The Olympus EP-3 is on the job.

1-13-0607

 

It’s been some time since I used a Pen Camera. I’ve had both, the EP-1 & the EP-2. I must admit, the EP-1 was and still is my favorite digital camera…until now! All the things I wanted to see improved are installed in the EP-3. This is not a review. This is not a sales pitch. This is the lost and found of feelings for a camera and how it helped me work. I know, youse don’t care about feelings about your camera. I know, you don’t name your cameras either. I feel for you, I really do.

 

1-13-0611

 

I got very attached to the Pen 1 because it never let me down. It always brought satisfaction when I processed my work. Nah it ain’t no high tech fancy schmancy camera. What it is, is a very elegant extension of your vision. The EP-3 is an updated version of a camera that worked great as it was. So you figure out what that means. I know!

 

1-13-0622

 

P1220049

I’m not saying the EP-3 is the camera for you but I am saying….when I stopped using the Pen 1 & 2…something got lost in the mix. No, not a case, not a battery, nothing tangible. That’s the problem….I couldn’t find what I was looking for because I couldn’t touch what I was looking for.

 

I set the EP-3 up last night. The menu confused me a little but I got thru it. After a few hours I felt comfortable that I was good to go. I dreamt of being on the street and below also. I could see myself using the camera making images….. I awoke knowing that the camera and I were on the same page and The Pen 3 was up to the task and also to carry on the heritage of it’s forefathers.

P1220051

 

So I made these images today in 24f weather. I forgot one important thing about the Pens….. Metal cameras get cold as fast as hands…..

P1220053

 

There exist little doubt about the Pen 3 and me. We traveled a long way together. Maybe different versions of a real camera but we were together for many a good images that will become part of  my history.

 

Looking out into the light………?

 

 

Enjoying Your Vision

1-13-0521

There is such pressure to produce quality work that one may feel stifled. Lets face it, like it or not we like to have people LIKE our photos, FAVORITE our photos etc. It makes the reward of others equally or even more gratifying then our own. Don’t feel bad, just remember that photography is a personal journey and we answer to our own self…when we realize that.

The above photo could be seen as “Contrived”. Of course it is. That was my INTENT but I don’t care because I like the image and it reflects how I felt at that very moment. I set it up in a flash of a second and needed to make it look just as it does. I used Andre’ and made the photo knowing what it looked like before release. Oh’ sorry…Andre’ is my white GRD4. Of course you name your cameras also…..right?

 

1-13-0499

Photographic INTENT is the single most important piece of the shooters LIFE. What I mean is….you must be in the HERE and NOW at the time of exposure. Bresson called this the Decisive Moment. We call it Awareness of Intent. It’s not exactly the same but it’s not exactly different either.

The above photo was next in the shoot that I was aware of my intent. The file number shows not far apart. I’m not explaining why I made the photo, only that my INTENT is realized by it.

 

1-13-0513

This is for Alan Barr. He posted a photo the other day of this escalator and I asked him with a comment if it was from Snyder or Oregon Ave. Her replied quickly that it was in fact at 15th and Market. Talk about Visual Perception…..I have been on this escalator a million times…yes, I counted. I know it back and forth and have made countless images of it and it’s faithful riders.

When Alan posted the location to my question I felt like I was forgetful or better yet….stupid. How could I not recognize that escalator? That my friends is the concept of photography in a single image. It totally proves the separation of the 3 dimensional reality from the 2 dimensional reality.

Thank You Alan…your a gentleman shooter and I’m lucky to share the same streets as you.

 

1-13-0493

 

With all this being said….sometimes ya just get lucky……

Till next time….

don

The GRD4, The Natural Choice For Street

1-13-0382

As many cameras as I have had and tested and used, the GRD4 stands above and beyond the rest. I do a 30 day test period with any new camera and I don’t use anything but the test camera.

 

1-13-0392

I have been testing and using the Fuji X10 and it’s a very nice camera. It’s great for street with a learned intuitive interface. I passed the 30 test date a few days ago and I longed for my GRD4.

 

1-13-0394

The Ricoh has such a NATURAL feel to that it’s almost an organic feeling. Funny, an organic digital experience.

1-13-0434

I’m not going on and on about this camera but…..well….later….

 

Shooter’s Pic’s

No, not my photos but pics from the shooters that I like and admire on Flickr.

You’ve all heard of Bresson, Kertesz, Adams, Weston etc. Well, I have a list of current shooters that have very interesting images. I’m going to post some here and some at the Street Presets Facebook page.

Some of these  shooters I will invite to do an interview with. Please feel free to comment and PLEASE….do that LIKE thing at Facebook…we need the hits to stay alive….

If  YOU want to be featured, let me know and we’ll get it under way. After about a dozen shooters are featured, I’d like to do a book at Blurb etc.

Thanks Friends, you are now returned to your regular scheduled programming………………………………..

 

Here’s the link to Eleni’s work.

http://on.fb.me/VmRFFA

The Fuji X10 … The Continuing Saga

“As you go throughout your life, brother whatever be your goal, keep your eye upon the donut and not upon the hole.”  (Dr Murray Banks).

The point is this. I’ll discuss the camera and not the issues or things it doesn’t have or do. This is a users findings and not a review.

 

1-13-0177

DSCF0688-2

DSCF0689-2

The X10 is really responsive. I use it in M mode and choose my Aperture and Shutter Speed. I use Auto ISO/3200 and this lets the camera choose the proper ISO based on my settings. I’m happy and the camera’s happy. Oh, X10 is named Walker after… WALKER EVANS. Of course GRD4 is named Andre’ after…. Andre’ Kertesz. WHAT! You don’t name your cameras?

A streetshooter ain’t no streetshooter don’t name a camera.

 

DSCF0690-2

12-12--241

I like to use HD when on the street. This goes back to my early Leica M daze. So I look at DOF Master and set the camera according to it’s findings using a 2/3″ sensor.

Life has a sense of humor. Life even prescribes meds for that uncanny sense of humor,….well my shrink prescribes meds if life doesn’t. See, if you take everything literal in life you’ll make the same mistake I made about a 2/3″ sensor. Oh yeah….bulldinky, we all know the X10 has a 2/3″ sensor but I read the cinema 2/3″ and not digital camera.

12-12--205

1-13-0221

12-12--207

Thanksgiving Anti-Parade

My grand daughter wanted to see the photos I made at the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade. Come on, cut me a break….I live here and I’m not letting an event like this pass me by. So I load the GRD4 attach a strap, put a few batteries in my pocket and hit the street. See, that’s the word that gets me every time…”Street”. I’m a streetshooter. What could be easier then doing a parade? Well, if the parade wasn’t on the street…I’d be ok.

Unfortunately, when I hit the street, I go into work mode. I’m just waiting for an image to pop up and call to me. This may or may not be a good thing. I guess it depends on what part of the parade you want to see.

So I walk around making photos and try to keep from feeling like I don’t belong. I try to find what makes me feel like I fit in.

I never find that tho’ and just keep looking and making photos.

I guess it’s just that I’m a streetshooter…..

Hipshot, Chestshot, The GRD4 It Still Smells of Street **** or **** How The 21mm Adapter Showed Me The Way Home.

Well the GRD4 once again proves to be a very worthy camera. It’s that I feel that any camera provides me the energy or inspiration to work, it’s just that the Ricoh lets me work and thing without intruding on me.

I went out today and used the 21mm adapter. It’s normally to wide for me but I need photos for an upcoming workshop on freeing the self and also editing. The camera is on a neck strap hanging as low as I can get it. I don’t use a finder even tho I have the Leica. I hate putting the camera to my face and covering life in front of me. There’s a magic in working this way without a finder and using your internal eye.

I think the beauty is in the discovery of a shared vision. The camera and I work together to make the images. Yes, it’s always like that but working this way is more of a conscious effort in the collaboration between the two of us.  I can’t make claim to 100 percent of the result. The camera gets it’s say as much as I do. This being the way I think and actually the way it is, is liberating and visually exciting.

With the camera hanging in front of your chest, theres a very cool non intrusive presence to the subject. I let it hang and when getting ready for an exposure, I place my hand on the camera and my thumb gets the duty the finger usually has.

The strange this is, the photos show eye contact but yet the camera is hanging down low. If in fact it was true eye contact, then the eye would not meet the viewer right on. This means that the subject looks at the camera but mostly never sees the thumb release the shutter.

I find it interesting that so many people walk around with their head in a low position. Of course the camera loves this kind of positioning.

So, even for straight street, this is a great setup. In all the photos, I never looked at the screen. I just feel the frame and then move my body slightly to make the frame the way I want.

It should be noted that the GRD4 has a sense of humor and proves itself in some photos that I won’t publish.

More tomorrow as the 21mm adventure continues…….        It’s tomorrow…strange how that works….hmmmm

This is more mainstream for me but it was because I met a shooter downtown from a forum we both belong to. She asked me to show her how to feel the frame. A good question I thought to meself.

I said, self…we need to help this lady out. Her issue was that she didn’t understand how to relate the subject to the background. I explained that, that is the entire thing about photography, painting etc. What lives in the fram must relate to everything in it good or bad.

Taking the elements of the frame and putting them together makes the image. Just as important is the presentation of the image.

All photos processed in http://www.streetpresets.com/  my presets for Light Room 4 & Nik Silver Efex.

Saturday Morning…. I had an appointment at the VA Hosp for more treatments. I’m not excited about that but it gives me a reason to get on the street and work.

I’m still doing the chestshot with the GRD4/21. It’s interesting. I can just about see full frame now and that’s neither good nor bad, not sure. I don’t like being predictable but I love consistency. Beings a Libra, balance is always my goal. The above photo was made on the spur as this new work is. I saw the image come together in my head in a fraction of a second. I knew how to process it to get my result. and new the framing about as good as I could get it.

I get these images sometimes that are more like dreams to me. I mean I am conscious when I make them but when I get them finished….it’s just a dream….. There was this kid named Jasper at the bus stop with his dad and sister. Jasper was about 10 years old. He liked my white camera and asked if I had a white camera because I was white. I asked him if he had a black camera because he was black. He smiled and said his dad did but he was allowed to use it at partys. Then he used my camera to make a portrait of me…..hmmmm

The Ricoh GRD4

This is not a review but an ongoing journey with this camera at my side. I’m not interested in comparing this to the GRD3 or anything else. What I am interested in, is the way the GRD4 works with my vision.

There is a new found sense of freedom for me. I’m not saying that the GXR doesn’t set me free, I’m simply stating that the GRD4 fits in my pocket. Doing that creates a sense of freedom because it’s always there and at the ready. What that means is….the camera remembers the last settings before being powered off or going to sleep. I can’t do that!

We all know that Ricoh has the finest most intelligent User Interface of any camera. So as shooters, we now have a camera that won’t intrude on the process of making images. I have a white camera because I look more like a tourist then with a black one. I find that getting close is easier then before because the white camera has a very innocent look to it. Besides that I just wanted the white version because it was more sexi. Ok, hey….hey….it’s a sexi litte thing dammit!


I’m pretty close to this guy and he didn’t wake as I moved thru his space. Of course that’s not in the Ricoh Firmware, the silent approach, but it is important because I didn’t have to look at my camera at all to make the photo. I can change anything on the GRD4 without looking at the screen. It’s a great interface.

I use snap focus most times. If I’m at f5.6, I’m good for about 1.6′ to infinity. I use M mode because I can set the camera to Auto ISO Hi 1600 and then…. I can do something like this… 1/125 f5.6. The camera will set the ISO to get proper exposure and that lets me choose the f stop and the shutter speed. This is a dream setup. I’ll usually maintain f8 or f5.6 to hold my Hyper Focal distance and I choose a shutter speed so that I won’t get too much blur unless I want it.

The macro mode is very useful and just requires a simple press on the dial. The lens is corrected beautifully and of course is a GR lens.

This is macro mode. The lens was very close to the flower. LIke really close. I handheld the camera and it’s ok.

The point is that, I saw this image in my head. It was of course the flower giving me the energy but it all came together very easy and the camera just did what it was supposed to do. 5 seconds later I made a photo of my cat Barsik about 20′ away. Just a click and that was all that was required.

Some call this camera a P&S. I guess for photography buffs as we called them in the 60’s and 70’s, it is. For shooters, it’s about as serious a camera as one would ever need.

The Non Intruding Camera

The Non Intruding Camera

Let me start by stating that I am not a strolling shooter. I am not a Street Tog, I am a walker. I am not out on the street in a hap-hazard way. I am out there intentionally seeking the images that are seeking me. I do not exist without them and they do not exist without me. That is, unless YOU find them first.
So, here’s the way it works sometimes. I’m out walking with the GRD4 in my hand with a wrist strap. A neck strap also works very well but one must learn how not to struggle with ones gear. Then something calls to me and I start to feel my finger get itchy.
The finger is the main organ in photography. The eye is secondary as it finds the image with the brain and heart but….the finger is the organ that makes the camera expose. It is crucial that the camera provide a nice resting place for the finger. It is also crucial that the camera has a very delicate sexy feel to the finger for exposure.

Anyway, what happens for me is that I start to feel the finger want to work. The other 3 elements, (eye, heart, brain) of the process are analyzing the scene so that the finger can go to work. What I mean is this….
The eye generally responds to the scene first. Then the heart or brain get involved. There is no set order to the finding process. Any stimulis could work with any of the 3 elements to seek the image. The danger is that the finger get started first. That’s why they made that stupid multi drive crap years ago that has flooded into our nice easy laid back digital imaging world. A motor drive is for the finger to work first. You start the machine gun and hope to find something in the holes you made. Mostly you don’t or maybe you do by accident.
Once the image starts to form and the 3 elements start to frame, the finger is ready and hopefully, the camera is just as ready as you are. Many times a setting was made wrong, focus wasn’t close or off, exposure was off etc. These things are intrusions. We must be able to detect and control these intrusions. For me, any of the above and about a gazillion other things are not nice and I don’t want them as a part of my process.

I’ve used Leica M’s for over 40 years and started with the M8 when it first came out. I was one of the lucky ones that got the bad sensor, magenta bullcrap and camera turns into a brick mode. It happened with 4 different bodies and that killed Leica for me.
Now, it’s the Ricoh GXR. Why, ok I’ll explain my thinking.
The GXR is a totally expandable camera. It can morph into different cameras very easy. I prefer the 2 A12 units. The 28mm & 50mm are both excellent lenses. They keep the camera very compact and maintain all the features of a full DSLR. I prefer AF and depend on it all the time. The GXR has a snap focus mode that is ideal for street work.
With the 28mm at f8, focused at 6.6ft….you have 3.3ft to infinity as your DOF. So, it dont get better then that.
I set the camera to A mode, f8 and adjust the ISO to get the shutter speed In the range I want. Now that Ricoh has seen fit to install Auto ISO on the GXR, that’s what I use. I now can set both aperture and shutter speed and the camera sets the ISO. Wonderful!
Well, I used a Fuji X100 because I thought that it would bring back that “M” feel. It did and that was the problem. The main issue I had was the finder. I know, I know…that’s the reason to get the camera. It works great and so does the EVF but not for me.
What happens is this….the camera intrudes on my vision and process because it’s up at my eye. It’s blocking my view and puts most subjects off as they are totally aware that you are making a photo of them. Your hiding your face from the scene/subject.

I have since abandoned the GXR cameras and have settled on the GRD once again. I will not say how many times in the past that I have had the GRD series but lets just say, I learned my lesson well. The GRD4 is home.

The street is about being an observer not being observed.

The Street and The Screen

Recently I was involved in a discussion with a few shooters. We were talking about the differences and merits of the screen and the finders on compact cameras.
Lets establish what photography is to start. The process of  image making is about abstracting from a 3 dimensional reality a new 2 dimensional reality. Regardless of what camera you use or how you process your images, this is what we are all doing as photographers. For me, it makes common sense to use a screen set to B&W. Why? Glad you asked.

I am using the GRD & Sony RX100 for now and probably will be for a long spell. I hold the camera out in front or on some angle, depending on what I’m seeing. At this point, I can see my PRINT floating in reality. I see a B&W image in 2 dimensions in our 3 dimensional reality. It’s exciting. Why do I use B&W on the screen? If in fact, the camera abstracts a new reality, then it stands to reason that seeing the image on the screen in B&W further abstracts the reality. Sounds too heavy or too abstract? What do you think your doing making photos? Your making a new reality in the image. It stands on it’s own. It is it’s own object in 2 dimensions.

The EVF.

These finders essentially do the same thing but they don’t show the image or PRINT in 3 dimensional reality. The reason is that your camera is against your face. So you can’t see the image floating in reality, just an image on a screen. The screen is against your eye. It sees 2 dimensional but does not allow you to see it in time/space of 3 dimensions.

The OVF.

This finder like the one in the X100 is an engineering marvel but it also lacks the power to present your image in reality. Your face is still smashed against the camera. It’s a good way to photograph but the subject may see you as hiding behind the camera.

Working the street with a screen does a few important things. It allows you to look like a tourist or amatuer and blend in with everyone else out there. This simple fact is crucial to getting in closer. You actually go unnoticed most times, not always but most. This method also allows the camera to float in space and get a different angle that a finder can not do. The screen is not a new phenomonom. It dates back to the beginning of photography with view cameras.
The screen is an active way of working. If your doing portraits or snaps of people, it allows eye contact. This can be very important to sensitive subjects in very sensitive times.
You can get eye contact with finders also but your face is hidden behind the camera and this can be a put off to some.
The finders on the other hand, have the advantage of being better in bright light. This is changing with the Sony screens. Set to sunny mode, well it’s the best out there. I have to admit, I’ve never had any luck with any EVF in contrasty light.

So what does all this mean? It means that I prefer the screen for all it’s advantages in composing my frame. I can see all around the frame easily and quickly decide what’s in and what’s out.
The EVF does not offer that important element. The OVF does but in a limited capacity.
I fell in love with the idea of the X100 and it’s finder when it first was mentioned. I knew the camera would give me the feelings of my Leica M cameras. In a way it did but only in a way. After many months and many good images, I realized that I felt more self conscious using the camera.
So I put it on the shelf and started with a few compacts. Luckily I just got my GRD3 back after 2 years. In 1 day of shooting, I confirmed my feelings about the finder on the X100. I never touched the X100 again until I sold it a month later. Great camera just not my cup of tea anymore.
I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything. I’m just stating my thoughts on a subject that’s crucial to photography…..SEEING!

Street Photography Chronicles by Don Springer