Candid tips

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Ridge08, Mar 18, 2009.

  1. Ridge08 macrumors member

    Feb 2, 2009
    Walking round my city, the camera is often hanging from my neck. I love watching people and am constantly seeing facial expressions and natural actions that exist only for seconds or less and would make wonderful photographs.

    People behave differently when they know they`re being watched but I`m not sure if I should feel bad about translating people-watching into voyeuristic photography. I very rarely take the shots as a result, not wanting to feel rude or intrusive.

    Can anyone offer any tips on capturing these moments? When you see a fleeting scene do you just shoot away? Do you get right back and use a tele? Do you ask permission first (if at all) and then hope your subjects will return to acting naturally and recreate the magic?
  2. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
  3. sangosimo Guest


    Sep 11, 2008
    300mm + crop body. they will never see you coming!
  4. fenno macrumors newbie

    Feb 19, 2009
  5. waiwai macrumors regular

    Feb 24, 2009
    too bad most 300mm are too slow to capture candid's (especially peepz moving on the street).

    Just invest in a fast lens.... f1.2 to 2.8... 85mm, 135, 200... so u won't have to jack up your ISO to hell.
  6. apearlman macrumors regular

    Aug 8, 2007
    Red Hook, NY
    A few strategies

    1. I think the proper thing is to ask permission before photographing people. Most people will agree, but it's polite to ask first. Of course, the drawback is that once you ask, you lose the candid moment.

    2. If your city environment is crowded enough, sometimes you can just shoot in the crowd without anyone knowing or caring. For example, aim straight along the sidewalk, and people will keep walking as long as you don't follow them with your lens.

    3. Sometimes you can make it look like you're not shooting someone even if you are. You can aim your camera another direction while keeping the other eye on your target, then quickly swing around and shoot before you drop the camera from your eye. Or, if your lens is wide enough, you can capture someone on the periphery while aiming at something else.

    4. When in doubt... shoot, then smile and wave. Sometimes I'll mouth the words "thank you" just to show I'm not afraid of being seen, and the photo is not for any nefarious or secret purpose.
  7. H2Ockey macrumors regular

    Aug 25, 2008
    Not sure if you have access to a channel called Ovation but they have some series' on photography. One that was on last night was about portraits. I was unable to pay much attention to it but it was on in the back ground. At one point they followed a guy around snapping candids in the City. I think he described the process some but as I said, I wasn't really paying attention. The lens he had on was not large, it looked to me like a 50mm f/1.8 mounted on a D3. Interesting in that he was quite close to his subjects most of the time and was set to really quickly look up and snap the shot without interaction. Since I was off and on watching I think this was the same photographer that took that fairly famous covershot of the young Afgan girl with the stunning green eyes.

    The layout of their site is horrid I think but you might be able to see if you can find the program again.
  8. shady825 macrumors 68000


    Oct 8, 2008
    Area 51
    In public you realistically dont need anyone's permission. Sure I know there are exceptions but the majority of the time anything in public view can be video recorded or photographed.(your government does it to you all day long) Even private property can be photographed if it can be seen from public land.
    So I would say snap away! Just dont look like some creepy pervert while doing it! ;)
  9. wheelhot macrumors 68020

    Nov 23, 2007
    Or you could test your public speaking skills by standing up on a chair and announce "excuse me people, please ignore me!".

    Another way I found is to camp, u know camping like a sniper? Cause if you kept walking around and when you suddenly lift up your camera some people will start noticing. But if you stand somewhere and occasionally lift up your camera, they will think you are capturing a building or something ;)
  10. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    wide-angle and standard primes are the "classic" lenses for street photography...because half of the point is to capture people in their environment. this requires depth of field, or at least not completely obliterating the background with an f/1 lens. of course, telephotos still have their uses, but the result usually isn't the same.

    otherwise, i'll agree with apearlman. asking doesn't work, though, unless your subjects are or can become familiar with you (like if you frequent some cafe and always see them...something like that).
  11. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    No, those long telephoto shots look horrible. You have to be closer or the perspective is wrong. The wider lens brings the viewer into the shot. Tele shots look sterile and flat.

    The best way to go is to ask to person before you photograph them. Print up cards, hand them out and offer to share your photos with the subject. So what if most people say "No." there are like a billion more.

    That girl was in Afghanistan. He talked to her first and had the girl go out side and pose. He took several shots of her. It was not a random grab shot. Almost all pros go into an assignment with a good idea of the shots they want then they set them up, make the shot happen rather then go in and blindly hope for a lucky shot.

    The trick is to look for interesting people then ask then work with them. Choose your background ad lighting angle. Snap off a few shots and say thanks. I've been the subject a few times. I guess some "old guy" in scuba gear down by the local beach at night is something tourists like to shoot. I've been asked a few times to pose with girl friends and kids with sand,waves and the local pier in the background.

    I was in Tokyo a while back an saw this Japanese street photographer lugging a bag of gear and a small aluminum ladder. After a while he set up the ladder on a busy walkway. People have to walk around it. He shoots into the un comming crowd with his camera about 2 to 3 feet about eyelevel. You could see he had his shots all pre-planed. That is really the key the "candid" planning. Pros do NOT depend on luck. Not when you have a deadline and a paying client. This guy clearly had pre-picked his background and time of day to capture shots of a crowd out to celibate New Years day.
  12. luminosity macrumors 65816


    Jan 10, 2006
    There is always luck involved. Some days you'll see a lot that's interesting and other days will be generally quiet.
  13. localghost macrumors regular

    Nov 17, 2002
    There is only ONE answer

    There is only ONE answer to your question: it depends!

    Seriously, like ChrisA said: First you have to know what you want. Then you can start experimenting, e.g. taking similar shots from different perspectives, talking to people first or not etc. and see what you prefer.

    Me, I strongly detest teles and asking before the shot.

    Then again, I use them a lot in my job, because that's what my editor wants to see, because that's what most people seem to like (are used to). They consider them a visually clear message, I consider them boring and simplifying.

    There's no truth to this question but yours, really.

    Famous examples exist for each shooting style, a prime example for no tele/ no nonsense would be Bruce Gilden or Magnum-founder Robert Capa ("If your photographs aren't good enough, you're not close enough.") Gilden
  14. Ridge08 thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 2, 2009
    Thanks for your replies, everyone, and sorry it`s taken me so long to get back. Been away in Kyoto :-D

    aperlman, your tip number 2 (keep the camera pointed in a certain direction and wait for people to walk in front of it) is something I`ve tried a little.

    ChrisA, thanks for the detailed post. I realise that good planning is key. I`m still really new to photography, but am starting to become more aware of the need to think about what I want to achieve before going out to take photos.

    For me, that is actually taking the form of shooting a given subject then going home to evaluate the pictures. I`m not saying I`m an especially informed critic, but it is giving me a better idea of perspective and framing and the sort of light I`m looking for.

    Printing cards is a good suggestion. I`ve often thought it`d be nice to send the photos I take to my human subjects. Not sure why I didn`t think of it myself actually, given that everyone in Japan seems to carry business cards. I guess my major concern would be coming away from a shoot with a bunch of not-very-good photos and someone thinking I`m going to share a bunch of good pictures with them.

    Another issue for me here is the language barrier, since my Japanese isn`t very good. Still, I`ve started studying photography-specific language to get round that problem.

    In Kyoto these last few days, I also saw a guy carrying a ladder and a bunch of photography equipment.

    localghost, thanks for the famous photographer suggestions. I`ll check them out.

    As for equipment, I have a 50mm f/1.8 but it won`t autofocus on my D40. That`s not going to work very well for moving people either! So far, I`ve been walking round crowded areas using the 18-55 kit lens.
  15. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    stop down and pre-focus. use a DoF calculator for assistance. it's not perfect, but it works, though it works better with a wide-angle (24-35mm). also doesn't work if you specifically want a thin DoF, but i doubt your kit lens gets you much of that anyway.

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