The Importance of candid shooting by Dirk De Paepe

The Importance of candid shooting

by Dirk De Paepe

Social Media (Loxia 2/50 Planar: f/13, 1/500, ISO400)

01. Social media

Street shooting is without any doubt one of our most compelling disciplines, because it represents the pinnacle of photography’s greatest forte: catching and copying moment’s out of real life and freezing them into lasting images. Only photography can perform this and it does it in a way that our first impression automatically is, that we’re looking at a faithful scene out of reality (although we all know about so many possible tricks – which BTW are not performed in the pictures that go with this article). Every experienced street photographer knows that there are moments and viewpoints where so many things fall into place, that they become special and/or typical. That’s why timing is a crucial factor in this creative process.

(Of course, as always, I express my personal vision in this article, but I believe that it’s only in the exchange of different visions that we can further develop. So you are very welcome to comment from a different point of view.)

Sharing (Loxia 2/35 Biogon: f/13, 1/320s, ISO1600)

02. Sharing

The most important subject in street shooting is people. And thus the comparison with portraiture, both posed and unposed, is obvious. I believe a posed portrait mainly must show a person in the way that he/she wants to be shown. The acting skills of the portrayed person play a big role herein, as well as the communicating skills of the photographer. The key idea is: “this is the image of myself that I want to show”. Because such a picture is all about this one person’s specific personality (or the personality that one wants to show), he/she should be in control of the impression he/she makes on the spectator, or the photographer needs to put him/her that much at easy that he/she acts natural. (Of course this domain is bigger, but this is the essence of it. Working with a professional model for instance won’t necessarily have the model’s personality as the subject of the picture.) I’d like to make a comparison with colors now. One could say that this kind of portraiture (posed portraiture, that is) represents one color of the spectrum, say green. Of course there’s an infinite amount of nuances in green and green is a very interesting color indeed, but still, they are all green and there are still so many other colors! That’s why I believe that unposed shooting of people can show so many more aspects of humanity, of typical human behavior, and therefore I believe it to be much more interesting than posed portraiture.

City traffic (Loxia 2/35 Biogon: f/13, 1/200sec, ISO 1600)

03. City traffic

The importance of unposed shooting, which can only be done candid, doesn’t lie in showing the true being and the true character of one specific person, as many still believe. Because the candid photographer (generally) doesn’t know his target person, there’s no question of portraying this specific person’s identity. Instead he’s rather holding up a mirror and makes us, as spectators, reflect about how we all, as people in general, can act/react in different circumstances. With his candid shots, he’s creating a pallet, as diverse as possible, of the different aspects of humanity. The portrayed persons merely act as representatives of mankind, not as particular individuals. This is the more so, because we only picture one moment out of their whole life, without any added context. The weakness of photography is, that it’s very difficult to tell the whole story in one picture. Therefore documentary photography requires a series of pictures to do the job. But in street shooting, registering those isolated moment also involves a great forte: it stimulates our imagination, having us create our own story around the picture, giving birth to so many interpretations of the same scene. It makes the picture to transcend from this one person and represent mankind.

Lonely (Loxia 2/35 Biogon: f/13 1/1600sec, ISO1600)

04. Lonely

We start to realize (subconsciously) that everybody, ourselves included!, could show that same kind of behavior as the pictured person, in specific circumstances. The more we recognize this behavior within ourselves, the more we realize that all humans are pretty much alike. When we realize that everybody can pass through typical or strange or weak or even embarrassing moments, we will more easily accept our own weaknesses and failures and as such also accept other’s imperfections. It can help in being less embarressed about certain defaults we think we have, realizing that everybody has his own defaults. As such this can work liberating, since we’ll be more in peace with ourselves. Once we realize this true purpose of candid shooting – portraying mankind – we will be able to see that it’s not at all about intruding into one specific person’s identity. This is impossible anyway, because the photographer doesn’t know the “model” and both the photographer and spectator don’t know the circumstances that lead to this registered momentarily situation. So the picture can’t possibly show this one person’s true nature. A good street photographer realizes that. He doesn’t want to intrude in one’s soul. Instead his photography is all about revealing the true nature of humanity in general, as said, by exposing how we all can act, given the right circumstances. As such, street photography is a means to increase tolerance amongst people. Candid street shooting is not at all about violating once privacy. Think about it. We take those pictures in plain public, which means that every image has been fully exposed anyhow to all bystanders. No photographer is expected to think that anybody is showing behavior in plain public that he doesn’t want to be shown. Also think about the thousands of safety camera’s that film us and register our behavior on a constant basis – sometimes to be used for much less honorable purposes.

Because of all of this, I believe candid pictures to be the most interesting, when people don’t look into the lens and are not aware that they are being photographed. Looking towards the camera/photographer almost always results in an image, in which the person seams to think: “I’m being photographed!”. I believe that from that moment on, the picture looses his real candid character, almost always withdrawing the portrayed person from his natural behavior, resulting in cramped and uninteresting images. In exceptional cases, it càn deliver beautiful shots though. A minority of people immediately reacts to the camera in an open, welcoming way. Those pictures can really show something valuable of this person’s true nature. They can result in very beautiful “personality portraits”. One could call those shots “Unposed, yet aware portraits”.

Beautiful people (Loxia 2/50 Planar: f/13, 1/800, ISO400)

06. Beautiful people

But no matter how beautiful they can be, it’s still like they all are different shades of blue. Blue is a very beautiful color, with many nuances, and I absolutely wanna use all those blues, but still I prefer to see the whole color spectrum! The situation, and therefore the expression of face and body, is (in average) much more interesting, much more representing the whole of mankind, when there’s no photographer disturbing it. Candid shots show so much clearer all different aspects of human life and behavior. The majority of people only look natural, when the shot was taken fully candid. That’s why the great street photographers often preferred a Leica M camera over a big SLR, so they could shoot in a more discrete way. Today we see a lot of Sony A7x bodies go along the Leica’s, together with a range of Micro 4/3’s and APSC’s. I like to pair my A7r with the Zeiss Loxia lenses, that I find simply perfect for street shooting, regarding size, performance and IQ. From time to time, I will add the Canon FD 85mm f/1.2 or Jupiter 9 (85mm as well) to the lot. (I’m really looking forward to the Loxia 85 or 90mm to come, for that matter.)

Severe facades (Loxia 2/50 Planar: f/11, 1/250sec, ISO400)

07. Severe facades

All pictures posted here, were shot in Antwerp, my favorite city, in a span of a few hours time. I chose to post only shots from that particular shoot, just show that there is a lot to notice in a short time. Although most street photographers shoot or publish in B&W, I decided to keep all shots in color. It’s how I think at this moment. I agree, B&W emphasizes on the essence of the act, still I believe that the colors can really contribute to the street feeling and to the atmosphere of a country, a region, a city. Where I live, in Belgium, real life colors are more grey and murky than for instance in Spain, let alone in Africa. They are less brilliant and saturated. So in the color balance I pursued grays to be really gray and not to overdo the colors, although with the modern cameras and post production software, it’s so very easy and tempting to do so. Still, I’m not proclaiming to produce perfectly faithful colors. Instead I tried to make them contribute to the general feeling that I got from the place, as such contributing to feeling that I got when observing the pictured people.

Pedestrian zone (Loxia 2/35 Biogon: f/13, 1/800sec, ISO1600)

08. Pedestrian zone

But more than the color treatment, it’s the people themselves that play the central role in those pics. Some absolutely didn’t know that I was shooting and act absolutely natural. Some noticed me but didn’t change their expression a single bit. Some reacted enthusiastic and opened up. A single one showed a bit of an annoyance. But after all, I experienced no real reluctance with any of them. And in all of them I noticed enough typical human behavior to show those pictures to you.

Hasty (Loxia 2/35 Biogon: f/13, 1/800sec, ISO1600)

09. Hasty

Finally, aside the catching of the moment, I also try to take care of the composition. That means that I try to integrate the surroundings in a meaningful way. I have my personal insights on arranging the subjects and objects in a picture, but this would take me too far to elaborate about this in this article. But I can say that, while shooting, this is done with a sense of balance and a “load of rules” that have become more or less natural to me. The fine tuning is done in post of course. Often I think in square images when shooting, which shows. Integrating the surroundings in the composition requires a larger depth of field, which I achieve by zone focusing. The Loxia’s are fantastic lenses for that kind of work. Like I wrote in my reviews about them, published on this site, they can produce tremendous detail on all plans, even when hyperfocusing. And zone focusing is a fantastic technique for street shooting, since there is zero focusing time required, thus offering the fastest way to react to any situation, faster than any AF system. Finally, using a hi-res sensor together with those state-of-the-art lenses, gives you quite some cropping power, which sometimes can be interesting when you caught an interesting moment’s event at some distance.

Wretched (Loxia 2/35 Biogon: f/13, 1/400sec, ISO1600)

10. Wretched

Please, as always, click on the pictures to see them in bigger format with better IQ, and go to my flickr page to see them in full size, with the Exif data included. You’ll find them, and more, in a dedicated album, named “In the streets of Antwerp” .

I hope you enjoyed the images. Thanks for reading and watching and, as always, special thanks to Steve and Brandon for keeping on publishing this great site.

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68 thoughts on “The Importance of candid shooting by Dirk De Paepe

  1. Everybody is entitled to their opinion, but last time I checked this wasn’t a send-in-for-critique website? Or is it? And have we all forgotten that there are different genres in photography as well as many ways to interpret photography? Registration is just as valid a motivation to photograph as any, how mundane it might seem to anyone else. The subjective and objective are both intricate parts of photography, some leaning more to the one than the other.

    1. Hello Hessel,
      I don’t remember the movie, but I’ll never forget the conversation in that one scene, between two people, one visiting the other. Suggesting to put on some music, the host asks: “What kind of music do you love?” and the guest answers: “Oh, I like them both: Country ànd Western.” 🙂
      Being a European guy, with a professional classical music education, I have been open for all kinds of music: classical (there’s already a whole universe in there, going through the centuries over more than 700 years), popmusic, jazz, traditional music of so many countries… But I’ve never loved Country&Western music – just couldn’t get it – untill I visited the small villages of the southwest of the USA, some 20 years ago, and learned to know some people and their “language”… Well, nowadays I just lòve C&W.
      All this being said, I know quite some people that just love one genre. They believe it’s the whole world and there’s no outer space. Indeed, it’s no different in photography, I guess.
      I don’t mind criticism at all, on the contrary, as long as it’s done with real argumentation, not being just a few clinchers.
      Thanks a lot for your reply, Hessel.

  2. Thank you for your inspiring article, Dirk. I loved both, the text AND the images. Of course, these aren’t fotos to stay in my mind for a week or longer, but I enjoyed looking at them and suggesting about the momentary feelings and thoughts of the subjects shown. That was more interesting for me (personally) than one more of those elaborated skin landscapes of older greek men, a perfect composition of a loving couple in the sunset or an excellently lighted potraiture. For me, there never was a question – what is the target of the foto – it’s the people. Each of them in each of the fotos, apparently. Of course, every opposition and discussion ist welcome and taking vorward.

    1. Well, Thomas, you have understood my intentions for 100%, and I totally agree with everything you say. I believe that the main element of a work of art is the subject. Those pictures are very unpretentious on themselves, since the subject of each of them is pretty common. It would be more meaningful to take a great number of my street pictures together, to experience the way I look towards today’s society. But this was not at all my intention with this post. In this case, I regard “the article” to be the work that I created – the written down ideas in the first place, with secondly some pictures to go along with them. I guess (and hope) that the article will stay with you longer than each of the pictures. At least, that was my goal.
      The subject of the last article I wrote, “The 30.001th Last Post” (http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2015/10/29/the-30-001th-last-post-by-dirk-de-paepe/) was much more compelling, with pictures that I believe to be more important by themselves. Nevertheless, also there it was in the first place an article that wanted to create, with say a fifty/fifty shared importance of text and images. In the case of this article it’s more an 80/20 ratio.
      Thank you so much for your wise reply, Thomas.

  3. So many critical comments; what could I ever add? I feel it’s the combination of the long winded, professorial narrative and the rather run of the mill images, adorned with “meaningful” captions, that caused many to respond in this way.

    So I’ll keep it brief.

    Random composition seldom works. Yes, there are exceptions.

    Candid, “stolen” shots, environmental portraits, sometimes work, but there’s no additional merit over a “posed” portrait, environmental or close up. There are so many examples in portrait history…

    F13? Can’t remember having used that – ever – in almost fifty years of photography. I just browsed through an old notebook, 1989, notes of my first Stateside trip, F301, and noted I used it on “P” for a lot of shots. Maybe the 13 popped up there every now and then.

    Very detailed, lots of DoF, shots of busy streets can be interesting as an image, but mostly aren’t.

    And, I don’t believe in lengthy explanations. In my profession they say the longer the explanation, the weaker the case.

    1. You didn’t use many words, indeed, Michiel. I’m thinking if there’s wisdom in them, or if they’re just a few clinchers. Let me reply to some of them.
      When you say there’s no additional merit over a “posed” portrait, I just can’t agree with that. I guess you didn’t read this article (well). Those candid shots have a totally different goal than a protrait, as I explained.
      Why f/13? This Loxia lens is the first (that I’ve owned) that workes virtually at the same excellent level up till f/13. I’m absolutely thrilled about this lens, because it can give me this enormous dof, with great IQ allover.
      “The longer the explanation, the weaker the case”. Almost sounds like a politician’s speach to me. 🙂 I think this is definitally a clincher. Although in some cases it can be correct. It makes me wonder about your job…

      1. Not so difficult to guess I think (my job). The art (or is it a craft?) of argumenting and convincing. Anyway.

        Yes, I read the article, don’t worry. I just don’t agree with most of it, and that’s what I pointed out.

        Your F13 explanation once again emphasizes that the technical performance of a lens (or a camera) is for you a starting point. For me the starting point is a pre-visualised (or stumbled into) image, and I use the hardware available to me at that time. Cameras, lenses (I’ve got more than enough of them), different film types (that’s a yo yo thing; I decided to stick to 400Tx and cut the experimenting, but I just used a roll of Retro 400S and just ordered some rolls of Double X 5222; so there you go, again), I like them as much as the next man (or woman), but only up to a certain point. It’s the image that counts. Always.

        It’s like audio equipment. You’re listening to the equipment (YES! I can hear the difference those gold plated interconnects make!), I’m listening to the music.

        1. Oh Dirk, and as for the unposed/posed thing, please reread your own article? Consistency in argumentation is something value highly.

          Cheers!

          Michiel

        2. I’m gonna leave you here, Michiel. I don’t understand what makes you think that you simply can state how I think and work. You can’t be more wrong in that. Sorry, my friend. No hard feelings, though.

  4. Fair enough, Dirk.

    “..These were documentary and illustrative pictures, that support the written article. Text comes first, pictures go with it..”

    So they weren’t meant as pictures, with some descriptive text added. The idea was to write an article, and then to add some photos to it, to illustrate the argument is the text.

    The text was meant as a springboard for a discussion, and the pictures were a kind of add-on.

    I think we may have different ideas about photos; I think that you think of them as reproductions of reality, needing a nice sharp lens and plenty of pixels to capture an accurate an image of physical objects in front of your camera.

    My point is that photos may convey moods, feelings and emotions, and that the most accurate, sharp reproduction of objects isn’t always so necessary.

    I think that you seem to be intensely technical, but I am more “airy-fairy” romantic about photos.

    And so I think that we just won’t see eye to eye about these pictures, and so I’m happy to agree to differ, and to not write any more about them.

    Cheers,

    David.

    1. Exactly, David, most of my articles origin out of an idea. The pictures come afterwards indeed. And I guess that it’s correct that we differ a lot. You guessed correctly that I see pictures as a way to show a kind of “general reality”, although I will often influence the scene by selection. The goal is to give an idea of how I experience that “general reality”.
      Still, I can appreciate good “airy-fairy” romantic pictures a lot! I just don’t feel to (try to) produce them myself.
      Thanks again for the fine way of sharing your thoughts. I’m sure that they were inspiring for many who read them!

  5. I loved this essay on street photography. I feel inspired to venture more into the art of capturing slices of life from an observant distance. I usually do this in countries other than my own but now will experiment here as well. Thank you for your informed musings. Some of your thoughts feel almost poetic.

    1. Well, this was absolutely a heartwarming comment, Patty. Thank you so much!
      “Slices of life”, that is so very well phrased. I’m gonna remember that! Maybe I’ll make an album on my flickr pages with that title… 😉

  6. Dirk De Paepe, be careful of pedantic dinosaurs who pontificate authoritatively, and those who believe they KNOW what makes a good photograph.

    I like these photographs, which to my eye refreshingly breaks the tiresome rote thinking about what constitutes “good” photography. I like the clutter and the ordinary moment. We would all like to live in a world that looks like a spread from Architectural Digest or Good Houskeeping, but all cities are indeed messy and cluttered. We just don’t want to acknowledge it. Your street photographs gives this context, as we go by our ordinary daily lives mostly happy yet surrounded by the massive and cluttered infrastructure we’ve built to accommodate our needs. The fourth and last pictures are particularly good, in my opinion anyway 🙂

    And I agree totally with your candid approach.

    1. When not following the main stream, one knows that there’s gonna be a lot of oposition. Still it’s reassuring to know there are still people that look in the same direction. I’m totally with you, Omer. Thanks a lot!

    2. Yeah well said Omer 🙂 I think Dirk’s style has dark tones, like the “wretched” and “pedestrian zone” pictures. These are somewhat uncomfortable to look at, cluttered and even disturbing, even though they are just ordinary moments. The pictures have a sense of explaining city life “as it is” and not seen through a rose-colored lens. Cool results, I think.

      1. I didn’t wanna mention this myself that explicitly. But I’m genuinly surprised that you reply in this way, Lauri. It shows me that you look further than most people do. The color treatment is indeed to express the feelling that I get from a typical city.

  7. I don’t think HCB was shooting at f2. So the advice of David of opening up the aperture together with the reference to HCB is anachronic. The “weak” point of Dirk’s photos is composition and framing. It is too easy to use bokeh. Street photography used to be about hyperfocal and small aperture (technical limitations of the past).

    I imagine that Dirk spent one morning downtown and here is what he came back with. Nothing really impressive, true. But I would have not done better. For Dirk and I, the only option is to go back downtown and to shoot again and again and again to slowly improve our skills.

    Thank you for sharing your pictures Dirk!

    1. Great reply, Teddy! Thanks a lot.
      I think you’re right about the anachronism. Concerning composition though, that’s one thing I try to really take care of. But indeed, those shots were taken in a few hours time, and as I stated earlier, they only were ment to serve the article. This post was really all about the ideas, with pictures to illustrate them. I explained this more comprehensively in my first reply to David Babsky and I explained something about how I compose as well.

  8. What I see is nothing which tells a story, pulls me in, makes me feel to be on the middle of a situation, a moment. It`s all random snapshots of random strangers and a text lecturing about street photography which seems to be copy pasted form textbooks to give weight to the clicking. And by the way, street is not only or always with people in the frame.

    1. Sorry that you feel that way, Retow. No hard feelings. Still I can assure you, that I didn’t copy one single line out of whatever textbook or article. In my former article though, I had to look up quite some facts about WorldWar 1. In a way, there was some copying done there, although the interpretation of the facts was genuinly mine. Maybe you can read my first (very long – sorry for that) reply to David Babsky. I hope that it can convince you that those were not really at random shots.

  9. They’re mixed. Some of them, like Pedestrian Zone, don’t have a clear subject. What is of visual interest in that one, or the preceding one, Severe Facades? Are we supposed to see the couple or the facades of the buildings in the title? The title of last one, Wretched, seems wrong. It’s an older man walking along the street. I can’t see what’s wretched about him or this situation. If he was covered in dirt and on the ground, legless, begging for food, that title might be appropriate. On a positive note, the winner for me is Lonely, and I also like the framing. On the other hand, she has placed her shopping bag in the seat opposite her, so she’s out shopping. Maybe she’s not lonely, just fatigued from shopping. You have to be careful with titles, they can work against your photograph.

    But my major objection is with your assertion that only photography can capture moments out of real life and immortalize them. That is also the domain of painting and even sculpture, and a serious student and practitioner of photography should be aware of how his or her art form relates both in approach and historically to other visual arts. Picasso’s Guernica captures a moment that is one of the most powerful moments ever represented. Henry Moore’s paintings of people taking shelter in the London Underground during WW2 are amazingly evocative. French Impressionist painters were masters at capturing the fleeting moment in life. Turner could paint storms that are more compelling than any photograph I’ve seen. I could go on, but I’ve made my point. This relates to my pet peeve, which is the tiresome discussions about quality of lenses and how many megapixels the latest camera has. Photography to me is a visual art form more than a technical specialty. Great images come from the same principles that apply to all visual arts: subject matter and its emotional and moral impact, composition, lighting, authenticity. That’s what the photographer should be concerned about as an artist. Snapshots are everywhere. True art is much rarer.

    1. Wow, Tony, this is a great reply! Really the kind I like. Thank you so much for it.

      Indeed, Pedestrian Zone and Severe Facades are just simple impressions. Not pretentious about anything at all. They were only ment as illustrations that go with the article.
      In Wretched, the first thing that stroke me was the wretched house (not the man!). And secondly how the posture of the man seems to imitate the bows in the door and windows of the house. It makes me wonder what he thinks…
      Lonely, well she was just sitting there, quietly on herself, talking with nobody. There is nothing personal in this picture, as I explain in my article. It simply can’t be since I don’t know the lady at all. But the way she sat there started me wondering about what her thoughts and feelings could be. Nobody will ever know it. But I find it interesting to think about the possibilities.

      And now the most interesting subject. I need to clarify. I’m not meaning to say that photography is the only medium that can capture and freeze moments out of real life. Not at all. Of course this can as well be done in paintings, sculptures etc. But the power of photography to do this is unique. I could put it in this way. With a photograph, it’s easier to copy reality, with the other artforms it’s easier not to be faithfull to reality. Photography can indeed also create images that no longer have anything to do with reality, or even are a total fantasy. As well, paintings can be absolutely realistic. But it would be rediculous to say that every painting should be a copy of reality, as it should be equally rediculous to say that every photograph should be a fantasy. This explains the main forte of the different artforms. Since picturing reality is the greatest forte of photography, I believe it must be and stay at least one of the main practices of it. I also believe that most people, when seeing a photograph, will think of it as an image out of reality, which is not the case with pictures (anymore – it probably stopped when photography appeared on the scene).
      One comment on the artists you mention: Turner indeed painted very compelling storms. But he’s close to the pinacle of romantism, which is far from faithful to an image out of reality.
      But as a matter of fact, the essence of my article was, that I believe that when a street photographer shoots in the streets, the people he shoots are to be seen as universal types, holding up a mirror for every man and/or woman on the planet.

      1. Dirk, thank you for your reply, and thank you for starting this thread, and for having the courage to show your work and respond so thoughtfully to all of these posts. Your essay is very thought provoking and I agree with much of it. And it is a pleasure to discuss photography as an art form that belongs to the visual arts instead of as a narrow technical field centered on mundane topics like bit depth, megapixels, or lens specifications.

        I agree with you that most readers expect that a photograph will represent the real world more accurately than a painting, but is this true? At one level it is. Your photographs, for example, show details of your city that a painter would probably simplify, (although we shouldn’t forget that there are painters who work in a hyper-realist style). At another level, however, all photography involves choices of subject matter and composition, and represents what the photographer sees or finds worthy of recording. Is it reality or a filtered and edited view of reality? Even Google Streetview, which is one of the most automated recordings of the world, is programmed by the software engineers to blur faces and license plates on vehicles. That’s not reality.

        Of all the visual arts, photography is probably the most subject to the issue of “flatness”. A photographic print or computer display is just a 2-dimensional surface. Can the 3-dimensional world ever be truly represented when a dimension is missing? As you know, that has been a major concern in modern painting for the last century and why so many painters moved into areas like abstract art, partly to avoid the problems of illusion and falsehood that are inevitable when attempting to paint “reality” on a flat surface. To bring up Turner again, it’s absolutely impossible to fully experience a storm by looking at either a painting or a photograph of one. I think the specific problem of flatness is at least as, if not more difficult to avoid with photography. So, to state that photographs are better at representing the real world brings up a number of concerns about the premise and accuracy of that statement.

        1. I could have written your two first paragraphs myself, Tony, 100%. In how I work, the editing and filtering is a major factor, to “squeeze” reality. But I’d like to “make believe” that there was almost no squeezing done, to evoque more subtle emotions. Turner does squeeze reality as well, but in a more dramatic way, with the purpose to evoque great emotions. (To avoid misunderstandings, I don’t wanna compare my level with that of a great artist, like Turner!)
          But because of the fast creating process of photography, we can connect with a lot more different moments, whitch makes it much more suitable for documenting reality through a series of moments around a certain subject/event. The ability to more easily create series of pictures is a forte on itself.
          Concerning flatness, I think, since we edit and filther, and thus since we squeeze, I’m not worried about squeezing a bit more – into two dimensions.

  10. Dirk de Paepe: It’s easy to criticize and difficult to provide (me criticizing you), yet I am still surprised in the sense, that you seem to be prominent with regards to your opinion on numerous sites on the web (read expertise), yet I have not seen any pictures made by you that have impressed me, moved me, inspired me, to me it seems that you have this clinical and robot like approach to photography – without feelings and passion… Harsh but for me true… But we are all different and that’s great and we share the same hobby – which is one that is very unique 🙂

    1. I really thank you for your reply, Mr or Miss S.A. I know that my “pictural language” (I don’t immediately find a better word) can be a bit cool. Maybe it’s unfamiliar to you. Maybe it just sucks… But honestly, I often try to combine this methodical approach with human feelings. I sometimes feel that the first emphasizes the second. But maybe that’s just my mistake… I find even better examples of that in my “The 30001th Last Post” article, published by Steve, just a few weeks ago.
      Maybe that some of the replies I gave to other comments about certain pictures in this article, can better explain how I work.

  11. To all who comment. Thanks a lot.
    First, I’d like to put some things straight. I’m not at all pretending to be one of the great photographers of this planet. But I am a driven amateur, that happens to think quite a lot about what he’s doing, why and how. One of the reasons that I frequent this site, is that from time to time, there are people that write articles, that really help me in this thinking process, leading me to further improve myself. Me, writing this article, has only as goal to start a process within others, and in fact, asking them to respond. If done with mutual respect, it can be a learning proces for me and others, I guess.
    I didn’t thoroughly read the comments yet, when writing this reply, but I surely will. (I need to take some time for it.) And I’ll respond, after thinking over what you communicated to me. I hope this article (and others – maybe from yourself?) can contribute to an interesting exchange of thoughts and ideas. I have no problems at all with other or even oposite opinions and insights, as long as respect stays in place.
    The pictures are merely a starting base to exchange thoughts. That’s why I chose to only post pictures of one shooting session, that didn’t last longer than a few hours. There are nine pictures here. It’s pretty impossible to make nine really outstanding pictures in such a short time. So that was not the purpose of this article. The purpose was to get people to think about this matter and to exchange thoughts.
    Don Bate’s reply is about the best I could hope for.
    Again, I’ll come back with replies on your comments. Just give me some time.

    1. It’s in Antwerp indeed, which is in the northern, Duch speaking part of Belgium.
      Thanks a lot for your comment, Bob. But really, I like to listen to people that have a different opinion. It’s kind of stimulating. But I’m just following my own insights, no matter of what the vogue of the moment is.

  12. First Dirk, kudos for having the stones to share your work. I agree with most of what others have said, and at the same time I see a lot of “me” in these images.

    What I mean is I go out on the street with intentions of getting something, let’s say, powerful or strong. But usually what I get is something less. When I look at those “lesser” images I can learn from them; I can see how they could have been better if I had selected or moved or focused or composed just a little differently.

    For instance – the City Traffic bike shot. If you could have moved to your left, and tighter, eliminating everyone except the guitarists and the cyclist. You’d be left with an image of the cyclist “swerving” away from the musicians. Would that be enough? Not sure. But I think it would have been stronger. And I suspect that is closer to what you saw that made you want to take that shot. I’m guessing you saw the musicians and the cyclist and thought that had some possibilities. You didn’t care about the other pedestrians or the bikes against the fence. The challenge is to not just see the thing you (I) want to include – but to see what you (I) must eliminate. Maybe I’m wrong.

    “Lonely” I see what you were trying to show. Her “alone” against and along side the others in community and conversation. But the agle and the framing put her in the middle too much. and make her almost too obvious. This is just me, but i think if you had continued forward and composed so that she and the others occupied the same layer, with her towards the left of the frame and looking out – I think that would have been stronger. Her looking at the camera, centered, takes away the context.

    And I know – believe me I know that it’s often not easy or even possible to move to the left quickly enough, or get closer or farther. These are challenges I have in my own work. Afterward I can see how it would have been better – but I didn’t seem to have time to do anything differently at the time. So I am now consciously working on seeing farther ahead. Anticipating.

    So like “Wretched” – If I was good at it, as soom as he came around the corner I would have scoped out the surroundings. I’d want him (dark) against the lighter building in the bachground. I would (if I was better) step left toward the building to make that happen. Maybe I’d move forward to eliminate the boarded up doorway. For me that would be stronger. I’d take that shot.

    For me, these are the three that had the most potential to show something.

    But again. I admire you for putting your stuff out there. I don’t like any of my stuff enough to take that risk yet.

    I hope this came across the way I intended.

    1. Just a few words, Mike, about what I thought when taking the pictures that you mention.
      The City bike shot that you mention, I called it City Traffic. You know, I don’t live in the city. I don’t really like city life. I only like the city for taking pictures. I shoot what strikes me, seen from the viewpoint of a country man. In City Traffic it stroke me how in the narrow citystreets the biker(s) maneuver between pedestrians, seemingly without following any rules. The leaning angle of the biker shows its speed. The musicians are necessary as a juxtoposition with the two other elements, to underline how so many different things go on at the same time, so close to one another, without anything having to do with one another. The word traffic also has a meaning close to trade, which refers to a relationship. City Traffic typically is without any relationship.
      “Lonely”. Maybe obviousness is a bad thing. But I wanted this picture to be as obvious as possible. Therefore it hàd to be in a square format, and the V-point of her hands, which I see as the culmination of her body language, IMO absolutely needed to be at the very precise center point of the picture. Everything is drawn to that point. … I hope. As obvious as possible. And therefore, I personally feel that it can’t be stronger. But maybe I feel in a weird way. 🙂
      “Wretched”. The house stroke me, as being totally wretched in that neighbourhood. When this man approached, I saw some resemblance, in a way. So I simply had to juxtapose them. To me it’s kind of the bows of the door and windows of the wretched house are imitated by the posture of the man.
      Thanks for your comment, Mike. It came across the right way.

  13. Dear Mr. De Paepe,

    We follow you on flicker, and read with interest of your experience with your Otus 1.4/55 ZF.2
    (Your ‘favorites’, highlighted in your article are ours too!)
    We manually focus 90 % for our interior images, exposing on tripod + off camera remote speed lights.
    But for our social media, which is brand new for us …… Facebook and Instagram, we are just undertaking to learn to image ‘people & places & things’.

    The hand held candid work in photography you excel in……is new for us and VERY different from our application of MF with 1.4/55 ZF.2.

    Please receive our way of saying THANK YOU, for the time you take to teach, and your generosity to share with a global audience HOW TO manually focus the Otus hand held.

    We are in winter now, so there will be time to practice your technique for when those who enjoy our pristine mountain watershed return to recreate in the natural beauty of the Smokies.

    Best regards,
    Julie & Leigh
    http://www.lakeburtonhome.com

    1. Dear Julie and Leigh,
      Thank you so much for your appreciation. I love to listen to other peoples ideas and I like to share mine. I think that’s the way to improve.
      BTW, such a beautiful place were you live! For sure I would do a lot more landscape shooting, if I would live in a place like that!

  14. Sorry, Dirk, I just don’t see it.

    It sounds like a lot of justification AFTER the event ..intellectualising and making up reasons why photography in a street is a good idea.

    I see here photographs of a car, some tram lines, assorted strangers, some ‘street furniture’ (signposts, a litter bin), assorted other bits and bobs: umbrellas, bicycles, notices, chairs and general clutter, plus lots of buildings and roadway.

    To my eyes, you’ve just taken photographs of clutter. It’s like making a cake of whatever you found in the kitchen: raisins, egg, bleach, milk, dishcloth, flour, water, soap, cheese, cornflakes. You bake it all together in the oven, and it tastes horrendous! ..But then you justify that by saying “Well, it’s my ‘Kitchen Cake’ – it’s a mixture of all the flavours which were in the kitchen!..” ..but so what? Does that make it pleasant to eat? Why would I want to eat it? To get the flavour of “this is what a kitchen tastes like”?

    What is the POINT of these? We know what people look like, we know what roads and street-signs look like. We know what plastic bags look like.

    What have YOU brought to the experience? What do you show about YOURSELF, the unique Dirk, with these photos? ..These, to my mind, look as if they might have been taken by a passing Google street-view camera. They’re just clutter showing human forms, stone buildings, cobblestones, bicycles, and so on.

    What do they show about YOUR interest in, and skill at, photography? What do they show about how YOU, the unique Dirk, felt?

    These – to me, anyway – are not photographs ..they’re just what happened when you did a technical exercise, using – as you’ve so carefully documented – “..Loxia 2/50 Planar: f/11, 1/250sec, ISO400..” etcetera ..you seem to be just as interested in the technicalities and technology of taking the photos, as in producing metaphysical abstract explanations of why these pics are important.

    Take away the long descriptive text ..and what’s left? ..Snaps of strangers in streets.

    You’ve said “..it’s only in the exchange of different visions that we can further develop. So you are very welcome to comment from a different point of view..” and so I’ve taken up your invitation.

    To me, a photo works if it conveys something of the photographer’s INTENTION. When I teach photography (..once a year in Greece, and in the Isle of Wight, and sometimes in Thailand, and next year in Venice..) I suggest to the people on the course that they say aloud, but quietly to themselves, WHAT they’re going to take a picture of. Then they look through the finder, and they get rid of everything that’s NOT what they’ve just said, so that they work at getting exactly the shot they want.

    So if you’d said, of that first shot up at the top, “..It’s a picture of this couple and his phone..” then I’d have encouraged you to remove everything else from the picture except that couple and his phone. So instead of shooting “Loxia 2/50 Planar: f/13, 1/500, ISO400”, you’ve have opened up the lens to f2 to blur away all that other clutter of the bicycles, the buildings, the tree, the ‘human statue’, and so on, and you’d have had a picture of the couple, sharing that interesting moment, looking at his phone.

    But you’d have had to focus carefullyl, instead of relying on f13 to provide everything in sharp focus for you!

    Then we’d have seen (a) your INTENTION! (..to get a photo of the couple in that interesting moment..) and (b) your SKILL! (..being able to focus on the couple, and remove distracting clutter..) and we’d have (c) a FEELING conveyed by the photo: the feeling of shared attention; their attention to each other, and YOUR attention to them.

    That’s what photos can do: not just freeze a random moment, but convey an intangible EMOTION ..or several.

    It’s great that you get such pleasure out of photography. But photography can be so much more. It’s like going to the theatre: would you go to see and hear actors simply reciting their lines with no intonation or feeling? That’s what these pictures give me: just a record of what was in front of your lens at certain moments.

    Or d’you go to the theatre to see and hear what are the feelings, emotions and intentions the actors can convey with their words? ..Humility, anger, pride, aggression, loneliness, longing, delight, other-worldliness, fright, fear, joy, generosity, amazement? ..All these intangible emotions may be conveyed through a photograph.

    But simply recording street scenes for the sake of recording what’s in front of the lens might just as well be done by some kind of automatic mobile Xerox machine.

    Henri Cartier-Bresson – as so many people seem to mention him in the context of ‘street photography’ – did not just click his camera and record random events. He was a ‘Dadaist’ ..a painter who saw weird and surprising, humorous, odd or uplifting moments in life. When he realised that instead of taking weeks to paint a scene, he could capture it in 1/125th of a second, he took the easy route, and used a camera instead of a paintbrush. But he caught SURPRISING moments; moments of a particular configuration of those events in front of his camera. He wasn’t taking general ‘street shots’; he was capturing idiosyncrasies, oddities, moments of uncertainty or peculiarity, and he did it outdoors, because that’s where there was sufficient light for the fairly slow film he was using – by todays standards. He sometimes took pictures indoors, too, if there was enough light. He was capturing ODDITIES and quirky moments, not simply “streets”.

    And the equipment’s unimportant too. Who cares – apart from Leica! – whether he used a Leica, or a Contax, or a FED? Who cares which brand of film he used? (..That never seems to get mentioned, unlike the camera brand).

    How many people buy the same brand of film as he did “..because HCB used it..”? Who cares if you shot with a Loxia or a Biogon or a Planar or a Milkbottle or a Sniggery-Snoo?

    The whole idea of photography, surely, is that the pictures should speak for themselves. No?

    And I’m afraid that to me – since you invited these comments! – well, all I can say is that these shriek “Clutter”.

    With all best wishes, however ..and maybe many other people may have a completely different opinion, and they may dearly love these,

    Yours, David.

    1. Agree with these comments. They are all very very cluttered. The ones that have a subject, then then subject is very very small in the frame and difficult to see and here’s lots of clutter and distraction going on. I like the last one, but the top two thirds of the frame is empty.

      1. One of the reasons I like hi-res sensors, is that one can also look at small details in the frame. Of course, you need to look at the fullres version for that.
        I called the last picture ‘Wretched”, because of the state of the building, of which the picture shows only the groundfloor. Can it be any less? The person, that goes with it shows a kind of bodylanguage, as if his mood is influenced by the state of the building. I wonder what in his mind. But I won’t tell you what I think, because you can have your own thoughts about it.

    2. Dirk’s article with David’s reply, is very educational and helpful. So I thank you both! I have learned a lot.. now I want to give it a go myself!

      1. Thanks you so much, Don! So the article worked! I hope you find the time to also read my reply to David, who I also thank for his contribution.

    3. Yup…I agree with David on this one. Sure, candid photos are almost always better for street shooting but you still need to capture a moment…or lighting..or something that makes the pic special, otherwise all you’ve got is a collection of snapshots.

      For this collection of photos I think the biggest value is being of historical relevance sometime in the future. In 50 years these photos will have more impact due to the time that is past and for all the obvious tells of years gone by, whether it be the clothing, a cell phone…or whatever.

      All that said, I feel kind of bad for Dirk here has he has kind of been piled on after putting himself out there. Street shooting is very difficult to do well; there is a fine line between creating magic or snapshots. Many of us here are probably not any better than he but when you write a whole article and share your work the criticism isn’t far away.

      1. Don’t bother, Clint, at all! In fact I was hoping and in fact trying to provoke some opposition. It’s my firm believe that we only get better, if we listen to opposite opinions. I’m not affraid of admitting that I can (and want to) further improve. My article also wants to be a stimulation for others, not to be affraid to show imperfections.
        But thank you so much for your support!

    4. Dear David, thank you very much for this elaborite reply. I really appreciate it. It gives me the opportunity to exchange thoughts with you, what interests me a lot. I only read half of your reply yet and don’t agree with you. So far. 🙂 That’s why I think it’s interesting to exchange thoughts. But right now it’s 1:25AM here and I’d like to catch some sleep first. I’d like to come back to you tomorrow. See you!

    5. OK David, here are my thoughts about what you wrote.

      I knew this text would generate a lot of opposing reactions. In fact that’s what I was hoping for. But I also hope that everybody can go on exchanging thoughts in a civilized way. So far, I’m also glad about that.

      You told me about your background, writing that you are teaching photography on a regular basis, which makes me feel that I need to to tell something about myself. My professional education was in music. I studied at the conservatory in Gent, Belgium, and have been teaching for about 14 years, until my publications (about musical instruments and professional sound and light equipment) became so demanding that I had to go for it for 200%. I started pretty early with taking pictures, it must have been around the age of 6, and later had to do a lot of shooting for our publications. These were documentary and illustrative pictures, that support the written article. Text comes first, pictures go with it. Often those pictures needed to be taken at a given time and place, often even without much opportunity to choose the best position. It’s a matter of dealing with what you got, and trying to make the best of it. The articles of mine that Steve published here were all created in the same way, starting from an idea for a written article, with pictures to illustrate my thoughts. Of course there was more freedom to shoot, for the pictures that go along with them, but I can spend a lot more time to writing (many short “in-between-moments”) than to go out for shooting sessions. This is because of my professional time schedule. The “dealing with what you got” is never far away. But any journalist has to work in that way, often shooting with available light, not being able to wait for the best light, often not being in the opportunity to freely chose his preferred shooting position. Personally, I don’t mind too much, having to work in that way. That already is a response to your first paragraph: the story comes first, the pictures follow after that. But first of all, the story lies in the article, the pictures go with it. BTW, in what you write, it seems like you think that street photography is a bad idea all together!?

      Next item. Do I make a cake by mixing everything together, what I find in my refrigerator? I think not. Indeed, I often cook with what I find in my refrigerator, but still I try to select and combine and dose. There can be done some great home cooking in that way. I have the chance to experience that on a regular basis, thanks to my wife. 🙂 She proves that it for sure can be done in the kitchen. Why not in photography? I think about a subject, go out on those spare moments when I have the opportunity (unfortunately, that’s not always with perfect light) and do the best job that I can, with what’s there at that moment. A good example of this is the last of my articles that Steve published (The 30001th Last Post). I think, when you read it, that it is clear I had a well defined plan on forehand. All pictures were shot in a few hours time, without any preparation at the spot. The only preparation was done by reading about the subject, and thinking about how I want to approach the subject. With not more preparation possible, one is being thrown in and has to make the best of it. I don’t mind at all, shooting in those circumstances, because it’s what I have done my whole life. Also for the other articles, I first thought about the subject to write, and then illustrated it with pictures. (For instance for the Loxia 2/35 article, I decided to take all shots at the Antwerp Central Station, to illustrate what I thought about the lens). In those circumstances, and when the light is not optimal, I try to compensate with quick pov selection (the shorter and unexpected the event you want to catch, the more limited one is in this regard) and careful (but still often very fast) framing to get the best possible composition. (I come back to that later.)

      Why I mentioned the technicalities of the pictures, is only because many readers asked for them with former pictures, that I published. So it’s a service to them. I totally agree that it’s of very little importance, but with the EXIF data, it’s easy for me to provide. So why shouldn’t I… After all, this is a site for photographers, and many are curious about it.

      “Take away the long descriptive text… and what’s left?”, you wrote. That’s very through. But this a website with articles and pictures. So that’s exactly what I did: creating an article in the first place. Indeed, the text of this article is the main thing. You cannot take it away. Let’s be clear: those pictures were indeed taken to illustrate the article. Is writing an article first really the wrong way to work? Isn’t that done frequently in press – first deciding about the subject, before creating text and pictures to go with the text? Not always of course, but frequently.

      And now we come to a very important part, IMO. “Those are not pictures”, you say, just random snaps. (I guess you think that I’ve pushed the release knob without thinking.) You also state that it’s important to get rid of everything but the subject, by opening up the lens completely to blur out the environment. You even seem to doubt my skills to focus…
      OK, where shall I begin. Maybe with my focusing skills.

      Steve published an article of mine, with shots taken at the Photokina (http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2014/10/03/testing-the-zeiss-loxia-zm-35-1-4-and-otus-lenses-on-the-a7r-by-dirk-de-paepe/). There’s a shot there that I quickly took with the Otus 85 on my A7R MK1, so without stabilization. It was shot in a few seconds, at the Zeiss booth, out of hand, at f/1.4 and 1/25sec. A 100% crop shows the pretty perfect focusing on the eye of the Zeiss technician. In another article (http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2012/09/18/the-pursuit-of-an-ultra-shallow-depth-of-field-by-dirk-de-paepe/), it’s all about shallow dof, pictures with my personal 85MM, all at f/1.2. I think I sufficiently have proven my technical skills of manual focusing and out of hand shooting.
      So when I shoot at f/13, it’s because I absolutely want this large dof! With the Loxia 2/35 for instance, at f/13, when putting the focus distance at around 3m, you get a dof from around 1,5m to infinity. The dof-scale is very helpful in this, and with the EVF (in enlargement) one can perfectly check the detail quality all over the desired dof. The EVF is IMO a perfect tool for dof checking. Is this about skills? Not too much, I believe. It’s just knowing your material and using it properly. But still, I regard this a lot more skillful than wide open AF-shooting with a fast lens. As far as I’m concerned, the only skill in that case, is buying the proper material. Still, I suspect that, if I would have taken my shots like that, with shallow dof, that you wouldn’t have mentioned the skill matter. Strange, isn’t it?

      You also state that one should isolate the subject, leaving everything else away, through the use of shallow dof. This is one way, of course. But you know, I studied art (music), and in that regard, we were very aware of the history of and the xenogamy between the different arts. Throughout the centuries, one way of doing things has always been followed by another – the latter often denying the value of the earlier. This denial is of course bullshit. In every period, and in every way/style, there are good things to be done. But often a newer generation just needs to take distance of the former to develop there own personality. In fact, most of them just follow the main stream of the moment, not aware that in the meanwhile they forget about their own personality (insofar their real personality isn’t to just follow…). Many photographers nowadays seem to feel that only shallow dof is real photography. I sometimes wonder why lens manufacturers don’t make lenses for them without aperture blades, just plain wide open. Would save some money, no? 🙂

      Anyway, all joking aside, I object your statement that, for instance in my “Social Media” picture, a shallow dof would have been better. I’ll explain how I see it. I don’t think that I would make my intention clearer with shallow dof. You proof this yourself, by writing: <>, well, apparently, you clearly knew right away what the subject of the picture is. What you advise me is to leave everything else out, by blurring it, because that would reveal “the feeling of shared attention, their attention to each other, and my attention to them”. So are you saying that my picture just doesn’t do that? How did you immediately guess it right then? Of course, if yòù would take such a picture, you’re absolutely free to apply shallow dof. But to me there’s more to the the story than could be revealed with shallow dof. It’s indeed about the couple (what else!) and the communication between them, but it also shows how they have chosen a nice town square, with beautiful houses and a statue in the middle, to spend an intimate moment between one another. In fact they create intimacy in a very busy environment. And that’s not all! In this is intimacy, the social media play a big role (hence the title), like if they integrate the whole outer world in their intimacy. And that’s just what social media do! The juxtaposition of their shielded, intimate cocoon in which they enjoy their social media on the one hand, and on the other hand the super exposed environment – in other words, how they isolate themselves, and open up at the same time, to their immediate surroundings of the town square and to the whole soc.med.world – thàt’s my story. This doesn’t work without large dof. As a matter of fact, in city street shooting, I find the environment to almost always play a vital role in the event. That’s why, in the majority of the cases, I absolutely wanna use large dof for these shots. Of course by showing everything very clear (which is done by very precisely determining the dof, through manually combining exact aperture and focus settings), there are indeed some “side-stories” in the picture. But IMO, they contribute to the whole atmosphere. It’s not new to integrate side stories (although you can dislike that, of course) and it is done in many great artworks. Did you ever read Dostojevski? Did you ever look at Bruegel paintings?

      I’m pretty sure that nobody will not see that my picture is about how this couple enjoys their social media – in the middle of the city! And of course, I did my best to ensure this and to reinforce my story. 1) The main characters fill the screen from left to write. (Part of them is even cut away – speaking about leaving out things… ). 2) The boy’s cellphone is standing on the very center point of the picture. 3) The triangle, made by his arm, going upwards to the phone and back down between body and legs of the girl, is repeated in the outer line of their bodies, and the top of this second triangle leads us to the head of the statue, the centre point of the town square, which tells us the second part of the story. 4) When deviding the picture in horizontal thirds, the girls phone is on the lower 1/3 line, the surrounding people are on the upper line. … … Do you think that all this has overcome me by accident? I can assure you that I take great care of how I position main ànd secondary subjects. Is thàt the the definition of a snapshot? Well, to me this is a snapshot indeed, because it was a super fast registering of a certain moment. But I have no problem with snapping, in the way that it is the registration of a moment. That’s exactly the true unique power of photography. In time, “snapshot” has got a pejorative connotation to it, as being a shot taken without really looking, without thinking. But I believe there’s a lot of skill that lies in the way the items are positioned, although this is done in a super fast taken picture. I hope you see that those are really not random shots. But still, you are free to not like them.

      Of course, you are free to not like any picture that doesn’t show shallow dof. From my part, I surely don’t dislike shallow dof, I perform it myself from time to time, but I believe that in most cases, one can better tell a story with large dof. With shallow dof, many pictures tend to look alike, I think. I feel like it’s often a gratuitous way to achieve a certain effect. Gratuitous, because one just needs to buy a fast AF lens for it and IMO, requires no skills at all, unless he’s focusing manually. But that’s of course just my opinion, although I know I’m not alone in this.

      I think I took great care of the composition in this picture. One of the techniques, I frequently use, is the “hemiolia”, a rhythmical trope in music, frequently used by one of my favorite composers, Johannes Brahms. I guess it doesn’t surprise you that I think in musical terms, when working on pictures. That’s not strange, I think. Debussy was influenced by Monet. It makes sence to have some xenogamy between different artforms.
      In fact, I’m following my own path, without really being bothered with any vogue of the moment. How I work is just the result of my personal thinking about the matter. This doesn’t mean that I’m blind for what’s happening around me. On the contrary, it can be very enriching to know how other people think. Hence my invitation to comment on my article…

      I wonder how it comes that you didn’t see the whole story, that you didn’t see how the picture was composed. I guess partly because my language differs from yours. When I was teaching, it often took time to make young musicians getting used to the language of another style period, a musical language that they were not used to listen to. To many, Bach is just a bunch of notes, whereas his works are about the finest compositions in history. I guess, since you are that focused on isolating a subject and leaving everything away, you might experience a kind of aversion towards pictures with main and secondary subjects in it. But BTW, I can assure you that there was a whole lot that I left out in this particular picture (and in the others as well). I was even showing the main subject only partly… 🙂

      Finally, you say that I must tell something about myself in my pictures. Well, I don’t think that thàt must be a goal of my pictures. But maybe one can see that I’m not one that follows the mainstream, that I’m giving it my best to deliver a well elaborated work (probalby, that shows even more in the whole of my articles), that I’m interested in what happens in the world, and above all in how people think and feel.

      1. I think what David was saying is that the photographs are simply not very good. Of course you can deny that and go on justifying yourself for ever and a day, but really, I also see nothing in them. They seem cluttered and random, please don’t take that positively. You say that you are ‘interested in what happens in the world’ fine, so just sit on a street corner and watch, no need to photograph it. A photograph can communicate something if done well, otherwise, why bother? You seem to have sacrificed that element for something between randomness and banality. You say you like honest exchange and feedback, well, there it is.

        1. Dear Rob. I think I statet a few times quite clearly that these images are not pretentious. The reason of this post was the ideas in the text (like how in candid shooting the people trancent into general types of human beings). I’m a bit more “pretentious” about those. IMO, comments on those ideas would be very much more meaningfull and, hopefully, interesting. In any case they go beyond the pictures. In an attempt to provoque just that (= comments on the ideas, instead of the pictures), I wrote in the article that all the shots were taken in just a few hours time – trying to put the emphasis on the text.
          Still, most of the comments are about the pictures. And yet I have no problems with comments on them. Some people say they don’t like them – others say they do. But I’d prefer that criticizers would give more specific info, instead of suggesting something like they were just taken at random. It’s pretty easy to disprove thàt statement, which on itself is of course no proof that the pictures are any good. The thing is that I’d like more specific reasons for such a statement. If you say you don’t like them, that’s absolutely OK, and I’d like to know why. But if you say they really suck, I think you need to tell me exactly why – not just in a series of clinchers. Otherwise all you do is just depreciate, which helps noone, and can easily lead to mutual depreciation. Not really funny, and a waste of time for everybody.

    1. Hello Todd. Please think about this. If anybody doesn’t want his picture to be taken, I erase it immediately. What kind of problem would I have if I would erase the picture I took of you?
      Don’t you have a problem with all the fixed camera’s that register you on film? The streets are full of them. And what about all the cellphones? There’s constantly a batterry of smartphones taking pictures all around in our streets. Impossible to escape those.
      And what if I take a street picture in which you appear, but I was’t aiming at you?
      Do you think it’s still possible to take ány picture at all in the street?

    2. Before you try to intimidate (or worse) someone with a camera pointed at you in public, you should re-read the First Amendment of the Constitution. If you want to enjoy a “respectful environment,” then I suggest you move to North Korea.

  15. Thank you for taking the time to write this post and offer examples of your work. My favorite of your photos is the one of woman sitting amidst the red chairs. It has some mystery to it and makes me wonder what might have been on her mind. The off-kilter framing also suggests that maybe she’s feeling that way about the world at that moment. I otherwise agree that the rest are nothing special and that you can do better. You’ve got the technical skills; you just need to develop your eye for more exceptional lighting, moments, and composition.

    1. Thanks a lot, Gordon. This was exactly what I wanted to communicate with that picture. My personal favorite as well. I’m curious for your book…

  16. Hello, Nice photos but why almost everytime F13. What is THE sharpes point concerning Apeture of this lens? Greetings

    1. I believe first goal of aperture is depth of field. Many photographers shoot almost always wide open for the shallowest dof possible. In those street shots I prefer a large dof, because there are more stories going on. The Loxia 2/35 has a very wide aperture range in which it performes very well, without really loosing any significant detail. That’s why I wouldn’t speak of a hot spot. This is one of the reasons that I adore this lens: so fantastic for zone focusing.

  17. Hi i found the pictures okay, but nothing special on them, basically they look like snapshots of the street, not much going as in capturing special moments, playing with composition, or lighting. Actually I found the writing much better than the pictures. I think if you had play more with the surroundings, lighting, or composition they will have been much more interesting, as they are right now they look like snapshots. Please don’t get me wrong, its just my opinion on the pictures….

    1. Hi
      I am getting tired for people just complained the pictures were not good composition, etc. This is not a site for competition.
      Pictures are very good with the 3D POP and certainly demonstrated the LOXIA lens outstanding IQ.

      1. Nobody is complaining, is an honest opinion, and when pictures are exposed this way in the web, of course they will receive criticism. If you can take criticism don’t post them on the web. The opening poster hasn’t express his dissatisfaction with the comments so he probably understands well the reaction to posting on the web. I am not good with writing, but if you read David Babsky comment it’s very clear what I also wanted to express. Yes shooting is about having fun, is not a competition, but when you present your pictures with such a philosophical writing, the viewer is left expecting for much better pictures. Is like the writing is trying to justify the lack of quality in the images.

        1. You mention to agree with David Babsky, Luke, who I thank a lot for his comment. I hope you’ll take the time to read my reply to it.

      2. it’s not good for you to get tired ! nobody is complaining, on the contrary. We all know Dirk is taking photography seriously. This time, seems that many are not touched by his pics. Shit happens 🙂 but we are all here to celebrate, and i’m certain Dirk knows it

    2. Hello Luke (I’m guessing that’s your first name). 🙂
      When you mention snapshot, unlike many, I don’t find anything pejorative in “snapping”. Because to snap means “registrating a moment”. I believe that photography is THE medium to do just that. And because snapping is a unique power of photography, I regard it not wise to disregard, neglect, depreciatie or forget this power. Still I try to do a bit more than that. Although not every picture is of the same level, I try to compose by following rules that I derive from music: how harmonics and rhythm are structured. I try to stick to them as tight as possible. In that way, I like to or at least try to create a tension between this pretty tight structure and a volatile yet typical moment out of daily life. I’m pretty aware that what I do is a-typical and many don’t like it. On the other hand, others do.
      When registring a moment, one needs to snap. This means that the preparation for the shot is almost nihil. That ‘s why IMO it’s more difficult to add more lighting and compositorial elements to a moment’s registration. Isn’t it often a choice between moment and other elements? Pictures that combine all these are the true exceptional ones, no…?
      I agree about the writing. First goal of my post was to exchange ideas.

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