Street photography my way.
Living in Hong Kong street photography is a way of life for most photographers, we have an abundance of streets if nothing else. The the local forums here in Hong Kong are packed to the rim with budding street photographers, many are exceptionally good. Everyone has their own theories and its the sort of thing that certainly doesn’t have any rules, I have found that spontaneity and rapid focusing the key to capturing good photos. Discretion, speed and stealth are all very important factors here in Hong Kong as much of the population here are very photophobic, but these skills learnt here in Hong Kong is even more effective applied anywhere else. The photo above is a piece of street life in Lhasa, Tibet. It was unfortunate how defensive the people there were to having their photos taken, but not surprising given how many cameras were hanging around the many tourists’ necks. I have tried many different types of camera gear in my street wanderings and many things work, but there is nothing quicker in the world of photography than a rangefinder with a wide-angle lens used with zone focusing at a smallish aperture like f/8 or f/11. With a digital rangefinder, like the Leica M9, M8 or Epson R-D1, I can even keep the shutter speeds up with a little touch of high ISO. With practice you can get subjects in frame without putting the camera up to the eye. The reasonably high pixel count allows you to crop a little to make a better composition. That is how the above photo was taken (but without cropping). In the past when I used mainly a digital SLR, my favorite combo for street photography was very similar, a wide-angle lens set on hyperfocal distance, zone focusing is rather difficult on DSLR lenses, their DOF scale is usually too short to be accurate enough to use. The other way that worked nicely is a little naughty, I would set a camera gear across a busy street or scene, sometimes even on a tripod with a gimbal tripod head to allow me swing the camera around quickly. Mounted on the camera is a long lens, usually 400mm and longer. After a patient wait of 15 minutes or so you become part of the landscape and people no longer notice you, its like magic, they think you are a surveyor on some official business. No one in the their right mind would be using heavy gear like that just to take photos of me, most people will think. I have taken many wonderful shots this way. It’s a little cheeky but it gets those birding lenses out, the sun is good for fungal prevention.