Three Silhouettes

Turner Classic Movies has, to my joy, been running film noir classics all summer. In keeping with their summer of darkness, here are 3 black and white silhouette shots.

The first was selected for Explore on Flickr. That mostly just means bragging rights, but the image got over 6,000 views so that's neat I guess. I was walking up Wisconsin Avenue in Washington DC, and I noticed a guy walking into the light of the alley I was passing. I was shooting the Zeiss Distagon 35mm wide open at f/1.4.

Zeiss Distagon ZA 35mm f/1.4. Shutter: 1/60th, f/1.4, ISO: 400.

The next is with the Helios 44-2. Not the type of shot that lens is best for, but I was happy that the bird waited there long enough for me to move until I was catching it against one of the brighter bits of cloud.

Helios 44-2. Shutter: 1/1000, f/11, ISO: 100. Extra tweaking in editing to turn the gloomy up!

Next is Hemlines playing against the sunset at Fort Reno here in DC. This one goes back to the Asahi Takumar 135mm f/3.5. I talked about that lens in my last post, but I have to say again what a bargain it is to get this kind of performance from a lens that can bet found well under $200. The sharpness is so crisp that it picked up individual hairs here very clearly from 15+ feet away.

Asahi Takumar 135mm f/3.5. Shutter: 1/2500, f/7.1 (or something close to that), ISO: 250.

Street Photography

Everyone loves a good street photo. Even viewers who have no interest in the artsy or experimental will, when seeing the right street shot, feel the vicarious thrill of being in the vibrancy of city life. And many photographers love going out and taking them.

But I'm not one of those photographers, because street photography, at least how it's thought of lately, could also be accurately called "Stranger Photography." I'm totally a fan of it when others do it, and it's perfectly legal to do here in America and most other countries, but I just don't have the right constitution for it. I'm cowardly when it comes to the idea of getting caught taking a stranger's photo on the sly, and then getting confronted about it. People do occasionally freak out in those situations, and who knows what dark motivations they might ascribe to me taking their photo. 

In my opinion the best way to handle such a confrontation would be to say, "Nothing personal. I'm just out trying to capture city life, and photographing as many people as I can." I'd also offer to delete the photo as a courtesy, but there's no obligation to do that.

All that said, I will take a stranger's photo if the context makes me very confident that they'd enjoy having it taken. Last Friday night I was walking down U Street here in DC when when two women started dancing to a singing, bicycle-riding street preacher. I felt pretty sure that none of them would mind a photographer's attention...

Zeiss 55mm f/1.8, wide open on the Sony a7ii.

Now and then a stranger will stop me and ask me to take their photo. Those people always make for great subjects, because they're never lacking confidence...

This just happened to be the corner where he stopped me, but I like the combo of warm foreground light and cool background light so much that I would return there for portraiture work.

Any city will also have its local celebrities of one sort or another, and they're usually enthusiastic subjects. The other day I was in DC's Meridian Hill Park, and George Whitlow was there with one of his bicycles that he's modified to blast music. He spends his free time spreading funk and soul music through DC.

He was cranking up Michael Jackson for the whole park to hear.

But other than those situations, I don't take photos of strangers' faces. That's just my personal choice - like I said, I'm still a fan of when others do it. For now I'll content myself with shots like the following, where I might catch a bit of the face over the shoulder.

Ilford 125 ISO film, Canon 7Ne SLR, and Canon 50mm f/1.2 lens, probably at f/1.2 or thereabouts. This on the Potomac River, with the Kennedy Center in the background.