Street in Southport

We’ve been to Southport a couple of times this year, just for a couple of nights to get away from the noise and hustle of our family home which bursts with three generations of our family. As the Oldies we probably need the peace more than anyone! On the last visit we decided to go and sample the delights of Southport’s retail experience. At least the wife went shopping! I went for a wander around an indoor shopping arcade. I just so happened (!) to have the Fuji X100t in my coat pocket.

Southport 1

Elizabeth Gray on the photographylife website defines street photography thus: “… street photography is about candidly capturing life in public areas.” It is one of many definitions that I have seen. Often partly contradictory, these definitions all have a slightly different take on the topic but all include reference to public areas and the word candid, or variations, crops up very frequently. However, the biggest variant I’ve found has been the inclusion of people. For some street photography seems to feature exclusively candid images of people going about their daily business. Some , like Bruce Gilden, best known for his candid close-up photographs of people on the streets of New York City, using a flashgun, are definitely in-your-face street photographers. Others take a less intrusive approach.

Southport 2

Do Street Photos Need People?

So, whether or not street shots need people in them is something that remains the subject of much debate. For myself, I do not feel that street photographs must contain people. That said, there needs to be something in the image that hints at the involvement of people. People are often in my frame, often as small but necessary elements of the composition and sometimes just as shadows or reflections. I will sometimes photograph things left behind by people, less though with the intention of leaving the viewer wondering what the story is behind the discarded objects but more as a comment on the crassness of a small element of the human race.

Southport 3
Three people, two walking into frame and a third reflected in a shop window (I/3rd way up on the left) but to my mind people are not a mandatory part of all street photographs.
Southport 4
A hint of the future presence of people perhaps?

So, with that said, what do I like to photograph on the streets? Well, pretty much anything as it happens. It’s all a matter of what takes my eye at the time and how bullish I’m feeling. It also depends on where I am. I will photograph on the streets of a small town such as Halifax but am considerably more conspicuous as you rarely see folk wandering about with a camera. A city like Liverpool or London however is a different kettle of fish as can be seen in some of the images on this earlier post many of which were taken with the same camera that I was using in Southport.

Southport 5
Next enclosure along …

The X100T, and to a lesser extent the X100 which I used before the T, is great for street and candid photography and the image quality at ISO 6400, when exposed correctly, is superb in my experience. An aperture of f4 is ideal with the 23mm lens of the X100T when shooting in public although if the main subject is a person I often open the lens up to f2.8. When the prime subject is not human however an aperture of f5.6 or f8 if the light allows is preferable for my taste.

Southport 6
Fuji X100t. 1/140th ISO 200 f5.6
Southport 7
All good street photography finishes with a cuppa!

So, an interesting hour. The wife only spent a few pounds and I enjoyed a wander around an admittedly quite arcade. I need to be in the mood for full-on street photography and the genteel peace of this old arcade was the perfect setting that morning.

Anytime, anyplace, anywhere …

© Dave Whenham
First time on a train

It never ceases to amaze me how much fun these Fuji X-series cameras are. The X-Pro1 screams “pick me up” every time I walk past it and the X100T is simply a reliable and surprisingly versatile friend that slips discretely into a jacket pocket. The Easter school holidays are here and I’ve had the job of amusing a five-year old all week whilst his parents go to work. No time for bags of kit, simply pop the X100T in my pocket and get on with walks along the canal, first train rides, bus rides and meeting Grandma for lunch amongst other delights.

© Dave Whenham
Not too shabby for the first bluebell shot of the season

Over the course of five days I shot some street photography in Manchester and also nearer to home, bluebells and general landscape views on the Calder & Hebble Navigation and various photos of said five year old both posed and candid. The only time the X100T struggled slightly was auto-focusing at very close distances, such as the bluebell above which needed to be focused manually.

© Dave Whenham
Stoop, capture, walk on!

I have eulogised about the X100T before, but it bears repeating – this is a cracking go-anywhere, anytime camera. A martini camera perhaps? Anytime, anyplace, anywhere – to recall a very cheesy 1980s TV advertisement.

© Dave Whenham
Mozz was ‘ere!

Two images

Two images posted for no other reason than to say I am still functioning. The schools’ Easter holidays have meant full time grandchild minding but Senior Management and myself are off for a few days at the end of next week with camera in tow! Both images taken this week, one when he was in bed the other … well you will see.

(C) Dave Whenham
Nikon D750, Sigma 105mm and SplashArt II

(C) Dave Whenham
Fuji x100t. Processed with Snapseed on IPad

 

Wide Open

© Dave Whenham

A simple image this morning, reflecting how I feel I guess; quiet and peaceful, not wanting to rush anywhere today.

The inspiration for this image was some brain-storming I did yesterday for a themed camera club competition. One of the ideas was “wide open” and although it didn’t make the final cut it stuck in my mind so as I took a walk along the canal this morning I set the aperture to f2.5 (the X100t can be a little mushy at f2 when ¬†close-up) and looked for simple compositions. Working wide open is not something I habitually do when walking along¬†the canal so it made an interesting diversion and a pleasant start to the day.

© Dave Whenham

Just goes to show that photography isn’t just about big vistas, huge depth of field and massively sharp images.

An afternoon at 23mm

(C) Dave Whenham
Into the light was a regular feature of my afternoon

Finding myself needing to be in Leeds on Saturday with a few hours to play with I decided to grab a shoulder bag for an impromptu urban shoot. My Fuji x100t was in there, I really do take it everywhere, and I popped the Fuji X-T1 in for good measure with a couple of polarisers and an ND graduated filter.

(C) Dave Whenham
Harsh light, strong contrasts and processing to match

I wandered through the city centre with the x100t in my hand and as always thoroughly enjoyed shooting with this little camera. It’s fixed 23mm f2 lens has a character all of its own and as it equates to a full-frame equivalent of 35mm it is perfect for my style of street photography. I’m fast beginning to realise that if I had to give up all my toys apart from one then I would probably chose to keep this camera. It was a bright, sunny afternoon with barely a cloud in the sky. Very harsh light with very strong contrasts. The camera coped with it all and I found the EVF very handy in judging what degree of exposure compensation to apply.

(C) Dave Whenham
Heavy shadows called for some heavy duty processing in Snapseed

Because of the light I decided to work with black and white in mind. I would usually set a black and white preset but for reasons that are still unknown to me I chose not to today. The images were processed on my phone whilst I was out and on my return home and also processed a few on the iPad. In both instances however I only used Snapseed for the processing. The other stylistic choice for the first part of my afternoon was to work in the square format. I usually shoot in 3:2 and crop later but today I went for the 1:1 option so the screen was showing me the square crop and the resulting JPEGs were also square. I know the RAW files will be 3:2 which might be useful later but for now I’m working with the original JPEG files.

(C)Dave Whenham
I did get eye-balled a couple of times but kept smiling and kept moving

Since I closed my Facebook account I have posted a few images to Instagram and have also posted to this blog far more often too. When I sat and processed these images I deliberately chose a “grungier” look and feel to these images largely with Instagram in mind. The strong, contrasting light was also a big factor in this decision.

(C) Dave Whenham
Easy Rider

Leaving the city centre behind I headed to Clarence Dock where I swapped over to the Fuji X-T1 and it was only then that I realised it was sporting the 23mm f2 lens. It was the day of the 23mm lenses obviously. I will share the images from Clarence Dock and the waterfront in my next post.