Work with constraints 5

Street photographers know that things are messy and unpredictable in the street. The light, the clutter elements, the unexpected … that’s what makes things so interesting. At least from my point of view. It requires a lot of anticipation, observation. Observe a scene to know how we will be able to compose to make it interesting.

The camera, I see it more as a constraint even if in the end it is the tool that will allow us to capture the moment. Why constraint? There are already the technical limitations of the camera, the chosen focal length. Recent cameras are more and more efficient. Faster and faster AF, crazy burst mode, very efficient low light capabilities … It is true that the most recent cameras are really stunning. Fewer constraints allow street photographers to focus only on the scenes to capture.

By using the Ricoh GRD4, I am going against the current trend. I use an old camera which has constraints that would put off a lot of photographers. 10 Mp, buffer which forces us to wait almost 2 seconds between two shots, bad when the light is missing. These constraints, I accept them because the ergonomics are much better than on most cameras and I learned to deal with them and I don’t even feel them anymore! Finally when I happen to take out my Ricoh GR (the 16 MP one with APS-C sensor), the GRD4 is getting old … I don’t remind you why I continue to shoot with this camera. You just have to re-read my old articles on the Ricoh GRD4…

Last weekend, we went to clear our heads in a hotel in Boucan Canot. A beach that children really appreciate because there are waves. They love to have fun in the rollers that crash onto the beach. I went with them a bit and it’s pretty fun. You have the impression of being in wringer mode in the washing machine! We come out of there a little confused and with the equivalent of 2 kgs of sand in the swimming suit ! After a while, I preferred to stay on the sand to watch them. We quickly identify parents whose children are in the water. These are the sentries who watch like me that nothing happens to their kids.

It is there with the other parents that I settled down. In the blazzing sun … To occupy myself, I still took my little Ricoh to capture some scenes. The day before, I realized that I had a rather annoying dust spot in the middle of my sensor. If the Ricoh GR is a real dust collector, the Ricoh GRD4 doesn’t really suffer from this problem. I think it comes from the size of the sensor. Okay, no luck for me. After a few tests at different apertures, I realize that the dust is invisible at f4. From f5.6, it is visible. So here is a new constraint with my Ricoh GRD4. I must not close my diaphragm beyond f4 (I already have a crazy DoF with my little sensor at f4). It is not very embarrassing except when I am dealing with very bright scenes like at the beach … Bad combo: white foam, azure blue sky … In short. As much to say to you that I had to use the under exposure to not have burnt photos and it was even sometimes limited! Even going down the ISO to 80, my speed was 1/2000s. That is to say, my max speed. And the photo was still overex. So I systematically underexposed 2 stops to try to catch up.

It was in these conditions that I stayed almost still under the  sun to watch my children who were having fun in the waves. As you can see from the photos, the beach was crowded. It’s vacation here and it’s still summer. We are subject to a curfew but no confinement at home yet. I don’t know how long it will last but we take advantage as we can before any future restrictions. I wrote a blog a few years ago: To be still. That day, it was a bit the same. I let a lot of little scenes unfolding in front of me trying to capture something interesting. Staying planted in the same place was one more constraint, but in the end these constraints, whether material or situational, push me to be more creative.

All photos were made with the Ricoh GRD4.

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5 thoughts on “Work with constraints

  • John Wilson

    That camera and my Leica X1 still in my bag w X2and GR 2 w 21mm. Recently added used Leica Q and winter finally going away here moving to Spring. U really enjoy urself and that counts a lot in my book. U and Mr Harper have to take a look at Man us Greek photog who uses Leica Q, is doing project on his Greek culture and photo ing folks in their native costumes, really great stuff, u guys and ur families stay well.

    • John Harper

      Hi John,
      Had a look at George Tatakis, clearly an excellent photographer. I noticed that if you want him to shoot a wedding it’s only by invite once someone applies and if he has time. Then it’s a little matter of €8,000 plus travel expenses!! Time to increase my prices.

      Keep well and get those cameras out of your bag.
      Cheers. John

    • Jeff Chane-Mouye Post author

      I had a look to his work and what he’s offering. What struck me as well is the 8000€ per wedding ! And you have to add the travel expenses !! Come on, it seems way too expensive … He’s a good photographer, we can see it in his work, but i don’t like the approach of making money on photography. Well you can do money on it, but clearly he wants to sell you patronage, mentoring, postcards, prints … It looks more like a business thing rather than photography. This is one of the reason why I stopped following a guy like Eric Kim. Photography is a just excuse to make money. Don’t get me wrong, He’s producing excellent work but i don’t like his approach

  • John Harper

    Where’s the fun without a challenge Jeff? Crowds, light problems, clutter, framing, concentration, one eye on the kids…I know, let’s make it harder and use a broken camera😉 Stillness is the solution to it all. Photography is so zen, fancy AF and burst modes are meaningless unless there’s some mindfulness going on. Terrific job as always maestro.

    • Jeff Chane-Mouye Post author

      The GRD4 is not broken but has some flaws. Does that count ? 😉
      Kids are going back to school. Back to street soon. I went with my Fuji last friday in the streets and it doesn’t feel good in my hands. Too bulky and it was like wearing a big red nose. We get use to the leaf shutter and the tiny size of the Ricoh GRD4. After reviewing all these old photos from Liverpool and 2016, I wanted to go again on the streets with this camera, but the magic is not here anymore. I spent too many years with the Ricoh to adapt to another camera. May be some time is needed but I don’t have time to loose. Why changing ? As I said to get out of my comfort zone ? Well I like routine …