Neat!

Recommendations:

“Cheapie”

Either the Olympus E-PL1 at $270 or the Panasonic Lumix GF3 at $500, with the Panasonic Lumix 20mm f/1.7 at $450-ish = $700~950!!! Yes M43, while compact and “good enough” in image quality, it’s still expensive!

“Intermediate”

Panasonic GX1 at $700 with the Leica 25mm f/1.4 lens at $650= $1350.

“Playboy”

Olympus OM-D/E-M5 at $1000, with the Leica 25mm lens above = $1650.

4. Boutique/Other Mirrorless

Simply put, can’t be thrown into a category on its own. These are all expensive, but if you’re serious about street photography the money is worth dropping into the bucket.

“Playboy”

Ricoh GXR with 28mm f/2.5 unit = $1000.

“Investment Banker”

Fujifilm X-Pro 1 with the 35mm f/1.4 lens for a total of $2300(!!).

Or

Sony NEX-7 at $1200 with a Sony 16mm F/2.8 at $330 = $1530.

“Startup CEO”

Leica M9.  Enough said.

5. Film

There is always this option =) I will talk about this in a different article!

Other tips:

-Don’t look at just one website– Amazon isn’t always the cheapest. I recommend B&H Photo, and try comparing against each other on Google Shopping.

Don’t, under any circumstances, use a zoom lens. It will bring you blurrier photos and force you to re-consider your purchase. Instead, I recommend the lens pairings above, or at least anything fixed-focal length (28mm, 35mm, 50mm). Zoom lenses also make you fall into a bad habit of relying on the lens to “get closer,” when in reality you should be framing the scene by walking to and away from your subject. This means avoiding any “bundle” or “kit” lenses companies try to sell you. Trust me, avoiding this bad habit will save you between 300 to 600 dollars of pure agony.

Any cameras I missed? Disagree with my choices? I could be wrong, you know. Enter your comments below to let me know!

As always, follow me @phantasyphoto on twitter, add me on 500px, or like my facebook page to stay updated with the latest… well, updates.

&&Phil

Edit: I recommend against the Nikon V1/J1 series & Samsung cameras. Although marketed as Micro-Four-Thirds, their lenses are absolutely horrible.

Edit 2: I bought and used the Fuji X100 for a year, and after its horribly slow autofocus and unusable manual focus, I traded it away for a film camera.

3 Ways Film Changed My Life

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“Gorgonic” -by Phillipe Han

Shoot, chimp, shoot, chimp, switch to macro mode, shoot shoot, chimp. This used to be my routine as I emptied out my 8GB memory card on my Fujifilm X100. I thought I couldn’t be happier– I was wrong. Maybe I could be happier.

One uncontented day I came across Eric Kim’s blog post on why you should shoot street photography in film. I went through the list and then convinced myself that I needed to get myself a film camera.

After trading away my X100 for a Leica M6, I was overwhelmed. I won’t make the story longer than it should be.

1. Film made me realize how scarce a true “decisive moment” is.

Us digital shutterbugs are used to shooting away, with an unlimited roll as far as the Gigabytes can see. But after countless hours tiring myself on Lightroom, I realized something– I take way too many useless and unfeeling photos.

Photos of people walking on the street.

Meaningless juxtapositions of billboards next to people.

Cold, unmeaningful, stale stares.

With only 36 exposures per film (and, let’s face it, most of us aren’t diligent enough to carry around a Bikkuri Fujifilm Film case), you’re limited to what’s left on the film, usually less than 36.

As trite as this may sound, this forced me to look at the world from a different perspective. It made me more daring, forcing me to think, “I have to get that shot”, whereas I would have taken at least 50 different pictures to get to the same shot with my DSLR or Fujifilm X100.

This means framing without the cropping. That’s it.

2. Film processing is obscenely expensive.

At least in America. Maybe one day I’ll dare to develop my own photos.

3. Film photography is beautiful precisely because you make mistakes shooting.

Before some of the nice folks on Eric Kim’s facebook page pointed me to the ISO 1600 setting, I experimented with different ISO’s because I literally didn’t know what ISO I had to be shooting at. I tried the Sunny 16 rule (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunny_16) on my DSLR and I realized it was a rule of thumb that allowed reasonable exposures– not excellent ones. I didn’t know what shutter speeds were the “right” speeds to shoot at, so I ended up horribly underexposing my photos, or overflooding them with too much light.

But it was beautiful.

I will upload them later, but I realized that DSLRs try to meter exactly what the “correct” exposure is for each photo.

Photographs, while sometimes better with a perfect exposure (think– studio, or portraits), benefit from the human touch– the imperfection that makes us wonder what’s wrong with the photo.

Look at this photo from Linda Stokes, a photographer from my G+ network:

“February 18th, 2012” -by Linda Stokes

(Source: https://plus.google.com/photos/109501436364165187027/albums/5710684596314086593)

Maybe the exposure was intentional, maybe it wasn’t. But one thing for sure is that if you had aimed a DSLR at that crane, it would’ve thrown flash at the crane, making for an ugly, “correctly” exposed photo. The way this shadow was executed, with a bit of thinking, made it a piece more poignant and worth much brooding over.

Back in 2009, I used to shoot at f/1.4 only, being a newbie to the DSLR world. I shot this photo below in Barcelona, but only after accidentally flipping the shutter speed from 1/320 to 1/1000:

 

“One Day in Barcelona” -by Phillipe Han

The result was that it didn’t capture as much of the colors as I had intended, but I liked it. This moment, as trivial as it sounds, remains an important very dear to my shutterbug heart.

Lesson learned: let’s keep a human touch to all we shoot, even behind the cold wiring of an LCD.

Maybe I’m wrong, maybe not.

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This blog won’t be a simple “how to” or “Shoot X in 10 steps” blog. I won’t pretend to know everything about photography, because I’m far from it and still learning. But I will share my honest, down-to-earth opinions. I want to meet and talk with as many other people as possible, so talk to me.

How did film change your life?

&Phillipe

Talk to me on Twitter @phantasyphoto.

Invite me to G+ Hangouts.

Critique my work on 500px.

Agree to disagree with me in this blog.

Thanks for reading, now let me go develop some film.