Vancouver photographer J. Evan Kreider faced a full and appreciative audience for his presentation on street photography Nov. 25 at Hardwick Hall. The Ladysmith Camera Club’s amiable guest speaker drew frequent laughter from club members and guests as he interspersed practical shooting tips and screened images with humorous banter.
“I am 72 years old and realize this may be the last time I present to a photo club,” he began. “This is also the first time I’ve presented to a photo club.”
Preparedness was a key theme. Kreider, who is a music historian and Professor Emeritus at UBC as well as an avid photographer, began the evening by drawing a large lens from his backpack and demonstrating how efficiently he changes lenses to minimize his Canon 5D II’s exposure to debris. He was attired in a multi-pocketed vest and explained that he knows exactly where everything is inside it. He often shoots directly from waist-level, which makes him less conspicuous and thus able to get more natural shots, and uses Adobe Lightroom software to make necessary adjustments like straightening, contrast, and cropping.
“Lightroom’s cheaper than Photoshop, and does everything I need. I’m still married, so I don’t have to take my spouse out of every pic I’m in,” the amateur photographer joked.
Most of the photos he presented were shot in Vancouver, Seattle, and Paris. He recommended that a photographer begin by taking a shot of a street sign when initially shooting in a new city. This “places” the photos that follow. If at first he’s feeling uninspired or sees nothing immediately to shoot, he begins with macro photography, ie: an extreme close-up of graffiti renders it into “abstract art.”
“I shoot so that I learn to see the world I live in, in a new way. I don’t shoot to please others, and that’s very freeing.”
Kreider showed numerous examples of effective subject material for street photographers. Alleys and scenes of chaos, like a rusted car surrounded by refuse in an unkempt alley, make for interesting studies. He suggested shooting after a rain, during twilight.
“They call this the ‘magic hour,’ but that’s a bit of a stretch. It’s actually more like a magic 10 minutes.”
He uses a bean bag he sewed together himself decades ago as a quick and portable tripod. Other tips included looking for shots with contrasting themes and shapes, adjusting the orange in a photo when skin in a black and white image appears too dark, shooting subjects while they’re engaged in cellphone conversation, and watching for a “sea of faces,” ie: people looking in different directions while in group conversation, or photographing a variety of subjects on an urban sidewalk with a billboard of a face in the background. Kreider explained that he always shoots in “Raw,” and said that “every time you save in jpeg you are losing pixels.”
Another simple but easy-to-overlook practise regards perspective.
“Turn around to see what is behind you. The light will be different.”
The question of ethics was raised and discussed. Kreider said one can take photos of anyone outside in a public place (excluding playgrounds and school yards) as long as the photos are not shot for profit, and he added that the issue of posting these photos online remains “a grey area.” If someone questions Kreider when he’s taking his or her photo, he offers to send it to them via e-mail and provides them with the option of deciding whether or not he can use it. One time, he showed a subject the photo on his camera, and ensured the man also saw him delete it.
The next meeting of the Ladysmith Camera Club takes place this Wednesday (Dec. 16) at 7 p.m. and is the club’s AGM and Christmas potluck.