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Old Jan 11, 2004, 8:13 AM   #1
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Default How to snap members of the public?

Hi all,

I love those pictures of people. And I hate poses, I always shoot my friend's in candid situations. They are surprised, but the effect is much better in my opinion.

I love some of the galleries of people in public places. But how do you take them without making people angry. Obviously don't shoot 2 metres away right in their face. Do you take a picture then when you move the camera away, don't look them in the eye, ignore them, look behind them and pretend you were taking a picture of something else???? I'd like to know your tips.

Thanks
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Old Jan 11, 2004, 10:32 AM   #2
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Candid photography without permission will always be difficult. With family and friends it's easier. I find in groups, once people are aware you are taking pics they can ignore you. I think this is the psychology of moviecams. If the camera is conspicuous, then after a while it is ignored. Flash is always a problem, sometimes I prop myself against a wall, use some tele and available light - but you need a fast lens, low noise, manual focus and good sensitivity. I must say that pics taken like this can turn out more natural. If you shoot at eye level you can sometimes fool the real subject by pointing and framing the shot to one side, then pan back with focus and WB set on the half shutter press.

Without a doubt, a camera held at eye level is the most conspicuous. That's where some of the newer cams with tilt lcd creens can be handy. But waist high shots, guessing framing and retaking the poor shots can be less intrusive except when flash is used.

There were some early cams where you could separate the ccd lens unit from the camera body on a wire - but I haven't seen this offered on new models. VOX
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Old Jan 11, 2004, 11:04 PM   #3
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Default Here is some info for you...

First off, if you are in the united states it is perfectly legal to take pictures of people in public places and get as close to them as you want SO LONG AS YOU DONT TOUCH THEM or do so in a threatening manner (battery/assualt). The caveat to the above is that when using a camera that you hold up to your eye (range finder or slr) you subject yourself to the possibility of getting hit by the subject should you get too close; and the fact that your vision was obstructed by your camera you can not prove that your subject hit you unless the strike is caught on film.
Although most new photographers feel uncomfortable taking shots of strangers on the street, you would be surprised at how accepting and tolerant people are of this. The first suggestion I would make is to look professional. If people think you are an annoying tourist they may give you problems. If you have equipment that looks professional then people might creat in their minds that you are a professional photographer/artist and give you more lattitude as to how close they will allow you to come and how relaxed/candid they will be, as well as how well they will tolerate you following them around snapping pictures. Second, should you find an interesting subject that you might want to follow down the street snapping pictures, you might want to let them know what you are doing, should you feel uncomfortable, make up a cover story, say you are an art student and you are working on a project and ask if they would mind if you can follow them down the road to take their picture. Even if they say they do mind, you can still follow them and take the shots, if you dont mind a stranger thinking ill of you.
-Jeff
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Old Jan 11, 2004, 11:44 PM   #4
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One of the most important things is having enough zoom power to get pictures while keeping your distance.

It helps if you have a camera with a tiltable LCD. You can then sit with the camera in your lap and discretely take pictures without raising the camera up to your eye. As digital cameras become more and more common, people will become more aware of photographers taking pictures without holding the camera up to their faces, though.
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Old Jan 12, 2004, 12:10 AM   #5
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Several lifetimes ago, I wanted to take candid photos on the New York City subway system. As I recall, I used an old Contax II camera, which I held in my lap. I got really good at aiming the camera and taking photos without ever once looking at the camera. The camera was pretty quiet, and even if it had made some noise, the noise from the subway covered it up. I took lots of photos, and got several really nice ones.

Doing it digitally today, I'd try to pick a camera that didn't stand out too much. It would preferably be black in color. For the photos to be candid, you can't let the people know you're taking photos, or you need to take so many that eventually they get bored and ignore you.

I'd guess that you've got to set everything ahead of time, including the focus, etc. If you're looking through the camera, you can snap the photo, then move on and pretend you're really taking a picture of something else. Flash is a no-no, as not only won't it look "natural", after the first shot everyone will know you're shooting them.

I think the biggest part of taking candid photos isn't the camera, but rather the photographer. You've got to blend in, and not stand out as a photographer. .....and if people don't want their photos taken, it's good to oblige them.
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Old Jan 12, 2004, 3:54 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikemyers
Doing it digitally today, I'd try to pick a camera that didn't stand out too much. It would preferably be black in color. For the photos to be candid, you can't let the people know you're taking photos, or you need to take so many that eventually they get bored and ignore you.

I'd guess that you've got to set everything ahead of time, including the focus, etc. If you're looking through the camera, you can snap the photo, then move on and pretend you're really taking a picture of something else. Flash is a no-no, as not only won't it look "natural", after the first shot everyone will know you're shooting them.

I think the biggest part of taking candid photos isn't the camera, but rather the photographer. You've got to blend in, and not stand out as a photographer. .....and if people don't want their photos taken, it's good to oblige them.
Part of my problem IS the camera. My Canon A70 just does NOT cut it indoors without the flash - using an ISO of 50 and an aperture of F2.8, my shutter speed ranges from 0.5 sec to maybe 1/8 or 1/10 sec or something like that, much too slow to capture action photography.

Oh, and about people who don't want their photos taken, is it possible to ask another friend to use my camera, or use my flash card? (I'd like to try the flash card trick sometime as I've let people borrow my camera and some ppl that wouldn't let me take pics still wouldn't let the other people take pics. )

What's a good camera that will fit in someone's Levi's pocket, and does good long-distance and low-light action photography with plenty of detail, and natural light (no flash even if dimly-lit outdoors or outside at night), and will focus and shoot quickly, good for action candids? I've sometimes wanted a camera that would be ready to shoot as fast as gunfighters in old Western movies.
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Old Jan 12, 2004, 8:19 AM   #7
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Quote:
Part of my problem IS the camera. My Canon A70 just does NOT cut it indoors without the flash - using an ISO of 50 and an aperture of F2.8, my shutter speed ranges from 0.5 sec to maybe 1/8 or 1/10 sec or something like that, much too slow to capture action photography.
That has nothing to do with the A70. The problem is your choice of ISO. Unless your available light source is really strong, ISO 50 is much too insensitve to light and would result in using the largest aperature on the lens at a slow shutter speed to get the proper exposure. Indoor shots with weak incandescent lighting is going to require higher ISO settings (like 400-800 or higher) if you expect to use shutter speeds that would allow handheld cameras or capture of even moderate movement.
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Old Jan 12, 2004, 5:15 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ohenry
Quote:
Part of my problem IS the camera. My Canon A70 just does NOT cut it indoors without the flash - using an ISO of 50 and an aperture of F2.8, my shutter speed ranges from 0.5 sec to maybe 1/8 or 1/10 sec or something like that, much too slow to capture action photography.
That has nothing to do with the A70. The problem is your choice of ISO. Unless your available light source is really strong, ISO 50 is much too insensitve to light and would result in using the largest aperature on the lens at a slow shutter speed to get the proper exposure. Indoor shots with weak incandescent lighting is going to require higher ISO settings (like 400-800 or higher) if you expect to use shutter speeds that would allow handheld cameras or capture of even moderate movement.
ISO 50 is the only one in which image noise is acceptable. I might be able to tolerate 100 in some limited cases, but 200 and 400 (the top limit) are much to noisy for me. If there was a way, without the flash, I could find a good camera on which that camera's ISO 800 has equivalent noise to my A70's ISO 50 (among other things I would like on said camera) I might be happy.
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Old Jan 12, 2004, 11:59 PM   #9
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er.... maybe use film?


You can get very high speed film, and even if it's "grainy" by film standards, it's probably going to be just fine for your purposes.

Other options include getting a Nikon or Canon DSLR which can shoot at higher ISO speeds and not look too grainy, but those cameras aren't inexpensive.

Maybe there's something inbetween, which can do what you want, but which won't cost too much.
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Old Jan 13, 2004, 12:38 AM   #10
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You might consider trying a good noise removal program like Neat Image or Noise Ninja. I use Neat Image and it does a great job on noise. Both have free trials and arenít expensive.

I had a lens extension for my old 35mm SLR that had a mirror in the side. It was made to look like a normal lens and looked as though the camera was pointed the other way. Worked great. It was from Spiratone, which I donít think is still in business or I would consider getting another one for my Minolta.

I would think a tilt LCD would work too but none of my digitals have one.
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