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Saigon Street Photography, Dynamics

First pics in the new year 2014. The people of Vietnam are cordially. Last street shooting was more of a stealth shooting which means working manually with preset aperture and shutter speed. Only ISO-automatic adjusts the exposure. Depth of field and shutter speed blur are thus controlled. Prefocusing is done to a certain distance, with a certain depth of field which is determined by the aperture. When the distance to the subject was right I could release. This is technically possible if legacy manual lenses such as the Carl Zeiss Distagon 28/28 in C/Y mount is adapted. Instead today I took my NEX-7 and mounted the camera dedicated lens Sony-Zeiss ZA 24/1.8. The differences that affect the way to take photos are manifold. It’s nothing for stealth photography, as there is no distance scale. You could prefocus (called zone focusing), but not change focus when necessary. This lens is made for using autofocus. But how to tell the camera, which is your subject? It doesn’t work in spontaneous situations. Also presetting shutter speed and aperture while using autoiso is not possible. The camera simply doesn’t accept such a setting. The trick is using legacy lenses that have an manual aperture ring. Go in Shutter priority mode and set the shutter speed (I use 1/640s for stealth photography if possible) and the camera can’t change the aperture. With autoiso selected the camera has to adjust autos for right exposure. My strategy for street photography from hip level has therefore always been using legacy lenses. There is a whole world of legacy lenses with excellent image quality e.g. from Zeiss or Leica. I also love my Olympus OM 21/2. With the Metabones Speed Booster the effective focal length is only 1.09 multiplied with the nominal focal length instead of the factor 1.5 when adapting directly onto the NEX. Simultaneously one stop of aperture is gained.

Today I decided to shoot open. It has impact to the images because people change when they notice that you are photographing them. You interfere to the scene. The shot of an innocent situation is therefore in many cases lost. Otherwise the attention to the photographer may also be helpful. Important is not to upset people. I think it’s unpossible to shoot open on the day of arrival at a place. First acclimatize, observe people, become part of the scene. As a western person initially you may be too obtrusive in an eastern place. Once you come into contact with one person in a street the ice might be broken. When you’re lucky people warm up and by no way reluctant that you take photos of them. And you will be noticed when you rely on the automatics of the cam. On the other side you have way more time to scrupulously compose the shot. that’s how the following pics have been made.

 

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