6 by 6 - skating under Lenin

It might not be the most practical idea; apart if you might have a masochistic stream, to use a middle format camera in street photography. there is the point of manual focus, choosing the right f stop and the timing all without a meter. 

But it is fun as well. Handling everything with a not very well unobtrusive camera has on the other hand as well its charm as a lot of people are interested in the gear and you can get very easily in discussion and having the possibility to take some good street portraits. B&W film is as well very forgiving and taking an 800 ISO film gives a good range to shoot in.

Walking around the Lenin monument this late afternoon I got in contact once again with a group of skaters. This time from California. They are travelling, as some of the other groups I met, from Hanoi to Danang to Ho Chi Minh City. 

It seems that skate boarding is the new go to in Vietnam.

Impressions of Mumbai

Thinking of Mumbai I had some first thoughts coming to my mind. Bollywood - slums - finance centre - tropical island. The facts to go with depending on different sources are a population of about 20 million on about 400 sq km. British gothic and Victorian architecture from the colonial area and high rises stuck into different areas. So there should be a lot to google and to marvel on.  

And so it is. 

Visionary visions

Visionary visions

 

Old colonial houses with their charm and as well after some decades their failures. High rises like other Asian cities with a lot of amenities. In between all this life in abundance. 

House of the richest family in India  

House of the richest family in India  

 

There are the rich, the ultra rich and just a step around the corner the poorest of the poorest. A city of contrasts.  

 

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As as the weather is mostly like Hanoi, at least at this time of year, it's very welcoming to be near the sea as often there is a breeze to cool down.  

Three palms and at least three leisurely resting

Three palms and at least three leisurely resting

 

Many choices and and many no goes in terms of looking for a flat. As always the decision to make will be a compromise. Nevertheless I'm eager to move to Mumbai.  

 

Let's see! Another day another try another chance.  

 

 

Imperial towers not far away

Imperial towers not far away

Old charme around the corner

Old charme around the corner

Blue hour - city panorama time

Panoramic Photography is a great way to combine multiple images to create a detailed panorama image. With the update to Lightroom 6 Photo Merge was added to Adobe Lightroom as not to have to leave the application.

Eight images in Lightroom 6

Eight images in Lightroom 6

actual settings

actual settings

The following panorama photo is a combination of 8 images to create a panoramic cityscape here in Hanoi at the West Lake at the blue hour. I employed as well a blue tinted ND Filter. Everything else was done in Adobe Lightroom CC2015. The photos were taking on my Sony 7R using my Zeiss 55mm f1.8 lens.  For this image I had the settings at ISO100, ƒ/8 and 1/400 sec.

West Lake in Hanoi during the blue hour

West Lake in Hanoi during the blue hour

Light at Night

Walking around at night in Hanoi you might come up to an old house and enter. Exploring the rooms you don't notice the time and suddenly it gets dark. Missing a flash light you are searching for the exit as suddenly a bright light comes through the door you want to leave. A light which has a certain quality. A light which seems so different you want to capture.

What's behind?

What's behind?

Opening the door the light is to blinding but illuminates the stair leading up to the next floor. It seems as if the light is surrounding the whole building and coming as well to the windows. Than the wind opens the front door a little bit more and the staircase is even more enlightened. What else to do as to go upstairs.

What's upstairs?

What's upstairs?

Coming upstairs you see an open door. A young woman is in one of the rooms with an open door looking out behind the blinds of the window. What does she see? What's going on?

What's outside?

What's outside?

Creeping closer to get a better shot it seems she is contemplating about something? What might it be? What's going on here? How did it happen the idea came into my head to enter this building?

What is she thinking about?

What is she thinking about?

Mystery time in Hanoi!

Around the clock - 24hour project Hanoi

Taking part in photography projects is a great way to make sure you always have something to shoot. In order to concentrate on new skills or brush up old ones you are constantly moving to different fields and will as well get your skill enhanced. What better way to get inspired. 

 

I had in mind to participate in the 24hour world wide photo project and wanted to try this on a leisurely scale for my own in advance. I did it and was surprised how good everything worked out here in Hanoi. As the 24hour/2015 project started I had already some good ideas and points in the city where I knew I could get the best shots at certain hours.

painting with light on my sensor at low light hours is one of my favorite past times

painting with light on my sensor at low light hours is one of my favorite past times

 

Doing it twice in I could get some of the members of the Hanoi Photo Club interested as well and out of about 30 photographers ten found the time to do something likewise. We get together and agreed to put our effort into documenting Hanoi in 24hours. The time slots were chosen and a date set.  Saturday, 18. April to make it happen. At this day, 12 photographers took part in the Hanoi 24 Hour Project, intent on capturing the essence of the Vietnamese capital from 12 midnight to 23:59 choosing from one up to five images for the respective time slot. 

 

After getting notified that I had to work longer on Friday and as well got an invitation for an event starting at 8pm, I knew it would be a kind of marathon day spanning more than 24 continuous hours. But as I had done it before I knew that it didn’t have to be a marathon in physical distance too — if you know what stories you want to get within the 24 hour period it is much easier the second or third time to be at the right place and hope for the right action.

We see what we want. At least if you have a theme in mind.

We see what we want. At least if you have a theme in mind.

 

Such photography projects can make you a better photographer. They force you to get out with your camera, rain or shine, and that on itself can only be a good thing. Some photo projects can last for years and are worth to go for as well, while this was just for some hours it demanded nevertheless a whole set of creative ideas depending on the time slots as well as on the action on the street.

 

As you might imagine, the result of this project could and did end in a lot of images, like an avalanche of photos. Due to this the Hanoi 24hours project was restricted from the beginning to maximum 5 images. Every one of the participating photographers had a different approach in showing his feelings and his idea of experiencing Hanoi in this 24-hour period. My approach had been to choose a different theme for each hour I had to fill. Out grasping for my view of Hanoi at this special project I got the following images at quite some odd hours. 

Starting the 24 hour project at this late or early hour, depending on how you see it, I decided, as already stated, to go for each hour at a certain theme for my time slots. The first theme I choose was clubs in Hanoi. As laser lights and all other kinds of light sources are flashing and bouncing around and on the other side low light and darkness fills the room of the clubs its quite a challenging move to get some good handheld images without using flash.

Another hour, another theme. The Night market and its busy ongoing hour has been my main interest at my second time slot. How to capture all the hectic and moving around? The best idea I came up was to take out some clutter which means the colour. Taking the images in b&w was the first decision. The second was to take all images at a slow shutter speed, a very slow shutter speed at 1/15 sec. At this shutter speed to get something sharp in the images I reckoned the only way to go was panning.

Another odd hour and another decision what to get at this hour when mostly everyone is asleep. I decided to go to one of the tourists spot of Hanoi - Hoan Kiem Lake. The lake and is surroundings is not only full of tourists but as well with Vietnamese all day around. I figured it is seldom to have everything rid of people here and so I took the chance to get my images here showing the red bridge and other parts of the area for my purpose.

Six o'clock early morning and the market already have their stuff. May be not all as some seems to hasten to their destinations. Late comers and strollers all over the place.

Out again and off I go toward the little Lenin Park across the flag tower in Hanoi. There is always something going on here and I intended to go for the skaters, the skaters who wasn't there where they normally always are. Now by happenstance a group of youngsters started to train some dance moves for an event and as all this red and the yellow star fitted quite easy into the green background of the park I decided to go LOMO. Which means I took out my little Diana and started to shoot the training. After developing the next day I actually liked the vignetted frame of the images a lot.

Going from colorful to b&W was introduced by the light conditions of the day. There was nearly no sun to see and as I decided to go for some busy streets and working areas in the Old Quarter I reckoned that all the colors, especially with the sewing machines would be more a distraction than help. Just before noon time, before lunch is a busy time in Hanoi.

Noon time. Not the best light for photographers. Might work in b&w for some street photography.  It was getting more humid and hot as well. Time for rest and as there weren't so many people on the street I like the light, the leaves and the shadows playing in different patterns all over parks, little gardens, pagodas and empty stairs. Once more some LOMO time I thought and my little Diana did it quite well as intended.

Just after lunch time and nearly all day around Hoan Kiem Lake, but as well at different other parts of the city, you can encounter the wedding photographers and the attached couples. Most of the time I wonder how they prepare the images afterwards as the light isn't as good as one might like especially in this time slot. So I went again into b&w and concentrated on the wedding photographers, their poses and their champagne after every shot.

Nine o'clock - already time to have eaten - to early to go to bed, much too early to go out in a club, but club life already starts. Bar Owners and their personnel prepare for the evening and waiting for guests. clubs open up their artistic venues and are waiting for customers.

Saturday night fever and the bottles rules. Many are gathering in the "water"holes to forget their working hell of the week. time to relax and if alcohol gets it done faster - so be it. Music, chatter, glittering lights, cheap beer and getting together with friends. Let it happen now.

You can see the bigger images at the start of my homepage in the Gallery around the clock - part 0f the 24hour project in Hanoi. Have fun!

Ridgeback from Phu Quoc

Phu Quoc dogs are fierce hunters and loyal companions. There are many stories bout these breed of dogs from Phu Quoc Island. Stories about the loyalty, intelligence and hunting ability. Named for the ridge of hair along their spine, Phu Quoc Ridgebacks are extremely agile. Now they are well thought after in all of Vietnam. If you like to get more information just look it up here at Wikipedia.


Railway tracks, leading lines and chaotic lanes

This Saturday afternoon I spent my time guiding the Hanoi Photo Club along the railway tracks in the Vietnamese capital and so avoiding the tourist crowds and tiptoeing instead along the train tracks of the “Reunification express”, a surviving kind of relic of a bygone era, but still working today.

Meeting point in front of the main railway station in Hanoi

Meeting point in front of the main railway station in Hanoi

There are shops and families living along the tracks and there are shops you might not have thought about. A lot of wood crafters are settled here and as well hairdressers, hairdressers, hairdressers.

one of the young ones living and playing here

one of the young ones living and playing here

 

The North–South Railway still is the principal line connecting Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. The single-track line has a total length of 1,726 km. This trains are referred to as the “Reunification Express”. The railway established during French colonial rule was completed in between 1899 and 1936. The tracks run between the homes on both sides in a narrow kind of tunnel.

 

Nearly 80 years later, the train line is at certain parts a colourful path decorated walls with graffiti and endless rows of houses, little shops, hairdressers and tenants. At some intersections the railroad tracks are expertly marked. There are warning signs for passersby to keep a look out for oncoming trains. But walking along the tracks the train just steps from you or you directly on the tracks you have to look out. This is the case for many occupants along the Reunification track in Hanoi. Amidst this as well busy part of Hanoi, people live and work alongside the railroad tracks. You can found such sites in part of the city's Old Quarter, and on a longer stretch to the south of the Hanoi main station where we started our photo walk. 

a balanced concentrated walk

a balanced concentrated walk


Due to the railway tracks you can get some very well composed images with leading lines and as well another face of the Vietnamese capital. As we had done this not for the first time we started to explore the neighbourhood with it small lanes, markets and different shops.

A glimpse into the lanes full of markets, shops and live

A glimpse into the lanes full of markets, shops and live

There is more to come. So much to see, so much to document.

Time to hit the street

Street photography is a documentation of the the swirling life in visual form. If you like to be an observer like me there will be a number of situations and interesting details about all the people and objects around you. Photographically capturing these moments to document the contemporary life in different cultures on different continents, towns and villages is what I like the most. I am sure that there are many possibilities when you see something happening and regret having left your camera somewhere. So apart from my rule to take a camera wherever I go I would like to provide as well some street photography tips which helped to further my photography. Hopefully, it will help you as well.

 

I have to have a look into this matter

I have to have a look into this matter

May be before starting I should state what Street Photography is - at least in my opinion.

 

In essence, street photography is kind of candid photography done in public places, it can be a street, a restaurant, public buildings, transport and more. It can be seen as a kind of everyday photojournalism and in most cases involves people in populated environments. It shows the everyday live of strangers. As a street photographers I try as much as possible to stay unnoticed when photographing, but on the other hand I’m not going real sneaky. Staying unnoticed helps to capture the scenes which are unfolding in front of me unaffected by the subject and in this way to show a natural story. That is the way to go in my opinion. 

 

Street Photography would be better named Contemporary live photography in my opinion. It is a glimpse through a window of the world how I see it and showing this for all of you to see. 

One way to go - practice

One way to go - practice

 

No matter what camera, black and white, colour…iPhone…Android…Nikon…Cannon…Sony… just name it will be my medium to paint this scenes with light. Now up to some tips which helped me to get better in this kind of photography genre.

 

First of all the old saying “Less is More” is quite a good start:


I usually don’t take too much equipment - walking the streets light is the way to go. You will be less obtrusive and nevertheless best equipped to take your stories and images quickly. I mostly take one camera, one lens in between 16 to 50mm either a prime or sometimes as well a zoom lens. With this wide angle solutions I can and I have to go close. As close as possible. It’s quite easy here in Vietnam as people are not shy of the camera and in places it is very populated so you can just place yourself in an alleyway, let people pass and once in a while if there is an interesting subject or scene happening you can take the image without being noticed at all.

Another tip is to go off the beaten Path – don’t go where all the touristy are – get some behind the scenes and in this way some real life experience. Look around you and see what is happening. If you got the feeling of your surrounding you can get this stolen moments – moments between people before they happen - moments you can already anticipate.

angle some things, just try a different view

angle some things, just try a different view

As we see our work in colours and with this kind of true colours sometimes overwhelming it is not so easy to show your subject as all this clutter might distract from this aim. Going instead toward black and white is often where street photographers are going. I shoot in RAW and so I can afterwards decide what way to got as at times colourful situations arise and can really make your shot – don’t miss these.

 

Location, Location, Location – that’s what it is all about. Places where people interact with one another and times when they are present. Parks, markets, stations and alike are good spots to start. Off the streets – other places like zoos, fairs, shows, sporting events can be worth trying as well and you will not be so obtrusive. Depending where you are shooting look out for the Background behind your subject. That background can actually ‘make’ your shot. Billboards, signs, graffiti and many different other elements can really make a statement.

There are always some rules and you have to know them to efficiently break them as well. In street photography there are not so many rules or at least there is a better acceptance to break them. Don’t take your images all from the same height. Think of your camera as it would be a space ship from another world and is now on earth exploring its wonders. Take different angles, go dutch, go diagonal, go wild. Experiment and find what you like and if you like it it will as well show in your images.

As I said there are some rules or ideas you should know about to break them and there are things you might just embrace without breaking at all. Like the idea that opposites attract – shots which challenge the ‘norm’ can be very powerful. Looking for ‘surprising’ subject matter and composition is always awarding.

 

somehow different

somehow different

 

Practice, practice, practice, it will make you nearly perfect – over time and with all this practice your photography will improve as you know your settings and your camera by heart. You’ll not only get better at the technical level but you will start spotting and focusing other thing in the street. With all these practice you will experience that fortune favours the brave. In order to get your expected luck once in a while be ready to pounce – have your camera out and ready to shoot at all times. 

Push your limits and the limit of your gear

Push your limits and the limit of your gear

Frozen Motion – the street is a place of movement – to capture it and still get sharp shots make sure your shutter speed is fast enough. I go for either at minimum 1/125 or with my Sony to 1/320 sec and with ISO of 400 or more. On the other hand don’t forget to experiment with slower shutter speeds and capture the movement as blurs. Try as well to exaggerate your perspective. That will help to set your subject in context and provide a different view.

There are certainly so many other things to get into but these stated ideas and tips, mostly from fellow photographers and from my own experience helped me to get better and I try to think of them all along to get even better in time.

Smell the street. Shot it

 

Street photography. Hip, urban, in, challenging and much more comes to my mind. Street photography is done everywhere, by nearly everyone, every time.

When you are pacing the streets with your choice of camera equipment each honking horn tells you that shooting in the street is a real challenge. Chewing gum, rotten fruits or vegetables, red spit and other nasty things under your shoes, the smells of the street and the wet market smells of animals, fruits and herbs are mingling and wafting up to hit you in the nose. Behind every corner here in Hanoi you can come up with something different.

Street photography is kind of a harsh name for a beautiful pursuit. If you would be a painter you would come with an empty canvas and start to fill it to your liking. As a street photographer you have to have the ability to tame the chaos in front of you. To frame the cacophony of contemporary life all around you. To capture what it means to be alive, what it means to you, what you want to show your audience.

Street photography is more than a shooting just in the street; it is a way of seeing, a way of experiencing life. Street photography can be part of fashion, sport, documentary and whatever you like it to be. At its very essence street photography is capturing life without interrupting it. If you are out in the right mood doing your style of street photography you are witnessing and capturing moments in history. May be this once-in-a-lifetime moments are just interesting to you, but as scenes are unfolding in front of you you might feel a significance for others as well. It is a pursuit of real life, of photography without asking permission front up.

So this side of street photography can be scary. It can hinder shy photographers to pursuit their dream. 

If you study street photography from old masters to present day photographers you will find some  important elements that make this street photographer successful. 

There are certainly a lot of things to consider but let's just stick to these following:

• Controlling composition in an ever changing environment 

• Controlling your fear 

• Controlling the visual clutter you can capture in pointing your camera and pressing the shutter 

On the street, you just have a backdrop full of things and action, at least most of the time.  The light might change faster than you like. The fancy and colourful environment is your backdrop and you have to figure out how to frame your subjects within this given space. This means paying attention to light, background, buildings, negative space, contrast and on and on in a fraction of a second before the moment is gone.

Street photography can be terrifying. That's why I practice it every day. Pushing yourself outside the boundaries of comfort, using different lenses, different gear helps me a lot. Photograph in the streets of Hanoi and in South East Asia helps a lot as people are more open than in Europe for example. The laws aren't as strict as in Germany for example. Don't let your inner voice say stop. Just do it and go beyond your borders .

Try to get images for a theme helps. At least in my humble opinion. Try to figure out how to show something coherent . In this way all your images won't be just random snapshots or a collection that speaks to no one.

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