Henri Cartier-Bresson

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by andrew_viny, Oct 21, 2008.

  1. Looking at one of the great Leica photographers of all timeone can't help but find
    inspiration. Which model Leica did he use? And what sort for techniques did he
    employ to capture such fleeting moments with so much to set on the camera
    before the shot?

    ~Andrew
     
  2. Cartier-Bresson. You can't just drop half his name!

    Leica IIIs and M3 (usually 50mm Elmar/Summicron) and later on the Leica point and shoot with the 40mm Summarit.

    He just focussed (if he had the time) and shot, usually guessing/estimating exposure (as people did routinely back
    then). His extraordinary skill was in seeing the shot either in advance or afterwards on the negative strip. He was able
    to see interesting and witty connections between people and objects and their environments that most of us cannot -
    until pointed out by him in his photos. I am not sure you can really be taught what he did - it is more a question of
    creativity and artistic sensibility, rather than technique. He liked to be unobtrusive and took photos without impacting
    his subjects - or at least that was his aim.
     
  3. "Which model Leica did he use?" Different ones IIIc to M models.

    "And what sort for techniques did he employ to capture such fleeting moments with so much to set on the camera before the shot?"

    By being himself. Trained as a game hunter for construction crews in Africa in his youth, more trainign as an artist with in his early twenties, and then there is the genetic component of quick reaction times. He also was known to find a place where the background was visually interesting and then waiting for something interesting to happen. he dressed neatly and acted discreetly.
     
  4. It would not have been a IIIc as he bought it in 1932 - probably a basic Leic III with the standard Elmar. There are several photos of him with his cameras and they look like a III and an M3.
     
  5. The lens he used from its introduction in about 1953 till he stopped shooting proffesionally was the collapsible Summicron. Though others preferred the rigid Summicrons, wich had slightly different optics, he stuck with the collapsible one. And I believe he used an M4 from its introduction onwards.

    He usually zone-focused and at f8 for sufficient depth to cover. So, as much as possible, he just raised the camera, shot and lowered it to keep it out of sight; using just his eyes mostly. He also black taped the camera to make it inconspicuous. Even the front of the lens was black, though he usually used a small, round hood.
     
  6. I could never get into henri's street pictures but what do i know--i drink $6 wine and like it.
     
  7. William, I guess it was another age. I'm interested in what you think of the texture of his pictures; we are getting a taste for smoother surfaces, or, a more controled grain.
     
  8. He usually zone-focused and at f8 for sufficient depth to cover. So, as much as possible, he just raised the camera, shot and lowered it to keep it out of sight; using just his eyes mostly.
    That methodology doesn't seem to be reflected in a majority of his photos that I've seen. If you examine his photos, you'll see many with shallow depth of field, and you'll find that most have a carefully-composed, relatively-formal composition.
     
  9. Are you sure he started with a Leica III? This page indicates the III started production in 1933, whereas this page indicates he acquired a Leica (doesn't say which model) in 1932.
     
  10. He was always ahead of his time Glenn.
     
  11. He started with bigger size cameras, but really took off with a Leica. He has used the M3 mainly since it came out -
    actually one of his main lenses was the 50/1.5 Zeiss Sonnar adapted to the M mount. The basic trick he used was hard
    work - he was a painter before becoming a photographer, so he knew the composition, he had an open mind and a warm
    heart, BUT he also shot lots of film, repeatedly hunting for the "decisive moment". His photos are not resulting from luck,
    but from a persistent anticipation and long moments of waiting for all the elements to align in the frame.
     
  12. Mike, I'm sure you're right. I'm pointing out that he anticipated as much as possible and had the camera to his eye as short as possible.
     
  13. Marek. I thought the Summicron looked a bit different - in fact - just like a 50/1.5 Sonnar. So he would have been using that long before the M in the 50s ?
     
  14. "a warm heart"

    Really? I have to say I have always thought HCB rather distant and aloof (many of his shots are ironic to my eye), if
    not rather superior in his manner towards photography, although this is only based on what I have read and knowing
    someone who met him. Certainly he tried not to engage with his subjects, something a "warm hearted" photographer
    might well do.

    He was perhaps more interested in painting particularly in the latter part of his life, when he stopped taking
    photographs, but whether his painting is interesting I cannot say. I think the world seems to have ignored his painting
    so far (not that that really means anything).
     
  15. There's been a marvelous HCB calendar the last few years that is mining some of his lesser-known work -- many wonderful street scenes. His photos have a sense of composition and geometry absent in many other street works. I find the calendar at a local bookstore or at www.allposters.com.
     
  16. I have recently come across an article that indicates that his first camera was a Leica A with a 50mm summicron. In addition
    it suggests that he used Leica point and shoots later on. The 40mm model. The article clams that he found photography
    after training as a painter aswell as a game hunter. The skills learned from these trades (evasivness and composition)
    influenced his photograph. Perhaps?
     
  17. There some videos about him on youtube. Just punch in Henri Cartier-Bresson. The most interesting for me is the one in 3 parts in french (even though my french is poor) where he talks to interviewers with his back to the camera. But they also show how he worked the street. He seems to be moving around rather slowly, kind of slow balletic movements, gently raising the camera to his eyes and then moving on.
     
  18. Watch the doc films on Cartier-Bresson and see for yourself. Footage of him shooting doesn't reveal much restraint--no more so than a bird of prey intent on a meal.I always thought the financial independence bestowed by family wealth was a great help to his art.
     
  19. I had the same feeling about HCB as Robin but was touched by this poignant opening thought from his book "The Mind's Eye":

    'IN A WORLD that is buckling under the weight of profit-making, that is overrun by the destructive sirens of Techno-science and the power-hunger of globalization - that new brand of slavery - beyond all that, Friendship exists, Love exists.' (1998)

    Although not known for his landscapes, something about this one intrigues me:
    Photo deleted. Per the photo.net Terms of Use, do not upload photos that are not yours.
     
  20. good read here:

    http://efotobooks.com/cartier-bresson/decisive-moment.html
     
  21. jtk

    jtk

    I had neutral to negative views on HCB's work until very recently, when I was privileged to see many large prints, made for exhibition...the images are more significant than I'd imagined. Many images seem planned...a good thing...I don't think he was a "street shooter" in the sense of relying on spontaneous "captures."

    ...this in contrast to Bill Brandt, who I've admired since the 60s without properly understanding the intentional depth of his work. Recently, after seeing a large exhibition of his original prints, I better understand what he was about: I've concluded that his stature is greater than I'd imagined, and considerably above HCB's.
     
  22. Marek is right about the 50mm Sonnar f/1.5. Beaumont Newhall documented that in his autobiography. Also, I'm not so sure about the references to the "40mm point and shoot" Leica. I've seen photos of HCB shooting with a Leica CL, in perhaps the '70s, but he wasn't shooting seriously by then. "Point and shoot" might mislead people to thinking he shot with one of those cheap plastic things from the '90s.

    And, as to the "warm-hearted" comment, he was indeed known as aloof to strangers and to some he knew well, but he was very much the humanist, interested in a world that dealt more kindly with the common man, quite far to the left in his politics. In this sense, the "warm-hearted" comment would be correct.
     
  23. One of my favorite all-time. Always looking, always shooting. <br>
    His proof sheets do show him to have set up many of his iconic shots, at least the people... The practice seems to
    have been common. Nonetheless, he's the first master at catching geometry on the fly. His portraits don't tend to
    have the energy so many of his street shots do, but his best 20 is world-class historical art.
     
  24. Oh, his technique - sorry. Here goes:<br>
    1) Take a Lot of pictures.
    2) Take more pictures.<br>
    3) Only show people the good ones.
     
  25. In his later years he used the Leica Minilux, while not plastic it definitely was a point and shoot.

    Chad
     
  26. Try to get hold of his books The Europeans and India, or a general collection -- well worth while. Cartier-Bresson is one of my favorites
    as is Ansel Adams -- yet their technique and approach is wholly different.

    Leica III of various versions followed by M3, usually always the 50 lens, occasionally 35.

    Here is a quote from "The World's 10 Greatest Photographers," Popular Photography, May 1958: -

    "Cartier-Bresson works exclusively with the Leica, together with lenses of "various nationalities." He prefers to use the 50-mm focal
    length. He has a very low regard for accessories and gadgets of all kinds; he never uses a filter, and disdains exposure meters,
    preferring to trust his experience and judgement. As to film, when weather and light are good, he chooses Ilford HP-3, rating it at 200
    ASA; indoors and when conditions are poor, he uses Du Pont SX Pan, rated at 500 to 1,000 ASA. Cartier-Bresson trusts all his
    processing to the lab of Pierre Gassman in Paris, which develops his film in Harvey's 777 (smetimes resorting to D-76 or Promicrol to
    "push" film speeds). Printing is on Varigram or Ilford Multigrade, with recommended developers. Being free of gadgets, Cartier-Bresson
    can carry his camera with him at all times, and this habit, together with his unerring skill in capturing "the decisive moment," is the key
    to his way of working.
     
  27. would henri have been a better shooter if he had a meter? perhaps those used to shooting without can do without it much.
     
  28. "Even the front of the lens was black"

    How did the light get in?
     
  29. "Point and Shoot."

    Exactly, as Chad says, I was referring to the Minilux, which is/was a very superior point and shoot with a 40mm
    Summarit lens.
     
  30. While Man Ray and Brandt used the camera to photograph in-mind creations, Bresson seems to have let the world create
    for him, with a great ability to recognize meaningful compositions.

    Normally with only a 50mm lens on a quiet Leica body, he visually estimated exposures, positioned himself (very
    discreetly), focussed and waited for the moment. His approach was quite non-technical and simple - a lesson for us all.
    Everything had to do with composition and thoughtful analysis of the scene.
     
  31. I used to think a longer focal length would help in doing the "H C-B thing," He picked what, at the time, was the best of all worlds: 50mm. I wonder what he'd think of the 28mm Summicron-M, for his work?
     
  32. HCB was indeed politically left of center and that's perhaps why he was allowed twice into the USSR in 1952 and
    1972 with almost no restrictions where he could go. However, the pictures he took there no other photographer far
    to the right him has ever taken. I've got his book documenting his 1972 trip. He clearly did his homework and knew
    what he
    was after. To my mind he had compassion for the people there and sarcasm, sometimes subtle, towards the
    regime.

    One picture shows a young party apparatchik leading a group of foreign students at a demonstration. His face is
    stern and tense, his arms are spread out to keep the students in line. The students are carrying flags and banners
    and clearly uncomfortable. All this is in stark contrast to supposedly festive setting.

    Another one was taken of people going up and down the stairs leading to an underground subway station. There is
    a crossection of Moscovites with tired gloomy faces and out-of-towners with bags and boxes of things they bought
    that were only available in the capital. This is tougher to understand if one is not familiar with the USSR. I figure he
    knew he could get this kind of a picture there, so he probably positioned himself and waited until all the ducks lined
    up.
     
  33. Arthur Plumbton :

    >> Normally with only a 50mm lens on a quiet Leica body, he visually estimated exposures, positioned himself (very discreetly), focussed and waited for the moment. His approach was quite non-technical and simple - a lesson for us all. Everything had to do with composition and thoughtful analysis of the scene. <<

    Unfortunately this approach is notorious to have lead the Master into completely botch all the rolls he took in May 1968, in Paris during one of the largest demonstration he covered, by extreme overexposure...

    Due to the (justified) fame of "Monsieur" Cartier-Bresson the lab promptly realized inter-negatives to allow printing of the otherwise inexploitable shots... Any less famous Free-Lance photographer bringing back such films to the Press Agency would have been kicked in the a..s and fired on the spot ! ...

    Beside, Cartier-Bresson was lucky to live in a time black and white ruled... Such a mistake with Ektachrome (and perhaps in digital) would have been irretrievable.

    Without disrespect for someone I consider nevertheless as one of the major 20th century photographer, this is another demonstration of what overconfidence and despise for the technique can lead.

    It should also make some people here wonder what was the success ratio of the Master and if, despite his extreme ability to capture what he called the "decisive moment", there's not a large part of truth in what Brian Carter says in this thread :

    >> Oh, his technique - sorry. Here goes:
    1) Take a Lot of pictures. 2) Take more pictures.
    3) Only show people the good ones. <<

    I never met Cartier-Bresson in flesh, but I knew Doisneau personally and had a chance to see some contact printings of his films, and knew and was in contact of lesser known though very appreciated press photographers of the same generation... About 40% of the street spontaneous shots in the average have to be discarded under technical shortcomings (bad exposure or - and - bad focus), and at best only 33% in the average of a 36 exposure roll were both technically exploitable and significant. A result which was not bad in this era by the way.

    I have no more direct access or connections with the present press photographers of a national or international level, but I would be curious to know what is their technical success ratio today and what is their significant and technically correct success ratio today on the same subjects while using cameras with the present advanced technology... I guess the final ratio of shots with both significance and good exposure and in focus might not be very superior (if you discard the duplicated ones due to the use of multiple exposures mode), but I'm sure the technically acceptable ones ratio have significantly increased.

    Amateurs can still proceed like in the old times and live an enchanted life in the nostalgic photographers wonderland, but people living of their pictures and constantly confronted to the editing process of someone else cannot... Editors like to see a bunch of good pictures to chose from and knows what a professional can bring with today's technology for a specific event. They will forgive much less approximations than they did in Cartier-Bresson's time.

    To praise the technique (?) of Cartier-Bresson as a lesson or an explanation of his obvious talent is simply marked with a total lack of realism.

    Cartier-Bresson has an EYE few of us can compare with (if any)... With this talent he used what his era gave him as the best tool for his purpose and obtained probably the best possible results with this tool. Thinking using the same tool (and exposure technique) today will give you his talent is simply as meaningless as it ever was but it will be also a major mistake to believe anyone gifted in the same domain will - like Cartier-Bresson did - extract the maximum possible good shots ratio he would be able to obtain using a modern body instead.

    The link between the man (or the woman) behind the camera and the camera is dual... It works both directions. The best photographer will certainly obtain good shots (artistically speaking) and be above the average even with a poor tool, but he (or she) won't extract the best possible result from this poor tool. Conversely a poor photographer won't be better with the best modern tool (artistically speaking) but, on the contrary to the old times, he or she will at least reach a correct technical level most of the time.

    Consequently a good photographer, really freed by modern technology to concentrate on the subject will certainly be able to extract images which are really significant and almost technically perfect at the same time, even when the time factor forbid the use of refined and well thought technical adjustments...

    The only technical lesson I think still valuable from Cartier-Bresson's work, is for me the futility to use zoom lenses and to a certain extent AF, zone focusing or hyperfocal use combined with a natural perspective prime (either a 50mm like him or even a 35mm) should better integrate the main subject in its environment and allow to obtain more life-like and meaningful candid shots. Although there is much more to extract from his approach of the subject, the way he framed his pictures and the choice of the subject he shot... Our world, dominated by the spectacular and the unusual (perhaps because we are a bit saturated with images ?) doesn't pay enough attention to the average human being around us, and I think it's a pity and the sign of the disappearance of a very important side of photography : the capacity to visually impact on our reflection about the human being as a whole, the world we live in and finally ourselves...

    How many potential successors of Cartier-Bresson will remain unknown because of the lack of attention of the Press to the everyday life of ordinary people ?

    FPW
     
  34. I think what HCB did is not repeatable in this current age. In his days the Leica is a very small camera and very few of his subjects would know he was holding a camera. People simply did not associate camera with a tiny thingy in your hands.

    Nowadays, even a P&S screams "camera" to the average man in the street. And with the advent of the mobile phone/camera combination, city people are extremely sensitive to any person raising his arms in a picture-taking gesture. They no longer look at what you've got in your hands, they look at your body motion.
     
  35. Well I used a IIF with 50 elmar around bus lines for a couple of years in Toronto. This was year around. I photographed bus lines, people
    waiting in line to get on buses, and people getting on buses. Through hundreds of exposures and thousands of people, I had only two
    people ask me any kind of question. One young man who was art student recognized I was using a Leica, and he stopped to tell about his
    camera. And another guy asked me who I was working for. Most people just ignored me, several can be seen in the prints looking at me.
    One other guy said something one day when I was photographing a real long line with a Russian panoramic camera, he said someone
    should be documenting the problem.
     
  36. Aside from the cameras used, which have already been discussed, I remember reading that Marc Riboud once said that when he joined Magnum he was encouraged by Cartier-Bresson to use a VIDOM finder. The purpose was to aid composition as the finder showed the image upside down. I've also been given this advice from painters and other well known photographers as well.
     
  37. Well said Mr Weill.
     
  38. Is it really true that the VIDOM shows the image upside down? I've never owned one, but I understood that they showed the image inverted laterally (left to right) only, and that this was corrected in the later VIOOH (Imarect).

    Either way, HCB seems to have abandoned his own advice in later years - see portraits on the magnumphotos.com website or the Decisive Moment site linked by Jordan G above.
     
  39. Jonathan,

    I haven't got my VIDOM to hand (so to speak..) but if I remember correctly, by turning the wheel on the back you can cause the image to appear upside down. I believe this is what HCB was referring to. I think Marc Riboud said he tried using it this way and took the image of the painter on the Eiffel tower with it - and nearly fell off doing so!
     
  40. This thread has some more details on HCB and his use of the VIDOM finder:

    http://www.photo.net/leica-rangefinders-forum/00DKUf
     
  41. John, thanks for your diplomacy! I'd forgotten all about that earlier thread, yet I see I even contributed a similar question to it, AND received the answer from Al Kaplan. I really must get a VIDOM to play with. I'm personally convinced that strong compositions remain striking in all inversions, though I still think that many work better right -handed than left-handed (or vice versa). I'm also convinced that if you want to concentrate on composition without being distracted by detail or human preoccupations, turning the work upside down helps immensely. So I buy the idea thus far. What I'm still puzzled about is HCB's apparent framing accuracy using what are (let's face it) quite crude and compromised viewfinders.

    On another matter, it is nearly 40 years since I had a copy of The Decisive Moment in my hands (library copy - almost wish I'd stolen it!). The web site linked above brings the images to my screen much bigger than one gets in current books. Despite the loss of reproduction quality on the website, the familar images really jump out at me afresh at that size, especially the double-page spreads. I remember them having the same stunning impact at an HCB exhibition in London, where the print size was at least 16x12". Does anyone else notice a similar effect of image size, and can anyone explain it? I used to think it might be to do with spacing out the patches of tone, but given the poor quality of those web copies, that can't be right.
     
  42. Francios ... I enjoyed and concur with your analysis!
    <br>
    Going back to Nee Sung, I think the reason a P&S is visible today is because of how it is held and how long the process of taking a photo actually takes. Same for most other cameras with auto everything. Something like a D3 can overcome this with huge frame rates, lightening fast focus etc, but it's huge. For me most of the best candids I've captured were preconceived/pre-empted with a camera ready to go when the moment arrived. I can't compare my skills but certainly my enjoyment of getting home and seeing a plan come together full size/full colour is a very special part of photography for me. I think that's what I see in HCB's images. It's not translating 'what he means' as an artist, but something more straightforward and down to earth, what he was thinking and how he pulled it off.
    Try a Ricoh GX1/200 with the video viewfinder on it and in snap focus mode, you feel like a pickpocket or street urchin of sorts.
     
  43. Nee Sung says:

    "In his days the Leica is a very small camera and very few of his subjects would know he was holding a camera.
    People simply did not associate camera with a tiny thingy in your hands."

    I agree with this and can see the sense in it, and yet I was reading an interview from the 1950s with HCB last night in
    which he discussed his earlier work. In the interview he stated that he was only able to take many of these pictures
    because people were so used to lenses being around and thus ignored him.
     
  44. It seems that HC-B was not always a technical master of photography, but his perception of humanity and society and his
    ability to frame such events in the 1 x 1.5 frame with clarity and panache was exceptional.

    Pehaps his disdaining of the technical side of photography, such as exposure metering and darkroom enhancement of the
    image, was a factor in his decision to reject the silver based image for the pleasures of drawing and painting, which he turned to later in
    life.
     
  45. He did this, he did that, this is what he used, this is how he held it, he ate this, drank that, walked like this, talked like that.

    Would any of you like to smell my le' merde?
     
  46. Henri, in all your (short) time as a member of this forum I have yet to see you make one constructive contribution. Why bother...?
     
  47. Henri, in all your (short) time as a member of this forum I have yet to see you make one constructive
    contribution. Why bother...?

    I think the point he is making that too many photographers are a wannabe Henri. They just want to dress like him,
    talk like him, think like him,and most of all have the same cam.

    Bliss is,hey, your photos are just like Henri's.

    ;)
     
  48. The thing I love about Henri was the philosophy he promoted. IMHO this was that always having a camera on hand and
    taking lots of pictures is a good thing. I quite enjoy this school of thought. I myself carry an M2 or Leica II with me always
    these days and find myself seeing frames lines appear in the open air as I walk down the street. :)

    ~Andrew
     
  49. Paul :

    >> Going back to Nee Sung, I think the reason a P&S is visible today is because of how it is held and how long the process of taking a photo actually takes. <<

    I do agree, these small things are neither designed nor truly adapted to street photography...

    >> Same for most other cameras with auto everything. Something like a D3 can overcome this with huge frame rates, lightening fast focus etc, but it's huge. <<

    At the same times HCB was using a Leica, a lot of "humanist photographers" of this era used the Rolleiflex, which is comparatively uge (I still have an 1960's F with an 80mm Planar f/2.8) but the Rollei allowed for a lot of tricks to fool the real subject... These techiniques were asposed at length in "The Rolleiflex Manual" by Marcel Natkin, another "Master" (but with a lower international reputation) of candid shots.

    Frankly speaking, I don't think the unobtrusive nature of a Leica is as important as many believe to avoid premature detedtion by the subject. IMHO it serves mainly the photographer which can act faster and carry his camera more easily everywhere without being noticed as a photographer even before you begin to take pictures. The problem with SLR's is more linked with the noise which will invariably attract the attention of the subject, so the first shot must be the good one.

    I don't advocate the D3 or any other big DSLR as the best suited tool for street photography either. A reason why I'm convinced there is a true usefulness for a modern full format DRF with modern exposure modes available, as this body will combine the best features of a modern DSLR and the best features of a traditional small format rangefinder camera.

    However, from personal experience, I consider more likely to get a higher proportion of good exploitable street shots with something like a D3 (although using a manual focus lens set in hyperfocal instead of an AF zoom) than with any M camera (film or digital). To put the things otherwise, the cumbersome and noisy DSLR disadvantages will (IMHO) be more than compensated in terms of successful shot ratio when compared to the ratio of incorrectly exposed shots you are likely to obtain from an classic M camera.

    >> For me most of the best candids I've captured were preconceived/pre-empted with a camera ready to go when the moment arrived. <<

    It used to be the one and only solution to get the best shots... I don't consider AF to be reliable enough for street photography (as taking the time to adjust the AF points to the subject and re-frame is not the best guarantee to capture the "decisive moment") but as far as exposure is concerned, the best matrix metering allows for EXPLOITABLE (not perfect) shots form 95 to 98% of the time WITHOUT THE NEED TO RE-FRAME and the rest is easy to determine as needing another way of metering to be largely on the safe side. So, having set your manual lens in hyperfocal (or zone focusing) according to the subject you anticipate to capture and the aperture accordingly, you can actually use your camera as a point and shoot one instantly adn get you subject properly in focus and properly exposed (even if you need some post treatment to extract the best form your shot).

    >> I can't compare my skills but certainly my enjoyment of getting home and seeing a plan come together full size/full colour is a very special part of photography for me. I think that's what I see in HCB's images. It's not translating 'what he means' as an artist, but something more straightforward and down to earth, what he was thinking and how he pulled it off. <<

    I do agree.

    >> Try a Ricoh GX1/200 with the video viewfinder on it and in snap focus mode, you feel like a pickpocket or street urchin of sorts. <<

    Never tried such a camera myself... But I don't think you can reach the IQ of a more evolved though much bigger camera...

    I am slowly selling all my silver halide photographic tools (regretfully my M mount lenses too for lack of a proper M mount digital body corresponding to my specs), only keeping my Rolleiflex more for sentimental reasons than anything else. But I'm eager to get the D700 I have chosen and experiment with its high ISO performance, expecting in so doing to go from available lighti into the new world of "available darkness"... Shooting candids in natural light in interiors, where nobody yet expects you to take pictures without a flash will certainly be a rewarding experience.

    FPW
     
  50. FPW wrote: "but as far as exposure is concerned, the best matrix metering allows for EXPLOITABLE (not perfect) shots form 95 to 98% of the time WITHOUT THE NEED TO RE-FRAME and the rest is easy to determine as needing another way of metering to be largely on the safe side."
    Francois, I'm curious why you consider hyperfocal focussing to be good enough yet you insist on matrix metering. In any random situation the focus distance changes much more often and over a much broader range than light does. Could you not pre-set the exposure as well?
     
  51. Douglas,

    Easy to understand...

    I think I know why you equals both exposure pre-set and zone focusing, as I'll do the same if required with any tele-lens and I know what is your favorite subjects... Of course with a long tele-lens which even at the seldom practically used small apertures has a very shallow depth of field both problems can be considered the same way...

    But let's take for example a 35mm at f/8 : setting the focus ring at 5m will give you a subject acceptably in focus between 2.5m and infinity (hyperfocal). I think you will seldom need to modify this setting whatever the street subject you will need to shoot. But you are unable to master the light falling on it (I don't want to use flash), and the light can change very fast form a subject to another in street photography (both because the interesting scene can suddenly appear on the brightly lighten side of the street or the shadowed one and because light can be modified very fast either due to natural causes like a cloud or by the passage of say a truck or a van just as you click).

    How it goes practically : You pre-set hyperfocal and Matrix AE mode and you can point and shoot at any interesting subject appearing between 2.5m and infinity and be in focus (approximate but deemed sufficient sharpness) at the same time, matrix will adapt the exposure enough to get an exploitable shot (at least 95 to 98% of the time). The creative side is the moment and the composition you chose. The process is extremely fast for a very high ratio of success.

    Now of I use a 300mm f/2.8 at f/2.8 the problem is quite different... First, my eyes ain't no more good enough to manually focus fast enough properly if the subject moves (I know it is not your case) so I need an AF, then the composition is generally very tight around the subject, so a spot metering may be far more precise and appropriate than the matrix and even the move to re-frame the subject is generally very small... And if the subject is taken like yours in the country and if the light is constant enough, I can even pre-set the exposure using a hand held meter in incident mode if I judge something near me is lightened the same as the anticipated subject...

    My opinion on using both DOF focusing and matrix is only valid when it goes to street photography using a standard or wide focal length. I don't pretend it is a universal technique which works for any subject with any lens... But for street photography (and a lot of press shots) it works well for me and better than the old techniques based on guesswork and exposure pre-set.

    FPW
     
  52. Regarding the first response's rebuke to the poster, didn't H.C-B. use the byline "Cartier" or "Henri Cartier" in
    the early post-war years? I remember reading an interview somewhere in which the Indian film director Satyajit
    Ray refers to him as "Cartier" as well. I think in the period when people initially began to notice his work, he
    was generally referred to or known as "Cartier", IIRC.
     

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