Jean-François Cléroux | Flâneur & Lens Creative
Different Lens, Different Story!

November 2017

Bad Weather Shooting – In the Rain

Eifel Tower from Trocadero Square

Eifel Tower from Trocadero Square

There are several things to consider when shooting in bad weather. First, is making sure your equipment survives the bad weather. Come snow, hell or high-water, you want your equipment to be safe. Second, what can you possibly want to shoot in inclement weather? Well, read on . . .

Generally bad weather means rain, or at least it does here on the Wet Coast. But, it can also mean extremely hot (I wish) temperatures or even freezing temperatures. I will post on these as the weather conditions warrant. For now, the forecast is for months of rain!

(C) 2017 Val Hider

(C) 2017 Val Hider

If it’s raining, you need to think about several things. One, is your camera weather sealed? If it is, you do not have much to worry about, but you should still try to keep excess rain to a minimum. You may even want to test your camera by using it in the rain for a short time. But first, make sure all your caps and covers are firmly in place. Push on all of them to confirm they are snug. Then head out and shoot in the rain. Once you are done, use a good dry towel to dry off the camera very well. Then, open all the doors, hatches, caps, and gismos and have a look to see if any water has gotten into any of the compartments. Soil and other debris can prevent proper sealing. Always keep your camera clean.

If you have a non-weather sealed camera, then you have several options depending on how heavy the rain is. I’ll let you decide which is best for you, but in the end, keep it dry!
You can use dry areas to shoot from, under covers or under awnings or in doorways. These work at keeping you and the camera dry. Hopping from shelter to shelter works well but it can be limiting. You can also shoot from inside your car, either through an open window or a rain drenched windshield.

Wearing a long and slightly oversized jacket or parka allows you to keep the camera safely against your body and out of rains way. This method does force you to bring the camera into the rain for a short time when you need to shoot. This works well in light misty rain. Wearing a ball cap or a broad-brimmed hat will also offer your camera some protection when you bring the camera up to your eye.

Using an umbrella works if you can do one handed shooting while still holding the camera steady. The benefit of using an umbrella is that it will keep you dry better than just a parka.
Other options include purchasing rain gear for your equipment like the OP/TECH USA Rain Sleeves. The problem with these is even the small size are designed for DSLR cameras with a standard zoom lens. Shooting a DSLR with a 50mm lens or with a smaller Mirrorless Camera, these rain covers can be too bulky.

Home-made Rain Cover

Home-made Rain Cover

A great option is making your own rain sleeve using a plain clear plastic bag. There are countless videos and tutorials on how to make them and properly install them with your camera. Here is a shot of a quick one I made for my camera in two minutes. I would cut the bottom off a bit though. Decide if you want your hands outside the bag, which can be tricky with dials or having your hands inside the bag which means having a large enough bag. Remember that access to the ZOOM is not an issue as you should be using a prime lens or fixing your zoom lens at a specific focal length.

On the right is a plastic bag DIY rain cover that I made in about 90 seconds. There are many videos on how to do this that I was going to share, bud sadly there are not many good ones. I may have to create one. For now, check out a few videos and adapt for your camera.

In the end, keep dry, keep your camera dry, stay warm! Wear appropriate clothing and shoes.

Now that you are ready to brave the weather, what will you shoot? At first its easy to think that wet weather Street Photography is silly as no one will be out. That’s the point though, people have to be out! They must get to work, go to school, eat, buy things, see friends or movies. Bad weather makes for excellent shooting. Things to look for:

Reflections – one of my favorites. Reflections on glass, misted glass, or glass covered with water drops, or even reflections in puddles.

Puddles – besides being a great source of reflections, look for larger puddles in heavy traffic areas. Large puddles at crosswalks will be a barrier for pedestrians that will need to circumvent or better, hop over. Or, if you’re lucky, will walk through when the puddle is deeper that it appears. Curb side puddles can spray pedestrians as the vehicles drive through them. Always a great spot to wait if you see cars spraying sidewalks.

Glass – again, besides reflections, looking through rain drop spotted windows can make for great images. A bonus is you can be in a warm café drinking your favorite beverage while you shoot. Find the right spot and success is yours.

Trickles – if an awning or your umbrella is trickling down in front of you, capturing the trickle, with or without the umbrella in the frame, can add to the bad weather story and can place where the image was shot from.

Umbrellas – bright umbrellas, or multitudes of umbrellas, can help create a great image. Look for them but remember, it about the composition, not just anyone holding an umbrella. Although, the Red Umbrellas are becoming cliché.

Light – is still the magical ingredient in wet weather photography. Look for it. If you can backlight the rain, it will be more visible. Consider shooting into brighter areas including on-coming car headlights.

Eyes – remember that it is still Street Photography that you are doing. Continue to get in close, look to the eyes and expressions. People will often look miserable, or even very happy. Capture those moments.

One last thing to try when shooting Street Photography in the rain is to use your flash. Any flash will do. Do not use your flash to light your scenes or your subjects, but rather on low power settings to light up the rain just in front of the lens. The lit-up rain drops will add to the rain effect.

I always enjoy shooting in the rain. The wet rocks and walkways can be magical. I’ll leave you to look at my wet weather take on the Eifel Tower at the top of this post.

See you on the rainy streets!

 

Intro to Street Photography Walk – December 3, 2017

Student

Student

Hello everyone. So after last weeks successful rainy day walk that had 8 people show up, I have setup and organized a 2nd intro to Street Photography walk for this Sunday December 3rd. It is Street Photography specific. For those of you that want to learn Street Photography, I have setup a Free On-Line Street Photography class at Learn Street Photography. It is a multi-part class that you can do on your own time. If you are wanting to do it, now is the time. Head over to the Class Material and read the information for Part-01.

If you are new to street and want some quick guidance to get you started, I have posted a 4 Part quick start guide called “First Time Shooting? Part 1-4”. Part 1 can be found at First Time Shooting? This first intro walk is meant to just have you browsing the streets and to get you introduced to Street Photography. We will be doing more walks that will bring you to busier areas, harsher areas, diverging ethnic areas and even some night photography. We will pick locations that are suitable for the different sections to the Free On-line Class.

There is a handout with some homework if you like for after the walk. It is rain or shine! I will post a blog on Wet Weather Shooting before the walk including on how to keep your camera dry!

Our next walk will be in early January. See you on the streets!

You can book at Meetup.com [here].

Class Notes for Part-01 – Required Reading 2

The article brings up a lot of points for discussion. Many of these points are what I would consider the subject of the Philosophy of Street Photography, or even just the Philosophy of Photography. These are my Class Notes on:

• Part-1.2 – Eric Kim: What is Street Photography?

I have been researching this topic and will write a lengthy explanation on not only my thoughts of what “Street Photography” is, but also on why there is confusion and disagreement on the subject. I think that when you look at the reading material given to us by Eric Kim and specifically some of his points in his article “What is Street Photography?” you can see that his statements just don’t add up. For now, I will not get into too many details, but I will point out what I think are errors or misreading on Eric Kim’s part.

I think his comment about what Street Photography isn’t is off the mark:

“I believe that often the best way to define something is by defining what something isn’t.”

And based on his two examples of it’s not Landscape Photography and it’s not Studio Photography?? He concludes with the statement:

“Therefore, I feel that street photography needs an element of spontaneity and uncertainty rather than the predictable/manipulative nature of studio photography.”

I couldn’t agree more with this statement. How he concludes this based on Landscape and Studio not being Street Photography is beyond me. But yes, Street Photography needs to be spontaneous and uncertain.

Then he goes on to say:

“I personally don’t think that street photography has to be candid.”

Candid photography is spontaneous and uncertain. Photography with permission, or directed, or posed is “predictable” and “manipulative.” I have countless examples, and we all know and have our own examples, that once a subject makes eye contact with a camera, that the expression changes. What you capture in front of the camera is almost never the subject’s true self once they have seen the camera or worse, have interacted with the photographer.

In his example of William Klein’s ‘Kid with Gun’ he states correctly that Klein himself stated the image was ‘directed.’ The kid was asked to ‘look tough.’ Klein’s paraphrased response of:

“although it was he who provoked his subjects to play up a certain reaction or expression– it was his subjects who ultimately reacted the way they did.”

That’s the point isn’t it? It was the subjects who ultimately reacted the way they did to his interactions, to his direction, to his involvement. Without his provocation, the kid would NOT have reacted. What if you faked a robbery and ‘captured’ images of scared bank customers? Is that life as it really is? What if you just followed a woman along closely and scared the bejesus out of her? Is that real life on the street?

Another thing we must look at is the context of the image. There are several points to be made here. Klein was a Vogue Fashion Photographer. He had been commissioned to photograph New York, specifically to document New York post war. NOT commissioned to Photograph as a Street Photographer but to capture the essence of New York. His documentation included still life and buildings. His still life images and urban landscapes are not street photography in this case. They are a part of the documentation of the city, two very different things.

He later moved to Paris partly because of his dislike of New York and went on to say that those New York images showed everything he hated about New York. He went in with a specific ‘mindset’ and photographed to make a point. This is also NOT street photography. Street Photography is supposed to be politically neutral in motive. The reason for the image should be the artistic value of the image. If it happens to capture a ‘political statement’ that is an aside. Shooting to capture a ‘political statement’ is by definition, Documentary Photography.

As a Street Photographer you are there to observe and capture what you see. It’s why Paul Martin, who is considered a pioneer of Street Photography, making candid un-posed photographs of people in London and at the seaside in the late 19th and early 20th century to record life AS-IT-WAS. Martin is the first recorded photographer to do so in London with a disguised camera because he saw the need for, and the importance of the images to be candid. He noticed that people changed, their expressions changed, and that they behaved differently when confronted by a camera. To that point Paul Martin was a Street Photographer. William Klein was NOT a Street Photographer. Although he is highly regarded as such because of the abundance of excellent images that do qualify as Street Photography, however, he was not a Street Photographer. Can a Fashion Photographer on the streets capture candid Street Photography images, of course he can? Does that mean ALL his images are Street Photography? No. Should we not consider ALL his images to be “Fashion Photography?” Of course not.

And more importantly, do you trust his images to be real? How many are posed, or guided? Do his images give you a real view of the hardships, the emotions, the faces? Or, are they fake? Where is the integrity? What of the truth in Street Photography?

Eric Kim goes on to say:

“I care less if a photograph is staged or not– but whether it elicits some sort of reaction in my gut and heart. Who cares if a street photograph is posed or candid– if it doesn’t stir something in my soul?”

Wait what, staged images are OK? So, I could hire a couple as models and have them kiss with fake glycerin tears in their eyes and as long as I shoot on the streets, it’s Street Photography?

I think that capturing images that stir emotions is a great goal, and one that we should all aspire to in Street Photography. But, it should not be at the cost of the Truth.

Eric talks about another Klein image and then a Diane Arbus image. When you look at these images and know the stories behind them you clearly see that they are staged or at the very least guided and that the subjects are willing participants. Again, it is not recording life as it is and would quickly fit into the category of Street Portraiture. And again, by definition, they are not even Street Portraiture when you consider what a ‘portrait’ is.

In both Klein’s and Arbus’ images and attached contact sheets you can clearly see they shot multiple images and poses until they had something they wanted. Life doesn’t work that way.

We can save the indoors/outdoors argument for another time but my general comment here is that in Street Photography images, the street should be implied. It does not need to feature in the image, but it needs to be implied. When Eric claims that his

“belief is that street photography can really be shot anywhere as long as it is open to the public to enter and leave as they please.”

I think he is missing the “street” component of Street Photography. There are countless silly examples of what would clearly NOT be street photography that would fit this description. Is a photo of two climbers atop the Half Dome Summit, Street Photography? Or you walk off the street into a NY Islanders hockey game and shoot the hockey players on the ice. Is that Street Photography? Or would it be called Sports Photography? Enough said.

Lastly, Eric uses Eugene Atget’s image of a building with no people in it to suggest that it’s a street photograph because Atget is a Street Photographer. Again, by trade Atget photographed storefronts for the local papers for advertisements, that was his job. Atget was a commercial photographer. Because of his work on the streets over many years he photographed many candid’s, people in posed portraits, some urban photography and even some still life street photography. He shot it all. But, it’s not all Street Photography. He even photographed some street prostitutes he was intimate with. Are those images “Street Photography?”

The lesson to take from this, as with most photography related materials found on the net, is to not just take everything in as gospel. I have the greatest respect for Eric Kim, his work, and what he has done to further Street Photography. But, read it all, take it all in, analyze it as best you can with your current knowledge, scrutinize what you read or ideas that are passed on to you. Do some historical research. And after giving it some thought, what makes sense to you? Does it fit your definitions, your ideas, your purpose?

And, don’t be stubborn, have an open mind. As you do more street photography, as you grow and develop as a photographer, as you learn the language of Street Photography, know that you can change your definition and, at the very least, don’t just take my word for it.

As I mentioned above, I will write more on this very shortly (After I finish Part-1 of the Free On-Line Street Photography Class). After all, what is a Street Photography website/blog, if it doesn’t define what Street Photography is?

Street Photography Workshop with Massimo Bassano

Massimo Bassano

Learn the most celebrated photography style, The Street, with the National Geographic Photographer Massimo Bassano, joined by Vancouver emerging photographer Myriam Casper.

“Together we designed an intense Street Photography Workshop to push you out of your comfort zone, giving instant feedback, direction and ideas of how to capture street moments”

Information available here.

Cold Wet Day of Shooting on Main Street, Vancouver.

So, we had our first Meetup on a cold, windy and very wet day in Vancouver. After expecting no one to show up, a total of 9 brave souls came out to learn and shoot. Almost everyone showed up early for the coffee and doughnuts at 49th Parallel on Main Street. Well done everyone!

Here are a few of the images I captured playing around with the setup on my camera. Testing Auto Focus today with the 23mm f/2.0 and practicing Shooting from the Hip.

Class Notes for Part-01 – Required Reading 1

As I mentioned I would be taking the Free On-Line Street Photography Class along with everyone else and that I would post notes. Here is the first installment.

• Part-1.1 – Howard Becker: Introduction to Visual Sociology

Graffiti

Graffiti

The paper explains the importance and relevance of Sociology and Photography in the early years and how in many ways they are the same, or at least, chasing the same goals. This leads to the importance of ‘candid’ photography or what we call ‘Classic Street Photography’. I feel it’s important to both gaining an understanding of Street Photography but also to explaining or defining What Street Photography is. There is more on this in the Required Reading Part-1.2.

Two important paragraphs and a great lesson stand out for me that should make you think, and hopefully help you change your ways.

“Laymen learn to read photographs the way they do headlines, skipping over them quickly to get the gist of what is being said. Photographers, on the other hand, study them with the care and attention to detail one might give to a difficult scientific paper or a complicated poem. Every part of the photographic image carries some information that contributes to its total statement; the viewer’s responsibility is to see, in the most literal way, everything that is there and respond to it.”

I think that when Becker says “Photographers, on the other hand” he is referring to accomplished or at least somewhat photographically educated photographers. Most new photographers have neither the knowledge, understanding, the eye for, nor the developed photographic language to notice the subtle nuances and statements that can be found within an image. But, don’t let that deter you. This stuff can all be taught, and learned, an Becker even gives the reader a valuable exercise.

“Using a watch with a second hand, look at the photograph intently for two minutes. Don’t stare and thus stop looking; look actively. It will be hard to do, and you’ll find it useful to take up the time by naming everything in the picture to yourself: this is a man, this is his arm, this is the finger on his hand, this is the shadow his hand makes, this is the cloth of his sleeve, and so on. Once you have done this for two minutes, build it up to five, following the naming of things with a period of fantasy, telling yourself a story about the people and things in the picture. The story needn’t be true; it’s just a device for externalizing and making clear to yourself the emotion and mood the picture has evoked, both part of its statement.”

I highly recommend you try the exercise to help train your eye and your mind to better read images and to help develop the language of photography. Judges and Critics do this, not as an exercise but merely from looking at images over and over many times for many years. Unfortunately, many do not learn to really look at them and thus are not better than those that merely read headlines.

“When you have done this exercise many times, a more careful way of looking will become habitual. Two things result. You will realize that ordinarily you have not consciously seen most of what is in an image even though you have been responding to it You will also find that you can now remember the photographs you have studied much as you can remember a book you have taken careful notes on. They become part of a mental collection available for further work.”

It’s that ‘mental collection’ that becomes a valuable tool for your art or photography. Keep learning, looking, and shooting!

Please know that I am always open to discussion, comments, and corrections. I’m not the expert. I work hard at learning as much as I can and at growing as a Street Photographer. Tell me I’m wrong! But please tell me why you think I’m wrong. I encourage you to share your thoughts, ideas, and concerns on this blog.

Want to share relevant images? Please share with us at our Facebook Group “Streets I Have Walked”.

All Class Notes (as I post them) can be found in the respective Free On-Line Street Photography Class pages.

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