Questions about the photography
Salsa af Stavsnas
Ellinor Ristoff Staffan Ehde
Wed 10 Sep 2014 19:54
Some of you have asked how I shoot the pictures. Thank you for asking and this gives me an opportunity to share my
challenges and opportunities.
As you can see on this picture these guys are aware of me taking a picture.
I came in the dinghy on my way to town in Vavau and met them. I've been looking at the guy to the left
for a while because his boat is getting to a state that shows he will never leave the mooring.
The guy rowing is a well known to us, his name is Alofi. We have been to his house eating dinner last year (we paid for it).
Alofi is used to me shooting pictures. Well as I passed the bearded guy in red hat started to talk to me. I stopped the engine so I could hear
and as we were talking I took the camera and took a couple of pictures. The guy asked "Why did you take a picture?"
And I responded "because you look great in this light".
Normally I would have asked first, "is it OK if I take a picture?" but this one I just felt I could do it and he just continued to do his stuff.
In this part of the world the low light is just lasting 30-40 minutes and then you have the sun from above, and light is everything.
Some ask what kind of camera I use and I would say for the look it really does not matter, the most important thing about a good camera is that it can shoot raw format. Raw format is like a digital negative. It gives you the opportunity to work on a picture after you shot it.
You could say that a Jpeg is like a ready made bread and a raw format is like a dough before you put it in the oven.
What is important with what kind of camera you use is how big it is and what quality you get for this size.
A small camera will be with you all the time, a big comes out when there is a clear assignment. At least for me.
I have a Canon 5D MarkII on board with different lenses and it weighs probably 12 kg if all lenses are carried around.
It is a great camera and it has survived the climate, but it stays in the boat for most of the time.
If we go on a trip ashore we have to carry stuff for the children as well as for us, so the camera cannot be a major thing.
The other camera that came with us was Lumix GF 1, a so called micro fourth system. It is a camera that you can change lenses and if you
brought about the same range as the Canon ( a wide angle, a long zoom and a "normal" zoom) you would end up bringing
3 kg. A huge difference! The quality was not as good as the Canon 5D but good enough. The biggest problem with that camera was the viewfinder, you had to put on a small electronic one that gave a bad picture and I seemed to fall behind all the time with focus etc.
But it was always with us and after Erica dropped the small Leica on a Levada in Madeira it was the only reasonable camera to bring along.
I was not happy with it but it was still sad when it drowned in Rarotonga, the terrible harbor where we could hardly get ashore.
When we came to New Zealand it was time to get organized with the camera. I had the lenses left but no camera so I started to look into a newer model and the Lumix GX7 seemed to be my next choice. It has a great viewfinder and the quality is close to the Canon 5D MarkII.
Actually the GX7 is a great "street camera". It works really fast and it looks like an amateur camera if you stay away from a bigger zoom.
I love to use it with a prime lens called a pancake, that is 20 mm.
I can hold the camera in one hand and look at people, just point at the camera, lean my head to the side and shoot.
I can also put it in silent mode, just lean down and shoot and be done before anybody noticed.
Is it fair to shoot people if they do not know it? Well I believe in the street photographers theory, that a picture taken
of people not aware is the only true document from our time left for the future. If you look at street photography from
lets say 1930, nobody is questioning that, it is all seen as a great frozen moment in time.
As I shoot Im always open to communication, these guys for instance, asked if I wanted to take a picture of them as I was
aiming to shoot the truck, and not only did I get the picture but we walked together back to town and had a great chat.
This guy I first asked if he sold the tomatoes and he told me "no" he was only guarding them.
Then I asked if it was OK to shoot the tomatoes since they look so good,
and he said "sure". I think he understood he was in the picture but did not care.
The easiest way to get pictures of people you do not know is to talk to them first, this guy was
fishing with his step father. The light was falling fast and after a while I asked if I could take a picture of him.
He said yes and after that he asked if he could have a print. I said yes and asked how we could meet.
He said same time and place tomorrow.
I printed a picture and next day when I arrived the whole family was there waiting.
So you better keep your promises....
So a small camera is good to create a casual situation but you also need to know that camera and
work with the speed of light. No fuzzing about when it is time to shoot.
Do not only read the manual, read books about that camera and how to use it best.
So my set up is a 20mm prime, a 7-14mm zoom (oh yes it is a real wide angle) and a 45-200 zoom (like a 90-400mm in full frame).
It all goes into a small bag from Crumpler (you see part of it behind the camera) that is not a ready to carry photo bag, it is a small protection bag that I can throw down into
a backpack (now we have watertight backpacks) or any other bag that looks like anything but a camera bag.
That Crumpler bag is the best I ever had, because when we go on a trip I can throw stuff into the backpack and then throw the Crumpler on top and that
makes it easy to reach for lenses etc.
By the way, whatever camera you choose, make sure you buy an extra battery and extra memory sticks!
Rich on Legacy just told me he will put some good tips and techniques for shooting water etc, I will connect to that!