Here's where I deposit my photography related stuff. To manage your expectations, it's mostly bad.
I don't always do street photography, but I wanted to give it a try and document some nearby cities. Maybe the pandemic has awakened a desire to document what is around me before I lose it. The quality is somewhat suspect and I'm just having fun and experimenting with shooting with a crappy lens on more manual settings.
Lately I've been walking around taking photos. Almost none of them have been good. But it has been a pleasant experience. It's fun to hold a camera, feel the texture, look through a viewfinder, turn dials and click buttons...
...I just realised that a camera is a like one of those Fisher-Price toddler toys for adults.
I spent half a day trying to save the childhood photographs of a relative. The photo albums were waterlogged by a catastrophic flood, and water was slowly soaking through the photos, causing the colors to run and smear. So I spent hours going through his early life, cutting the photos out of the waterlogged plastic sleeves which stank of floodwater, and carefully placing them on a dry spot while trying not to damage them even more. They had a look that was typical of 90's film photography, bad framing, bad lighting, dull colors, never any good composition, sometimes out of focus. But the pictures of that baby growing up into a little kid were good photos. They were worth the struggle to save.
Nobody is going to care about nice composition and lighting and the sharpness of a picture without a deeper meaning. Food for thought for my own photography.
After six months of shooting with a manual focus prime lens for street photography because I felt like it would "make me a better photographer", it's a breathe of fresh air to just put on my 16-50mm kit lens and use autofocus. I'm finding that I prefer the flexibility of zoom lens compared to a prime lens, especially since I can switch fast between a 50mm and 90mm full frame equivalent focal lengths.
I decided that I will accept the limitations of my lens and start photographing things that it is good at. In this case the 7artisans 25mm f1.3 lens is good at low light, shallow depth of field and taking things up within 1m from me. So I went for a photowalk at night with these rules: 1) Only things that can fit into a 1m3 cube will be photographed, 2) Whatever I take has to be within 3m of me. The results look pretty interesting so far.
Went on a holiday. I actually got some decent shots while I was in Georgetown, Penang. It had a good density of interesting looking stuff. I have a feeling that I would have gotten better shots with a telephoto instead of the 25mm manual lens that I was carrying around. But it's good to force myself to try different things.
The worst part about photography for me is the temptation to get new gear. There's always something cool that looks interesting to pick up (I blame late night youtube bingeing), but being perpetually broke it's hard to justify the cost. Especially considering that some gear has limited uses (like terrible street photography) and the used camera market here is very small, so there aren't many opportunities to get a deal either. Looks like for the foreseeable future I'll have to fight the temptation and shoot with what I have.
Since the lockdown has ended I went downtown into the city centre to snap photos (those will come up soon). Street photography is a lot more easier with interesting streets. Seeing all the interesting lights, architecture and character of old Kuala Lumpur made me realise that a lot of my shots have been sucking because I've been wandering around boring dark suburbs.
I've been at this stretch of street photography for almost 6 months. Part of me looks at the photos and gets discouraged by how ameteurish and self indulgent they look. They look a bit like what a self absorbed person that is trying to make fine art would take. Just not particularly interesting, nothing much popping out. Most of the time blurry and poorly lit.
On one hand I enjoy the excuse to walk around with a camera, on the other the lack of any good output is a bit discouraging. I know that doing something unfamiliar is going to produce crappy results. But perhaps I should be a bit more critical about my craft.
Sometimes it takes a while working with a lens before you get it. I've had this 7artisans 25mm lens for about 6 months, and I'm finally getting to know how to use it properly. It shoots terribly at longer ranges, but it produces some decent photos in distances less than 1m. Don't expect sharp photos on this thing, hitting the focus is really hard. The colors look a bit off, so compensating with white balance or accepting the slightly amber tinge is a must. The colors are also almost always never vibrant, often dulled and never accurate. At least the apeture is f1.3, so it shoots well after midnight when I go for walks.
No lens is perfect, there are some really good ones that make you feel like you don't have to do any work, but working with the limitations of a lens and figuring out how to make it shine is really fun. It's a bit of puzzle.
Shooting with a 38mm equivalent lens has made me notice that I filter out 70% of my field of vision and focus on really small parts of it. I'm far more comfortable at a 70mm or more focal length. I love obsessing over tiny details, or spotting small things in the distance and looking at them. Often I see something tiny really high up and I get an idea to shoot something. Tunnel vision is the main way I see the world.
I don't consider my photography to be a serious art form. It's something I do for fun when I don't have to take photos for work (Which is more documentation than art). This is not some high art, this is me playing around with an expensive toy. And because it's a toy, I have my fun with it. I don't want the best and highest performing gear. I try stupid things and come out with shit pictures. It's silly. It's an excuse to go out and look at things like a little kid instead of walking around blinded by jaded eyes.