On the street – with an iPhone

Bold contrasts for Bold Street

The ultimate street photography camera is a bit of a holy grail amongst enthusiasts. Each system has its own proponents, mine is a Fuji X100t, but despite what they may think no one system is the ultimate in my eyes. Each has its strengths and weaknesses and used correctly each can produce very satisfying results.

“Selfie” Processed on the iPhone using #snapseed

I use the Fuji X100t as my main “street camera” (in reality its my always-in-my-pocket-camera) and also when I want to shoot film a pocketable Ricoh 35ZF. Whilst I’d used my smartphone whilst out to take snaps I’d never seriously considered using it for “proper” photography. Until last week.

Some scenes have to stay in colour! Straight out of camera(phone)

The results of this experiment were very pleasing and a selection of iPhone images have been used in this post. More will follow in a subsequent post. The beauty of using the phone is that, should I so desire, I can immediately open the image in Snapseed (other post processing software is available) and create the finished image right there and then. I can do this with my Fuji X100t too by wirelessly transferring it to my phone but compared to the direct iPhone capture this is a little cumbersome.

Another candid making use of shadows and strong contrasts Processed on the iPhone using #snapseed
Not as sharp as I’d lke – but couldn’t resist the shadowy figure peering in at the two business men in their meeting. Processed on the iPhone using #snapseed

On the Street – again!

It’s been a while but the X100t and I took to the streets over the past couple of days after quite a long gap. With an open mind and a fully charged battery we pottered from Liverpool Lime Street down to the Albert Docks with many a detour along the way.

For once I left the splash of colour

I’m back home now and have just had a little chimp at the back of the Fuji. I’d posted a handful of images Thursday evening to Flickr so knew I had some “keepers” but the acid test will come when I download the files to the computer and have a proper look.

A second too quick in pressing the shutter!

Some of my iPad edits look promising and there are a couple which will warrant a blog post of their own. It wasn’t just the Fuji that I used however so expect a “Street – shot on iPhone” post too. I also explored the RC Cathedral and it’s crypt with a 360 camera before I left so that is to follow in due course I hope.

Grittier processing than usual – shot and processed on iPhone

“Street” with the Ricoh 35 ZF

I think he spotted me!

I’m in the process of down-sizing my camera collection and am currently considering my small rangefinder style cameras. Today it was the turn of the Ricoh 35ZF.

Loading with a roll of Berlin Kino black and white film I hit the first key consideration: could I push the film beyond its box speed of 400? It was dull and overcast so rating the film at 800 would have been useful. The ISO selector goes from 64-800 so that was a tick in the box. In the event I chose to rate the film at box speed but it was nice to have the option.

The Ricoh 35 ZF is a zone focus, shutter priority (or fully manual) 35mm film camera from the mid-1970s. It has a fixed 40mm f/2.8 lens, shutter speeds from 1/500 to 1/8 (plus B), and an ISO range of 50-800. When shooting in an urban setting I have tended to set the shutter speed to 1/125th with the Ricoh, putting the aperture on ‘A’ and setting the focus pictogram depending on how close I expect to get to my subject.

Repeating shapes are always something I look for

The camera’s diminutive size means it fits in the palm of my hand so I carry it without a strap to make it even more discrete. It’s small size and unobtrusive shutter sound, a brief “click”, means I can shoot from the hip as I did for the opening shot here. Pre-setting the aperture and shutter speed and by using the zone focusing pictograms means I can also shoot quickly from the eye too as in the image above.

I won’t comment on the film beyond saying that it has its strengths and weaknesses both of which I tested today. For the very varied lighting situations I encountered today, indoors and outdoors, I would usually use HP5+ but that said there are some images on the roll that I’m very pleased with.

As for the camera, I think that it’s ideal for a walk-around, shoot-from-the-hip camera and I’ve had an enjoyable morning with it.

I’m 90% certain it’s staying in my collection too!

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.