Sunday, February 20, 2011

People photography – religious ceremonies

People photography – religious ceremonies

new post about people photography

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Postcards from Montenegro

Postcards from Montenegro

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Feature photographer of the month - Photoshelter

Friends and customers
Today I recieved a mail that announce that I was choosen, as the feature phtographer of the month of Photoshelter (more than 60,000 photographers) with the following picture.
In 1984, Belgian artist Jean Veran found his way from Tafraoute to the squat desolate valley . The blue rocks of Tafraoute (Haim Srur)

The big blue rock of Veran in Tafraoute Morocco
Here is the link to the feature page

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Way of leaving - photographing people at their home

Part 3 of photographing people

 Taking pictures in people houses is demanding high level skills of interaction, ability to manage the situation in delicate manner. English is not my native language but still "taking picture" (taking instead of giving or other word), and "shooting people" are strong expressions to describe interaction with people. As some of us know already there are some cultures that consider photographing is like taking your soul.

Faces-of-the-world-morocco - Sidi Moktar's market
Morocco, Sidi Moktar’s market,  2010
Canon1Ds Mark III 16mm, 1/50 @F/4.5, ISO125
I entered the room that was located in the middle of the market.
I took some shots some of also include the face of the man in the
entrance but I preferred this photo for its natural pose,
the real life it describes and the internal interaction of each one
of the subjects. I asked to take picture when I entered the room,
one that stands in the entrance didn’t feel comfortable,
the one at the left continue like nothing was changes and the
one in the middle asking for money, as you can notice from his hand gesture
Imagine that doing it inside of someone’s house, wife’s kitchen (sorry for the stereotype), and kids’ room.  It is really invasion of privacy even if you asked for permission in advanced. Another of factor that nee to be considered is how much it is staged photo, natural scene, or ultimate decisive moment. You have to be polite and respect the house codes. It is sound obvious, and everyone consider him or her self as a someone that give respect especially those who consider themselves as people photographer. In one of my assignments I was negotiating with the sumo wrestling in Japan to come and stay within their property and to leave together with the sumo wrestlers and they refused until I found local contact that will vouch for me that I will keep the local customs. When my contact person ask them why they demand it they told him that they had bad experience with a photojournalist from one the famous magazines that didn’t respect the local customs. They told me that he didn’t learn them at all.
You have to learn the local customs. If you can step in with shoes on, so take it off like it is common in Japan or in other cultures. Cover your head with hat or yarmulke like in an orthodox Jewish house. Don’t take a woman picture if her man is not close to her in Islamic countries or don’t take picture of an Islamic woman at all. We can all notice that most of people and travel photo are from less develop countries where the population care less about their privacy than in the western world. It is all about the culture and you photograph people you photograph culture learn and respect it.
Interaction and communication
This chapter will focus on interaction with the family members and the photographer. It depends where you plan to photograph. You have to prepare yourself to this project. If you are a professional photographer or amateur photographer that is traveling to exotic places you have to vision and plan. It is easily understood if you are a professional photographer on assignment. You know that you have a mission to be complete and there are frames that you have to bring back home. But even if you are an amateur photographer you should know that won’t be back to this place again in the coming future. Usually traveler like you photographing by the itinerary they planned and not by the pictures they succeed to take. This means that you have only one chance to have your pictures. Because you will leave the day after to the next step in your trip and no second chance to record your vision.
Mumbai dharbi india - woman washes the dishes int front of her home
Dharbi Mumbai, India 2010
Canon1Ds mark3 16mm, 1/50 @F/4.5, ISO125
One of Dharbi’s characteristics is the small apartments.
Every family has a small cubical that as you can see cannot be
captured only from the outside. This lady gladly agreed to pose
while her husband continues to sleep in the back of the room.
She washed the dishes after she finished cooking lunch.
She was very friendly and wonders if to wake her husband or let him sleep.
She asked me with her hands, if I would like her to continue
washing the dishes or want to enter house.
Main challenges – photograph in others houses
Light source –
One of the challenges in photographing in house is the light source. The light in the house usually comprised from different sources like lamp on the ceiling, from the outside like an open door or a window and or other source of light like fire, computer or TV screen etc.
When you decide about the scene you have to look carefully about the light conditions. It depend how you want to capture the scene and what to convey. You can look at the picture above which I took from the outside and the following picture I took just the opposite from the internal outbound.
In the above picture I used the external light for the foreground and the woman that was washing the dishes while her husband and the internal part of her house what lighted by a small fluorescent lamp and remains of the light from the outside.
In the following picture where light conditions were very complicated, I choose not to take the shot from the outside because in that case I could have record the woman – she has beam of light from the above – but the background would come out very dark and detailed less.
Morocco - woman makes tea under light beam
Morocco, Tiz-n-Tishka, one of the atals villges, 2010
Canon1Ds mark3 19mm, 1/160 @F/3.2, ISO500
I was at photography excursion to morocco and it was
the second time to visit this village. We came with pictures
from the first visit and used clothes. The grand mother is signing
while making tea as hospitality for the group while her daughter
brought cups from the other room so I could capture her as a silhouette
while the grandmother was sitting under the light beam that came
through the hole in the ceiling. There are 3 light sources which are equal
– light beam, fire in the middle of the room and the external light in the door.
Light conditions within the room itself were very difficult so I scarify
the ISO and maintain shutter speed that will enable sharp picture.
I could afford myself to use open aperture because I used a super wide
angle lens that enable reasonable depth of field (even behind the
silhouette woman you can still see details).
Posing or natural scene?
Photographing as a guest in house of a family come with lot of constrains. As we discuss earlier natural light is one of them. The other is the scene itself and does it reflect your vision. How, from one side to respect the hosts and on the other side to realize your vision? How without too much interference, create the posing that you had in mind before start to shoot? As you can imagine there is thick line between taking picture as it is in reality or posing the people in the right place ask them to continue what they were used to do before you came, and still with respect.
My personal approach and my intuitive behavior is to create the scene that you wanted because that even if you end with good frame, you might feel that you miss “the” frame. You should ask for cooperation. I found out that in most of the cases when you asked for help people were ready to help you achieve your goal. Most of the people that are ready to participate passively in a picture will be glad to participate actively when you asked them to. In some case people might ask for money or any reward for their participation. I will cover this issue in my chapter about specific markets.
Faces of the world - Romania the Carpathian - Shepperd in hut
Romania, The Carpathians, within the hut , 2006
Canon D5 16mm, 1/13 @F/7.1, ISO1000
This hut was located on top of the Carpathians and served
11 men that left their village down the mountains and climbed
early spring together with their common and small sheep in
order to produce cheese and to sell it. The reason for climbing
only in the spring is because the mountains still covered by snow
until than and they need weeds to feed the sheep. These men leave
together in the same hat for the spring and the summer without
their wives and family. When I came all were eating their lunch
outside the hut, and this man lie sown and rest in this room.
When I enter he stood up and I decided that the location of the
natural light to his left is very good for the scene and I shoot.
I asked him to be relaxed and natural (non verbal just with hand signs).
Please not that from technical point of view I could open the
aperture to F/2.8 and still have depth of field across the picture
(it is super wide angle – read in my last post about using
different lenses). By that I could reduce the level of noise that
was produce by the high ISO.
Which lens to use?
In close areas I will tend to use wide angle lens. Usually in the range of the ultra wide – closer to 16mm. The advantages of using this lens are the following: it can capture the whole figure of the object and in the background most of the room. It enables to have most of the frame in focus (depth of field).the disadvantages are mostly about the distortions. If the object is located the corners of the frame it might be skew a little bit. Or, lines of the walls, furniture etc can be distorted.
If the room is relatively big I would go to short-tele lens like 50mm or 85mm, which are considered as great portrait lens which enable you to gain object’s details while you will have challenges with depth of field.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

How to photograph people in Markets and squares

Part two of "top places for people photography"

At the market near agadir morocco Canon 1Ds mark3 16-35mm at 16mm F/5.6 1/60

Markets and squares anywhere are great place to capture human dynamic, sounds and voices, colors and smells, diverse behaviors and emotions and thus are to be the first to be mentioned as top places for people photography.
In most of the cities in the world you will find a local or regional market. In some cases you have to check in advance the specific days these market are open.
My first recommendation to you before travel to any market or square out of your country is to make your try and error in your own home town market.
  • Try to understand the dynamics, the intense
  • How to communicate – it will be much easier in your mother tongue, and with someone that share with you the same culture
  • Try your preferences – shoot under shade and fluorescent light, try to play with your WB, how to handle low light with steady state in very crowded place.
  • How do you feel about wide angle picture? Do you find these lens distortions distractive or adding to the picture? How about portrait and candid with telephoto pictures? Its all about your intuition and felling do you like it or not.
After some exercises and training you feel that you are ready to the real thing. Before packing your gears and suitcase and travel here some things to be aware before getting into field:
  • Understand the structure of the market – selling fruits and vegetables, butchers, food court, peddlers, artists such as street dancers, magicians etc. walk, just walk through the alleys, don't take a pictures. Learn the structure, feel the dynamic, smell the smells and try to dissolve within the crowd.

  • Where to start – by understanding the structure, you get first insight what to expect for.  Try to look for best location that best light by day light and not fluorescent which is the most common light within the markets. The places that don’t have day or natural light can be accessed in later stage.
  • When to come? Then try to plan by hours – which day or what are the hours this market is open? Which hour is the most hectic? If you intend to photograph the artists in that specific market, ask about their shows' hours.

Which lens to use?
As you can see in most of my pictures I use my wide lens on full frame body. In some cases I use either my portrait lens or my zoom telephoto. You should have your own preference but you have to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each one of these attitude.
The pictures in the above you can see the use of wide angle lens. It gives you the feeling that I was part of the scene.
In the table below I try to describe the main differences between the lens, which I hope will increase your awareness to the specific scene and hot to capture best scene with people. This table is a summary and adaptation materials from a photography trip that I had with Eli atias.

Comparison of wide angle and telephoto lenses
Lens Type
Super wide (~16mm-35mm)
Telephoto (>85mm)
Depth of filed
Almost unlimited – you can use F/2.8 and in most of the cases that your subject close to your lens more than 40cm and get sharp frame across.
Very limited. In most of the cases you will have to use F that is higher than 16 in order to have significant depth of field
Close to the subject
Have to be very close
Can be far from the subject
Ratio between big to small is significant. Converging of lines that creates perspective
Strait lines. No convergence of lines. Same size for people in the background and foreground
Foreground and background
Enable to describe relation between the subject in the foreground and the background
Enable you to isolate the person from its background
Distortions in the corners of the frame. In some cases skew the people in the photo.

When is it recommended to use in crowded places like markets and squares?
·  In a relatively isolated scene
·  When you want to describe the overall environment
·  When there is a lot to tell
·  When you can approach and have good interaction with the subject

·      When you want to focus on small part of the scene
·      When you do prefer to be de attached  from the scene
·      When you don’t have access to the scene
·      In low light, and you need speed on the expanse of the shutter, and you care less about the background

The following picture, was taken by Canon 50mm F/1.2 on D50 (cropped frame=equal to 75m) compare it with the about 2 frames and try to understand what are the differences.