Today I am reduced to posting the kind of image that inspires within me self loathing; a hipsteresque image of coffee and my camera (the only thing I despise more is the horrible ice cream glass some chains insist on for lattes).
I lost my bottle. I tried to take an image of a guy on a BMX, lost confidence so asked, and was told to beat it (in more colourful language).
I should have carried on shooting elsewhere, but instead gave up for a while. The reality is there is very little conflict in street photography. Yet, when it happens, it makes me want to give up. I listen to John Free tell me that street photography is a noble endeavour. But sometimes it seems to be perceived as less than honourable.
It is a fairly mainstream activity. Today I listened to part of the fascinating story of Vanley Burke documenting the experience of the African-Caribbean community in England. This was a Radio 4 programme. Hardly an underground or especially edgy source. The story told the response of some of his subjects discovering his candid shots. In the main they sounded ok with it and some sounded pleased.
However, with some of the present anxiety over GDPR (which will hopefully turn out to be unwarranted) and the potential for conflict, I wonder if it’s time for a change of direction. Or at least until I get my bottle back.
In these circumstances I enjoy doing something different. For example, occassionally I get the opportunity to photograph events. It gives me the chance to plug in the flash and take some non-candid shots and portraits. I find that mft cameras can generally deal well enough with the light conditions and my little Nissin i40 flash does a brilliant job with the problem situations.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve enjoyed running a small photo workshop in association with a local school. Today we climbed above the town for some great views across Perthshire.
I’ve been really impressed, and a little envious, of the natural talent of the participants. And I learned quite a bit myself; not least that technical knowledge of cameras cannot compare with great composition.
Here’s one of my efforts, it was quickly snapped while showing the effect of grads and polarisers.
Here is one resulting image from the processing of XP2 in Black & White chemistry.
It’s clearly very high constrast, which I quite like, and that may be due to the developing time of 21 minutes (this came from the Massive Dev app). I’m pretty happy with the results. There is very little grain, which is ok with me, and the negative seems sharp (I’ve cropped and added a little sharpening (+10) and clarity (+5) in lightroom).
The negatives have a mild magenta cast, but that has made little difference in B&W.
Nowadays, the benefit of C41 high street processing is long gone. There is nowhere in my town that could process and return the same day. I think they all have to send images off for developing. The only place I’ve found 1 hour or same day processing is Snappy Snaps, Byres Road in Glasgow and that’s too far for regular processing.
So, apart from an incredibly long processing time, I’d say that it’s worth processing XP2 at home in Black & White chemistry.
Before I knew the difference between film types I saw what looked like a good deal in a high street store.
I bought a handful of Ilford XP2 which appeared to be at a discounted rate. I’ve since discovered two facts which have made me regret the purchase.
1. Even at the discounted price, these films cost considerably more than they would have from an online specialist.
2. More importantly, XP2 is a C41 type film, meaning it can be processed with colour films. But it’s generally better to get C41 processed professionally, unless you’re feeling confident.
I had two XP2 film’s professionally processed. One turned out great but the other had a milky sheen across many images. I was told that these were under-exposed. But I read that this phenomenon possibly relates to insufficient fixing.
So I was left with the remaining film, which had quickly expired (hence the discount). I tried to swap it but to no avail. I then went to my local camera shop and asked if they collected expired film. They didn’t. But they did have an expert on hand who suggested processing the XP2 in Black & White chemicals.
I’d heard this suggestion before, but had been reluctant to try it. Ilford recommend not doing it and comments online report mixed results. However, given that my other option was to ditch the redundant film, I decided to try the Black & White approach.
I used the ‘Massive Dev’ app recipe for XP2 in Ilfosol 3. And so far so good. The image above shows that some sort of images have appeared. But I’ve still to scan the negatives. Once that’s done, I’ll provide an update.
As we wandered through the city, we came across these guys doing parkour (or free running).
It amused me that they had found an alternative use for the security barriers that could block the route up to Edinburgh Castle and Royal Mile.
I took some shots and got chatting with them. They were happy to be photographed and we talked about the simple beauty of their sport; basically requiring only a pair of trainers and some concrete obstacles.
That’s one of the things I love about photography. Although street photography is often solitary, sometimes it affords the opportunity to speak with fellow citizens.
Comfortable shoes and concrete are essential to street photography too, and I appreciate the shared simplicity of exploring the metropolis, albeit at a slower pace than parkour.
I’m compiling a list of useful information regarding street photography and GDPR. As yet things seem unclear. See the foot of this post.
Now that I’ve got your attention, perhaps this post would be better entitled ‘ The future of street photography’.
The image above is actually a portrait of a friend. I’ve blurred it to conceal his identity. But such images may be the future of street photography.
Recent changes in European data protection law (known as GDPR) appear to consider our faces a form of personal data. It’s not clear whether all images taken in public will require a model release, or whether current exemptions or allowances will persist.
However, apparently, the Maltese authorities are recommending that images without a release form have faces blurred to conceal personal information.
The web is full of comments from different perspectives and as yet it is unclear what GDPR may mean for street photography and documentary or travel photography for that matter.
Only time will tell whether the end is near for this most beautiful and significant genre of photography.
Here are some links I’ve found interesting for more discussion on this topic.
– pages 14-16 of this document discuss how identical pictures can be considered both personal data and not personal data depending on context. This comes from the ICO, I think concerning earlier data protection law.
So, it turns out that shooting analogue doesn’t cure GAS at all.
After a few weeks of using the Trip 35, which I really love, I’ve managed to get hold of a film camera with auto-focus. This lovely Rollei compact belongs to my brother. I don’t think he’s used it much in the last 20 years, and he kindly gave it to me.
This is the first 35mm camera I’ve had with autofocus and I notice a big difference. Far fewer shots are not sharp and shots seems much sharper than using zone focussing with the Trip 35.
In fact this camera seems to achieve focus very quickly, probably faster than my MFT cameras. Here’s an example of a snatched shot while crossing the street.