Street photography and the problem of self projection.

Problems of self projection when shooting street photography.

I’m here in Barcelona teaching street photography to 9 students from South Essex College. I teach street photography a lot to all age groups and abilities in the UK and various cities across Europe and I’ve noticed that what people have problems with or struggle with are the same things and keep appearing time after time and they are mainly caused by “self projection”.
 
What I mean by that is how we project our own thoughts and feelings onto other people. This in not good when it comes to street photography and for that matter life in general. It seems that fear and self projection stops us from moving forward and missing opportunities that don’t come along too often.
 
Let me explain, one of the students was getting into a bit of a kerfuffle and getting frustrated about photographing people on the streets so I asked why they found it hard to point a camera at someone they had never met before. The reply was, as always, “people don’t like it”, my next question was, “why do you think that?” The reply “because they don’t”. “do you like it?” I asked “no” was the answer.. and there it is.
We all do it, self project that is, nothing wrong with it, but it does hold us back as a street photographer. I’m not advocating that we all go and rock up in someone’s face and aggressively point and shoot the camera, no, we should all be courteous, respectful and compassionate but don’t put your thoughts and feelings onto others and assume they feel the same, just ask the question or gesture with a smile, you might be pleasantly surprised.  
 
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Barcelona.. Which camera should I choose?

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I’m in a hotel in Leeds just about to book an early morning wake up call.. 4am to be precise, for a taxi to take me to Leeds/Bradford airport for a flight to one of my all time favourite cities Barcelona. It’s a city I visit a lot, I love it for capturing street photography images but it’s also a great city to teach street photography too and this visit is to do just that. I work a lot with Simon from South Essex College and again we’re going to Barcelona for a couple of days with 9 of his students to practice street photography and to also do some night photography.
I’ve booked to stay a couple of extra days too to do some work for me and also catch up with my friend Joan, he runs photography tours and has a studio and gallery in the Gothic Quarter so I’m really looking forward to catching up with him and enjoying some fine wine and tapas.
 
Twenty four hours before, I had to make the choice of which cameras to take with me. I’m very lucky as I have quite a few to choose from but I know I have to travel light and obviously I want to take film cameras, but which ones?
 
Normally I would go with my trusty Leica M2 and M3 along with a 35mm f2 and 50mm f2 lens but earlier in the week I had taken out my Rolleicord Va and pushed a film through it; I hadn’t used it for a while and had forgotten how much I loved it and I thought Mmm a bit of medium format will suit me fine for this trip. I like to work with medium format as I like the size of the negatives and it will be a bit of a challenge using it for street photography. I like a challenge and to push myself outside of my comfort zone. So choice no 1 made.. my beautiful Rolleicord Va.
 
On to choice no 2.. I’ve chosen a Pentax Spotmatic with a 50mm Takumar f1.4 lens and one of my favourite 35mm lenses, a Carl Zeiss Flektogon f.2.4. Both cameras are small enough to fit into my carry on cabin luggage as well as a small camera bag whilst walking the streets of Barcelona.
 
Choice of film, I’m going old school too.. I’m going to take Ilford FP4+ and Ilford HP5+. I’ll show you the results when I get back.
 
It then got me thinking would I be compromising on quality by not taking my Leica’s. Well to start with I weighed up the cost of both kits. My 2 leica’s and lenses stand me at around £2,500 a hefty price tag to say the least. On the other hand the Pentax Spotmatic and 2 lenses cost me under £200 and the Rolleicord £200, a total cost of £400. Over a £2000 difference, quite a difference I thought.
If you equate cost with quality then you would think I am compromising so this might be a good experiment.
 
I will, on my return, give you my thoughts and the results. But I have to say I have already an inclination of how this is going to go. Stay tuned, you might be surprised.

 

Review, Ilford HP5+ The perfect choice of film for shooting on the streets.

Today is a dull day, no sunshine and grey, grey skies but I want to go out with my Hasselblad, I haven’t used it for a while, I’ve been concentrating on 35mm, so today’s the day. I’m going to use a standard 80mm f2.8 planar lens and Ilford HP5+ film, this film is made for street photography.

I’m going to go into Middlesbrough, I’ve heard about an area where the houses have been partly demolished, supposedly in order to rebuild new houses. I want to explore…

I walk up Linthorpe Road, a bustling area filled with cafes, bars and restaurants and of course home to the well known fashion store Psyche. I keep walking for a couple of hundred yards and find myself on a street of boarded up derelict houses, this is what i’d been looking for. I later found out it was called Gresham.

I took my Hasselblad 500 C from my camera bag and added a yellow filter to the lens to help with the contrast and loaded a roll of Ilford HP5 plus film the ideal choice for a spot of street photography.

As I walked deeper into the area I meet a lovely lady, Edna, walking her dog. I asked her how long the area had been like this. She told me of a council plan to demolish 1500 houses and replace them with more expensive apartments which no one already living in the area could afford, it started some 20 years ago and as you can see from my images not a lot has been done.

Edna was very vocal about how it had destroyed a community where everyone knew everyone, where they helped and looked after each other. She herself had lived in one of the houses many years ago and when she moved in there was no electricity upstairs only downstairs and no bathroom, the toilet was outside but she remembered the community was lovely. She told me of one old lady who still lived in the middle of this dereliction, she was defiant and did not and would not move from her home and Edna feared for a safety. (You can read more about the demolition plan here).

I like to record images like this and learn about the story behind them and my Hasselblad was a good choice to use today as I wanted a large negative to capture the full essence of the area and show the different contrasts and textures.

So, onto the film.. HP5 plus film is perfect for this kind of micro project. It has a wide exposure latitude with good smooth, tonal range and fine grain.

It’s a high speed film rated at ISO 400 but very versatile so I’m able to push it to 800 or 3200 if needed, but today I’m sticking to 400 as although the light is quite grey there is enough to rate it at 400.

My personal preference for processing HP5 plus is Ilford ID11, for me a perfect marriage for this film. I processed 1 to 1 for 11 minutes and 30 secs at 20°C. I pre-soaked the film in the tank for 2 minutes with water at 22°C this is prevents bromide drag, (streaks that run vertically from the film sprockets) I also agitate with a quarter turn 4 times per minute. Stop for 1 minute and fix for 5mins.

It has produced excellent negatives with good sharpness and smooth medium contrast. I’m really pleased with them, they are beautifully toned and the fine grain adds to the atmosphere I wanted to create, so I know I will get a good quality print. HP5 plus has been formulated to be able to push process and give good results so that’s my next project.

I’ve scanned my negatives and it has produced brilliant scans too. They are super sharp with beautifully smooth lush tones, ideal for use on the internet and also for very large, light jet silver gelatine prints. I used a Plustek medium format scanner to get a medium res scan at 2600 DPI which gives a 92 megabyte 8 bit image. I only ever use medium res scans as they are big enough for me but a high res scan will be around 5600 DPI yielding approx a 300meg 8 bit image.

I hope you’ve found this review helpful but feel free to get in touch if you have any questions..

If you would like to join me on my next Darkroom Workshop or find out more about it click on the link
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The Leica M3 Rangefinder Camera. Review.

Leica M3 a 35 mm rangefinder camera by Ernst Leitz GmbH, first made in 1954. The first of it’s kind and still the most successful model of the M series, a beautiful camera to own, hold and use.This is my second M3 rangefinder camera I have been lucky to own.

This one is single stroke version, built in 1962 and, shall we say, well used. Well it’s certainly not a shelf queen but still works beautifully even though there are a few knocks and dints, but mechanically it’s as good as the day it was first unboxed.

When I bought it it came with a 50mm F 2.8 Elmar collapsible lens which from the early 1960’s and i have to say the lens is stunning quality. It’s much sharper than I expected but not as sharp as the Summicron but not far off. For me the beauty lies in its bouquet and tonal range it produces images which have that beautiful vintage Leica look that I love.

So back to the Leica M3 which has the most accurate focusing of all the M’s the M3 offers the world’s highest focusing precision. It’s as quiet as a mouse and you can be close to the person you are photographing without them hearing it. The shutter makes the most beautiful sound, very moreish, you just keep wanting to cock the shutter and keep pressing.

I’ve heard some people have problems loading the film but for me it couldn’t be simpler. I have to say once you find your own technique of loading it’s as quick to load as a Nikon or any of the other brands that are out there.The Leica M3 has no meter.

It is totally mechanical so always use a hand held light meter as I find it more reliable and accurate, so this is definitely no disadvantage to me. I love that it is purely mechanical with no batteries or electronics to worry about. Out of all the cameras I have owned, and there’s been a few, the M3 is the most reliable. Even though the Leica M3 was built in 1962 Leica’s offerings today don’t measure up to the M3

This is by far one of my favourite cameras and lens combinations, I just love it!

If you would like to join me on my next Darkroom Workshop or find out more about it click on the link
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Plustek OpticFilm 120 Film Scanner Review

I wanted to write a short review on the very impressive Plustek OpticFilm 120 film Scanner. Nowadays when I shoot film it’s always a consideration as to how I’m going to scan my black and white film, in fact it has become a priority because of the need to produce a digital file from my valuable negative to proplate my website and of course to share on social media.

I have used many scanners over the years to scan my black and white negatives with varying results, all have left me wanting and nearly all are not good with black and white film. I want to get the very best scan I can out of my well crafted negatives. My desire has always been to own a Flextight X5 Scanner which comes in at around £17,000.00.. way out of my budget.

I bought the Plustek OpticFilm 120 Scanner on blind faith, which you can now get for just under £2,000. One of the positives is that it comes with the very impressive SilverFast Ai studio Suite 8 which is worth £500 on its own. At first glance the software looks very daunting, but it has excellent support from video tutorials which I have to advise is a must to watch and digest because out of the box you won’t get the best results, especially if you are scanning black and white film. It also has all the film profiles build into the software which works a treat.

The Plustek OpticFilm 120 Scanner does not take up much room on the desktop too, it’s quite a small package when you compare it to its rivals, you do however need space at the back because the negative carriers travel some distance out of the back when scanning. Its PC and Mac friendly, the build quality is really good and it comes with all the necessary 120 and 35mm negative carriers allowing you to scan all formats up to but not including 5x4inch. The negative carriers are the best I have seen and used, they’re really well built and hold the negatives securely in place, perfectly flat giving you a good scan edge to edge. It’s maximum resolution is 5300 dpi which equates to a very impressive 105 megabyte file from 35mm if scanned to its maximum. For medium format I personally scan at 2600 which gives me a 100 megabyte file when scanning 6×6 which is more than big enough for me.

I have produced 60 inch, on the longest edge, prints from 35mm black and white film printed on a Light Jet printer through Ilford Photo and the results are fantastic. The print was sharp with superb tonal range..very impressive indeed.

In conclusion you can get fantastic scans from the Plustek OpticFilm 120 Scanner you do however need to tinker with the bundled SilverFast Ai studio software to get the very best from the scanner. In my opinion this is the best medium format mid priced scanner on the market, certainly that I have tried anyway. In fact I have had the same negative scanned by the Flextight X1 Scanner and can’t see much difference at all.

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Taking a Nikon F80 to Redcar

Taking a Nikon F80 to Redcar to shoot a bit of street photography

 

I recently bought a Nikon F80 for £22.50 to add to my ever-increasing collection of street photography cameras and have been eager to get out and test it.

Nowadays more and more of us have jumped on the band wagon of digital cameras with bulging megapixels that cost megabucks, all in the endeavour to help us create the perfect image.

I opted for Ilford Delta 400 film a safe bet, bolted my trusty 50 mm F1.4 lens on and set off to Redcar, which is about 20 minutes’ drive away.

I chose Redcar because it’s just had a major facelift that has cost tens of millions and right in the middle of the facelift is the very old Regent Cinema, which stands close to the new vertical pier. A perfect contrast of old and new, sharing the same space, equally as important.

I picked one of the hottest, brightest days of summer, which would have been more suited to 100 ASA but I wanted to test it with 400.

First task was to take a shot of the old cinema. Just as I got there two kids were using the steps of the cinema to skateboard off, so F80 quickly to the eye, shutter pressed for the one and only shot.

Seconds later, I was off; 50 yards walk on the seafront to my next location. My thought was to take a shot of the brand new vertical pier. The contrast shot, along with the new vertical pier is the new sea wall defence and new benches with a man laying on one fast asleep in the sun, F80 once again to my eye and the second shot bagged.

In 5 minutes I had the two images I wanted,

Right, off to the darkroom to process and print it.

I had under exposed the film by 1 stop which is my preference in very bright sunlight, I used ID 11 to process the film, one to one dilution for 12 minutes, 30 seconds’ plain water for the stop, 5 minutes in the fix and a 30-minute wash to finish… perfect.

There is for me still something that is so beautiful about using film combined with a traditional darkroom print; it’s a real work of art, a labour of love.

As more and more of us take the journey to produce the ultimate quality print from a camera system with bulging megapixels, have we lost the sight of the fact that content is king, the true art that is photography.

The Nikon F80 cost £22.50. Cheap as chips as someone once said. Don’t get me wrong I do own and love very expensive camera systems, never the less the F80 is as valuable to me as it still gives me the opportunity to express myself, particularly with street photography, and produce beautiful black and white darkroom prints.

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Rollei 35S an amazing little film camera

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Heinz Waaske is the man behind the Rollei 35, in the 1960’s Waaske started to create a prototype. In 1965 Waaske started to work for Rollei, the managing director Dr Peesel got a glimpse of Waaske’s prototype and was filled with excitement by the little camera. Peesel decided the camera should be developed further and be ready for the 1966 Photokina event.

When shown for the first time at Photokina, the Rollei 35 was greeted with delight and from then on became a firm favourite with Photographers; Professional and Amateur. About 2 million Rollei 35 cameras have been sold worldwide.

Due to the popular demand in 1967 Rollei decided to make a luxury model; the Rollei 35 S. Carl Zeiss were assigned the task of creating a 5 element lens; the Sonnar F2.8, an extremely sharp lens on a tiny camera.

For a long time I have wanted to add a Rollei 35 S to my street camera collection, and I was fortunate enough to find one on the market at a very reasonable price.

This Rollei 35 S is built to last a lifetime as cameras were in those days, its small enough to fit in your pocket, being just a bit bigger than a roll of 35mm film, brilliant for street photography!


The lens is fantastic, super sharp and capable of making large, quality enlargements in the darkroom.

Once you use it and see the results you won’t be able to put it down. A beautiful little street camera to own and treasure..

For my first outing I took it on the streets of Huddersfield where I put it through its paces, this is one of the images taken with this fantastic little camera. 














Below is my short video review of the Rollei 35s, take a look and if you are interested in Street Photography come and join me on my next workshop in Edinburgh.


A Street Photographers Day Out in North Shields.

Wm Wright LTD of South Shields

Street Photography in South Shields

It isn’t very often you find a old fashioned shop full of character, selling award winning Bacon, Fisherman’s Cough Elixir and Head Splitters, but when I do find one I’m in like a shot because it’s usually full of local characters.

Wm Wright LTD of South Shields Shop front

Wm Wright LTD of South Shields

I’m talking about Wm Wright LTD of South Shields. It’s a bigger and better version of Ronnie Barker’s Open All Hours. You could spend an hour or so just looking at all the funny wooden signs which cover the entire shop, it sells things that I thought were long gone and things I’ve never heard of like Head Splitters, “what are they?” I hear you ask.. They are the most sourest boiled sweets and they do exactly what it says on the packet, it’s like sucking a Sicilian lemon!.

A true character behind the counter

The gentleman behind the counter is hilarious, full of wit, charm and devilment, a true character. He abuses you and makes you smile at the same time, it makes shopping there a real pleasure and does the best bacon and sausage sandwich I’ve had in a long time. It’s also a fantastic place to shoot some street portraits, everyone inside was very willing to pose for me.

Inside of Wm Wright LTD of South Shields

The place has history

The place has history too, it’s been established for 75 years and supplied the fishing vessels from all over the world with food. In the past it had supplied the local fishing fleet all year round, first the sprat fishing then the herring then the whitefish and finally the prawn fishing.

Crown of over 100 drinking houses

The building was originally the highlander hotel, the jewel in the crown of over 100 drinking houses along the bottom road of the fish quay in South Shields.  Sadly it’s closing next year which is a real shame, places like these are the lifeblood of the community, it will be a sad day.

If you would like to take a look of the street photograph workshops we provide follow the link

How Getting To Grips With Your Camera Can Make Massive Improvements

How getting to grips with your camera can make massive improvements to the quality of your blog.

Written by Frances Iona from Imogen & James

Why it’s now more important than ever to step up your photography game

Having been a blogger since 2012, I have watched the industry change dramatically. Now more than ever, the quality of photography is becoming so important, as more and more influencers are transitioning to high grade, editorial styles. I remember the days when bloggers would post phone quality images and YouTube videos from their webcams. Today, it is a professional career for many, and the majority of these bloggers use DSLR’s. I purchased my first DSLR around 2 years ago, but I’ve only just recently learned how to use it properly.

Bloggers photography workshop makeup 1Photograph from Imogen and James.

The day I stopped using my camera in Automatic mode and learnt how to use it in Manual was a game changer for my blog Imogen & James. Learning and understanding the use of the ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture, transformed my photography. Not only were the photos more accurate to my own perception of the environment, but I suddenly had the ability to control what I wanted someone to focus on, or ignore, and how I wanted the photo to feel. Making the switch, and discovering how much more control and input I had, and how much more I could bring out of my photos, was incredibly empowering

Bloggers photography workshop makeup 4

 

Bloggers photography workshop karen millen dress
PHOTOGRAPH BY KEITH MOSS

Why is it so important to have good photos on your blog?

The business of blogging is very different from how it was a decade ago. The content bloggers produce now is very similar to producing your own personal magazine online. I have noticed a huge shift in the quality of visual content – content that at first, I wasn’t able to match. Editorial style images, that are becoming commonplace in the bloggersphere, have a very particular aesthetic, which requires a great deal of camera control. So for me to achieve the type of quality I do now, required a lot of learning.

Bloggers photography workshop shoes
PHOTOGRAPH FROM IMOGEN & JAMES

The payoff is a far more professional look, which means better lookbooks, product shots, and location shots. Being able to more accurately portray the looks on my blog gives my readers a much better idea of how they look, and that translates into clicks and purchases.

Bloggers photography workshop canon 5 D mk 3

What am I using now?

Over the years, I have upgraded my photography equipment, and I now use a Canon DSLR camera from their professional range. Investing in the Canon 5D Mark III has been one of the best investments in my blog. The quality of taking my photos in RAW, allows me to edit my photographs professionally, using Lightroom software and bring them to life.

Bloggers photography workshop example

On left unedited photo – Imogen & James.  On right edited photo using Lightroom – Imogen & James

Invest in your photography and your blog will stand out for the crowd

With so many bloggers out there now, one of the main ways to stand out will be to make your blog as visual a possible. Buying the right equipment and knowing how to use it to its full potential will be the key to your success.

Imogen & James

If you would like to learn more about our bloggers photography workshop or book on the workshop. Click on the link.   

 

 

The dog, the ice cream van and a Leica Monochrom

The dog, the ice cream van and a Leica Monochrom

Lindesfarne, my favourite place

So today I went to one of my favourite places in Northumberland, Holy Island or as it’s known by some, Lindesfarne. The most beautiful island.  I always go to where you can find the upturned boats which have being used as storage and one of man’s best friends, the shed.

Meeting man’s best friend.

On my way I met the other of man’s best friends, a dog. He was a characterful old Labrador sat looking at the ice cream vender in his van. He was clearly wanting a freebie so I had to take a shot. There was a steady stream of people passing by, most were engaging with the dog and then saying to the ice cream vender, “go on, give him an ice cream.”

Leica Monochrome

I wanted to capture the image as quickly and quietly as possible as I didn’t want to distract the dog from his task, so I used my Leica Monochrom with a 35mm F2 Carl Ziess lens. It’s a beautiful camera to use and the images you get from it are just stunning, ultra sharp with a great tonal range.

When I had finished photographing the scene I had a chat with the ice cream vender and he told me “this is the second cornet I have given him in 10 minutes, the dog’s costing me a fortune and he won’t leave”  I smiled and thought to myself “what a clever dog”… it was like a Peter Kay sketch.. I walked on.  

Then just by chance I met the owner of the dog around the corner, he was shouting for the dog so I told him where he was and he laughed and said “I should’ve known, he’s always round there, he loves his ice cream; he does the same to the burger and chip van waiting for his chips, that’s why the damn dog is overweight. He helps himself to his fare share of fish from the fisherman’s huts too.” and carried on to get his beloved dog shaking his head..

A legend on Holy Island!

Although I don’t know the dogs’ name I’m sure he will become a legend on Holy Island!

Image taken on Leica Monochrom with a 35mm F2 Carl Ziess lens.

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