For the trip I will be taking some Landscape equipment - looking for cityscapes and perhaps some landscapes later in the trip when we visit Louisville. I will also be taking my Leica with the intention of capturing some street photos particularly in New York.
I have decided to brush up my street photography skills. I have reviewed a number of website and have reached the view that I should try to follow a few technique principles:
- travel light - camera and two fixed lenses at most
- use Auto ISO and keep camera if possible on f/5.6-8
- use zone focusing to speed up my capture
I plan a few trips to London to explore my technique (needs to be fast for street work) and my aesthetic. I plan three trips each one majoring on a different lens as the key lens for the day. 28mm was the lens of choice for Gary Winogrand - perhaps the definitive New York street photographer. 35mm is generally accepted as a great all round reportage lens. And finally the 50mm, the principle lens used by the master Henri Cartier Bresson.
On my first trip yesterday I used the 28mm. I found it to be very versatile with a great range from urban landscape to intimate close up shots. It has excellent depth of field and is therefore very good for zone focusing. And the Leica 28mm Elmarit, which was the lens I used, is light, small and trully excellent quality - the only drawback of this lens perhaps is it is not quite as fast as I would like for low light situations.
Using only the 28mm went pretty well. My challenges are that you really have to get close to the action if you are looking to capture animated people action. I have a tendency to stand back and the action gets lost in the broader scene. An alternative view here is that I can capture images broader than the scene I am really looking for and crop in post production. Can't believe this is really the way to go but the Leica with its 18 Mb files offers the potential to do this.
It is also difficult to frame without chopping off parts of people in busy scenes. I prefer closed framing myself and perhaps I am overstating this issue. I need to review some of my Winogrand books to see how he handles this!
Looking back on my work I also see plenty of room for improvement! I take too many shots of people just passing by or the backs of people in a scene (am I too shy to tackle people head on?). I also shoot too many junk shots - need to sit back and wait for situations to develop. The auto ISO/zone focusing worked really well with the 28mm!
So what lessons have I learned:
- must review my books by Tony Ray-Jones and Gary Winogrand
- must not take shots of just passers by
- must not take shots of people's backs all the time
- must get in closer to the action
- must look for interesting situations and wait for them to develop
- 28 mm has great potential but I must get in closer and polish my framing technique
Here are a few shots from the 28mm shoot.