York

I went to York for a wander, and met a few friends.

Strech! by Michael Thompson (mikethompson) on 500px.com

As normal, York was filled with Tourists, and for some reason, loads of loud Spanish teenagers.
After the rather epic rainfall we have had over the past few days, I expected the River to be in flood. It did not disappoint. The water was lapping well up against the walls of the gardens.

Over the course of the morning, I wandered the streets, looking for something to happen. Nothing did, at all. York, while busy with people was boring, and I could not find the motivation to actively photograph. It was really hot as well, which did not help.

The river however was a sight to behold, it was wider than I have ever seen, and the rate it was flowing was intense. Even the Geese where on the bank and going nowhere near.

Streets

Its been awhile since I wrote about street shooting, but I was out with a friend over the weekend doing some street. She had a huge backpack with every lens she owned.

Generally, for street work I carry three lenses maximum. They are

Sigma 30mm 1.4
Nikon 50mm 1.8
Nikon 85mm 1.8

Those three lenses are all I need. The 85 is rarely on the camera unless I need that extra reach. I much prefer the 50 for street.  These are all kept in my Billingham Hadley, a bag I love for street work. I’d love to do this with a leica, but I don’t have one. 😦 so I use either a D90 or D7000. There is nothing wrong with a D90, and I love mine, and still use it despite having the D7000. My settings are normally

Aperture or P mode
Center focus point only (or others if more cross types)
Spot metering.
Auto focus single.

Don’t listen to those who sing that a DSLR should always be in manual mode, photographing on the street can be over in seconds, and you may not have the time to fart around. Better getting the shot than missing it. By all means, if your used to manual, and your quick, use it. Otherwise stick with aperture.

The other tip I give people is to learn the frame. See the frame before the camera is at your eye. Wait until your frame is there, camera up and expose, camera down. It takes some getting used to, but it is the best way.

We walked around the streets for a good few hours while she worked up the confidence. That’s something I struggled with, and still do in a way. But it comes with experience. When you realise everyone is wandering around in their own world paying no attention it gets easier.

One question that did come up, is what to photograph. That’s not a question anyone but the photographer can answer. I did however tell her next time to bring a smaller bag, and think what she really needs 🙂

Shooting Toddlers

I’ve had quite a few toddler sessions recently and have discovered a few things: They actually love being sent to the corner.

1. Put them in the corner. I’ve found that a great corner (I love bricks) can be very useful when photographing little ones on the run. They really have nowhere to go! Of course, that won’t stop them from running right between your legs, but it always buys me enough time for a few great shots and when they run away, we just go back to the corner again!

2. Ground them. Getting their little feet off the ground will give you time to get the shot. And by time, I mean 20 seconds tops. And that’s a lot of time for a toddler to not be moving so get ready before you set up the shot. For this shot, we sat him on an old tire which got his feet off the ground and satisfied the grubby boy in him for a moment. He didn’t sit still on the chair, but boy that tire was fun!

3. Bring a chaperone. They’ll hate you for it when they’re teenagers, but a partner in crime is much appreciated during a toddler photo session. They get sick of the whole idea pretty fast, but if you’ve got on-hand entertainment via a super bubbly (and kid friendly) ‘baby wrangler’, then you’re in business.

4. Include their parents without ruining their street cred. I rarely photograph families. My sessions are entirely focused on the little person. Have you ever noticed in cartoons like Muppet Babies (from the 80s) the parents were present, but never shown above the knee? The premise was to stay down low in baby world. I love bringing this idea into my sessions with something as simple as a mother’s guiding hand.

5. Shout at them. I love this spot on the farm where I shoot. The fence on the left, the trees on the right. Not much space to escape. So I have them run away but at the right time, I shout their name and wait for them to look back. Let them do what they want and when you feel the moment, shout their name. But don’t waste your shouts because if you just keep shouting, they’ll drown you out pretty fast. I find that I get one chance – two if I’m lucky – to get a true reflex-reaction out of shouting their name.

I love toddlers. They’re so honest. They don’t know how to fake it yet and I feel like when I get ‘the shot’, I’ve really earned it.