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-   -   Street candids in Edinburgh (http://forums.srellim.org/showthread.php?t=6799)

Farclas Jul 26 2009 02:06 AM

Street candids in Edinburgh
I think we sometimes forget just how far digital photography has come in the last 10 years. I was a sceptic and a late convert, moving from film less than two years ago. Now, I'm sold.

Here are three street candids I took in Edinburgh city centre yesterday while waiting for a bus. As is, straight from the camera with absolutely no post=processing.:


Phoneman (I was pleased with the spectacle lens image)

Balloon girl

Yes, nice enough, you may say. But yeah, yeah - so what?

So what ? is the originals.

Here they are, full size, again as-is.



Digital? Not so shabby, huh? All three images Canon 5D c/w 70-200 2.8 IS L @ 200mm and ISO 100

And yes, Hans, I know phoneman is looking out of the picture. It was deliberate; I was trying to convey the bustle and impatience of modern life with the blurred buses to give context. That's my story, anyway :)

Hans Jul 26 2009 04:00 AM

Re: Street candids in Edinburgh
You kow, Farclas, I really like the full shot of phoneman better than teh crop! And looking out of the photo... well, I got the impression he was leaving the bustle behind him. That's my interpretation :) It would be a great shot for a cover of a magazine or book where you want the subject to be on the right side (unless you are publishing in Israel of Japan). The more I look at it the more I ike the shot. It shows today's life, doesn't it? And the more fitting that it was shot digitally.

Of the other shots I like the crops better. As I said before, I am usually too selfconscious and shy to take these kind of pictures but with a telephoto lens... maybe I should just do it sometime and see what develops (pun intended).

A late convert eh? You must be a fast learner :)
Nah, just kidding, the experience of analog photography can be used for shooting dgitially, too.
These are great shots, especially because they are real candids with no processing. My compliments!

Lady Maelin Jul 28 2009 12:10 AM

Re: Street candids in Edinburgh
I think that the crop on the first subject is to harsh...his face is very interesting looking, so I would have only cropped down to the whole face...instead of only part of it. The womans facial expression is much more interesting than the rest of that photo...so again I would have cropped down to just her face...the phone man I don't care for artisticly speakingl...he's just to everyday looking for my liking.

Farclas Jul 28 2009 04:26 PM

Re: Street candids in Edinburgh
As with the other two images, the crop of Silverman was aimed to show the quality available in modern digital even if you crop to a ridiculously tight degree, using just a tiny part of the original. I used the portion in the red box:


Here's how I would normally have cropped, with just enough hand and strap to suggest a story:


Both Silverman and Phoneman were shot at 6 metres (20ft) at a relatively wide aperture of ƒ3.5 which blurs the background, making the subject 'pop' out of the frame. The ballon girl was shot at 25 metres (80 ft) which means more of the foreground and background are in focus. More distracting, huh?

Lady Maelin Jul 29 2009 12:19 AM

Re: Street candids in Edinburgh
Now the man you call Silverman...his face is worthy of becoming a Harper...he just has that look to him IMO.

Hans Jul 29 2009 02:29 AM

Re: Street candids in Edinburgh
He's an interesting guy indeed :) The voyeur in me wants to know what it is I see in his bag :D

Farclas Jul 29 2009 03:00 AM

Re: Street candids in Edinburgh
Hans - Yep, I zoomed in but couldn't determine what the shiny thing was!

As an aside (and obliquely addressing Hans' point above) - I have done nothing more with the balloon girl and grumpy woman shot. On reflection, I am uncomfortable about it since it's borderline in my ethics when it comes to candid shooting.

Let's be clear - the UK, like many countries, has absolutely no restrictions on photographing in clearly public places. Except, obviously, government-restricted areas like nuclear bases!

But the woman was clearly grumpy, unhappy and the image is somewhat unflattering. Further, the picture includes a child under the age of 16. Such is the paranoia about child exploitation in the UK, most photographers employ a self-denying ordinance unless there is specific parental permission.

Otherwise, I have a personal set of rules which are useful guidelines:

◆ Street candids are necessarily intrusive, but I try not to be exploitive - particularly emotional situations which are fraught in a bad way.
◆ Some images will be unflattering. That's where the 'kindness' factor comes in. For instance, if the subject comes across as 'ugly' in a otherwise humorous context, well that's when you have an internal debate
◆ I usually try to obtain some form of consent. There's no point in approaching people in advance; you lose the essential spontaneity as people adopt their 'public' face. Post facto, if possible, I try to attract their attention, smile as I point to the camera then give a thumbs-up and an affirmative nod to indicate I captured a good 'un.
◆ Sometimes, I'll approach and show them the image and, if they ask, email them a copy.
◆ If, in the last circumstance, they are unhappy, I will delete the image in their presence.

Obviously, there's wriggle-room in the above points. Sometimes there's a sub-text which makes the picture compelling. Generally, my rule-of-thumb is compassion. Posing the question - "How would I feel?" generally gives you the right answer.

What do others think?

Here's a starter - a down-and-out in Edinburgh's Grassmarket. Exploitive? Intrusive? Or social comment? Discuss.


jube Jul 29 2009 08:01 AM

Re: Street candids in Edinburgh
In regards to Silverman, he would be as I picture Petiron to be. The other 2 photos didn't grab me as such.

Regarding the points, you've made. In most Australian schools - at least those closest to me - you virtually need parental permission to photograph a child, other then your own. Basically the school can but only because parents gave the school (and no-one else) to do so. If I'm in the photographer's background when he/she's taking a photo in a public area such as QE2 square or Fed square then I would consider it to be a free-for-all for someone to take photos - although I'll accept a nod or thumbs-up or a "please can I take a photo of you?" quite readily if I'm closer then I think I am or in a family / friends gathering as such but not if someone is blatantly taking photos e.g. along the lines of stalking as an example. I'm a little funny about my photo being taken at times if I don't want to be in the "limelight", even though hubby says I'm a show-off at other times.

If you were using "bubble balloons", the guy in the above photo would be saying "I'm not happy", Lady replies "well, see if I care". That's what first grabbed my attention. There's almost a story there with lots of variations besides the down-and-out (examples *the 2 could be a couple and they've had an argument - he's sad, she's angry and is leaving him behind *he could be sick and she's gone to get help, *I'm tired of her shopping all the time).

Question arises - What would you do in that situation?

Farclas Jul 29 2009 11:00 AM

Re: Street candids in Edinburgh
Silverman seemed quite sombre and contemplative, but when he gave me a wordless acknowledgement there was a beaming grin which quite lit up his face. I was too slow to catch that.

With regard to child protection, most schools in the UK have similar rules on the subject. It's up to the discretion of the head teacher within guidelines laid down the the local education authority. It's now a litigious culture and schools and their insurers are scared of law suits. It's sad. There is the occasional furore over the banning of cameras at the kids' Christmas nativity play or - ridiculously - the parents' race at the annual sports day. Most schools, however, apply a modicum of common sense.

I took the down-and-out picture because I was struck by his apparent "invisibility". It's impossible to know whether passers-by were uncaring, miserly, or embarrassed. Maybe a combination of all three. Whatever, he was generally ignored. I had two or three attempts before I got the shot where her shadow touches him.

When I spoke to him, it was the usual familiar tale - with the military in Iraq, unable to adapt to civvy life, marriage break-down, drink, drugs and homelessness. He lived in an adjacent hostel, kept himself clean and had a choice patch which gave him a reasonable income, weather permitting. And in five years? He shrugged - "Probably deid". He didn't mind being photographed - "but dinna make a fool of me" - and seemed to enjoy the chat.

(As a postscript, I printed off a copy which I carried around for a couple of weeks until I was next in the area. It took just three pubs to track him down. He was delighted with the result.)

P'ter Aug 5 2009 10:46 AM

Re: Street candids in Edinburgh
About fifteen years ago I did a photo shoot at my local swimming pool: a day in the life of ...

Started at 06.15 and finished at 23.00! A mixture of general shots of different pool activities and close ups of interesting characters/actions.

We mounted a display of it, but all the prints and negs went to them for publicity.

Now adays you can't even take your mobile into a pool around here.

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