Seven Thoughts on Seven Images – Part One

The outfits of the girls in this image helps imagine the original old world charm that Flinders St Station must have had in it’s glory days.

It was a very different day out for me, shooting with another photographer, Matt, who has featured before on this blog. I am a pretty solitary beast when out with a camera. I like to travel at my own pace, and not have to worry about whether or not my companion is getting bored etc. For similar reasons, I rarely, if ever, participate in a group photowalk. I find that the behaviour of the group never quite meets my preferences. I much prefer meeting for a chat with other photographers rather than shooting with them!

I have always been a fan of Matt’s images, which strongly feature wide angle shots. He had offered his Voigtlander 12mm (or was it 15mm?) lens for me to pop on a Leica M7. Using a wide angle lens gives the advantage of being able to use hyperfocal focus instead of focusing for each individual shot. 

For example, if the lens was 15mm, set at F8, you can set up the lens so that everything 1 metre in front of the lens is in focus. It is a brilliant technique for street photography, particularly when using a rangefinder and film. Using iso400 native film, dial up the iso to 800 to make sure the shutter speed is still going to hit 1/125 minimum.

Once you have set up hyperfocal distance on your camera, you do not have to focus at all. Just click the shutter… Everything is in focus. Really…

The challenge is that wide angle lenses rock when used in hyperfocal distance, but you need to get CLOSE. Very close to your subjects.

I remember spotting these subjects as we exited the station. Nothing much up until that point had really happened or popped up on my radar. The striking nature of their outfits immediately attracted my eye from a distance. Wanting a complete candid, I framed the shot in my mind and walked around to the front of them.

I walkd up to them, and at the last moment, I brought the camera up to my eye and exposed the frame. My intuition already had me thinking they might be a bit iffy – I am a 40 plus male, after all. I was pretty much spot on – I moved off straight away in another direction just as one of them was saying “you really need permission to take our photo”. The usual crowd at Flinder St swallowed me up and I was gone before they could really compute.

I suppose there is an ethical question there – I rarely ask for permission to shoot. My understanding of the law is that I do not need permission in a public space, but that still doesn’t mean any of us should be an ass about it. If the two subjects had signalled that they wanted more images taken, I would have paused, but they were not, so I had already moved on as they objected (not strenuously, I might add). Shooting film, means it is not exactly possible to delete a photo on the go!

There is nothing particularly special about the composition – I suppose the figure to ground ratio is pretty good. Both of the subjects stand out relative to the background. There is a nice leading line on the ground which directs the eye to the subjects, but nothing too clever in the composition.

Looking back on this image, what can I learn?

Wide angle lenses combined with hyperfocal distance make focusing irrelevant to an image.

You have to get close when using a wide angle lens.

Sometimes you only have one chance to get a shot, so make the most of it.

Courage is the most important tool in your bag – be more worried about missing a shot than what someone might say.

Look for interesting subjects as much as interesting compositions.


2 Responses to “Seven Thoughts on Seven Images – Part One”

  1. Reply May 28, 2017 at 11:57 pm

    I read blogs because I want to understand and get better so its good to read about your process and your own assessment of the image. It’s helpful


  2. Great reading. My daughter and her freinds who dress like this, some think it just polite to be asked. I know if you ask then they will pose whivh is not what street is about.


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