Night shoot


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StreetShooter

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Singapore by night is a very interesting place, and different from what it is by day.

I went for my first night shoot with my 20mm 1.8 lens on Saturday night, and just walked along Orchard Road and later dropped by the River Hongbao. It was quite disappointing, as far as getting good pictures was concerned.

First lesson I learned is that even if you use ISO 1600, it can be difficult to get good pictures if you try to focus in darkness! Night shooting is best done in lighted areas.

Second thing is that ISO 1600 may look quite nice on the LCD, but is very grainy (and sometimes unusable) on the computer.

The first guy I bumped into was this moody-looking guy sitting on a bench.



Asked him if I could take a picture of him. He said "What for?" I told him it's just a hobby. He posed patiently for me for a few minutes while I tried to get the autofocus to work, fiddling with the camera to switch on the focus assist lamp.

By the time I had taken the shot, I found myself surrounded by the rest of his group. He wasn't there alone! What to do? Took a group shot of them, using the flash.



There are quite a few Malay youth roaming the streets at night, out of boredom more than anything else. When cash is tight, you can't really afford entertainment, apart from walking along Orchard Road. I suppose they see themselves socially as the "blacks" of Singapore, because they dress like that, with ski caps and so on, and try to affect the "black" attitude and posturing. But this bunch were pretty sweet.
 

StreetShooter

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A little further along, I came across this guy being "spot-checked" by the police.



His only crime was using a skateboard, I suppose.

The area outside California Gym and the old Orchard Road theatre (not sure what it's called now) is quite hip and happening. Lots of good looking guys and gals just hanging out. Also quite a few huays and lians and skinheads. Made the mistake of asking a group of four skinheads if I could take a picture of them. "No!" said Mr Tough Guy. Should have just gone ahead and taken my shot instead. Only in Singapore, with police spotchecks around the corner, would I even have considered doing this. In any other city in the world, you run away first.

A little further along, there was this guy using the public telephone booth:



At first I thought he was sitting on a stool, but closer inspection revealed that he was squatting. He was not a particularly tall person. You would think the people who designed the phone booth would have put it at a more accessible level. Or maybe it was a phone booth for handicapped people on wheelchairs. Not sure about that.



Seven-eleven has got a good thing going. On my short walk I counted no less than 4 outlets along Orchard Road. Some outlets were more crowded than others, but there was always a queue of at least 2 people at each outlet I passed. It caters to tourists on a budget, I suppose. I never saw what this blonde in a red dress looked like from the front, so don't ask me. I just snapped and walked on.
 

Simon

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Are your using RAW or JPEG for all the shots?

For high ISO shots, use RAW format, it will reduce the grain on the pictures.
 

StreetShooter

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This guy is a valet driver at Mandarin Hotel. Chatted him up a bit, commenting on the $10 valet fee, when did it become so expensive, etc. He said it was the most expensive on Orchard Road, now people just prefer to park their own cars, etc. Then I popped the question: Can I take a picture?



As I walked by, I smiled at this guy and pointed to my camera. He said he would let me take his picture for five bucks. I gestured that I had no money, so he said "OK, free, lah". While I was taking the picture, the girl in the centre exclaimed: "Hey, if you are taking HIS picture, how come the camera is pointed at ME??"

I kept this picture in colour because I love the warm orange glow (the 20mm is great for this). No levels adjustment done at all, just a touch of sharpening.
 

StreetShooter

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Thanks, Simon.

I shoot JPEG exclusively.

I am aware of the benefits of shooting RAW, including changing white balance and so on, but I don't have BreezeBrowser, and I understand Canon's software sucks. Besides, my hit rate of good shots is about 1% and I can't imagine converting all those junk images from RAW.

Besides, I LIKE the graininess! (sometimes).
 

StreetShooter

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Finally reached the River Hongbao about 1 am, after most of the crowd had cleared. Took quite a few shots from the hip. Most of them turned out lousy.



I thought about this shot (as Jed suggested) to show how the ticket or token sellers are caged in to prevent snatch thefts. The ticket booths are scattered all over, and the women sitting inside looked literally like caged animals. They all eyed my camera apprehensively as I approached (cannot escape, what), so I had no heart to take their pictures from the front.

For this shot (I took a few), the AF focused on the grill instead of the woman, as I had originally intended. But I like the effect, so I've chosen this one.
 

StreetShooter

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These guys hang out outside Raffles Hotel hoping for a tourist who may want to take a ride. There are another two at a different corner of Raffles Hotel.

They were about to go off after a night of presumably poor business. They looked pretty tired and fed up, but were still nice enough to pose for me (even though I actually wanted to take a candid). I think they were also hoping for some business from me. Note the "V for victory" sign. The other guy was giving me a "thumbs up" sign, though you can't see it very clearly. Very experienced at posing for tourists, no doubt.
 

rty

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Very entertaining series of pics, SS!

Why not use manual focus instead for low light shots? My focus assist lamp is now set to off. As Simon pointed out to me the other day, the lamp can be quite irritating to some people and I think he's right.
 

StreetShooter

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I almost never use the focus assist lamp, but this was an emergency.

I tried manual focus with my buskers shots, but not very good at it. Sometimes hit, sometimes don't hit. I'm just a point and shoot digital photographer, not an artist! ;)
 

ckiang

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Originally posted by StreetShooter
I almost never use the focus assist lamp, but this was an emergency.

I tried manual focus with my buskers shots, but not very good at it. Sometimes hit, sometimes don't hit. I'm just a point and shoot digital photographer, not an artist! ;)
You can consider getting cameras like the Yashica T5, Ricoh GR1, GR1V, GR21, etc. Easier to use in such situations instead of the bulkier D30. :D

Regards
CK
 

StreetShooter

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Actually I'm seriously thinking of resurrecting my CP990 (for shooting from the hip) or even my CP700 (for compact size) for use in street photography.

For night shooting, though, nothing beats an f1.8 aperture.
(Well, ok, there's f1.4, but I haven't got that yet)

But later. I'm just back from Chinatown with some nice pics!
 

ckiang

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Originally posted by StreetShooter
Actually I'm seriously thinking of resurrecting my CP990 (for shooting from the hip) or even my CP700 (for compact size) for use in street photography.

For night shooting, though, nothing beats an f1.8 aperture.
(Well, ok, there's f1.4, but I haven't got that yet)

But later. I'm just back from Chinatown with some nice pics!
Olympus Cx040Z :)

Regards
CK
 

C

camera1001

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Harlow, I'm kinda new here.. :) I'd like to post these questions to Streetshooter and those who do "shooting in the streets".

1. What is the main purpose of your work? I mean walking around and asking total strangers if you can take pics of them? Is it because you really think they will contribute a big impact on the images you're taking or there is this "kick" feeling inside of you when the person agrees? No offence, but from what I see from most of the pics, they are just grab shots of people in the state of their being unaware of your presence. But most of them lack photo aesthetics. Even if they agreed to allow you to take their pics, they mean little to the layman. Unless you need to publish them in the papers or something. For eg, to give to your editor.

2. From 1, shouldn't such work be done by reporters and professional photojournalists?

3. Have you experienced showing some of the shots to your friends and you get responses like: "Why are you taking pictures of people whom you don't even know? You're wasting your time!"
Are we really starved in Singapore of any more interesting recreational activities that we give ourselves personal, totally unpaid assignments and precious time to go out with a camera and shoot strangers?

The above questions could sound offensive but I have no intention to make them that way. Just want to cut to the point and also, they are real questions and comments asked by my fellow friends and who don't take pictures.
 

quackaroo

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camera1001: rathere interesting questions.

i think the same questions some of my friends do ask. personally, i love street shooting. but i stopped for a while basically because i am terrified at wasting film. now im getting back on the hang of it to do it again. ill be posting some of my photos/assignments soon. got to get back to the hang of street shooting.

personally if you look at streetshooter's work. i think they are excellent photo essays. ill leave street shooter to answer your questions.

personally, i enjoy street shooting because it brings out "life" as it is. posed or not posed. there's still an element of reality and life in street shooting. merely because i feel that the essence of something out of ordinary is being focused to something that usually a layman's eye didnt notice. take for example the papajoe's photo. if a layman would to just walk past, he wldnt notice the "life" at that point unless he looks at the picture. 3 employer's of papa joes are basically having fun, they smile, that means they are warm, and friendly. having to just walk past them, you'd prob miss this essence. but what im trying to bring forward is that street shooting is indeed impactful!

To me, street shooting is not all about photo asthetics or how well the shot is composed blah blah blah, although it helps alot. But it is more of capturing life. The picture must bring out some kind of feelings either through the picture itself or a photo essay. That would make the person looking through the images to be able to understand deeper into the picture and maybe a lil "picture history".

this is my personal perception of street shooting. and ive still got alot to learn. ;)
 

StreetShooter

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I think these are very good questions, and it would help me to answer them.

No, I am not a professional. Just an amateur. Note that there are no copyright notices attached to any of the pictures I post. In fact, I would be happy to send the full high res images to anyone who requests them, for free.

The main purpose of my "work" is to enjoy the pictures I take and share them. The secondary purpose is to record life as I see it. While I have no illusions that my "work" will survive me, someone once said that it is mainly through street photography that we know what life was like in earlier days.

The "kick" I get is to find a scene, a facial expression, that portrays street life or humanity, and record it. I don't get a kick when someone agrees to let me take pictures. I'm just going through this phase of being polite and asking permission. I would honestly rather take candid pictures, but not in a voyeuristic sense, rather simply to capture the spontaneity of a moment (like what eadwine did with his picture - "What are they doing?").

I'm not sure what you mean by "photo aesthetics", but I would guess that this would be a rather subjective matter.

Street photography is admittedly an acquired and perhaps eclectic taste. It never gets near the top ratings at photo.net, so we street photographers know where we stand in the general scheme of things. While I admire the technical excellence and beauty of architectural, abstract or nature photos, they don't hit me in the gut the way street photos do. That is, they don't evoke an emotional response in the way that a good black and white street photo does. As an aside, the reason black and white works better than colour for this genre, is that, as someone said: "With colours you see the person's clothes; in black and white, you see the person's soul."

I certainly don't agree that this sort of photography should only be the privilege of reporters and professional photojournalists!

I definitely get that response a lot - from my wife! "Why do you like to take these kinds of photos? You're really obssessed!" We have two really beautiful kids, and she can't understand why I don't just take pictures of them (even though we have over 10K shots of them already).

As for your comment about giving ourselves "personal, totally unpaid assignments and precious time to go out with a camera and shoot strangers" I can only say that I wish I had MORE time to go walking on the streets and take pictures. One man has his golf, another man his internet surfing or computer games... you get the idea. To each his own. I can't think of a more pleasant way of passing my time than to walk around with a camera. It's great exercise. It opens your eyes, and you notice details you would never see otherwise. You become more aware of life and your fellow man and live more intensely (OK I'm getting a little carried away here... somebody stop me.)
 

sbs99

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From wat i have read. I do believe in a photographer's freedom to shoot watever he wishes to shoot. :)

No point controlling or restricting wat to shoot...like you can't or shouldnt shoot this or that..coz its wasting money or time. Or against regulations.

IMHO, camera is mine, film is mine, time is mine, money is mine. Want to restrict my photography, might as well ban photography in Singapore. Which would be a very sad thing for Singapore, a big step backwards to the primitive stage. Which i notice Singaporeans do have a certain habit of fearing/rejecting which ever or watever they do not have an understanding of.

Afterall, watever we shoot, watever share up here in this forum, we still are subjected by harsh or kind judgement. We juz take it in our stride, learn new stuff and pointers, carry on shooting, improving our shots if possible.

From wat i have seen from the contributors in Street Photography column here in clubsnap. I would agree not many shots would be considered great or even juz nice in opinion. But i do respect their effort and determination in getting the shot. Personally i feel, i wouldnt even be so gutsy as to approach people to shoot them. These are the little things i admire them for, which makes their even plain photos special. As one could observe, even 10 shots, one could turn out to be juz wonderful. (i wasted 1 1/2 rolls of provia juz to get one or two nite shots right). No professional would shoot a roll of 36 exposures and get 36 exposure beautiful photos...tat would be too unrealistic...we have to leave space for reality too sometimes. :)

Im sure many great photographers would encourage fellow hobbyists/photographers to keep shooting.

Im not flaming anyone here, juz stating my own opinions as wat is street photography, or juz plain photography to me. I maybe nothing but a newbie, still no matter if u r a newbie, layman, professional, national geographic photographer.....all have one simple thing in common...which is the passion to shoot.

As my fren, Birinus, former Straits Times dude (not nice to name him here for privacy reasons), once encouraged me to shoot more , as the best photo is out there waiting. Staying at home brooding over it won't make miracles.

:)
 

rty

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Street photography shows us a world that we have long ceased to observe because of our own familiarity with it. Street photography is about recognising and capturing the moment in the everyday. To the photographers, it is about enjoying the pure observation.

See what others from other parts of the world say about Street photography:

http://www.imasy.or.jp/~folio/
http://www.jbuhler.com/streetphoto.html
http://www.luminous-landscape.com/street.htm
http://www.gmpanter.com/new/street.html
http://www.twbookmark.com/books/48/0821227262/chapter_excerpt13605.html
http://metroactive.com/papers/metro/02.04.99/art-9905.html
http://www.zonezero.com/editorial/july99/july.html
http://www.in-public.com/
http://www.in-public.com/whatis.html
http://www.photo.net/photo/street-photography
http://www.skylightweb.com/imagine/streetnon-p.html
http://home.istar.ca/~meandro/

Hope this help.
 

StreetShooter

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Well, OK, I'm biased.

I took a second look at the pictures I posted on this thread, and they are indeed rather nondescript. I can see where this guy is coming from. In fact I was not planning to post any pictures from this night shoot, but I was bored, and... you know.

Will try to improve.

And thanks for the links, rty!
 

quackaroo

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hehe. i beg to differ? :dent:

these are the shots i personally liked (with descriptions):

- This guy is a valet driver at Mandarin Hotel.
- His only crime was using a skateboard
- These guys hang out outside Raffles Hotel...
- PapaJoe's

Personally i Love it. Generally why? i wrote in my prev. thread liao. heh
 

rty

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Originally posted by StreetShooter
Well, OK, I'm biased.

I took a second look at the pictures I posted on this thread, and they are indeed rather nondescript. I can see where this guy is coming from. In fact I was not planning to post any pictures from this night shoot, but I was bored, and... you know.

Will try to improve.
Biased and nondescript? Nah... you did well, as I already said, "as entertaining as ever". :thumbsup:

Remember, one man's meat is another man's poison. Take my case for example, many of my so called friends used to think how "sick" or "abnormal" I am simply because I don't share their enthusiasm in football. Some even suggested that I get help and go see a psychiatrist, seriously. :dunno:

So, keep posting. Thanks for sharing your works. Thanks for making this Street Photography forum the most popular one. (See how many threads it has as of today?) ;)
 

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