Street Photography in the village of Malealea with the EOS-R by Ivan Muller

Street Photography in the village of Malealea with the EOS-R

by Ivan Muller

The Kingdom of Lesotho is a small landlocked country within the borders of South Africa. It has the distinction of being the only nation in the world that lies entirely above 1400 meters. It is very mountainous with a large rural and impoverished population that mostly survives on subsistence farming. Tourism is slowly taking off in Lesotho and many South Africans like to explore Lesotho as a 4×4 offroad destination especially in the winter months when the mountains are covered in snow.

The village of Malealea with a population of less than 1000  lies in the South Western part of Lesotho in a beautiful valley. Our accommodation was in the center of the village and we stayed there for a week in December 2018.

Click images for larger and better versions

Every morning and evening I would take a walk through the village and make portraits of the generally friendly villagers. Interestingly, I was told by the local guides that I may not photograph adults without their permission but that it was ok to photograph the children. 

How to win friends…

To win the trust of the villagers I used a portable battery operated Canon Selphy printer to make instant 4x6inch colour prints. The Canon Selphy prints individual layers of Yellow, Magenta, Cyan & Black and it is fascinating to watch the print move in and out of the printer, each time adding another colour layer and slowly building up the image. I usually have a crowd of onlookers watching in rapt attention as ‘their‘ portrait developes slowly and noisily and the finished print is often greeted with a cheer! Unfortunately the battery only lasts for about 33 prints and there is great disappointment when I tell the villagers that I can only give them one print each otherwise some might lose out and when the battery is flat that I have to go and recharge it before I can resume the process. Trying to explain this to people with a limited command of English is rather challenging to say the least!

The process of giving prints worked so well that by the end of the week the villagers, especially the younger crowd would come and look me up and ask for their portraits to be made!

My equipment.

I used my relatively new, at that stage, Canon Eos R camera for all the portraits. Most of the portraits were made with the Tamron SP 35mm F1.8 Di VC USD. This lens is sharp enough for me so that I can use it confidently at all the apertures and the image stabilization helps a lot when I‘m photographing indoors and in low light. 

I also have a Canon pancake EF 40mm F2.8 stm when I don’t feel like using the large and heavy Tamron and the small and lightweight nifty fifty Canon Ef 50mm F1.8 stm for a slightly more normal perspective.  For landscapes and a compressed perspective I like using my Canon EF 70-300 F4-5,6 L IS usm zoom lens. 

I‘m a firm believer in less is more and over the years I have noticed that I seldom switch lenses when I‘m out doing my personal photography. For an outing I usually pack the Selphy Printer and its huge battery plus print holder into a Billingham Hadley Small camera bag ( or one of my other small camera bags, I have more than a few.. ) and my camera and lens goes over my shoulder. All the street portraits were made in available light and I try to show the villagers in their unique environment to give a sense of place. I seldom do close up portraits.

A few thoughts on the EosR…

Steves video review of the Canon EosR really summed up the pros and cons  perfectly and I can only emphasize the following which stood out for me…

Things I like and that works well for me: 

– Greatly improved focus accuracy of all my EF lenses especially the older EF lenses and 3rd party lenses like my Tamron. 

– Ability to get on with my photography knowing the camera can handle all the auto stuff reliably and accurately.

– Almost no dust on the sensor.

– I only have EF lenses so far but they work flawlessly on the Eos R and the EF lens adapter feels like part of the camera.

-Silent shutter is a great feature except under fluorescent lights which produces banding.

– The files are great to work with, with a lot of highlight detail.

– Manual focus works superbly well with my manual focus Canon TS-E 24mm L II tilt and shift lens.

Things that I don’t like or feel could be improved:

– The touch bar doesn’t work for me and I use it only to view images on playback

– Being left eye dominant using the lcd to move the AF points doesn’t work for me either.

– Sometimes the camera cannot focus the lens and it needs manual focus assistance to get to a point where the lens can start focussing again – mostly with my 70-300 zoom..

– I wish it had a joystick, although I have figured out a way to move the AF points quickly using the dials, but still I think the joystick is a more elegant solution.

-The EosR does not have a GPS which comes in really handy when doing travel photography and is a great in pinpointing exactly where an image was made.

I always thought that my Canon EOS6D was enough in regards to pixels and image quality, but the EosR raised the bar for me. I can easily make large prints and this first FF mirrorless offering from Canon is really enjoyable to use and hold and produces great quality images. 

I hope you enjoy my street portraits and many thanks to Steve for hosting them on his great blog!


Ivan Muller

About me: I live in the city of Centurion near Johannesburg in South Africa where I work as a commercial freelance photographer. My passion lies in documenting the people, structures and landscapes of Southern Africa.


  1. Great photos, but Tamron and Sigma have that whiteish look that lacks the color of Canon – its to do with the glass used correct?

    • hi Peter, You have me there…I really don’t know and I have not noticed it either. When I choose any lens my choice is based first and foremost on my budget, does it do what its supposed to do well enough that it wont irritate me in the future and lastly feel and form. I picked up the Tamron on a sale and it was cheaper than the Canon equivalent, Its fairly large but nice to hold and the focus works well and its sharp enough for me…My most used lens for my personal photography is probably my Canon 40mm pancake, its very small and light sharp enough at f5,6 and focuses accurately and is my 2nd least expensive lens. I like the way the images look, but if you have to ask me about its ‘rendering’ and the ‘bokeh’ etc I wouldnt really be able to answer you because those things are not something I’m aware of or actively try and get in my images with this lens….I’ll have to leave these finer points of lens image quality to other people that are into those type of things…

  2. I thought this was going to be another of the many sets travel photohraphs.

    However printing the photos therafter offeting the photos to those photographed
    their eagerness for their portraits to be printed
    Really made this something else.

    Everyone holding up their printed portrait is my favorite.

    • Thanks! Being able to give prints in exchange for their willingness to be photographed is very gratifying! Its probably a bigger high than making the images in the first place..

  3. It’s a great way to start collecting new lens from Canon again, no other manufacturer has the DNA to put out such incredible lenses, take the RF50 and it singlehandedly replace all the others, no one makes it like that so unique, Don’t say that Leica or Zeiss is gonna be better, because there’s no AF, and it’s a bargain for what it does, amazing landscapes at f1.2 just changed the way How you perceive the exposure triangle, I’m in awe, it’s very enjoyable to use, less maintenance and no need to micro adjust like the ef50 for every 3 months, just look at the lens roadmap, their bending physics, for example like the rf28-70, it’s a great lens and a great conversational piece, EOR is very durable I used it on a 6 states tour in July in rain and heat and the camera never gave me problem whatsoever, filling 32GB every day is amazing, I get a chuckle every time a reviewer is saying that it needed to be a pro body, it doesn’t track like a 1DXII, just really FW upgradable so I’ not worried, it’s as pro as you want it to be.

  4. a touching and wonderful series..the “give-Away” prints a great idea..
    A really beautiful lil country. No hats? They are special..
    a side note, even with Apartheid South Africa dropped food and medical supplies to villages snowed in..Lesothos (Sothos) wear blankets as coats..

    • Thanks Leo! Yes I also noticed the absence of their grass pointed ‘traditional’ hats….And yes those blankets are worn all the time , even in the heat of summer!

      The prints are actually a wonderful way to communicate and build trust between total strangers but I’m blown away by how much they appreciate and treasure this physical print that I exchange for a photographic moment with them…

  5. Very interesting shots, especially the people. I think you really capture their natural character. well done. I totaly agreed about the GPS, nowadays even the cheapest phone is come with GPS, especially taking pictures while traveling GPS is very crucial.

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