Daily Inspiration #266 by Jim Fischer


I’ve been a fan of your site for a while now. I look forward to your frequent updates and no-nonsense reviews. Sure, there are other camera/photography sites out there, but I feel that supporting your claims with actual photos puts you in a class of your own.

I thought I’d take the time to submit a few photos for your consideration for your “Daily Inspiration.” I got into a photography through an ex-girlfriend I met in college. She was lucky enough to be in the last class in the Journalism school that had a chemical darkroom. Being a diligent boyfriend, I would frequently attend her lab time and learn whatever tricks I could on the sly. Fortunately/unfortunately (I haven’t decided which yet), this has been a habit that has stuck, as I can’t quite seem to quit film or home developing. Sure, I’d love the opportunity to upgrade to an M9 with all the fancy accoutrements, but my wallet is not quite inclined to cough up the necessary funds.

Most of my recent photos have been taken with various film rangefinders – my Zeiss Ikon seems to get the most use along with a slew of lenses (sadly, only one of which is a Leica – my red-scale Elmar). That being said, the photos I have submitted express my love for Nikon film bodies and manual focus Nikkor lenses.

One ‘trick’ I like to use when shooting quickly, it to pre-focus by using the distance scale and guessing how far the subject is to me. Then, when I put the camera to my eye, just make a small focus adjustment, click, smile genuinely and keep walking. I don’t try to approach people that I think might be hostile, but that being said, I’ve never had any subject be aggressive toward me after snapping their image. I try to exude calmness, confidence and curiosity.

The first image was taken in Ueno Park in Tokyo. I used my Nikon FM3a, Nikkor 45mm f/2.8p and Fuji Neopan 400 (my favorite b/w film). I believe I shot this at f/8. The contrast between the two subjects is what caught my eye.

The second image was taken in Enoshima Aquarium in Enoshima, Japan. I used my Nikon F3, Nikkor 50mm f/1.2 and Fuji Neopan 400. I shot this at f/1.2.

The final image was taken in Burbank, CA on my bus ride to work. I used my Nikon FM3a, Nikkor 35mm f/1.4 and Fuji Neopan 400. I shot this at f/2.8. I timed this photo as my bus stop was approaching, so I snapped the image, thanked the woman and got off the bus.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy these shots. If you curious to see any of my other work check-out my flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jimfischer/


Jim Fischer

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  1. Hi Jim!

    No matter what, I really like picture 1 and 2. As far as shooting people on the street I know it is very hard to focus and shoot before the moment is gone.

    I also returned to my first love – film, a Nikon manual body and some old Nikkor lenses. The only step I am still missing is scanning my pictures myself.

    I got inspired by your text and your pictures – so keep up your work!

    All the best from Germany


  2. Hi guys,

    what a wonderful world where we can discuss controversial opinionsl!!

    I don’t like “bukhe” (but I like this web page and the discussions here) so picture no.2 sharp would be my favorite.

    HCB said that sharpness is bourgoise concept -so what? Some popes thought the earth is flat. I don’t like Van Goch, think this guy had a limited talent. But people pay a hundred mio $ for his paintings. But I like Cezanne and Picasso, P not for the crap he did in the last 2 decades of his life but for what he painted as a teenager and later on untill his 30is.

    How good no.2 would be if it was sharp! I like shooting people doing (viewing) something and are unaware of me taking a photo. Showing no. 2 to non photographers they would believe that it was taken with a disposable camera and something went wrong.

    But this is my taste, Jim and others have all the right to have a different tast. Van Goch was desperate poor during his life time and was only apreciated after his death.
    One of the biggest benfits we have living in the 21st century is that varity in arts. When the impressionts came out 100+ years ago they were nearly torn apart. Today Hirst or Pollock (also poor in his life time but wasa lucky to have sponsors) or Picasso or even more crazy guys can find their followers.

    Life is big, life is great.

    Best regards

  3. i always find it funny that those who criticize the most never have a website attached to their name so we can see their work too.

    jim, i exclusively shoot film slr’s now so i know the feeling of wanting to go back to digital šŸ™‚
    the shots are interesting. the 1st one made me laugh, the 2nd one looks great, the 3rd one made me laugh again lol.

    keep on shooting and ignore the trolls online.

  4. Hello Onigo,
    You should demonstrate your photographic talents by posting some of your favourite pics. I’m always looking to learn something new.

  5. @onigo
    It is one thing to give “constructive” criticism. It is entirely another to denigrate someone just because you do not like his imagery. Saying things like “with your ability (or lack thereof)” is being condescending. The one thing I have learned in competitions is that not everyone likes the same image. Some winning images at competitions just amaze me that the image even made the cut much less won an award. But, I move on. The judges just have a different view of life than I do.

    Say what you want about an image but throwing disparaging remarks at an image or, in this case, at the photographer such as you did above, IMO, have no place here. If Jim wants to buy an M9 & has the money & enjoys the images, he gets, then all things are satisfied.

  6. Wow, that is pretty harsh stuff there and not on the mark if you ask me. I liked the first one and the others were reasonably ok too. Are they the greatest example of street photography out there? Almost certainly not but then again, not many people achieve that. I am sure like many of us Jim is out there shooting and enjoying himself. Every now and then you hit gold and it is that that keeps you interested. Still, this is a daily inspiration post (not a “I am an expert and technically perfect photographer’ post). That fact that Jim shoots film already puts him above most photographers due to the extra thinking, higher risk (money/time) involved in every shot. I am sure the digital ‘chimpers’ would have taken 3 or 4 shots to ‘get it right’ and thrown away their out of focus and badly composed shots creating a survival bias and patted themselves on the back thinking how great a photographer they were.

    Jim, always consider criticism (when it is accurate and consistent) but ultimately photography must give you enjoyment and it clearly does for you. Keep it up, shooting one frame and walking like that takes skill.

  7. Thanks Jim, for what its worth……image 2 is my favourite, in the main because the sharpest focus is on the ladies shoulder, this makes the image work. 1 & 3 I would describe as nice shots. Technical issues aside, I’d just reiterate that we’re all entitled to an opinion, there is however a way to express that view in a constructive manner without the need to be rude. A thick skin is required when posting your images for comment and critique but lets not put people off submitting work. I was fortunate enough to receive only positive comments for my Daily Inspiration post but the images most certainly wouldn’t have been to everyones liking…….

  8. Nice shots, I especially like no.1. Amazing capture! Two intersesting and different characters juxtaposed amazingly. Well framed.

  9. I think the images are nice, but not much more than that.

    Images 1 and 3 are focused correctly; the focus point of 2 appears to be randomly chosen (the composition is a bit random as well). The 1.2/50mm Nikkor Ai-S is hellishly difficult to focus correctly at full opening, as I’ve experienced many times. Throw away what does not conform to what you were aiming to achieve. That’s what I do. Anyway, in that shot, light permitting, f4.0 would have been better I think. The extremely thin DoF does not really have a purpose in the shot.

    Could you give some details on processing? Both the analogue and the digital part. I find the contrast not entirely to my liking, a bit too mudlike.

    Just my 2cts. I commend Steve for allowing someone that uses good old analogue technology on the site.

    • Thanks for looking. I appreciate the honest feedback. If I remember correctly, the first two shots were processed with T-Max dev at stadard dillution for stadard time. The third pic was developed with generic D-76 1:1. I scanned them all using some iteration of a lower-end Epson flatbed scanner (I am currently using a V500). Post was done in Photoshop CS2.

      • Thanks Jim. Personally l like the contrasty, slightly grainy look that Tri-X with D76 1+1 or HC110 gives (the latter giving more contrast and a slightly finer grain), but I’ve also found that some scanning services (I don’t do my own) just don’t deliver the look I need. I’ve finally found one that does, so I’m happy.

        I’d say stick to your analogue cameras and enjoy them. If you want go digital, full frame really is the only way to go imho, so the choice is limited… šŸ™‚

    • focus on the second shot is on the lady, the only person not looking at the aquarium, I think that choice of the focus point is quite interesting rather than randon though I agree that composition could have been a bit more careful and that tonality could have been a little bit better

      • The focus plane is across the center of the image. The woman on the left is the most in-focus. The man in the aeropostale jacket and his girlfriend are ever so slightly out of the plane so they have taken on a nice glow šŸ˜‰

        I agree that the framing could have been a hair better. But, for what it’s worth, it was one of my images that Getty Images has selected to use.

  10. wow.. it’s amazing how none of your pictures are focused accurately.. o_0
    stick to your analog camera.. with your ability (or lack thereof) you, and your wallet, will just regret your purchase..
    furthermore may i suggest you buy a P&S camera with autofocus.. will help you tremendously with your focusing..

    • to onigo: when you click on the photos you’ll see that all 3 are actually acurately focused, it is a problem with the website so I guess you should invest at list a little bit of effort to have a proper look before giving comment like you gave

      to Jim: nice photos, thanks for sharing and some interesting work on flickr

      • Thanks, I appreciate the supportive comments!!! I figure that my mother still loves me, so it’s ok if not everyone else does. That being said, I love how the anonymity of the internet gives people the courage to say things they probably wouldn’t voice to your face. Oh well. Thanks for looking!

      • @mirko

        really? you think i didn’t exert effort into clicking the pic to see a bigger size?

        first pic: focus is on the man’s pants.. you will see his head is not sharp..
        second pic: focus is on the left lady’s shoulder.. is that intentional..? who would do that?
        third pic: focus is on the jacket.. if it was accurate, her would have focused it on the glasses so the face is sharper than the jacket….

        so before you open your traphole, go buy some glasses.. or maybe enroll in focusing class.. wait.. maybe you should buy the P&S to aid your focusing abilities..

        • I guess there is always one nasty writer around. As HCB said, sharpness is a bourqeois concept! If all you care about is sharpness maybe you are the one that needs to go take a class so you pay more attention to composition and content and not just sharpness! Lighten up, onigo. There is no reason to be nasty on this site. Be critical but not nasty…..

          I am not the greatest photographer in the world and I do care about sharpness but content is what has won me awards for my work!

          While #2 does little for me, I do like #1 & #3 not because they are tack sharp but for their content. The contrast between the two guys in #1 is cool! In #3, I like the use of rule of thirds composition and her slightly surprised look.

          And, Jim, keep on shooting that film! While I am not a big fan of Neopan 400 (prefer Tri-X that I have shot for over 30 years), it looks like you did a nice job processing. What do you use for a scanner?

          • @Rich Owen

            I am not a nasty writer. My other posts will prove that. However, I am straightforward and unbiased. I call it as I see it and I am not afraid to admit if I am at fault. When someone criticizes me I will explain myself, as I did with ‘mirko’.

            Based on your comment, it could be true that I might be wrong to think that his focusing is not accurate because focusing is not always the basis for a good picture. And I agree with you on that. I have admired blurred and OOF pictures in the past.

            However, Jim is thinking of upgrading to an M9. And if he cannot get an accurate focus on his Zeiss Ikon / Nikon FM, it would be a huge waste for him to buy a Leica. His “trick” of shooting quickly doesn’t seem to give him a favorable result as well.

            So see it from my POV. I am neither a pro nor perfect in all my shots, I can admit that. If you or any other photographer can’t take criticisms like I gave, you’re in the wrong feild.

    • Wow Onigo. I suppose you would look at a Van Gogh and complain that it wasn’t an accurate representation of the subject. Focus is NOT everything, FEELING is. These photographs, especially number 2, have great feeling. That fox that flashed across the road in the glow of your headlights, was that in focus? Still gave you a feeling.

    • Onigo – You fail to understand the concept of zone focusing. You will miss perfects focus most of the time, but it will be good enough to convey the scene as you see it with no focus delay.
      The pictures have adequate focus to convey the feeling.

      Have you ever been to a museum and seen the photos on the wall? Not that many are in focus. The more you know about photography, the more you realize that sharpness doesn’t matter.

      Maybe you should move to a pixel peeper forum where you would be much more comfortable

    • Your comment is rude, not because it was critical, but because it is factually wrong, conceptually irrelevant, and expressed as personal insult salted with counterproductive “advice”.

      I’m not a great fan of the third shot, but it is perfectly focussed. I like the other two better.

  11. Great photos Jim,

    I really like picture no. 1 and the beauty of analog technology! The pre-focus setting is the best way for street photographer.


    • Thanks for the comment! I really think the argument for digital vs analog is so far removed from where it was a few years ago. I will always love the look of film, but realize that digital has the advantage for so many things. That being said, my only digi-cam is my iphone. I love what apps like instagram have done for social photography.

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