Legal Aspects Of Street Photography

No consideration of street photography would be complete without a look at the current societal challenges facing street photographers. In the UK there was a law enacted, and thankfully recently retracted, that compared street photography and shooting in public to terrorism. (The Wired story about the law also includes a great gallery of images from the book, Street Photography Now.) It’s understandable that law enforcement wants to be sure crimes aren’t being perpetrated by people with cameras, but in most cases I have to believe that if it looks like a duck and acts like a duck, it’s a duck. So if it looks like a photographer taking pictures of a photogenic subject, chances are good it’s just a photographer. Let’s not forget that photography is not a crime.

Some overzealous folks do sometimes forget this, though, and they try to prevent legitimate photographers from doing their jobs. It’s one thing to inquire about a photographer’s intentions, yet completely another to prevent legitimate and legal photography. That’s what happened to notable journalist Manny Garcia when he was shooting a newsworthy event on the public sidewalk in front of the White House. Garcia, who’s name entered the news in recent years when his photograph of Barack Obama was appropriated for Shephard Fairey’s iconic "Hope" poster, was harassed by a novice security guard. It caused quite a stir when the professional photojournalist balked at the unreasonable attention. When a uniformed law officer stops you while you’re taking pictures in public, the best practice is to be polite and cooperative—even if you know you’re right. But if you are detained illegally and prevented from taking pictures, be sure to get the officer’s information and file a complaint rather than to cause an immediate stir and get yourself arrested in the meantime. 

http://www.wired.com/rawfile/2010/11/street-photography-now
http://pdnpulse.com/2010/12/obama-photographer-confronted-by-secret-service-after-taking-photos-in-front-of-white-house.html

No consideration of street photography would be complete without a look at the current societal challenges facing street photographers. In the UK there was a law enacted, and thankfully recently retracted, that compared street photography and shooting in public to terrorism. (The Wired story about the law also includes a great gallery of images from... Read more

Learning Street Photography

All week we’ve been looking at some masters of street photography. But what if you want to learn how to do it yourself—maybe eventually become a master in your own right? Covering everything from how to hold the camera to how to shoot stealthily on the fly, there’s a great DPS article on tips for candid street photography. The piece provides a whole "how-to" guide for getting up close and personal portraits—a mainstay in the street shooter’s repertoire. Philip Greenspun, the brains behind Photo.net, has even written a wonderful street photography guide for everyone from beginners to advanced shooters. It’s a must for anyone looking to hone their street photography skills.

http://www.digital-photography-school.com/getting-close-and-personal-11-tips-for-close-up-candid-street-photography
http://photo.net/learn/street/intro

All week we’ve been looking at some masters of street photography. But what if you want to learn how to do it yourself—maybe eventually become a master in your own right? Covering everything from how to hold the camera to how to shoot stealthily on the fly, there’s a great DPS article on tips for candid street photography. The piece... Read more

Being Bruce Gilden

While Winogrand may have been the master, there’s no other street photographer quite like Bruce Gilden. He jumps in front of his subjects, startling them with his camera, and shoots. ìIf you can smell the street by looking at the photo," Gilden says, "it’s a street photograph." There’s a great video of Gilden at work, and it’s fun to watch whether you’re interested in the great photography or the shock value of his brash approach. One thing’s for sure: you can’t argue with the success of his in-your-face street photography style. There was even a mini-documentary made about Gilden called "Head On." It was filmed just last year and it’s available at vimeo.com.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRBARi09je8l
http://vimeo.com/17408282

While Winogrand may have been the master, there’s no other street photographer quite like Bruce Gilden. He jumps in front of his subjects, startling them with his camera, and shoots. ìIf you can smell the street by looking at the photo," Gilden says, "it’s a street photograph." There’s a great video of Gilden... Read more
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Watch The Master At Work

Garry Winogrand is considered by many to be the greatest street photographer of the 20th century. There’s a wonderful story by Mason Resnick who recounts the workshop in which he studied with Winogrand for a few weeks back in the mid 1970s. My favorite quote from the story? When asked if he felt bad about missing pictures while reloading film, Winogrand quipped, "There are no pictures when I reload." You can even see the master in action, watch him work and diagnose his great photographs in a wonderful video on YouTube. This video is well worth a look simply for the glimpse of this great photographer while he walks the streets of New York.

http://www.photogs.com/bwworld/winogrand.html
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tl4f-QFCUek

Garry Winogrand is considered by many to be the greatest street photographer of the 20th century. There’s a wonderful story by Mason Resnick who recounts the workshop in which he studied with Winogrand for a few weeks back in the mid 1970s. My favorite quote from the story? When asked if he felt bad about missing pictures while reloading film,... Read more

Street Photography Week

With all the recent hubbub about the discovery of the work of unknown street photographer Vivian Maier, I thought I’d put together a collection of links and stories pertinent to street photography this week. So today, the kickoff: the story of Vivian Maier. A Chicago nanny and world traveler, Maier’s story sounds almost too good to be true. She was discovered as a master only after her death when a stash of 100,000 of her negatives (made over the course of 40 years) were purchased at the auction of her storage unit that had gone unpaid near the end of her life. The stash revealed a phenomenal body of street photography; had she been known during her life, she may have been considered in the same breath as 20th century street photography masters like Garry Winogrand. An exhibit of her work is ongoing in Chicago, and a Kickstarter project is underway to raise funds for a documentary about her work and its surprising discovery.

http://www.vivianmaier.blogspot.com/
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/800508197/finding-vivian-maier-a-feature-length-documentary

With all the recent hubbub about the discovery of the work of unknown street photographer Vivian Maier, I thought I’d put together a collection of links and stories pertinent to street photography this week. So today, the kickoff: the story of Vivian Maier. A Chicago nanny and world traveler, Maier’s story sounds almost too good to be... Read more

27 Reasons To Take Your Camera Out When It Snows

It can be really difficult to take your camera out when it’s cold and snowy. Lenses can fog, fingers can freeze, even walking a few blocks can become a life-altering challenge. The benefits, of course, involve the opportunity to make great photos in a world blanketed by seamless, beautiful white snow. Lightstalking not long ago listed 27 great reasons to bring your camera out in the snow. Really, though, it was a collection of 27 great snow images; the reasons were simply implied. So I decided to think about a few actual reasons, and here are the ten I came up with.

1. Everything looks unique when blanketed with snow, and that’s inherently interesting.
2. The aforementioned blanket of white is also really, really beautiful.
3. Shooting high key, where you shift everything toward overexposed, is much easier. 
4. You get great fill from snow, making contrast easier to control.
5. Shooting after dusk is easier, because it’s so much brighter.
6. It’s quieter, which can actually make it very pleasurable to photograph in snow.
7. Silhouettes can be simpler because of the bright white background.
8. Graphic simplicity can be much easier in the snow.
9. Simple things look cuter—pets, people, homes—when surrounded by snow.
10. You can have hot chocolate when you get back, and you’ll enjoy it much more than if you just had the hot chocolate without going out in the snow and taking great pictures.

Be sure to check out the great gallery of snowy images that inspired my list at lightstalking.com.

http://www.lightstalking.com/27-reasons-to-bring-your-camera-out-when-it-starts-snowing

It can be really difficult to take your camera out when it’s cold and snowy. Lenses can fog, fingers can freeze, even walking a few blocks can become a life-altering challenge. The benefits, of course, involve the opportunity to make great photos in a world blanketed by seamless, beautiful white snow. Lightstalking not long ago listed 27 great... Read more

Expert Advice On Histograms, Color Spaces And B/W Previews

I’ve long admired John Paul Caponigro as a wonderful photographer, but I didn’t realize he was such a great blogger too. I’ve recently added his blog to my regular routine, and I recommend other folks do the same. To get you started, here are a few of my favorite recent posts from his blog. He has a knack for communicating complex technical issues in a clear and simple way. Know how to use histograms? Even if you do, Mr. Caponigro’s explanation offers a simple and very practical look at how you can use in-camera histograms to improve your exposures. That also applies to his post on color spaces, and how and why you should choose the right profile for your own photography. It’s a simple and easy to understand investigation of a fairly complex issue that really matters to photographers—and that’s what Mr. Caponigro does so well. Lastly, he offers a simple insight for improving compositions that I can really identify with. It’s the suggestion to turn off color previews in your camera in order to see your compositions more clearly in black and white. The camera still captures colorful RAW files, but JPEG previews can be set to display only in black and white—which allows you to concentrate on light and shadow without getting distracted by color. A great and simple workaround for improving compositions, and another example of Mr. Caponigro’s very reasonable approach to making better pictures. 

Histograms: http://www.johnpaulcaponigro.com/blog/?p=4591
Color Space: http://www.johnpaulcaponigro.com/blog/?p=4674
BW Preview: http://www.johnpaulcaponigro.com/blog/?p=4685

I’ve long admired John Paul Caponigro as a wonderful photographer, but I didn’t realize he was such a great blogger too. I’ve recently added his blog to my regular routine, and I recommend other folks do the same. To get you started, here are a few of my favorite recent posts from his blog. He has a knack for communicating complex... Read more

Visualizing the Inverse Square Law

I recently lost a bet with a friend and fellow photographer. I now owe him a dollar because I couldn’t articulate the inverse square law correctly. The inverse square law, as it applies to photographers, is all about the falloff of illumination from a light source. A few days later he sent me an interesting hand-drawn illustration to help visualize the law, and I thought it was so unique, and allowed visual thinkers to see the situation in a unique and clear way, that I decided to share it here. Here’s what’s special: I’d always thought about light moving in a straight line and getting less powerful as it traveled, but I’d never thought about the inverse square law as a function of the same amount of light spread across a greater area. A subtle difference, but a big one in terms of my understanding. Because of that spreading, there is exponentially less light within the same square foot of real estate as you move farther from the source. The "light as water" concept kind of applies here: If you imagine a bucket of light spilling out of a source, there’s significantly more "water" a foot away than there would be two feet away, or four, or eight, and so on. As that puddle of light spreads out, it thins—and that ultimately creates the light falloff that the law defines. With every doubling of the distance from the source, light will fall off not just twice but four times—i.e. there’s four times less light because the same quantity of light is spread out over four times the area. Ultimately, every doubling of subject distance from light source equates to a two-stop drop in brightness. And now I can visualize that in another simple way thanks to the drawing of my friend. Maybe I should pay him that dollar after all. 

I recently lost a bet with a friend and fellow photographer. I now owe him a dollar because I couldn’t articulate the inverse square law correctly. The inverse square law, as it applies to photographers, is all about the falloff of illumination from a light source. A few days later he sent me an interesting hand-drawn illustration to help visualize... Read more

Arbitrary Image Rotation Tip

I was recently scanning some photos when I took note of one crucial part of my workflow—rotating the images to level horizons and orient pictures straight and true. Most scans end up on the flatbed somewhat crooked, and rotating them is a necessary step in the process. Even if you’re not scanning it’s still an important step. If you’re anything like me you have a bit of difficultly holding the camera level. Thankfully there’s a simple Photoshop fix for lining things up precisely with straight lines and level horizons. Choose the ruler tool (hidden behind the eyedropper on the toolbar) and draw a rule line along a line that should be horizontal or vertical. (The horizon in a landscape photo, for instance, or a window in a room.) With the line drawn, choose Image>Rotate and select the Arbitrary option. Normally you might enter your own values here to rotate the image a particular number of degrees in the clockwise or counterclockwise direction, but because of that ruler line you drew the clockwise/counterclockwise direction will already be selected, as will the exact measurement necessary to rotate your image perfectly. Click okay and take a look at your straight and true composition. Simple cropping will eliminate any visible background canvas, and voila: you’re looking at a perfectly aligned image with only a few simple clicks of the mouse—and virtually no math at all. 

I was recently scanning some photos when I took note of one crucial part of my workflow—rotating the images to level horizons and orient pictures straight and true. Most scans end up on the flatbed somewhat crooked, and rotating them is a necessary step in the process. Even if you’re not scanning it’s still an important step. If... Read more

Carr Clifton’s Sacred Headwaters

I recently received an email from master landscape photographer Carr Clifton. It seems he’s just returned from a trip to photograph the Sacred Headwaters of British Columbia with the International League of Conservation Photographers. Here’s what he wrote: "Home to Canada’s most important salmon spawning rivers—and one of North America’s largest predator-prey ecosystems—the Sacred Headwaters is being threatened by large scale industrial development, including copper strip mines and coal-methane gas extraction. ILCP’s mission is to obtain a comprehensive portrait of the Sacred Headwaters, giving voice to the historical, cultural and ecological significance of this region." Check out a portfolio of amazing images from Carr’s trip to this rarely photographed region at his web site, www.carrclifton.com.

http://goo.gl/ZskLe

I recently received an email from master landscape photographer Carr Clifton. It seems he’s just returned from a trip to photograph the Sacred Headwaters of British Columbia with the International League of Conservation Photographers. Here’s what he wrote: "Home to Canada’s most important salmon spawning rivers—and one... Read more