Brothers in Arms……

I took this photo of Owen and his baby brother, Carl, yesterday before Owen’s Primary School Mini-Cricket tournament.

Carl was sleepy, but Owen just HAD to show his baby brother to his friends and their Mums 🙂

The original shot had a very boring background of dark cement stairs, so I altered it in Photoshop CS6.

I selected the boys, inverted the selection, then applied a radial blur to the entire background, I played with the settings until I found the right effect.

Canon EOS 60D – f/11 – 1/200 second – ISO 400 – 180mm focal length

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Street Photography: Vendors and Beggars

One of the MANY joys of photography is you often get to try out something completely new 🙂

I have never really thought about “Street Photography” as a branch of the art in itself – I always assumed that if you took a photo on the street, and it included a person doing something interesting, that was just your good luck.

Street Photography requires deliberately seeking out interesting candid shots, composing, shooting and processing those photos in order to SAY something about my world….. I normally set up my photography quite carefully, pose people, think about exposure, depth of field, colour and light – with street photography I have to just shoot and hope for the best.

I only started this week. It takes me two hours to travel to work and back every day – a bit longer when I jump out to shoot a beautiful sunset – and now that I have chosen the theme of “Street Vendors and Beggars”, it’s taking me even longer than usual!

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The idea is to shoot people on the street without them realising it, so that the shot seems spontaneous. Ideally, they should be looking in your direction – that’s where the challenge comes in! Not too many people like being photographed by complete strangers. I find the best thing to do is to smile and give them a friendly wave, and drop the camera out of sight. When they lose interest in me, that’s when I quickly grab my shot.

Oddly, some people don’t seem to mind and will give me a lovely smile when they see me pointing my Canon at them – go figure!

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These pictures tell a story. Each shows a jobless person, trying to make a living by selling to, or begging from, motorists stopped at intersections. This is unfortunately a VERY common phenomenon in Johannesburg – and quite often these guys are the hi-jackers… This young chap, for instance, looks a little too well-dressed to be truly down and out. He is collecting refuse from motorists, in return for a few coins. That requires you to open your window, and makes you an easy hi-jacking target. That’s why I photographed him in my side mirror!

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This old man is obviously an alcoholic. He hangs out at the same intersection all day long. He used to stand and beg, but I see he mostly sits now. He’s as thin as a rake, can barely walk, yet manages to survive on the kindness of strangers.

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Taking photos on the street has really opened my eyes. I notice far more now than I ever did. Yes, this is a depressing subject – and yet there is a strange beauty in it too.

The photos work really well in black & white or sepia tones. Strong light, deep shadows and even some motion blur don’t detract from the story the picture is telling – they seem to enhance it.

This is a very interesting and fun way to challenge your photography skills!

ELECTROCUTED for my Art!!!

I have developed a habit of pulling my car over and jumping out to photograph anything I see that is beautiful / interesting / unique / strange.

Unfortunately, as I live in Johannesburg, it’s not exactly safe to stop the car when you’re on your own. So I’m pretty aware of what’s going on around me and who might be walking towards me…. so far I’ve been lucky. I haven’t been mugged, or had my camera or my car stolen 🙂

Yesterday I was driving through an area near home, and I saw some beautiful bright red flowers we call “Paintbrushes” (scadoxus puniceus) growing near the fence of a large plot of land. They flower only once a year, from an underground bulb, and the blooms fade fast. So naturally I pulled over, jumped out with my camera, locked the car and put the key in my pocket. There was nobody around so I felt safe enough to get down on my haunches near the fence, trying to get a nice shot of the flowers.

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It wasn’t bad, but I thought I should move a little to the right for a better angle, and as I leaned forward to change my footing – ZAPPPP!!!! – I felt a strong electric shock through my entire body – I hadn’t realized the fence was an electric fence – I touched it with the back of my hand while I was looking through the viewfinder!

Man, was that painful!

Many South Africans protect their properties with razor wire and electrified fences (and vicious dogs, burglar bars, armed reaction, alarm systems etc) I had always thought the fences gave a mild shock because they’re pretty ineffective at stopping burglars. I was wrong – they shock like hell!

Fortunately there was no frenzied activity around the house, no-one came to see who was loitering at the fence, so I stumbled back to my car and drove off.

To top it all, when I arrived at my destination I noticed that the housing complex I was visiting had a whole bed FULL of Paintbrushes near the entrance! No electric fences, no guard dogs… just step up and take as many photos as you want!

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