a collection of experiences, ideas and image samples related to street photography.
Charles Saadiq, Michigan 2018
0/1 sec, f/16, ISO 250
- Captured with a vintage Minolta 28mm f/2.8 lens on a FujiFilm X-T10
camera: FujiFilm X-T10
lens: a vintage Minolta 28mm f/2.8
As I am entering my middle-age years, I am becoming more connected to nature. This feeling brings me a greater sense of peace with unresolved isssues in my past now knowing that all things are temporary. Life is a continuous cycle and I want to practice a more gentle approach to dealing with personal hardships. ‘Practice’ is the key word because the act of negative thoughts is difficult habit to break. Yet my interactions with animals and plants are heeling. This new level of peace is beginning to reflect in my photography.
“If a photographer cares about the people before the lens and is compassionate, much is given. It is the photographer, not the camera, that is the instrument.”
– Eve Arnold
Here are a few outtakes from a series of street photographs I captured in the city of Detroit during the month of February.
Rediscovering my creative roots
This is THE very first street photograph that I was proud of. Captured in October 2004 in Atlanta, GA
I've been taking some time to revisit and evaluate photography projects and freelance work that I've done over the years. Naturally, I often thought about my first camera. I purchased a black FujiFilm FinePix S3000 in the fall of 2004. I always appreciated the art of photography from afar so I didn't know much about the technical aspects. I actually don't even remember why I decided to buy a camera. I just knew, for some reason, that I had to get a camera. I didn't have much money but I was desperate. I remember using a few hundred dollars of my rent money to buy the FujiFilm from a Ritz Camera store near my old job in Atlanta. I was so happy and excited to start shooting! I took that awkwardly shaped, 3-megapixel camera everywhere. Now, the thought of me risking eviction to buy that camera is reflection of the transitional period I was experiencing during that time.
In the early 2000s, I was in desperate need of direction and focus. I was in the process of defining myself. I was suffering from many years anger and unhappiness. However, learning the art of photography was life changing for me. Although I was going through a dark period in my life, I was very fortunate that my camera provided the light.
Photography became the one thing that gave personal pleasure without the need to feel like I had to get approval from others. I finally had a sense of belonging. That camera was my compass when I felt lost. I was able to see the world differently through the images that I created. My outlook on life became more focused. It was a therapeutic to be able to narrate and tell a visual story, even if the only audience was myself. I was learning to be free. My photogaphs didn't have a right, a wrong or incorrect. They were, however, honest. All I needed was a method to express myself. I later went on to overcome many hardships by finding comfort in being an artist and finding myself as a humanitarian. I am very grateful that photography gave me the inner peace I was seeking.
1/105 sec, f/8, ISO 200 at a focal length of 23mm
camera: FujiFilm x100
Despite the threat of a snow storm, I spent a quiet Sunday appreciating the architecture in downtown Detroit. I wanted to capture the city from unique angles so I purposely tried to avoid more recognizable sites like the Renaissance Center. My goal was to give more attention to designs and textures from multiple perspectives that are a bit less noticeable from the average view of the skyline.
The photograph was captured with a vintage Canon FD 50mm f/1.8 lens on a mirrorless FujiFilm X-T10.
#streetphotography #streethunters #bnw #barbershop #shaving #vintage #composition
Shutter speed at 1/60, f/8 at a focal length of 50mm with an ISO of 1250
Throughout all of the digital cameras I've purchased, sold, traded and bid for over the years, none of them have any sentimental value to me. Even my most favorite of them all, a FujiFilm X Pro 1...I loved using that camera. Yet when I sold it, I felt nothing. I knew the day that I brought it that I wasn't going to keep it forever, not even more than 2 or 3 years.
On the other hand, my old film cameras have stood the test of time. My Canon F1 and Yashica D are both older than me! These vintage cameras are well crafted, beautiful works of art. Despite their age they are extremely reliable. I don't hesitate to travel with them nor worry about a malfunction or dead batteries.
Film cameras are my cure for GAS! I am less burdened with having an over abundance of tech features on a digital camera that I rarely or never use. I want to control my environment with simple manual settings. I don't want a computer chip to determine my personal vision. My analog cameras help me to be in the moment and enjoy shooting again. I no longer need to shop for any unnecessary digital accessories anymore; just more film for me to shoot. The only non-essential photography-related thing that I now lust for is to add a Leica M2 to my vintage camera collection!
"I am not putting digital photography down or trying to disrespect those who thoroughly enjoy it...its just that the computerized process doesn't give me a sense of artistic pleasure. I personally prefer the simplicity of analog cameras. I want to control my creative vision and not depend on a computer chip to do the work for me."
shooting manual digital photographs without post edits...
PROGRESS IN MY CREATIVE APPROACH
One of the greatest lessons I am learning from film photography is embracing simplicity. Keeping things simple makes photography alot less stressful. Using analog, fixed lens cameras prevents me from being overly burdened with trying to decide which lens to bring with me. Not to mention film cameras do not have digital menus with an over abundance of options that can be more distracting than helpful at times. Over time I've become much more comfortable with film photography. I don't have anxiety anymore about the possibility of ruining a roll of film or taking a bad shot. I truly love using vintage cameras...they make me think and take more chances. However, my progress in film created an unforeseen struggle with digital photography.
THE SETBACK (temporarily, I hope)
Yesterday I did some street photography in my most favorite places in the state of Michigan, Ann Arbor. I had a great time shooting and bonding with two film cameras, a compact Konica C-35 and a Yashica D for 120 film. People in the streets where most fascinated with my classic twin lens reflex medium format which in turn presented plenty of opportunities for taking street portraits (I can't wait to go to the darkroom!). After a couple of hours I decided to put away my analog gear and bring out my digital FujiFilm X-E1. Sigh... the frustration!
To clarify, I love FujiFilm X series cameras; I've owned several. However I find myself loosing interest in the digital photography process (or lack there of) over the past couple of months now. When I began shooting with the X-E1 that day, I quickly resulted back to bad old habits of 'chimping' and looking for instant satisfaction. I was focusing on all of the tech options on the digital camera rather than observing and capturing my environment. The convenience of a digital camera took the fun out of the thought process of street photography.
ADDRESSING THE ISSUE
This morning I needed to reevaluated my approach. I decided to treat my digital camera as a fixed lens 35mm. I will dedicated myself to shoot with only one prime lens, a manual Canon FD 50mm f/1.8 with CPL filter. For at least the remainder of this month, I will shoot with the lens open with a f-stop setting at 2.8. The built-in monochrome filters FujiFilm provides are superb so I keep my camera's film simulation on the 'black and white with a red filter' mode. The FujiFilm X-E1 will have the shutter speed and ISO set manually - - no automatic whatsoever!
My first test was to capture my environment immediately, so while I sipped on a cup of coffee I did some random natural light shots in the house. The rays of the rising sun beaming through my blinds gave me an idea to shoot as-is; no post editing! The results were great but more than that, I was relaxed and I made every shot count. Instead of having a hundred bad images to edit, I only had about a dozen unedited quality photographs to simply upload to my laptop, tag and enjoy.
THE RESULTS - Quality over Quantity
Naturally painting shade & shadows...
cameras: FujiFilm X-E1, X-Pro 1 and X-T10
lenses: Minolta MD 28mm f/2.8, Canon FD 50mm f/1.8 and Fujinon 18mm f/2/0
As the saying goes, 'the early bird catches the worm'. I believe this is especially true when it comes to street photography. Over the years I've become accustomed to not sleeping in (even on weekends) and to venture out to photograph at sunrise. The smells of fresh coffee from corner bakeries combined with the sight of smoke spewing from manhole covers stimulates my creativity. The city if full of excitement and I aim to capture as much as possible. I have a sense of accomplishment when I am one of the first street photographers out hunting for deep shadows.
The natural light before noon makes architecture and urban landscapes just that much more dramatic. I've tested a variety of camera settings; I found that my personal sweet spot fall between 200-400 ISO, a f/8 or smaller aperture and shutter speeds between 1/60 to 1/80. I've used a Fujinon 18mm f/1.8 lens on a number of occasions. However the Fujinon 18mm continued to suffer from soft focusing. This seems to be a common flaw mentioned by other owners of these lens. This has pushed me in the direction of using old prime lenses from the film photography era. The FujiFilm X series cameras work like a gem when paired with vintage lenses! I like them so much I now prefer analog lenses over digital any day of the week. I don't mind working a bit harder with manual lenses to get the results I want. Photography excursions during the early morning hours is an excellent opportunity to test the limits of lenses and to sharpen photography techniques.
Using an analog wide angle lens at a Japanese market.
camera: FujiFilm X-E1
lenses: Minolta MD 28mm f/2.8
One of the many reasons why I love using the FujiFilm X line of cameras are how well they pair with analog lenses. To clarify, I have nothing against digital Fujinon glass. They are high quality lenses and I so appreciate the manual aperture ring! However I just find old lenses from yesteryear a bit more appealing. Vintage lenses are bullet proof; they last forever and aren't as fragile as most modern glasses. Not to mention that having an assortment of analog prime lenses are much more economical then spending hundreds of dollars more for a single lens that requires firmware updates and such.
After a recent purchase (on eBay) of a Minolta MD 28mm f/2.8 vintage lens, I decided to give it a test run at a Japanese market. I experimented with shooting primarily from a low angle perspective when capturing people. I am very pleased with the results. The focus ring is very responsive and the aperture blades open/close with precision. I especially like that these old lenses aren't that heavy either. Vintage lenses, even some primes, can be bulky with a lot of weight but the Minolta 28mms are quite compact. Most of the people in the market didn't even notice that I had a camera at all. I love being the invisible man!
not happy hour...
whats on sale...
I am a street photographer using film and digital formats. I enjoy listening to good music, traveling, quiet time & peace.