Photographing People in Public Places

For years, I was too shy to ask to take a stranger’s picture. Normally, I’m not at all shy. I’ll talk to anyone. But stick a camera in my hand and I would become horribly self-conscious. I thought it a bit presumptuous to ask to take someone’s picture. After all, I wasn’t a “real” photographer but only a hobbyist.

ballerina

I did take photographs of people who were unaware. Some were interesting pictures, I thought, that captured moments or moods. They were small slices of real, unrehearsed and unself-conscious life. I think such pictures have an important place in any photographer’s repertoire, but I am not discussing those here.

Then I read up on various ways that street photographers took pictures without being noticed. These surreptitious shots did not appeal to me, though, because they seemed a bit sneaky. I wanted either pictures of people completely unaware, or pictures of people who were totally aware. I did not want to furtively snap images of people who did not want their pictures taken.
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A different kind of photo contest

The annual Everyman Photo Contest is unique for a several of reasons but mainly because of the philosophy of its founder (which is not unlike the philosophy of this site): “The Everyman believes that anyone who has ever taken pictures in their life, has taken good pictures.

The contest is open to amateurs only, is free to enter, you can win cash, and the deadline is just 17 days from right now (deadline October 1, 2007).

DSLRs, sensor dust, and NASA

If you haven’t seen these photos from a recent Shuttle mission you should definitely check them out. Spectacular. But, me being who I am, I couldn’t help but notice the sensor dust defects in the fifth photo. You can tell it’s dust on the sensor because it shows up again in the same places on the seventh photo which is also shot at a high f-stop (where sensor spots are more likely to appear) (and you can tell it’s a high f-stop because everything in the frame is in sharp focus.).

NASA dust

I should probably get out more.

I can’t wait until it’s feasible for private citizens to go on Earth orbit “safaris.” I’ll definitely make sure my sensor is clean before hand. ;-)

Online Help Choosing a Camera

New digital cameras are being announced at staggering speed, and those of you who might be considering a new purchase may be slightly overwhelmed by the sheer number of options. One way to start is by using the Digital Camera Advisor. This online tool allows you to enter personal preferences about a number of items and attributes, including camera usage, price, brand, and physical and imaging attributes. After you have made your entries, the site offers camera recommendations.

screenshot Digital Camera AdvisorTo start, merely click one of the buttons and then move sliders or click checkboxes to indicate your choices. Unfortunately, the first button–camera usage–is one of the weaker pages, because the choices are so limited. You can choose between action scenes and landscapes, for example, but not nature shots or portraits. Still, take a stab and move forward.

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