Project 12: Close and involved

Project brief

To use a wide angle lens close to people and try to achieve a sense of putting the viewer right inside the situation.  Note down the problems and advantages created by working with a wide-angle of view from very close to the people I am photographing.

P12-A: 23mm, ISO 400, 1/1000@f8

In this image I was keen to capture examples of the life masks that this stall holder created – that aspect of the image is successful.  It’s a useful characteristic of wide angle lenses that they accentuate the foreground interest – in this case the sunlit life masks.  However, the depiction of the two figures in the shot is less successful.  The artist is relatively small and in shadow and to make the ‘story’ work he should really be more prominent than the interested onlooker.

P12-B: 28mm, ISO 400, 1/640@f8

I spent most of my time trying to capture interactions between stall holders and customers but, in this case, it was this moment between two customers that caught my eye and the market merely became a backdrop.  Using a wide-angle zoom I don’t think they were aware of me at all and hopefully their foreground presence achieves the requirement of the brief – making the viewer think that they are inside the situation.

P12-C: 40mm, ISO 200, 1/50@f8

In this case the zoom was not set to a particularly wide angle but the point of view chosen serves to bring the viewer right into the scene and the image content makes the situation very easy to understand.  Again I don’t think the subjects were aware of my presence.  This image was one of a number made during this exercise where going in close inadvertently caused exposure problems.  The sunlit water in the background here is extremely bright whereas the scene, which was under canvas was quite dark – the subject brightness range therefore exceeded that of the camera’s sensor.  In this image and the subsequent one, I have dealt with this by combining two differently processed images – one processed for the highlights, the other for the shadows.  The greater the angle of the lens, (I made some images at 17mm), the more pronounced this problem – to the extent that I decided some of theses images were not usable.

P12-D: 35mm, ISO 400, 1/60@f8


I made quite a few images of this famous book market.  I would say that generally, the browsers were completely unaware that I was photographing them despite being very close and using a camera with quite a loud shutter sound!  One difficulty I did experience with a few of these spontaneous wide angle shots is that I my horizons and verticals were horribly out – distractingly so.  In the case of this image, I have cropped to correct the horizon but in doing so I have unfortunately lost other parts of the image – in this case the remainder of the gentleman’s right hand which is fully present in the uncropped image.

Other points that I noted during this project include:

  • when shooting people in shadows, slow shutter speeds are inevitable but their hands move very relatively fast and cause blur at speeds I might otherwise get away with
  • it was interesting how often a heel or a wrist clips out of the frame – sometimes I frame too tightly for action and I also can use too low a shutter speed
  • The smallest fraction of a moment makes all the difference!!

I also re-resolved to REALLY look through the ******* viewfinder!

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