When Things Go Wrong

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by landrum_kelly, Sep 12, 2013.

  1. Last night was supposed to be an uneventful night. I would go shoot a few old buildings down by the railroad depot, as well as perhaps get a shot down the tracks while I was at it. I was using a fast camera and lens, no tripod, ISO 12,800. I wanted to see what I could get hand-held. I wasn't getting much that was very good, though, and so I thought that I would drive around to find another scene to shoot.
    Suddenly, as I pulled to a stop at a red light, there appeared to be something happening that I immediately put together in my mind as a family reunion to welcome a solder returning from abroad, perhaps Afghanistan. Having missed a shot like that before, without another thought I reached for my camera and started shooting. The light changed after I had taken eleven shots. For reasons that will be obvious, I left the scene when the light turned green and never looked back.
    I will post them all at first without commentary. Please feel free to offer your own observations.
    --Lannie
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  2. Second shot.
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  3. Third shot.
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  4. Fourth shot.
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  5. Fifth shot.
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  6. Sixth shot.
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  7. Seventh shot.
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  8. Eighth shot.
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  9. Ninth shot.
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  10. Tenth shot.
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  11. Eleventh--and final--shot.
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  12. After the eleventh shot, I looked up and saw that the light had changed. I set the camera down beside me, waved and smiled weakly, and drove off.
    It is 3:30 a.m. as I write this. The cops have not yet shown up at my door. The incident is over.
    I think. I hope.

    Whatever happens, it could have been worse.
    --Lannie
     
  13. Looked like a good time to put on a cat-who-ate-the-canary grin, stick out a paw, and offer to take a photo of the whole group together and send 'em a copy of the photo. The kid was grinning and giving a thumbs up - that's the cue I'd go with.
    Yeah, easier said than done when you're not in the right frame of mind. But sometimes just BS'ing your way through works out okay.
     
  14. It is hard to know how to read the faces. The man (especially on the full-sized files) appears concerned. By the sixth shot, he looks downright thoughtful. I see no anger there, no malice. He seems to have the demeanor and determination of a first responder, perhaps a bit apprehensive, but determined to face the situation, whatever it might be.
    The kid looks as if he might be thinking, "Hot dog! Dad is going to whup somebody's tail."
    Then the kid seems to pull up, as if mom might have just yelled out, "Tommy! Stop! Come back here. Let your daddy handle this."
    Who knows?
    --Lannie
     
  15. Thanks, Lex. There was also the small problem of what to do, now that the light had turned green and I was alpha for take-off.
    I also really could not see faces very well through the viewfinder. I imagined the worst.
    The woman at right seemed totally unconcerned throughout it all, but the young woman in the white top near the center looked quite concerned in two frames--hard to tell that here, at this size.
    I hope that I did not unsettle anyone too much. I was just trying to take advantage of what looked like might be a good photo op. In the future, I might want to be careful about drive-by shooting in the dark. In fact, I'm pretty darned sure of it.
    --Lannie
     
  16. It's hard to read situations like that. Takes practice, and I lose some of my spidey sense for candid photo situations when I go weeks without prowling around for photos. For me, at least, the more often I do it, the more comfortable I feel and the more positively folks respond to me.
    Again, hindsight, 20/20, woulda-coulda-shoulda, blah-blah-blah, but... maybe a good approach would have been to casually stroll up first, say you were just passing, noticed what looked like a reunion, and ask if they'd like to get a group photo. After breaking the ice and getting a group photo, maybe see if they're okay with hanging around a few minutes and taking some unposed candids too. Offer to send 'em copies, of course.
    But, again, it's easier said than done unless you're in the groove and have the right frame of mind. Takes me awhile to get into that groove again when I'm out of practice.
     
  17. Here is a 100% crop from the tenth shot. Further to the right in the same frame, the little boy really would be giving the thumbs up, but none of this was seen by me through the viewfinder at the time.
    Suddenly I was the center of attention, and through the viewfinder the situation did not look good.
    --Lannie
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  18. Finally, here is a 100% crop from the last frame. Here one sees more concern and puzzlement, I believe.
    At least there is no abject fear visible here, although the young woman in white seems a bit beyond being merely puzzled.
    --Lannie
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  19. Lannie, I can understand how it'd appear suspicious to military folks when you pull up and start rattling off pictures with a fancy camera, presumably with a physically big lens, from the driver side. I don't think anyone will be pleased with that kind of experience.
    It brings to mind all those discussions we've had about a photographer's rights, but to me, at least in the situation you've described, it's really an intrusion into others' privacy for no apparent purpose other than a desire to do it for self-rationalized reasons.
     
  20. I don't think anyone will be pleased with that kind of experience.​
    Michael, when I first started shooting, I really thought that I would not be noticed. By the time I figured out that the man was coming toward me, it was a bit too late to rethink that.
    The lens was a 28-70mm f/2.8, not a long lens, at least--and really not all that fat.
    In addition, they were all further away than they appear in these pictures. I have cropped the eleven sequential shots and blown them up so that faces might be seen.
    I certainly would not have started taking the pictures had I thought I was going to alarm anyone. Once the man saw me (which I really did not expect) and started moving toward me, then and only then did the others notice me. He was originally standing in the back, and I did not see him.
    The kid's "thumbs up" is a bit of a puzzle. Lex thinks that it was a good sign. I could not see it, in any case, not through the viewfinder. I am more inclined to interpret it as "Get 'im, Dad!"
    The man marched inexorably toward my car. That is all that I saw through the viewfinder, for all practical purposes.
    Who knows?
    As for "self-rationalized reasons," you have suddenly adopted a very strongly moralistic, judgmental, and self-righteous tone. That surprises me.
    The camera was set to single shot, not continuous shooting, for what that is worth. There was no "machine-gun" effect on the D3s, no excessive noise. Indeed, at the distance I was shooting, I doubt that they heard the shutter at all on the busy street.
    In any case, I was on a dark side street. They were on Main St., where there is little expectation of privacy.
    In any case, I have titled the thread "When Things Go Wrong" because the outcome was not at all what I expected. When things go wrong, that seems to be the way it typically is. It is not necessary to judge motives simply because we do not always size up a surprise photo op correctly.
    --Lannie
     
  21. mike dixon

    mike dixon Moderator

    From the title, I was expecting something far more dramatic. Someone saw you taking photographs and began to approach you. I've had people approach and ask me about what I'm doing lots of times, though it's typically from a close distance and I don't have a metal and glass shell around me. I think it's business as usual when photographing strangers.
     
  22. Actually, after looking at you shots (especially the last couple) it would appear that the young Soldier was probably home
    from Initial Training and out showing off her uniform. The clues for me: no obvious rank or other insignia, and more
    importantly, no Shoulder Sleeve Insignia on the left shoulder. Anyone who had completed training and gone to
    permanent duty station would have one.

    Even though people have gotten used to seeing the camouflage uniforms over the last ten years, it's kind of bad form to
    wear them out and about like that. It's supposed to be a utility or "work" uniform, not what you wear out to the restaurant.
    Obvious exceptions for lunch during the work day, etc.

    Just this retired NCOs .02 on the situation.
     
  23. Lannie, he was almost certainly coming to have a word with you, and not knowing these people who knows how an interaction might have turned out had the red light stayed longer. The man marching toward you doesn't look pleased and the kid's thumb's-up might have been a result of previous conversation among themselves before you pulled up.
    The experience seems to have affected you as I'm sure the group of people. There was no harm done, but I'd be curious about what you would have done had the man asked you to delete the pictures in an unfriendly manner.
     
  24. I'd be curious about what you would have done had the man asked you to delete the pictures in an unfriendly manner.​
    Michael, in this case, I would have deleted them, simply to avoid conflict. In addition, they have no real value apart from whatever value there might (or might not be) in discussing this and similar situations.
    Mike Dixon is right about the lack of drama after all the build-up. Still, it was all enough to unsettle me, and I presume that the others were a bit unsettled as well. Before I saw the photos on the monitor at home, I had inferred that some macho type has been prepared to create a potentially dangerous confrontation. After looking at his face up close, I am more inclined to see real concern--but one never knows for sure. Three years ago, a businessman assaulted me for taking pictures of his building without permission. It was quite unexpected, to say the least. No druggies or homeless people have ever assaulted me in all of my nocturnal shooting--and I do a good bit of it. So far, it has been about white males, probably "upstanding members of the community."
    In the immediate case, what I think that I should have done in retrospect, given that I did turn right and pass right in front of them, was to find a place to park and to explain myself to them. Even there, however, I simply had no idea what kind of situation I might be walking into.
    If you will notice, the young soldier is not the only one wearing camo. This is North Carolina, big time gun country. I can defend driving off and avoiding any further confrontation.
    I waved what I thought was a friendly wave just before driving off. The bad call was trying the shoot in the first place. it had not been many months since I saw a tearful reunion between a father and son on a major thoroughfare in this same town (busier than Main Street). The mother had apparently set it up. I really regretted not getting that one. It would have been very poignant. That did affect my decision to quickly pick up the camera and start shooting.
    I read too much--and too little--into the situation pictured here when I pulled up to the light and suddenly saw the family out there on the sidewalk. What on earth was going on? I still do not know exactly.
    It was largely a non-event, but small miscues can sometimes blow up into horrible situations. Things went wrong here, but no catastrophe occurred.
    --Lannie
     
  25. I'm glad you posted this, Lannie. It gives amateurs and casual shooters something to think about and draw their own conclusions. I enjoy viewing street photos but the potential down side as a shooter just isn't worth it for me to participate, but I do appreciate the effort and sharing of those who do.
     
  26. Michael, I usually go downtown in this little burg to shoot buildings and such.
    Shooting people can get complicated in a hurry--unless one asks permission in advance, but then that often ruins the potential shot.
    I would still like to know what precisely was going through the minds of the people in the shots above. I have to conclude that the same shots in daytime might not have been viewed as nearly so threatening.
    --Lannie
     
  27. >>> Please feel free to offer your own observations.

    OK...

    >>> From the title, I was expecting something far more dramatic.

    Same here. I see nothing out of the ordinary.

    Yes, if you engage in sneaky, suspicious behavior, many people will object and try to understand why they are
    (from their point of view) being targeted by a stranger, with unknown motivations, in such a manner. I don't find that surprising and can't imagine that not
    happening in most neighborhoods. I'd do the same. Try and put yourself in their shoes. How would you feel?

    >>> Michael, when I first started shooting, I really thought that I would not be noticed.

    No matter how clever you think you are, people are VERY perceptive to others' suspicious behavior.

    >>> I would still like to know what precisely was going through the minds of the people in the shots above.

    Why not stick around and find out? The opportunity was there...
     
  28. Thanks, Brad. I knew that a thread like this would snag at least one snide and snarky hypocrite:
    http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/382226
    http://www.citysnaps.net/blog/about-2/
    If we reveal ourselves fully on the streets, we rarely or never get the best shots.
    Good work! You get the shots. Thank you for being sufficiently sneaky. I guess that that means that you somehow generally manage to avoid appearing suspicious--by typically remaining invisible to your subjects.
    It can be done honorably, and you've done it.
    I think.
    --Lannie
     
  29. "In addition, they have no real value apart from whatever value there might (or might not be) in discussing this and similar situations." [Emphasis added.]
    Lannie, you made this statement and it stood out to me. It might be a key. If I had taken pictures which I really thought had no value, I'd question a lot about them and likely try to avoid taking such pics again, or at least I would try taking them in a very different way so as to get some value into them. That would be the best photographic discussion I could imagine. What could or would you do differently next time, photographically and behaviorally, in hopes of getting some pictures of value? I'd start by asking what about the scene was speaking to you or made you want to make a photograph of it?
     
  30. Lannie, I just read your words to Brad. Something I think about is the difference between a photo that looks like it was taken by a stalker and a photo that looks like it was taken by someone unnoticed and unobtrusive. There are many different ways not to be noticed and not being noticed does not necessarily mean not being "part" of the street or street scene. And there are some "stalker" type photos that are effective, but many that are off.
    To me, your photos here come off as if you were stalking a private moment or party and that you were out of the loop. They might have more value if you showed, visually in the photos, that there was consciousness or awareness of that separation rather than it just being there haphazardly. I think if there were some feeling about this scene that could have been translated into the photos, they might be of more value. As it is, it just feels like there was an opportunity but there was no apparent grasp on an approach to it. That grasp doesn't have to be fully thought through, especially when shooting. That grasp can happen instantaneously. It's usually very apparent when the grasp is just not there.
     
  31. After breaking the ice and getting a group photo, maybe see if they're okay with hanging around a few minutes and taking some unposed candids too.​
    I think you're right, Lex. There is totally candid and then there is "They forgot I was there" candid. The latter is surely safer--and less intrusive and thus less likely to be perceived as threatening.
    What can I say? I just happened on the scene and thought in that moment that this one might bear fruit: a tearful reunion or goodbye. Well, it bore fruit alright. Hopefully the consequences hurt no one.
    Need I admit that I am not really a street photographer? I am better off shooting buildings, except when that draws fire, too, as it did at least once almost three years ago in the same little burg.
    --Lannie
     
  32. What could or would you do differently next time, photographically and behaviorally, in hopes of getting some pictures of value? I'd start by asking what about the scene was speaking to you or made you want to make a photograph of it?​
    Thanks, Fred. I tried (however ineptly) to address this in one of my comments above.
    The bad call was trying the shoot in the first place. it had not been many months since I saw a tearful reunion between a father and son on a major thoroughfare in this same town (busier than Main Street). The mother had apparently set it up. I really regretted not getting that one. It would have been very poignant. That did affect my decision to quickly pick up the camera and start shooting.​
    That (the tearful reunion) was a daytime scene that I just alluded to. I was hoping here for something more in the tradition of "A Soldier Returns from War." (I am reminded of a scene in the movie Broadcast News as I write this.)
    One is a lot more likely to be perceived as "sneaky" or "suspicious" or "stalking" when shooting at night, I think--especially when shooting at night from a car. You would think that that would have occurred to me, but I had never tried it before, and here appeared to be a photo op that might bear fruit--and the camera was on the seat beside me. I had gone downtown to shoot buildings, not people. Shooting people--especially shooting strangers from the shadows--is a very different game, it would appear.
    As it is, it just feels like there was an opportunity but there was no apparent grasp on an approach to it.​
    You are absolutely right about that, Fred. Although I take a lot of shots on the streets, they are rarely "street photography." I usually stick them on the Landscape forum as "Urban Landscape." They are typically of buildings or trains or railroad tracks--that sort of thing. Here is my "Shot in the Dark" folder. There is not a person in it as of this writing. It is about inanimate things.
    If I am going to survive as a street photographer, a shooter of people--even in a tiny place like Salisbury, NC--I need to learn a lot of things in a hurry. It reminds me of learning to ride a motorcycle, and why it is so critical to learn a lot of them in a hurry if one is going to survive those critical "first six months" on a bike.
    Getting something worth shooting and sharing is even more challenging. Four bikes and forty-three years later, I have never seriously wracked myself up on a bike. I hope that I can survive the first six months shooting people on the street--especially at night.
    I started to refrain from posting this sequence, since no shot in it is interesting in itself. Does the sequence in its totality have any heuristic value? I guess that that depends on how the thread goes. I'm getting something out of it--from other persons' comments.
    Thanks to all for the suggestions, caveats, warnings, and cautions. This is new territory for me. I might just go back to shooting buildings and railroad tracks. They are safer. They don't move. They do not feel threatened.
    I do like the night, though. It is magic.
    --Lannie
     
  33. "To me, your photos here come off as if you were stalking a private moment or party and that you were out of the loop"

    Ditto.
    And i wouldn't have posted them, Landrum. A private moment you now made us all intrude.
    There is something not quite right in posting such photos with a "Hopefully the consequences hurt no one.".
     
  34. I thought about that, Q.G., but the intrusion as perceived last night (by the subjects) is very different from the actual intrusion, in my opinion.
    Here were Michael Chang's words to me in the wee hours of this morning:
    I'm glad you posted this, Lannie. It gives amateurs and casual shooters something to think about and draw their own conclusions. I enjoy viewing street photos but the potential down side as a shooter just isn't worth it for me to participate, but I do appreciate the effort and sharing of those who do.​
    I bought my first SLR in 1977, but in this genre "street photography" (especially at night!) I am admittedly the rankest of rank amateurs.
    May it suffice to say that the reaction that I provoked from the man--and then, through his actions, from the others--disturbed me sufficiently to want to talk it through and get some other opinions.
    Sometimes a mistake is just a mistake, Q.G. The question is whether we learn from it or not. I will readily concede that the photos should not have been made. I had recently bought a used Nikon D3s on eBay at a good price and wanted to see what it could do.
    Well, I found out. It is a powerful tool. In the wrong hands, it can be perceived as a threatening weapon--along with the person who wields it.
    --Lannie
     
  35. A private moment you now made us all intrude.​
    This event, whatever it was, occurred on Main St. in good light. It was hardly private in any meaningful sense--unless you think, Q.G., that we should never shoot pictures of others under any circumstances without getting their prior permission. That seems a bit extreme to me.
    --Lannie
     
  36. Whatever I expected of photography when I first picked up a camera, I can honestly say that I never imagined that a photographic event might turn out to be chastening.
    --Lannie
     
  37. Lannie --
    Having seen many a similar thread on PN over the years (though none with a series of photographs that so powerfully showed what occurred) I found the responses here pretty predictable. Thanks, because --like Michael -- I think this is interesting, instructive, and worthwhile.
    Three observations, each from a different viewpoint:
    1.) As the photographer in this situation, you owe no explanations, no apologies, no justifications to anyone. Not to the people participating in this thread, not to the group of people you photographed. You saw a moment that you thought might yield an interesting photograph and you photographed it. Good for you. What you decide to photograph, or not photograph, in a public area in the USA is entirely up to you. Businessmen, family gatherings, homeless people, children, women in bikinis, obese people in yoga pants....up to you and whatever ethical boundaries you set for yourself. You don't have to limit yourself to the ethical standards or legal ignorance of other people. The only caveat is that you should be prepared to deal with the consequences of your actions.
    2.) As the man who walked toward the car -- I'm with my family. My cousin, my daughter, a family friend -- whatever -- has just completed basic training and we're saying our goodbyes for the evening. I look over and there's a stranger in a car at the stoplight with a camera lens pointed directly at us. Who is this person? Why are they photographing us? A PI? A terrorist? A sexual predator? wtf is going on here? I'm going to walk over, confront this person, and ask them what they are doing. I don't know about the laws that govern public photography, and if I did know I wouldn't care. I perceive a potential threat to my friends and family and I'm going to get to the bottom of it. And if I truly was that man in this kind of situation, despite my knowledge of the law, and despite everything I said in # 1 above, I would still walk up to the person and ask them why they were taking the photograph.
    3.) Ironically, just last weekend, I was with my wife and daughter at a Metra station a few blocks from our house, waiting to go to downtown Chicago. There was a young man with a DSLR. He was also waiting with a group of friends or family to board the train. For a few moments he pointed the camera in our direction and it was clear he was taking a photograph. Maybe he was photographing down the empty tracks, but there was no way we were not in the photograph(s) he took. I kind of smiled to myself and looked away. I perceived no threat whatsoever. For all I know my mug is now on some photography discussion board under the heading "Some street pics I took at the Metra station this weekend". Good for the kid. Different circumstances than # 2 above. Which really proves the point that Brad and others have made about "sneakiness".
    But I'm just not into passing aesthetic or moral judgements on this topic. If it's legal, if it will get you a photograph you're happy with, and if you're prepared to face any possible consequences -- have at it.
     
  38. Landrum,

    I do not propose an extreme view on privacy, no.
    Hence i have considerable difficulty with an "This event, whatever it was, occurred on Main St. in good light. It was hardly private in any meaningful sense" statement. As if happening on Main Street in enough light to be visible is enough to deny an event any kind of privacy.
    "That seems a bit extreme to me."

    I can understand the group's reaction, and i'm sure you do too. Which makes it difficult to understand that you still wanted to share this (the photos, not the story) with everyone on the world wide interweb.
     
  39. Here is approximately what I saw--or thought I saw:
    IT GETS DICEY, DON'T IT?! Bad surprises can come at you--at any of us--pretty fast. The purity of our intentions does not matter at those moments. The road to hell, as they say, is paved with good intentions.
    Fortunately, this situation stopped short of being too hellish--just a bit uncomfortable for all concerned.

    --Lannie
     
  40. Steve, did you notice that it was Lannie himself who passed aesthetic judgment on his own photos? This became clear to me when he said they had no value. Why does this have to become about ethics or about photographers standing their ground or about patting a photographer on the back for seizing the moment? Why can't it be about the photos? Lannie made it, in part, about that. And it's been addressed, at least as a start, though much more could be said about how this scene might have been approached to yield photos that Lannie might feel were of more value. But that would take something other than a debate about legality and ethics and it's often not where these threads prefer to go. I tried, and Lannie tried by responding substantively to me.
    As for the behavioral aspects, Lannie also expressed discomfort with his own behavior and with what he perceived coming from the subjects of his photos. I guess it's fine to tell him he did nothing wrong, but I once did a kind of shooting I realized I'd become uncomfortable with and no amount of anyone telling me I wasn't doing anything wrong would have changed the fact that I just didn't want to shoot like that anymore. There are many changes Lannie could make that might make him more comfortable with his shooting, and it could still be quite candid shooting. Another possibility is that Lannie might embrace the discomfort and come to shoot photos that will be of more value to him, working with that discomfort in a genuine manner.
    How would one express or convey discomfort at shooting such an event in a way that might reach out to the viewer and make us feel something or think about something? What would it feel like if there were a wall or a tree or post interfering with our view of the scene? My main aesthetic criticism is that there is no particular perspective or point of view here, so I am not drawn in. I simply don't care about what I'm seeing.
    Lannie mentioned he was moved by the tearful reunion. What might he have done to express "tearful reunion" visibly and photographically? That would be where I'd start rather than getting into a debate about whether it's right to shoot a certain scene or not. If a photograph is expressive and has value to viewers, there will usually be much less a question of the ethics of the actual shooting that took place. Usually!
     
  41. I can understand the group's reaction, and i'm sure you do too. Which makes it difficult to understand that you still wanted to share this (the photos, not the story) with everyone on the world wide interweb.​
    Q.G., I am a teacher by trade. If I see learning potential (for me or for others) in a situation, I am going to pursue it.
    Thus this extended thread, which so far has too many posts by me, both of pictures and words. I yet hope that it turns out to be of some value to someone.
    My first lesson here is simple: Don't take pictures of people at night from a car. Whatever else one may say, I would have to reiterate that lesson--mostly for myself, but also for anyone else who might happen upon this thread.
    --Lannie
     
  42. Lannie, just noticed the last photo you linked to. That's the best photo of the bunch. It provides context, and it feels the most honest. Comes across much less intrusively. It's from a greater distance but, to me, establishes a bit MORE intimacy than any of the other shots precisely because it does not come across as an attempt to INTRUDE from the outside but rather shows a genuine outside viewpoint . . . and . . . at least it has a meaningful gesture in the move toward an embrace, something lacking in the photos you had previously posted.
    Maybe, in those previously posted photos, the guy bringing his hand to his chin or the kid's thumbs up were gestures, but they just don't reach out much to the viewer, and they also are more about YOUR behavior and participation than they are about the SUBJECTS per se. Not necessarily a bad thing to be part of the photo and have gestures directed to you, but certainly the move toward embrace in the final photo, especially from the true distance you're shooting, has more impact.
     
  43. "My first lesson here is simple: Don't take pictures of people at night from a car. Whatever else one may say, I would have to reiterate that lesson . . . "
    To me, that's a bad lesson learned. Some great photos have been taken from cars at night. I wouldn't think so much about where I was and what time of day it was. I would think much more about what the photos lacked and how to get more into them, even from a car and at night. Having said that, we all have our own limits and if you want to establish that limit about night and cars for yourself, of course go ahead and do so, but don't ignore the much more important photographic and aesthetic considerations that may have gone awry here.
     
  44. Thank you, both Steve and Fred. I must have cross-threaded with both of you in my later posting, which might put things in somewhat better context.
    I think that you are both right, for what that's worth.
    As for aesthetics, Fred, nothing is going to make these into masterpieces. Since I did not plan this shot or expect to be making such a shot until I was faced with doing so, I can only say that, from a technical side, I would have tried to remember to move the aperture back to f/2.8 from f/5.6. It is a little ridiculous to be shooting handheld at 12,800 ISO with the aperture closed down two full stops. That is, some of the shots are blurry because of that error--and noisy.
    The technical problems do not bother me. What bothers me is that I might have spoiled some family's beautiful evening. I hope not. If so, I profoundly apologize to you, whoever and wherever you are.
    To me, it looked like a hug was coming: O, to capture a happy reunion of a family with their returning soldier/child! Oh, happy day. That was the intent. Good intentions are not enough.
    --Lannie
     
  45. Lannie, just to be clear, when I talked about aesthetics, the last thing on my mind here was the blurriness or aperture. I was thinking of expressiveness, perspective, and moment. Not that it's not good to learn from technical missteps or perceived technical missteps. It's just that there's a lot more to consider.
     
  46. Fred. you might be right about giving myself an absolute rule about not shooting under certain circumstances, but I certainly will want to avoid a snap judgment to shoot on the spur of the moment--when shooting people at night from a car.
    Hm, sorry for that unintentional pun. . . .
    The problem, of course, is that photo ops have a way of popping up quickly--and disappearing even more quickly, it seems.
    --Lannie
     
  47. Lannie, thanks. I think good photography often requires snap judgments. What happens is, over time, hopefully our snap judgments become more informed by our past good and bad experiences and what we've learned photographically from the results we see. We still make snap judgments, but the snap has more and more meaning behind it the more we've thought about and seen the results of our snap judgments from the past. You don't necessarily want to undermine your own spontaneity or your own gut instincts, you just want to strengthen and deepen them over time.
     
  48. >>> Please feel free to offer your own observations.
    Thanks, Brad. I knew that a thread like this would snag at least one snide and snarky hypocrite:​
    Now I'm afraid to offer my observations so I guess it goes without saying which way I swing on this, Lannie.
    If the same situation arises again, I'ld suggest you drum up the courage and go up to folks in question and explain yourself.
    Similar situation happened to me in the park and in an unfamiliar local neighborhood taking photos of refurbished Toll House style homes. I stood my ground by walking up to the people coming forward to ask what I was doing and explained myself. The police also arrived where I explained again what I was doing. No big deal, but the experience did rattle me, but that's the risk of walking around and taking photos out in public.
    You doing it at night made even more riskier. And I don't think I'm being snarky or disrespectful.
     
  49. Lannie, just to be clear, when I talked about aesthetics, the last thing on my mind here was the blurriness or aperture.​
    Fred, I understand. It is simply that I cannot believe how often I forget to check such a basic thing as aperture. It won't be the first time I have forgotten, or the last.
    As for composition, as I started shooting, I was hoping that the group might open up and give me the shot I really wanted. It didn't happen.
    Back to Mike Dixon's remarks earlier: It might not have been high drama, but it was more drama than I needed after three hard days of teaching, including a three-hour class meeting on Wednesday night (the night before). As for the impact on the family and friends, I can only hope that it was perceived as a minor incident. One never knows.
    --Lannie
     
  50. What happens is, over time, hopefully our snap judgments become more informed by our past good and bad experiences and what we've learned photographically from the results we see.​
    Thanks, Fred. I agree. One hopes to live long enough to develop such good "instincts."
    --Lannie
     
  51. If the same situation arises again, I'd suggest you drum up the courage and go up to folks in question and explain yourself.​
    That is very good advice, Tim. Thank you. In this case, given what I thought I saw unfolding through the viewfinder, moving on seemed to be the safer course. Cooler heads tend to prevail with the passage of a bit of time.
    As for the cops, so far the cops have pretty much left me alone. Perhaps they recognize my old '95 red Honda Civic with the busted muffler--you know, the one driven by that crazy old guy with the camera and tripod who hangs out near the train station.
    Sooner or later, though, the cops are bound to ask me what I am up to. I hope that they do not say, "You're trespassing," or worse.
    I would drive on down to Charlotte to get more "dramatic" night shots, but the one time I tried that I had to beat a hasty retreat from what appeared to be an approaching gang. One never knows.
    I'm not too big on more drama today, for some reason.
    --Lannie
     
  52. The police also arrived where I explained again what I was doing. No big deal, but the experience did rattle me, but that's the risk of walking around and taking photos out in public.​
    Thanks again, Tim. Thanks this time for reminding me about the perennial risk. Could it be that we--some of us--are hooked on the adrenalin highs of risk-taking? Just a thought. . .
    I have to say that there are nights that I don't want to go out there. There are also nights when I can't wait to get out there. On those latter nights, I tend to be more bold, sometimes to the point of being aggressive. That could be good. It could also be very, very bad.
    I think I need a testosterone meter on my wrist.
    --Lannie
     
  53. As for the cops, so far the cops have pretty much left me alone. Perhaps they recognize my old '95 red Honda Civic with the busted muffler--you know, the one driven by that crazy old guy with the camera and tripod who hangs out near the train station.​
    The cops were called on me because I hadn't realized riding my bicycle to take photos of houses prevents folks from taking down my license plate numbers. There was no way to ID me, so they let the cops do it.
    At the time I thought THEY were going way overboard by calling the cops until the police officer pointed at my bike. DOH! WHY DIDNT I THINK OF THAT?! It now made perfect sense.
    Learn something new every time I go out and shoot in public which I don't do any more. It's just not worth the anxiety of my not being able to think ahead for every possible cause and effect that may arise when I perceive things getting out of hand.
     
  54. Learn something new every time I go out and shoot in public which I don't do any more. It's just not worth the anxiety of my not being able to think ahead for every possible cause and effect that may arise when I perceive things getting out of hand.​
    Yes, Tim, and we absolutely have to remember that we are dealing with human beings. One never knows when a seemingly harmless situation is going to blow up. It happens all the time. People get crazy. I think that the guy who walked toward me is a rational sort of guy, based on the 100% crops that I saw later on the computer.
    Then again, he might have gone and filed a complaint with the Salisbury P.D. and the Department of Homeland Security. One never knows.
    I think I'll lay low for a couple of days. It might be time to get up into the mountains. Bears, cougars--bah! They might eat you, but they will never accuse you.
    --Lannie
     
  55. Oh, hell, it's Friday the 13th.
     
  56. >>> Thanks, Brad. I knew that a thread like this would snag at least one snide and snarky hypocrite:

    For me, one of the elements of hypocrisy is not taking responsibility for one's actions. In the scenario you
    painted, late at night you noticed a group of people off in the distance, you rolled up in your car, stuck your camera/lens out the window and
    pointed it at them like a divorce lawyer's private detective, took a bunch of snaps, and then when discovered and about to be confronted,
    high-tailed it out of Dodge afraid of the impending consequences, with that quick departure creating even MORE suspicion. That really is a
    CS move, IMO, taking no responsibility for your actions, and, exhibiting zero empathy towards your "subjects."

    Also, thanks for referencing my photos. It's a shame you did not include links to the image galleries which show a more representative view
    of what my photography is about.

    With respect to your claim of hypocrisy, well, I work a little differently when shooting candidly. First, always using a 35/40 mm lens I'm not off in
    the distance stalking people, usually shooting within 10-15 feet. Second, I shoot in the open not trying to hide what I'm doing from within my
    car or use other deceptive measures. Third, I enjoy talking to people, and if anyone wants to know what I'm up to shooting candidly (it happens a few times a
    year), I gladly explain what I'm doing, taking responsibility for my actions. It always goes good, because I like talking to people on the street about my photography. People respect honesty.

    With respect to myself being "snide and snarky," perhaps you can point out the specifics. My first response was simply my assessment of your
    actions and lack of empathy, based upon your narrative and photos.
     
  57. Fred G: Steve, did you notice that it was Lannie himself who passed aesthetic judgment on his own photos?
    Fred, that was after the fact, after his initial instinct caused him to take the photographs, and really has nothing to do with the points I was trying to make. Ethical and aesthetic judgments were being passed on Lannie’s photos and methodology (in this particular instance) long before I entered this thread.
    Fred G: I guess it's fine to tell him he did nothing wrong,​
    If this refers to my post, I never indicated that “he did nothing wrong”. That’s up to Lannie to decide. Which is part of what I was trying to say. Lannie, and any other photographer, must determine their ethical boundaries, their level of comfort, and the degree to which they are prepared to deal with the possible consequences of photographing in public spaces. He doesn’t owe you, me, or the subjects, any explanations or justifications. Unless, of course, he feels that he does.
    Fred G: Why does this have to become about ethics or about photographers standing their ground or about patting a photographer on the back for seizing the moment? Why can't it be about the photos? ... much more could be said about how this scene might have been approached to yield photos that Lannie might feel were of more value.
    It doesn’t have to be about ethics or standing ground or patting a photographer on the back. (Is that really what you took away from what I said? My communication skills must really suck.) Given the limitations of Lannie’s situation, I’m not sure what there is to discuss. My interpretation of the OP did not include “how could I best capture a significant tearful reunion”. If that is what this thread is truly about, then my interpretive skills also need a serious makeover.
    Fred, I’m not here to argue with you. I know you enjoy parsing posts and analyzing comments. I do not. I’ve said what I wanted to say. If it is interpreted incorrectly, then so be it. I wrote what I did as a counterpoint to what I see as a prevailing attitude among a number of PN members regarding shooting in public spaces. If it’s not a tsk-tsking over ethical considerations, it’s a judgemental delimiting of techniques and approaches. In that regard, I believe that you and I are more in agreement than not.
     
  58. stuck your camera/lens out the window and pointed it at them​
    First of all, the shots were made through the car dark within which I was sitting and then through the open passenger side window. The passenger side was next to the curb and thus the sidewalk where the people were standing--thirty to fifty feet away, I would say.
    Second, here is what I saw, or thought I did:
    http://www.photo.net/photo/17526440&size=lg
    Third, regardless of whether or not I was a threat (I wasn't), it seemed likely (without the benefit of 100% crops at the time) that the guy was on a mission to show off in front of the women--probably a bad guess, but it was my first guess. People already hyped up on adrenaline and testosterone can be dangerous. I am not a coward, but I prefer to talk about things with people who have had a chance to calm down--keep in mind that the view through the viewfinder did not show anything but someone who could be interpreted as posturing and threatening, though that is not the sense that I get from the blown up files--which I saw much later. I preferred to err, if err I must, on the side of caution. That is, I simply did not know who I was dealing with, but he was probably the young female soldier's father. Do you not smell blood in any possible scenario that might have unfolded?
    Fourth, I doubt that you have ever lived down South. It is a "whole 'nother world." I am from the South, though I have lived all over. Macho rules. This is a "red state." Expect the "military" to get the nod in the eyes of the police, if there should be an incident. This is not San Francisco. Perceptions and expectations differ.
    Fifth, do not assume that no one in that group was carrying a gun. The odds are pretty good that at least one person was. (See point four just above.)
    Sixth, ask yourself whether shooting women's rear ends as they walk up steps in front of you is really all that manly a thing to do. Do you ask for permission beforehand? Do you explain yourself afterward? How often do YOU engage in behavior that could be interpreted as "sneaky and suspicious"? (Ergo: hypocrisy)
    Seventh, there was traffic to contend with--and the light changed to green. There was the possibility that the man (for all I knew) had been drinking. I could not very well stop and get out of the car there, blocking traffic. I did turn right and drive right by them after waving goodbye. Pulling over and explaining myself was an option. I did not see it as the preferred option, for the reasons already given.
    I did the best I could given limited information and the need for a split second decision.
    I have not tried to defend the decision to shoot in the first place. After that, I made the rational choice for this culture and that situation, as I saw it. I am an old man with a camera. On the other side is a soldier--and a woman at that. The context is "family." Who is going to be perceived in a better light by the cops, especially in this part of the world, if the cops should be called?
    There is an accusatory tone to all of your remarks. Physician, heal thyself.
    "Why not stick around and find out? The opportunity was there..."
    No, you come down here and try that. I want to watch. I'll bring my camera.
    "Film at eleven," as they used to say. We'll try to explain to your mom how things came apart. We will never be able to explain why.
    I will repeat what I said in my first response to your first attack: "I knew that a thread like this would snag at least one snide and snarky hypocrite."
    Do you not see why you might be perceived that way? I cannot help you if you cannot.
    --Lannie
     
  59. For me, one of the elements of hypocrisy is not taking responsibility for one's actions.​
    No, that is simply irresponsible behavior. Hypocrisy is saying one thing and doing another.
    Again, I say to you, Physician, heal thyself: http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/382226
    I was trying to capture a family homecoming, the joy of a family upon seeing a beloved son or daughter again after a tour abroad (as I interpreted the situation). Perhaps it was a goodbye--that could be equally poignant and worthy of capture. You were trying to capture. . . what? "Street Sauce" indeed.
    I rest my case. I have already admitted that it was unwise, given the situation, to start shooting. The decision not to stick around was the rational decision, given what I did not and could not know.
    I saw a military uniform. I am not a militarist, but I saw. . . homecoming.
    --Lannie
     
  60. This has been a great thread. Lannie, I do think lots of value has come from your post. I personally do admire the many street photographers on this site who manage to "get it right" and furthermore appreciate those who share the knowledge they've garnered over years of experience.
    I have had opportunity this week to take a few street photos. including my very first "engaged street portrait". The focus is off because I was nervous and hurried, but still, I see it as a bit of a milestone. I think that especially when first starting, the line between an unaware street photo and "stalking" is a fine one. I tend to believe that's just gonna come with experience. Even at this very early stage in practicing the "Street" genre, I notice a bit of a gut feeling about which is which, however.
    My take-aways from this thread and my experience last week are:
    Be honest and forthright.
    Be smart-avoid situations that make you "look" like a stalker, even though that's not your intention.
    Have the backbone to shoot when the time is right. (I applaud you, Lannie, for taking the shot). Next time, you'll do it differently based on what you learned from this experience.
    Have (and know) your own sense of "ethics". If it doesn't feel right, don't do it.
    Again, I sincerely appreciate Lannie for posting this and to all the previous commenters who share knowledge and experience in this community.
     
  61. Brad, one last thing I would like to say: given my initial error, the rest of my decision-making was based on the premise that I should try at all costs to avoid the worst-case scenario.

    --Lannie
     
  62. Thanks, Amy. I look forward to seeing your street shots.
    My take-aways from this thread and my experience last week are:
    Be honest and forthright.
    Be smart-avoid situations that make you "look" like a stalker, even though that's not your intention.
    Have the backbone to shoot when the time is right.
    Have (and know) your own sense of "ethics". If it doesn't feel right, don't do it.​
    Sounds good to me, Amy.
    --Lannie
     
  63. >>> Third, regardless of whether or not I was a threat (I wasn't), it seemed likely (without the benefit of 100% crops at the time)
    that the guy was on a mission to show off in front of the women--probably a bad guess,

    A guess at best. More likely, he wanted to find out what you were doing sneaking shots at night from inside a car at a distance.
    Most people would wonder the same thing.

    >>> Fourth, I doubt that you have ever lived down South. It is a "whole 'nother world." I am from the South, though I have lived all
    over. Macho rules. This is a "red state." ... Sixth, ask yourself whether shooting women's rear ends as they walk up steps in
    front of you is really all that manly a thing to do.

    Macho? Manly? It's just photography. Neither male or female; odd association. Honestly, no matter the geographic area, I have
    zero interest in taking surveillance photos. With respect to the shot you referenced, It was on the sidewalk (not stairs) during lunch
    time in downtown SF, walking with my wife. She pointed out the interesting lines/geometry (she's a painter) and I took the shot. There's
    nothing manly/non-manly about it. It's a photo.

    >>> Do you ask for permission beforehand? Do you explain yourself afterward? How often do YOU engage in behavior that could
    be interpreted as "sneaky and suspicious"? (Ergo: hypocrisy)

    As I said up above, when shooting candids, if someone takes issue, I take responsibility and am happy to explain what I'm doing,
    which is either "It's for my photoblog," or "I'm documenting the city." Zero problems. With respect to my own "sneaky/suspicious"
    behavior, as I said above, I shoot close and in the open. It is very apparent what I'm doing and the overwhelming majority of
    people don't care. Even in challenging neighborhoods - if I were to act suspicious and sneak around with my camera, it would be a
    much different story.

    >>> Fifth, do not assume that no one in that group was carrying a gun. The odds are pretty good that at least one person was.

    Interesting... I've shot in challenging neighborhoods where that may likely be true, engaging many people out of the mainstream.
    But I've never worried about that, and honestly never crosses my mind. Treat people honestly, openly, with respect you get it
    back - even from gang members and dealers. If people carrying guns is something that's always on your mind, troubles you, and
    causes you to photograph from within your car at a distance, perhaps you should reevaluate your photography?

    >>> "Why not stick around and find out? The opportunity was there..." No, you come down here and try that. I want to watch. I'll
    bring my camera.

    First, I wouldn't put myself in a position of taking surveillance photos from a distance, hiding in my car. I offered that suggestion
    because you were wondering what was on his mind. You had an opportunity to find out. And then drove off, creating even more suspicion. I suspect most others would be similarly freaked out...
     
  64. Speaking of snarky -- Some of my remarks to Fred look harsher than intended. (Not that any degree of harshness was intended!) I don't mean to belittle the idea of analyzing and further defining the things we share here. I think, Fred, that you were attempting to turn this discussion in a more positive direction by thinking about how Lannie could have obtained the kind of photo he was originally looking for. My apologies.
    Admittedly, I am bothered by those who pass judgements on Lannie's situation. Whether they be judgements of his ethics, judgements related to the technique demanded by that situation, or judgements related to his reaction to what transpired. Overall, though, an instructive discussion. Wasn't there a recent thread discussing "practicing" photography? I think being prepared, or going through a heart pounding situation we weren't prepared for, is all a part of practice. I hope this experience doesn't hold you back, Lannie.
     
  65. Landrum, take one or two photos, no problem.

    What you did was the equivalent of staring at the group.

    Nobody enjoys being stared at.

    As for uniforms, in my day, one could not go into the main part of an Officers Club wearing a flight suit or fatigues. Many
    clubs had casual bars where you could wear anything. Now, when I go on a base, everyone is in fatigues or flight suits.

    I don't like it. It's low class. But officers clubs are becoming extinct.
     
  66. Brad: With respect to the shot you referenced, It was on the sidewalk (not stairs) during lunch time in downtown SF, walking with my wife. She pointed out the interesting lines/geometry (she's a painter) and I took the shot.​
    Sorry, brother. But when I look at that shot (and I do happen to like it...), I ain't thinkin about Euclid. ;-)
     
  67. Steve, no problem. And thanks.
    Lannie, it seems to me you have taken adequate responsibility for your actions. Maybe you are even being too self deprecating. We're here to learn and it sounds to me like you are open to learning. I see that as a net positive.
    I don't think anyone in this discussion seems more responsible than anyone else and I don't think any of the photos shown or linked to show hypocrisy or irresponsibility.
    I don't think either responsibility or hypocrisy are key here.
    I look at photos, street and otherwise, and I see differences in photographic quality, the adoption of perspective and point of view, differences in the level of involvement and sense of vision. I see differences in interest in terms of composition and tonal variety, in terms of moments chosen and angles played, in terms of imagination piqued and story told.
    Involvement can come even with a lack of engagement. That can be a key to candid street shooting and to shooting of any kind. On the other hand, involvement isn't always necessary, and emotional distance can be effective with regard to the taking of some photos.
    There is no one ingredient that will suit everyone's work. And there is certainly no one best way to act when shooting photos. The reason so much street photography is so compelling to me is precisely because there are so many different approaches to it. Styles I appreciate go from confrontational to empathetic, from a sense of easygoing comfort to a sense of tense disquieting.
    Hopefully, if you pursue the street, and even in the rest of your photography, you will find a way that best suits you and that allows you to see value in what you produce. I know that some of my own favorite photos came about while I had a feeling of great dis-ease.
     
  68. Brad:
    I went to shoot buildings. I got a few frames. (Click on my name if you want to see a few.) I was going just a few blocks to check out another set of buildings, and so the camera was on the seat beside me.
    I was not looking for any people shots. I saw the uniform and what looked like a family situation when I stopped at the red light. I saw what might be a reunion or goodbye shot. I took it. People move in those situations. I shot a few more, hoping to get one keeper as people moved around. Then it was obvious that a guy was walking toward me in a determined fashion. When the light changed, I set the camera down, waved with the hand that had been holding it, turned right and drove slowly by the group.
    It was all quite brief. From start to finish, it was not too many seconds. (All the shots were made during a short red light, a minor street where it runs into Main St.)
    I posted the series simply as a reminder as to how fast things can come apart on the street. As I mentioned elsewhere, I was assaulted in October, 2010 by a businessman who objected to my shooting his building without permission. I was not injured, but I know that things can go wrong--fast.
    I was sort of hoping that people would tell about their own experiences of how things can go other than how one plans when one starts shooting people on the street.
    The last thing that I really wanted was a troll, but I knew that I would get one.
    I got one.
    "Street Sauce." So that's your thing. Okay, but it might be better not to sermonize too much if that is what you are doing. Regardless of your motive, some people are going to see you as sneaky and sleazy, regardless of how short your lens is.
    My zoom for the evening was 28-70mm. I shot these photos at 70mm--giving 1.4x magnification on the full-frame camera that I was shooting. Any magnification beyond that is from blowing up, cropping, and resizing--just so that I could show people what was really happening. That level of detail was not available to me through the viewfinder.
    Your earlier post was ad hominem: CS, you said. I consider that crude and offensive--and most definitely inaccurate. But there is a time to stand your ground, and there is a time to leave. It was time to leave. Not flee. Just leave. My lens did not create that much unease. The reaction of the man was the trigger for that. It is not his fault, but that is the way it unfolded. Had he simply kept a watchful eye, then no one else would likely have noticed.
    I am not going to lose a lot of sleep over my decision, except to say that I will be more careful to avoid making anyone feel uneasy.
    I am also not going to waste any more words trying to justify my decision to quietly and slowly leave when the light changed. It was the rational thing to do.
    --Lannie
     
  69. "Sorry, brother. But when I look at that shot (and I do happen to like it...), I ain't thinkin about Euclid."
    Steve, LOL. I like it, too.
    Steve/Lannie, here's one I took, very much motivated by my finding the two guys sexy. I make no bones about that (pun sort of intended). The geometry was a bonus. Used a 50 mm lens, which was what I had at the time, and got real far back to get a whole lot of the parking lot because I wanted the distance and area (A = l x w).
    00bzZb-542482484.jpg
     
  70. Photography in public can get weird sometimes. So far the only notable
    conflicts I've experienced occurred when photographing buildings and
    inanimate objects. When photographing people, nah, no real problems.

    Photograph a detail of an antique door hinge or close-up of an ornate bit
    of architectural detail, and some folks think it's weird. Pose your
    spousal unit in front of the same building, everything is a-ok.

    Just goes with the turf. I suppose if I wanted a normal hobby I'd take up
    catfish noodling or running for mayor of NYC.
     
  71. Of course, if one is particularly inept (or insensitive), it is perfectly possible to inadvertently scare people half to death in the middle of the afternoon:
    http://www.photo.net/photo/15589553&size=lg
    --Lannie
     
  72. "spousal unit"
    That's an interesting usage, Lex. Did you make that up? I do remember "pleasure unit" from one of the James Coburn movies, Our Man Flint or In Like Flint. I forget which. It has only been forty-seven years.
    --Lannie
     
  73. I guess I wouldn't have taken those pictures. To me, not worth invading someone's privacy for the remote possibility of something slightly interesting. I might grab a quick snap of something that looks like it might make an interesting picture, but one shot and I'm done unless I'm at a parade.
    Spousal units are those chosen by the larthron spheres of Mypzor. I thought everyone knew that.
     
  74. I guess I wouldn't have taken those pictures. To me, not worth invading someone's privacy for the remote possibility of something slightly interesting. I might grab a quick snap of something that looks like it might make an interesting picture, but one shot and I'm done unless I'm at a parade.
    Spousal units are those chosen by the larthron spheres of Mypzor. I thought everyone knew that. Mip Mip.
     
  75. "I think being prepared, or going through a heart pounding situation we weren't prepared for, is all a part of practice."
    Steve, maybe for us "street-shy photographers" it's more a case of conducting oneself in a way that isn't perceived as inappropriate.

    Legality aside, perception is reality to the people affected and take offense to being photographed without permission, so at least in my case maintaining the appearance of discretion is just an unspoken social rule many citizens abide by and expect in return.

    There wouldn't be heart-pounding if there wasn't something deep in our psyche telling us to think twice about it. :)
     
  76. Michael, as a bit of counterpoint, that heart-pounding-ness can also be the thing art and/or moving photos are born of. Uncertainty deep in the psyche is a place from which great photos can arise. Which is not to dismiss also being mindful and respectful of others. There is bound to be such a tension in so many of our actions and endeavors. I find not kidding myself and trying to be straight with myself (definitely no pun intended!), even if healthily uncomfortable, works for me. Then again, I have to be honest and admit to sometimes living in a bit of a fantasy world. Actually, it's almost impossible to nail it down, which seems only human to me.
     
  77. Fred, it's hard not to agree with you, but with few exceptions, modern recording by way of video and stills is often nothing more than voyeurism with little consideration than to pursue a prize worthy of sharing, and in so doing promote ones status within the sharing community.
    Don't get me wrong; that's not a blanket comment on all street shooters many whom I respect, rather it's a commentary on motive and its often lack of reflection.
     
  78. I think that I shall walk with eyes downcast as I walk down the street lest I violate someone's privacy.
    I might grab a quick glance of something that looks like it might be interesting, but one glance and I'm done unless I'm at a parade--or seeking a spousal unit.
    --Lannie
     
  79. >>> Steve, maybe for us "street-shy photographers" it's more a case of conducting oneself in a way that isn't perceived as
    inappropriate.

    Indeed, for many it's (at least a good portion is) about trying to be empathic towards other people on the street (ie subjects) who know zip about "street
    photography" and have know idea why someone with a camera is behaving suspiciously taking pictures of them from a
    distance. I would say most people would be somewhat alarmed experiencing that. Some of those alarmed will want to
    find out what's behind that behavior and will confront for answers.

    >>> "Street Sauce." So that's your thing. Okay, but it might be better not to sermonize too much if that is what you are
    doing.

    Not sure what you mean, or if you really understand what I'm doing. I assume you have or perused a copy and there are things
    you take issue with, or maybe that I'm not walking my talk? Please reveal what that is.

    >>> The last thing that I really wanted was a troll, but I knew that I would get one. I got one.

    Up at the top you said: "Please feel free to offer your own observations." I assume that was an honest/genuine request, and I gave you
    honest and direct answers based on your narration and photos, and my experience shooting on the street. How is that being a troll? With 79 responses to
    your thread in less than a day, your post and follow-up responses have definitely stirred things up.
     
  80. Not sure what you mean, or if you really understand what I'm doing.​
    Well, Brad, with street sauce there is definitely the possibility of being misunderstood. The same sort of goes with calling someone "CS," as you did somewhere above. Trolls have been known to say things like that for no particular reason. In fact, my definition of a troll is a bit iconoclastic: for me a troll is a person who routinely does or says things for no particular reason that I can discern.
    ALERT: I would like to offer the thesis that one can take shots all day with an iPhone and rarely if ever be perceived as a threat.
    Corollary: Stalkers who shoot iPhones are either very clever or very dumb.
    --Lannie
     
  81. Indeed, for many it's (at least a good portion is) about trying to be empathic towards other people on the street (ie subjects) who know zip about "street photography" and have know idea why someone with a camera is behaving suspiciously taking pictures of them from a distance.​
    Brad, that is actually quite good. People have to be educated in a nice way so as to realize that photographers rarely mean any harm.
    You also get extra points for using the word "empathic" and avoiding "empathetic."
    --Lannie
     
  82. One thing about people who stop you from photography of buildings....
    United States Copyright Law--

    17 USC § 120 -
    Scope of exclusive rights in architectural works
    The copyright in an architectural work that has been constructed does not include the right to prevent the making, distributing, or public display of pictures, paintings, photographs, or other pictorial representations of the work, if the building in which the work is embodied is located in or ordinarily visible from a public place.
     
  83. That had nothing to do with my case of photographing a building in 2010. The owner knew that I had the legal right, but he simply thought it would be "common courtesy" to ask.
    He was "drunk as a skunk," as we say down South.
    --Lannie
     
  84. I don't sweat this kind of thing. I sometimes roam the streets of the small surrounding towns late at night. Usually I'm using a vintage camera such as a Leica or a Brownie. I've had a few concerned people come up to me, but being the salesman type I have always come out fine. People on the Northern Plains are friendly enough anyway.
    Kent in SD
     
  85. So far no one in uniform who has asked me why I was photographing buildings or structural details has brought up copyrights or related issues. It's usually been terrornoia or pararism or whatever they were halfway trained to be frightened about. I've quoted those anecdotes so often even I'm bored of 'em.
    There was one instance when I was standing on a privately owned parking lot immediately adjacent to a public sidewalk, but the bicycle mounted security guard actually helped - he radioed in to get me permission to set up my tripod there. But that's pretty typical of the bicycle patrol folks around downtown Fort Worth who are really great folks. Yeah, I've told that anecdote before too, but because it's an example of how things usually seem to go - which is pretty well - I like to tell it again. I've even chattered about the hobby of photography with the bike mounted patrol folks.
    The other incidents were all obnoxious drunks who don't understand why anyone would take a photo that didn't consist of a spousal unit posed in front of a Micky Mouse or an Eiffel Tower. Just shrug 'em off and move on.
    The great experiences far outnumber the handful of negatives.
     
  86. Most photographic lay people (non-photographers) don't understand or appreciate the concept of being photographed by a stranger. Non-photographers tend to take photos only of people that they know - family members, friends, team mates and colleagues. It's natural for folks to become suspicious when a stranger points a camera in their direction. In some cases they react defensively. They can't imagine a legitimate reason to be photographed by someone they don't know.
    I would have interpreted this as a private family moment, and I probably would have resisted the urge to photograph them. If I had decided to take a shot, I would have considered the options. One option would be to take a single shot and move on discretely. Another option, if you have the ability to park and get out of your car, would be to approach the group, explain politely that you have this amazing camera that can take photos in darkness and ask if they would mind re-enacting their tender moment for a photo op - you'll share the photos with them, of course. Maybe they'll refuse and tell you to get lost, but there won't be any awkward surprises. Maybe they'll like the idea and give you enough time to take a variety of shots.
    Some photographers don't like shooting re-enactments, and that's fair. I don't like to make people suspicious or angry. Hopefully, that's fair as well. I enjoy it when I can get subjects to cooperate. It doesn't always work out, but when it does, we all get to have some fun, there are no hard feelings (against me or against photographers in general), and I might get the time and the access that I need to make the pictures that I really want - or even be surprised with a better idea offered by the subjects.
    That's my two cents, nothing more.
     
  87. I think that I shall walk with eyes downcast as I walk down the street lest I violate someone's privacy​
    No need for that. Just don't stick a camera in their face and repeatedly take pictures of them, especially if they appear to be engaged in a private family moment.
     
  88. Some photographers don't like shooting re-enactments, and that's fair. I don't like to make people suspicious or angry. Hopefully, that's fair as well. I enjoy it when I can get subjects to cooperate. It doesn't always work out, but when it does, we all get to have some fun, there are no hard feelings (against me or against photographers in general), and I might get the time and the access that I need to make the pictures that I really want - or even be surprised with a better idea offered by the subjects.​
    That sounds like a pretty good compromise approach to me, Dan--takes a lot of the stress away.
    Since I knew that I was not a threat, the fact that I thought that I was unseen was a big factor in my decision to go ahead and shoot what to me was a public scene.
    Bob:
    Private family event less than one block from the busiest downtown intersection? Maybe, Bob, but it obviously could not have been that private in that location. I was not worried about invading privacy in that public a place. The lens was set at 70mm on a full-frame camera--not too intrusive at all, really.
    One shot and only one shot? Well, I couldn't tell what I had after the first two or three shots, but even through the viewfinder I could see that I was getting mostly backs, not faces--and I didn't see the guy leaning around to look at me.
    Hang around and talk after the fact? Seemed better to wave broadly, hold my hand in the air a bit longer than usual, leave and slowly pull away in my noisy old car, turning and going slowly up Main St. right in front of them--thereby signaling as best I could non-verbally that I was nobody to be worried about. Give them time to read and interpret the situation. I was wearing a white shirt from having taught a class that day (not that I usually wear white shirts, but they are cool, and the cool front had not gotten here yet). For most people, I would not have fit the image of the prototypical terrorist. Stalker? Nah.
    Overall image: an old man with a camera in a red, worn-out Civic with a decaying muffler. Not a great, fast and quiet getaway vehicle. I wasn't too worried, but neither did I see much point in explaining after the fact. Had I engaged them before the fact, then I would have tried to offer an explanation, but, under the circumstances, waving broadly and moving on by turning to pass right in front of them seemed to me be the most likely way to defuse a potential bad situation--and allay their fears as to who I might have been. It went a bit bad, with the guy coming at me but not fast enough to get to me before the light would change, but not bad enough to get panicky about. I headed back to the same area where I had earlier shot down near the train station a few blocks away (after noticing that I had shot two stops slower than I meant to--and perceiving the need to reshoot hand-held and get this).
    I wouldn't do it again, or else I would do it differently, but, given the mix of circumstances and perceptions, it didn't go as far wrong as it easily might have--depending on whom I might or might not have been dealing with.
    I did finally get a group picture with faces of sorts, though hardly the one I wanted.
    --Lannie
    00bzes-542493884.jpg
     
  89. Yep, it was cousin Jimmy and his son Billy Bob and all the rest. They could hardly believe their eyes. We were all home at last, together. And I got to see Lisa, just back from Afghanistan. What a night it was!
    [Your story line may differ. Alternative title: "Charge of the Bull Elephant." Alternative story line: Let's just say, not a good ending.]
    I am just so glad I got to see little Billy Bob giving me the thumbs up. It is so wonderful when you can make people happy just by being yourself.
    I still can't believe it. They just ran out to meet me, soon as I stepped off the bus!
    Man, after living by myself for eight years, it was good to be home at last, back among family and friends. You just had to be there to appreciate the moment.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-yKq-FsFyk
    --Lannie
     
  90. I have encountered so much hostility out there lately that going forward all my people photos will be taken only with the knowledge and consent of the subjects, unless it is an event where people expect to be photographed.
     
  91. A lot of my reactions to street work (and other types of photos) rest on the quality of the work. I wouldn't think to question the ethics or wisdom of Brad's work or Steve Gubin's work. When a strong perspective and point of view are expressed in photos, when a good story is told visually, when compelling compositions are provided, compositions that support the content, and when the tonalities and/or color seem part of the narrative, ethics seem to fade in favor of my being drawn into or moved by the photo. Often, good photos come about through good instincts. Not always, of course.
    The ethics that work for me in photos are usually ones the story of the photo makes me think about. That's why so many of the FSA documentary photos are so rich with texture. Not because I'm made to dwell on the ethics of the photographers and what or who they're shooting, but because I'm made to think about poverty and suffering in a country where that doesn't have to exist. The latter, IMO, are much more compelling questions of ethics. On the other hand, when I'm led to think about the ethics of the photographer and his or her shooting, it's usually because I'm not moved by the photo and, instead, saying to myself, "It wasn't worth the effort."
     
  92. I don't take these kinds of photos from a car, and that might have been part of your problem. Second, I use a small vintage camera such as a Leica. When I use a DSLR, it's a Nikon D5100. I use it with the LCD swiveled out so I can hold the camera at my waist and look down into the viewfinder. No one even seems to realize I taking a photo! Same with the Rolleiflex (Vivian Meier's favorite camera.) When in town, I like to roam the Loop in Chicago. Almost always I'm using a vintage camera. These don't seem to attract attention and when they do no one is threatened by them. Here's a shot I made with my 1935 Voigtlander Bessa (6x9 format), in Chicago. I held the camera at my waist and used the waist level finder. No problems. Most of the time when I hear of people having problems, they were using a big camera like a D800 with a big f2.8 zoom.
    Kent in SD
    00bzgC-542495484.jpg
     
  93. Kent -- Nice. I like that photo. I don't always photograph in The Loop, but Adams & Wabash feels like the heart of my "home turf" so to speak. I would like your photo even it had not been taken in Chicago due to the urban atmosphere I derive from it. Just as an observation, based on my experience in this very area, shooting from this distance diagonally across the platform, a photographer should easily be able to raise the camera to their eye without any problem.
    Getting somewhat back to the OP, but related to shooting from a car -- with or without a telephoto: I would never, ever, tell another photographer NOT to attempt such a technique because it was "cowardly" or "sniping" or "surveillance". (Sorry, Brad. I respect you, your work, and your experience. But I strongly disagree with the idea of removing car photographs, telephoto lenses, or any other technique, from a photographer's repertoire.)
    I don't want to get into a whole essay on the subject of street photography techniques. I've written about it on my blog and on many a thread here at PN. But I do want to offer an opposing argument to those who have spoken negatively of photographing from a car, or using a telephoto, for street photography.
    In my opinion (and Fred has already stated something similar), every situation can call for a different technique. Including photographing from a car (not while driving, obviously) and/or using a telephoto. The conventional wisdom in street photography is that the use of a telephoto is heresy and cowardly. I call BS on that notion. If a photographer does NOTHING but use a telephoto for street photography, then yes, it is a liability and probably a crutch. But I am not advocating that. I am just saying that on some occasions it is perfectly acceptable, and even desirable, to photograph from a car and use a telephoto lens.
    In Lannie's case, he had the camera on his front seat. He saw a photographic opportunity, and he took it. Looking through his portfolio, I don't see a preponderance of such photographs.
    On my way to and from work, I almost always have my camera on the front seat. Often, the lens that I have on is whatever I last used. It could be a 21mm, a 35mm, a 43mm, or a 80-320mm telephoto. When I am driving, if a photo opportunity presents itself, I take it. I can't offer any firm percentages, but I will freely admit that the vast majority of photographs I take from a car do NOT work for me. But...every once in a while, I do get a photograph that I am pleased with. If that occurs only 2 or 3 times a year, or even only once, then I would say that it is worth it. I'm not saying that this is the only thing that a photographer should do. I am saying: "Do not restrict the techniques you utilize on the basis of other people's opinions."
    I'll offer two examples below. Some may like them, some may say they're no good. They please me. That's all I can say.
    00bzh1-542496084.jpg
     
  94. 43mm, from car, during snowstorm
    00bzh2-542496184.jpg
     
  95. One last shot from my outing two night ago:
    One never knows for sure what was being said at the distance I was shooting. The question of what the kid was thinking with his "thumbs up" in a later frame came up more than once. I interpreted it to mean that he was glad that his dad was going after the "spy" or "stalker" or whoever I was presumed to be. (Had that been voiced in the group by the dad? I have no way of knowing.)
    Although this is hardly definitive, this 100% crop from my seventh shot does show a rather unpleasant look on the kid's face. What this means is open to dispute. Remember that I was not doing continuous shooting, but single shot, and so I cannot say what the time interval was between the various shots in the posted eleven-shot sequence at the outset of this thread.
    Again, what is shown here in this 100% crop photo is from the seventh of those eleven shots that I posted at the outset of this thread.
    --Lannie
    00bzhJ-542496484.jpg
     
  96. Here is a 100% crop from the ninth shot in the sequence found at the outset of this thread.
    (In addition, is that more camo on the guy on the right? Looks like hunting culture camo, not standard military issue.)
    --Lannie
    00bzhM-542496584.jpg
     
  97. Here are some faces from the tenth shot of the eleventh-shot sequence--including the "thumbs-up" gesture, which I interpreted earlier as a "Hot dog! Get 'im, Dad."
    --Lannie
    00bzhO-542496684.jpg
     
  98. Here is a 100% crop from the eleventh and final shot of my eleven-shot sequence, posted at the outset of this thread.
    (I took a total of eleven shots that night.)
    Why did things go wrong? Was it just my presence with a camera, shooting from a car stopped at the red light? What else might or might not have been operating to affect the way things unfolded? Since one can hear nothing, it is difficult, impossible to know. I interpreted this one as meaning that the kid's mom might have verbally reined him in. Who knows?
    What might have the Dad said? One never sees his lips moving, but, as I said above, the interval in single shot shooting varied and so I cannot say how far apart the shots were in my eleven-shot sequence. I cannot thereby validly infer that he said nothing simply because I did not capture his lips moving.
    --Lannie
    00bzhR-542496784.jpg
     
  99. Here is a shot from the other side of the frame. Is the little girl wearing tie-dyed or more camo?
    The implicit question: who is one dealing with? On the street, one never knows. They did not know. I did not know.
    --Lannie
    00bzhW-542496884.jpg
     
  100. Here are the boots she was wearing.
    --Lannie
    00bzhb-542496984.jpg
     
  101. One can ponder these things forever.
    WHY DID I POST THESE ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS?
    All along, the psychology of the situation has been primary for me. I knew my motives: I wanted a good military homecoming (or good-bye) shot. What were the motives of the man who rather abruptly started coming toward me? That question was with me at the time I first noticed it.
    It is still with me. His motion (and possibly words?) might have resulted in the others becoming sensitized to possible danger, for better or for worse.
    The above (in its totality) is all I have by way of possible clues. I will likely never know.
    I am judging no one. I used to have hunting rifles. I do not condemn people if they like to shoot--that other kind of shooting, that is. It bored me to tears, and so I started another kind of shooting in earnest.
    Cheers.
    --Lannie
     
  102. There's this tiny bit more.
    The kid's (the boy's) tee-shirt says "I am the [proud] brother. . . ." I cannot read the rest. (Looks like "U.S. soldier.")
    Below that are "dog tags" and boot tracks.
    For what it's worth. . .
    --Lannie
    00bzhq-542497084.jpg
     
  103. Who says small-town Southern street-shooting has to be boring?
    You never know what you're walking into when you start photographing the street--anywhere.
    Go, Mountaineers! (Appalachian State University--ASU on the man's shirt) And a fine university it is, regardless of what the word "Appalachian" might connote to those of you who aren't from these parts.
    --Lannie
     
  104. It says:
    I am the proud brother of a US Soldier.
    The dog tags read: "Proud Brother" and "Hooah".
    Marine Corps.
    You'll probably never know what their thoughts or intentions were.
     
  105. A female U.S. Marine?
    I'm impressed.
    Army? I'm still impressed. She kept her cool--and at least the man (her dad?) didn't rush the car. He walked calmly but briskly down to inquire. (I have reviewed the spot with Google Street View--E. Fisher St. at Main, Salisbury, NC. It appears that my lens might have been thirty feet from where they were standing.)
    It was a family celebration. I hope that I did not spoil it. I just wanted that special "homecoming" shot that we see on TV from time to time when someone makes it back. . . .
    --Lannie
     
  106. I just wanted that special "homecoming" shot that we see on TV from time to time when someone makes it back. . . .​
    Why? You're not a journalist, you're not shooting for TV. Why do you want to record their private moments?
     
  107. Who are you, Bob? The Grand Inquisitor?
    You might think of it as my own unpaid journalistic outing. Why do any of us shoot photos?
    Paranoia strikes deep
    Into your life it will creep
    It starts when you're always afraid
    Step out of line, the men come and take you away
    from "For What It's Worth," Buffalo Springfield, 1967
    --Lannie
     
  108. Bob Atkins: "Why? You're not a journalist, you're not shooting for TV. Why do you want to record their private moments?"​
    I'm can't answer for Lannie, but your remarks are interesting. They presuppose that only a journalist or tv cameraman, can, or should, photograph something occurring on a public street. There is nothing private at all about this moment. It was visible to anyone that was on the street at that time, whether or not they carried a camera. A sensitive family moment on a public street that should not have been intruded upon? That's a judgement call and a different discussion.
     
  109. 110 posts with cropS, blow ups, deconstructions, and dissections Of these lousy shots on a public forum I do kinda bad for the subject
    family...
     
  110. Hey, maybe this thread is really about hypocrisy. That topic has come up more than once.
    --Lannie
     
  111. . . .of these lousy shots on a public forum I do kinda bad for the subject family...​
    You care to translate that into English, Leslie?
    --Lannie
     
  112. Leslie Cheung: 110 posts with cropS, blow ups, deconstructions, and dissections Of these lousy shots on a public forum I do kinda bad for the subject family...​
    I needed a good laugh. No offense to Lannie, but judging by occasional confrontations we might think of renaming this: "When Threads Go Wrong".
     
  113. It's been a hell of a ride, Steve. I started this thread sometime after midnight, yesterday morning, Friday the 13th.
    THE FRIDAY THE 13th THREAD!

    --Lannie
     
  114. I meant to say, I liked your snowy street shots, Steve.
    --Lannie
     
  115. "When Threads Go Wrong"
    By damn, that is kind of funny, now that you mention it.
    --Lannie
     
  116. Lannie, there have been some good opportunities to look at street work, postings to and links provided on this thread included. Psychology and ethics aside, is there something you see in any of the shots that inspires you to think differently about street photos and how you might go about making street photos that could be of more value to you than what you got this time? Not necessarily the how of your approach on the street but about what the results of your shooting might look like. What you might want to achieve rather than how you go about getting it. Not just the idea of what you want to achieve, but also what it might start to look like. These questions can't necessarily be answered here, and may never be fully answerable, but they may be worth considering as you venture out into the street more and more.
    Sometimes psychology can muck it all up and, as Avedon advises, it can be the surface that matters!
     
  117. If he carried a tire iron or a baseball bat, Lannie, it would have been even more fascinating. Alternative universe options abound. ( " How are you today?" thought bubble response- " Wonder what he meant by that? ")
     
  118. Fred, I appreciate your view on the separation of ethics and motives from results, but to me they are inseparable when it involves unwitting participants.
    Photographers are always pushing envelops and the recent case of shooting trough windows illustrates that, so the question becomes when does a photographer cross the boundary and uses art as a justification for his action as a passive aggressor, and whether those judgement are made solely based on principles of self-interest.
     
  119. Michael, I want to be sure not to be misunderstood. I don't think one can separate ethics from results per se. But I do think one can look at them separately when considering certain things about photos. They will always meet up again.
    Here's what I'm thinking . . .
    Lannie took some pictures he thought had no value. Many folks here, including me, didn't particularly think he violated any ethics in taking those photos, though he still may have bought himself some trouble. He showed some interest in wanting to pursue street shooting. Street shooting can involve unwitting participants and, as far as I'm concerned, it's a respectable and ethical genre of photography and one that has born great significance over the decades. All kinds of photos, not just street photos, have dealt with and shown private moments. Private moments and unwitting subjects are at the heart of a great deal of important and moving photography.
    What I was noticing was Lannie's emphasis on the psychology of his subjects and himself. I think there's validity in that, of course. But I also noticed a lack of emphasis on the actual photos and what they looked like. I think that has to be dealt with as well. That doesn't mean I am separating psychology or ethics from what the photos look like. It just means I don't want the latter to get lost in a concentration on the former.
    Photography is a visual art (or medium). That doesn't mean it doesn't go deeper than vision, of course. But it does mean that it's worth the time spent considering what Lannie's photos actually look like in addition to all this discussion of what his behavior and the behavior of his subjects means.
    Given all that Lannie said here, I think his ethics seem just fine. But he's expressed being less than satisfied with some of the behaviors experienced, of others and of himself. He's also expressed being less than satisfied with the photos he got. That's where I'm focusing now, on the photos. I'm not sure a change in his ethics will improve them much or at all or is even warranted. A change in psychology would probably help some. But, I know for me, the most improvement I've seen in my own work over the years has come from changes to and development of the way I see through my lens and the kinds of results I, at least sometimes, visualize. I don't do that to the exclusion of either psychology or ethics.
     
  120. My take is that the people were out late on the town, saw someone with an expensive "professional camera" taking photos of them from a car. Most people will automatically think the photographer is being paid by someone to do this, and will wonder if it's a private detective, police, or whatever. That puts them on the defensive. The guy in the photos decided to confront and ask questions, mainly to find out who was paying Lannie to take photo of THEM. I.e., they might not have realized it was random. Lannie only inflamed them more by continuing to take photos as they approached. The people were probably left wondering who was taking photos of them and why--private detective? Police? Military police? CIA? The big mistake was to continue taking the shots--that showed an agressivenes.
    My own way of avoiding all of the above is to be on foot, which psychologically puts me on the same level as those I photo. Sometimes I talk to interesting people first, then take a shot, other times I will take a shot after catching their attention and then go strike up a conversation, other times I rely completely on discretion. As I said earlier, I would NEVER use a large professional looking camera and lens for this sort of thing. That only seems to make strangers more defensive as they wonder why they have become the subject of someone taking their photo with professional gear. Instead, I prefer to use only small cameras that make me appear to be just a tourist etc., or I use vintage gear. The vintage gear doesn't seem to be at all threatening as they seem to understand only a camera enthusiast would use one. I do not take shot after shot of people once they spot me. I will sometimes give a friendly wave, or just a thumb's up. If someone comes over to talk to me (rare but has happened,) I stick around and show them my 1942 Leica or whatever. Once they understand I'm just an eccentric that likes to go out and take photos with old cameras, they relax and open up. Sometimes I then get even better photos as they will pose for me. Yesterday I was down at our local park with a waterfall, and suddenly I was swarmed by scantily clad teenage girls! Turns out they were cheerleaders from a local high school doing yearbook photos. Their faculty adviser took some photos, and I was in there getting my shots with my old Leica and Zeiss Cocarette. They started hamming it up for me and we all had fun.
    Kent in SD
     
  121. Much ado about nothing. Leslie nailed it. Even if there was a grammatical lapse or two, we all know what he was saying.
     
  122. "I have encountered so much hostility out there lately that going forward all my people photos will be taken only with the knowledge and consent of the subjects, unless it is an event where people expect to be photographed."​
    This is something I'm very consciously aware of when I take photos in my neighborhood. This is a low income area with relatively low crime, but also a lot of folks trying to get their lives back together after experiencing some past difficulties. I use a different approach, much slower, and try to get to know folks before asking to photograph them. It's not like going to the tourist parts of Fort Worth where everyone is taking snapshots and nobody really has any expectation to privacy.
    So there's no single attitude, mindset, philosophy or approach that's right for every occasion. It's possible, even very likely, that eventually we'll encounter a situation for which nothing could have prepared us. And I'm continually re-evaluating and adjusting my own approach to taking photos in public. It's full of challenges and rewards.
     
  123. Regarding the issue taking photos from vehicles, that's something I did quite a bit during the 1970s and early 1980s, and it whetted my appetite for the whole genre of candid public photography, even though my approach is *usually* different now. I emphasize *usually* because I still occasionally snap photos from buses or other vehicles, often out of boredom and hoping that a random glimpse may somehow manifest as something meaningful.
    My personal favorite photo from that era, taken from a vehicle, was this one, taken around 1981 in Fort Worth. I remember it because I'd just gotten out of the Navy, was in college studying journalism, and commuting to a night job at a dialysis clinic in Fort Worth near John Peter Smith hospital. The woman's home was around the Main Street and Rosedale area. I had a Ricoh SLR with 135mm lens on the front seat, and snapped that photo while waiting at a traffic light. Nobody noticed. I still like the photo.
    A year or so earlier, in San Diego, around 1980 or so, I took this photo of a news rack while I was sitting in a friend's van. It stirred up a bit of drama. Quoting from my anecdote:
    "The next day my friend called to tell me the convenience store owner was angry and demanding to know why I'd been taking photos outside his store. Apparently he'd immigrated from a former Soviet bloc country and was still very paranoid about surveillance. He demanded my photos and negatives. I told my friend I wouldn't give up my negatives but I'd be happy to provide a contact sheet of the roll, and larger prints if the fellow wanted a better view of anything. None of the photos were of the man's store. I never heard back from him so I suppose he was satisfied with my explanation."​
    The photo is nothing special. I keep it around as a reminder of how capricious life can be, and that our smallest miscalculations may have significant repercussions while our gravest errors may go without consequence.
    Every mistake we survive is a gift. Every day is a new chance to make another mistake, or maybe do something worthwhile for one person. Or to just take a nap and wait for another day.
     
  124. One of the great photos taken of a shy subject. This is Joseph Goebbels, taken by (Jewish) TIME-LIFE photographer Alfred Eisenstadt. If looks could kill.
    http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.photographersgallery.com/i/full/dr_joseph_goebbels.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.photographersgallery.com/photo.asp?id%3D3577&h=523&w=350&sz=49&tbnid=mPoPVCnNbEfTJM:&tbnh=90&tbnw=60&zoom=1&usg=__wBcVYG3yJbvQhGMAhvS0jTl3cqY=&docid=Z193DaKzPIqPaM&sa=X&ei=J7E1UrrmJcz_4AOiiYGQDg&ved=0CEIQ9QEwAg&dur=183
     
  125. >>> Well, Brad, with street sauce there is definitely the possibility of being misunderstood.

    I still don't understand. Again, since you must have examined a copy, what is it you are taking issue with? Being misunderstood
    by who?

    It's not about telling people how/what they should shoot - or from where. There are no "rules." You asked for a post-mortem of the
    encounter and that is what I/others gave you, relating personal experiences along the way and what works for us. Some
    people have a strong sense of how they conduct themselves on the street. For me, one of the elements is taking responsibility
    for a shot if a subject should take issue - it's part of the "bargain" shooting on the street. If I'm not prepared to engage
    in a conversation if issue is taken after the shot, the shutter doesn't get released. That's not being imposed upon you, but rather
    is being offered for consideration to avoid bad encounters in the future.

    As several people mentioned above, in the end photos need to work. As far as getting there it's: My camera, my pixels/emulsion,
    I'll do what works for me. Your camera, your pixels/emulsion, you do what works for you. If what you do isn't working, or you get into
    bad situations and then ask for advice, there are people who will speak up to suss it out.
     
  126. Gup

    Gup Gup

    Shooting from cars is sometimes unavoidable for me as the subject is often a quickly moving bear or moose that will vacate the scene before I can park and get out. However, this one was shot from the car because it was raining and I didn't want to get my big rig (D2x and 28-70mm) wet. I don't like it from a technical standpoint, but I have always been intrigued by the annoyed look on the young man's face. My intention was never to upset him but by taking his picture I clearly did.
    00bzqY-542511784.jpg
     
  127. Gup

    Gup Gup

    A crop.
    00bzqh-542512184.jpg
     
  128. My son in Alaska was filming behind the camera and agrees that discretion is the better part of valor lots of times, Lannie.
    00bzrl-542512784.jpg
     
  129. Gerry -- Wow. Just...wow.
     
  130. I do not mean to offend but I really don't see the point in this. In the first place the photograph doesn't tell a compelling story. All you have is a group of folks, one of whom is in uniform. No pathos. No story. Not well exposed.
    Why did you not get out of the car and ask to take their picture? If you were polite and explained that you honored her service and would like to take a family picture, they might have said yes and the resulting pictures would have been vastly better. You could even offer to give them a couple of shots.
    My personal inclination is to not make people uncomfortable when I can help it. Pulling up in a car and sticking a camera out of the window when there is no obvious event happening is bound to do just that. I usually admire your pictures but I wonder if in this case perhaps your imagination got in the way a bit.
     
  131. Gerry, I ***LOVE*** that Bear and Photographers photo! One of the best images I've seen all year! Thanks so much for sharing!!!
     
  132. They started hamming it up for me and we all had fun.​

    That's a great feeling, and you probably enjoyed an excellent photographic opportunity. It's really hard to get to that place when the initial approach is to sneak shots of people.

    Maybe there's a vicious circle in play here. People who are uncomfortable engaging others take shots in a stealthy manner. When, on occasion, they are discovered, some subjects react negatively. The shooter becomes convinced that the way to prevent confrontations is even more stealth, whereas it was stealth in the first place that led to the confrontations.
     
  133. The big mistake was to continue taking the shots--that showed an aggressiveness. --Kent Staubus​
    That's conceivble, Kent, but I certainly wasn't feeling aggressive toward the people. I think that I was sort of infatuated with my "new" old camera that I got on eBay--the D3s. I have never had a camera that does that well at low light, although I blew that (and earlier efforts that night) by shooting at ISO 12,800 and f/5.6. After those shots, I went back to f/2.8, which is where I thought I was.
    People who are uncomfortable engaging others take shots in a stealthy manner. When, on occasion, they are discovered, some subjects react negatively. The shooter becomes convinced that the way to prevent confrontations is even more stealth, whereas it was stealth in the first place that led to the confrontations. --Dan South​

    That might well be, Dan, although I am generally an upfront kind of person who is not operating in stealth mode. It was a grab shot without a great deal of thought. I will know to be more careful next time.
    Psychology and ethics aside, is there something you see in any of the shots that inspires you to think differently about street photos and how you might go about making street photos that could be of more value to you than what you got this time? Not necessarily the how of your approach on the street but about what the results of your shooting might look like. What you might want to achieve rather than how you go about getting it. Not just the idea of what you want to achieve, but also what it might start to look like. These questions can't necessarily be answered here, and may never be fully answerable, but they may be worth considering as you venture out into the street more and more. Sometimes psychology can muck it all up and, as Avedon advises, it can be the surface that matters! --Fred G.​
    Well, Fred, I think that I will see if I can get some shots in public places--after hanging around and panning around for awhile so as to desensitize people to the presence of the camera. I would like to get people at east and looking natural, the opposite of what I got in this series. The disaster potential is always there, but it clear that in this case shooting at night from a car was a mistake. Leaving was possibly also a mistake, but at the time it seemed better, given the change of light and my big wave after the fact. Perhaps it was not the best thing to do.
    As far as psychologizing, I do want to emphasize that I would not want to infer too much about the people I was shooting by analyzing the crops. There are a lot of military families around here, and sometimes it seems that everybody is a hunter in the South--or else everyone has a loved one in the military, or both. I am not assuming that they were ultraconservative, reactive, or anything else. The dad did what I might easily have done. In any case, the psychologizing is ex post facto and will not affect the shot just made--though it might affect the next shot.
    It was still a good night in spite of that fiasco--and it was a fiasco, an indefensible failed effort. I did better that night when I went back to shooting the buildings I had just shot. I was in no particular mood to shoot anymore people that night, though.
    For me, one of the elements is taking responsibility for a shot if a subject should take issue - it's part of the "bargain" shooting on the street. If I'm not prepared to engage in a conversation if issue is taken after the shot, the shutter doesn't get released. --Brad -​
    That's probably a good rule, Brad. I really had not thought this through, to say the least. This sort of thing is relatively new to me. Under the circumstances, it seemed better to wave highly and broadly and drive away when the light changed. Perhaps it wasn't.
    Being misunderstood by who? --Brad -​
    I just meant "the subject," whoever it is, Brad. Your shots are very impressive.
    I do not mean to offend but I really don't see the point in this. In the first place the photograph doesn't tell a compelling story. All you have is a group of folks, one of whom is in uniform. No pathos. No story. Not well exposed. --Rick M.​
    You are absolutely right, Rick. I hope that the thread might have made the poor shooting worthwhile for some. As for your other points, I have already tried to explain them several times in the preceding, and I will try to avoid repeating myself yet again. The thread has been good in terms of giving persons the opportunity to express themselves, but I have been shooting almost evening last evening and today (32 GB of data on the first card, and well into the second 32-GB card), and I just don't have the time or energy to go through it all yet again. I won't try to defend the eleven-shot sequence beyond what I have already said. I made a number of errors of every kind. Live and learn--and hopefully learn enough to live to shoot some more.
    Regarding the issue of taking photos from vehicles, that's something I did quite a bit during the 1970s and early 1980s, and it whetted my appetite for the whole genre of candid public photography, even though my approach is *usually* different now. I emphasize *usually* because I still occasionally snap photos from buses or other vehicles, often out of boredom and hoping that a random glimpse may somehow manifest as something meaningful.
    My personal favorite photo from that era, taken from a vehicle, was this one, taken around 1981 in Fort Worth. I remember it because I'd just gotten out of the Navy, was in college studying journalism, and commuting to a night job at a dialysis clinic in Fort Worth near John Peter Smith hospital. The woman's home was around the Main Street and Rosedale area. I had a Ricoh SLR with 135mm lens on the front seat, and snapped that photo while waiting at a traffic light. Nobody noticed. I still like the photo.
    A year or so earlier, in San Diego, around 1980 or so, I took this photo of a news rack while I was sitting in a friend's van. It stirred up a bit of drama. Quoting from my anecdote:
    "The next day my friend called to tell me the convenience store owner was angry and demanding to know why I'd been taking photos outside his store. Apparently he'd immigrated from a former Soviet bloc country and was still very paranoid about surveillance. He demanded my photos and negatives. I told my friend I wouldn't give up my negatives but I'd be happy to provide a contact sheet of the roll, and larger prints if the fellow wanted a better view of anything. None of the photos were of the man's store. I never heard back from him so I suppose he was satisfied with my explanation."
    The photo is nothing special. I keep it around as a reminder of how capricious life can be, and that our smallest miscalculations may have significant repercussions while our gravest errors may go without consequence.
    Every mistake we survive is a gift. Every day is a new chance to make another mistake, or maybe do something worthwhile for one person. Or to just take a nap and wait for another day.
    --Lex Jenkins​
    Wow, Lex. That is all so good. You make me glad that I started the thread, although I am still not happy I took the particular shots under the same circumstances You also mentioned elsewhere that it might help to remind people at times that they are under surveillance from cameras all the time. That might work in some case. How to deal with the drunk and the crazy is something for which I have no simple set of contingency plans--even though I had to deal with what appeared to be precisely that almost three years ago. (Even building shots can blow up.)
    I am personally hoping that the ubiquitous iPhones (and other camera phones) might desensitize some people to being photographed in public--although I realize that most are probably going to be wary of some guy with a big camera shooting from a car at night, and justifiably and understandably so.
    I'm just glad that, if it was going to go bad, it did not go worse.
    If he carried a tire iron or a baseball bat, Lannie, it would have been even more fascinating. Alternative universe options abound. ( " How are you today?" thought bubble response- " Wonder what he meant by that? ") --Gerry Siegel
    My son in Alaska was filming behind the camera and agrees that discretion is the better part of valor lots of times, Lannie. --Gerry Siegel​
    As for your second part (and the photo above), what a great "bear panic" shot, Gerry!. As for your first comment directly above, there is always a worst-case possible scenario that one always wants to avoid. I guess that I got lucky this time by running into what appears to be a very nice family.
    If I neglected anyone else, I am sorry, but I am starved and need to get out to get something to eat. I do appreciate the shots you posted as well as the comments. Both positive and negative comments have been helpful--the negative ones will probably be the ones I remember, and the ones that might save my life in the future.
    Thanks to everyone for the great thread! I learned a lot and enjoyed reading it all.
    --Lannie
     
  134. One last one for tonight by Rick M.:
    I wonder if in this case perhaps your imagination got in the way a bit.​
    You're probably right, Rick. In fact, you might have been on target with every single point you made above.
    Again, I am sorry if I neglected anyone. It was not intentional.
    --Lannie
     
  135. Most people are reasonably social, and once you tallk to them a little they often will respond positively. The trick seems to be to engage them in conversation before pulling a camera out. In the below shot, I was wandering about one night and went into a biker bar. I saw a woman sitting on a very attractive motorcycle and asked if I could take a shot of the bike. (This was inside the bar, LOL!) She laughed and said, "Wouldn't you rather have a great shot of my butt?" I agreed that might be even better. She leaned forward a bit and I took the shot with my little Leica and 28mm lens. I probably should have been using ISO 400 film rather than ISO 100, but what the hell. It was a great experience. Things might have been different if I went in there and tried to "covertly" use a D4 and 24-70mm. As it turned out, the pretty girl actually wanted to show off her bike (ahem!) for me, a guy with a goofy old camera.
    Kent in SD
    00bzvB-542520684.jpg
     
  136. "I do not mean to offend but I really don't see the point in this. In the first place the photograph doesn't tell a compelling story. All you have is a group of folks, one of whom is in uniform. No pathos. No story. Not well exposed. --Rick M."
    "You are absolutely right, Rick."​
    I suppose this is where we get into that nebulous territory of personal aesthetics. I think the first photo of the gal in uniform with her hands raised for an embrace is lovely. Despite the blur, noise and indifferent framing, that gesture would have enticed me to instinctively raise a camera and snap the shutter.
    The only thing I'd have done differently would be to approach the fellow when he began walking toward me and say something like I've said before when folks noticed me photographing them in public: "It was such a lovely moment I couldn't resist." I'd show folks the photo and ask if they'd like me to email a copy to them. (If I would change anything, I would be more consistent about this - offering to share copies of photos with people, and not taking so long to do it.)
    I do so because I see these marvelous gestures, these lovely moments that meld personal intimacy in a public space, and I want to preserve that moment to show that the world really can occasionally be a wonderful place at odd moments. It's better expressed in this scene in the movie American Beauty, and the quote "Do you want to see the most beautiful thing I ever filmed"? And it's just a video of a white plastic bag dancing in the breeze amidst dead leaves. And it is beautiful.
    That way, if anyone asks or challenges me, I can answer honestly and positively because my motivation isn't emotionless idle curiosity, or, worse, a desire to humiliate people (which is one reason I'm uncomfortable with "people of Walmart" type exploitation, which seeks only schadenfreude and snide self-superiority over others who don't meet our standards for physical appearance).
    But personal motivation, whatever beneficence we may attribute to our actions as candid photographers, isn't some sort of talisman that will always protect us and magically convey our intentions to people we photograph so that they will understand and accept our intentions. I usually feel like a gambler on a winning streak, yet still aware of the fact that every roll of the dice, every spin of the wheel, is a whole new game and nothing I've done before will count toward the outcome of this roll or spin.
     
  137. Also, great photo and anecdote, Kent. The motion blur of her body against the hard, static machine creates a fascinating dynamic. It's another example of a photo that appeals to me more because of the characteristics that some might describe as flaws.
     
  138. But personal motivation, whatever beneficence we may attribute to our actions as candid photographers, isn't some sort of talisman that will always protect us and magically convey our intentions to people we photograph so that they will understand and accept our intentions. I usually feel like a gambler on a winning streak, yet still aware of the fact that every roll of the dice, every spin of the wheel, is a whole new game and nothing I've done before will count toward the outcome of this roll or spin. --Lex Jenkins​
    Lex, I think that part of the problem is being perceived as the outsider. Outsiders may in turn be viewed as interlopers, even if they are not really viewed as a threat. Even if outsiders are unobtrusive, there is the possibility that they will not be tolerated. Throw in a family situation and the prospect that, for all anyone knows, someone really might be up to no good--and the potential for an explosive confrontation escalates.
    I knew that my own motives were good, but how could I be sure that my explanation would have been accepted? That is the reason that, when the light turned green, I set down the camera on the car seat beside me, waved broadly from the driver's side (the side opposite the people), and drove slowly off, turning right and driving right by them (and looking straight ahead) so that they would have ample chance to see me and see that I was not fleeing in panic--just with a good sense, I believe, that they might conclude that I was indeed harmless, whatever their first impression might have been (the "father's" first impressions, in this case).
    When one has made a bad decision (in this case, to shoot from a car at night in this particular situation), the last thing that one wants to do is to make another bad decision. Hanging around to "discuss" the decision might sound optimal, until one considers all of the things that I did not know. I pursued the MINIMAX solution, having made the first mistake. I could not see through the viewfinder what I saw later. I chose what I saw as the safest course to defuse the situation: leave. Leave slowly and peacefully, but leave.

    These remarks are directed at no one in particular, especially not to you, Kent or Lex or anyone who actually has had to deal with dicey situations.

    Other topics: Kent, bikers give "street shooting" a whole 'nother meaning. Kent Noble on this site managed to get inside bike culture and be accepted as a biker himself--and came away with photos that are quite incredible (not to say that I would have taken or posted them).
    "The trick seems to be to engage them in conversation before pulling a camera out."
    Yes, that would indeed be ideal, if the situation allowed it. The problem is that, not only are all situations slightyly different, but situations are in flux. Things go in unexpected directions--and this can happen fast. (Again, that response is not directed to anyone in particular.)
    I cannot imagine that there is one rule to cover all situations that might arise in nighttime street photography--except "Don't do it," and that is not good enough. Some of us are going to keep trying.
    If you have further examples as to how things can go wrong, please share them. I cannot imagine all the possible bad scenarios. I just know that I have already been assaulted once for doing absolutely nothing wrong in shooting a building at night. That happened three years ago, and I had just driven from that same spot immediately before these shots were made. One cannot assume rationality on the part of the party with whom one might have a potential discussion.

    At the age of sixty-eight, I don't care to run certain risks anymore. I will keep shooting at night, but I will get out of Dodge in a hurry if the situation takes an unexpected turn.
    YMMV.

    If anyone wants to contend further on this issue (that is, on the decision to leave rather than stick around to try to explain), I am going to refer you back to the bold-faced, italicized highlights (above and below) on this post. I have nothing new to say on that decision that I can think of at this moment that I haven't already said three or four times already, except this:
    I felt a pretty strong obligation to get out of there before somebody got shot or arrested, including myself: look up "minimax" if you still do not understand.

    MINIMAX.
    --Lannie
     
  139. Example of how things can go right.
    Early on in my shooting, I used to stalk people on the street. One sunny afternoon, I was stalking a guy in the Castro. We caught each other's eye and he approached me and asked if I was a photographer because he needed some good pics taken of himself. Charming fellow. We wound up taking pics on the street. Turned out he was a hustler and also looking for work but I wasn't buying, tempting though it was. He also turned out to be a bit of a ham and some bystanders gathered around and watched him pose for me on the street. It was a very fun experience for me and I got a nice set of pictures. He loved the shots and used them on various web sites. We saw each other again for a more planned shoot the next day and kept in touch for a while after that. It was the beginning of my own changing attitude to how I wanted to shoot and to understanding that the way I had been approaching photography up until then wasn't really working well for me. Kept me feeling as an outsider and the pics I had been getting were somewhat meaningless. I realized that I could photograph people by making connections and still capture the spontaneity and spark in those kinds of encounters. People can be quite "candid" even when they are not sneaked up on. A photographer is as likely to capture truth in a witting subject as in an unwitting one. Knowing a little more about him enabled me to perhaps capture some of his truth, rather than a projected truth that for some strange reason seems sometimes superficially to appear (but is not actually there) in unaware subjects. Sometimes! Good photography has as much to do with the photographer's ability and vision as with whether a subject knows you're there or not. As to the subject, a good or "truthful" photo can have as much to do with their ability to be genuine and vulnerable as with whether or not they know you're there.
     
  140. Another mistake on upload. . . I'm late, but I have to slow down anyway, lest I make yet another mistake in trying to upload the photo.
     
  141. I realized that I could photograph people by making connections and still capture the spontaneity and spark in those kinds of encounters.​
    That is indeed the key, Fred, as I see it now. At the time I took the shots in question, there was a different dynamic: her hands were in the air, and it was "now or never," as they say. I had just stopped at the red light. I really thought that I was getting a possible "Soldier Returns" reunion kind of shot. I was hoping for more, an entire sequence. I like those shots, since they are about happy moments. If they are about someone leaving, then they are poignant, if bittersweet--but bittersweet is better than no sweet at all, in my book. I wanted to capture only good emotions. It did not happen, unfortunately, due to my intrusion into the situation.
    In any case, I went for it, based on what I thought I saw. I still hope that, over the long haul, the good consequences might outweigh the bad.
    Upon examining the photos closely, why her hands were in the air is now open to question. At the moment I saw it, I thought that someone was about to get hugged. Now I am not so sure. Did someone say something that stopped the magic moment from unfolding? There is no way to know, one way or the other.
    P.S.: Fred, given the bad connotations of the word "stalk" for so many people (as in "stalking prey"), are you sure that that is the word you want to use? I'm being only partly serious here, but I do know that I don't want anyone to think of me as a "stalker," as that term is commonly used--and I'm sure that you don't, either.
    --Lannie
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  142. Looking up the street from perhaps thirty feet away, I could not even see it this well. After I started looking through the viewfinder, I could not see well at all.
    One keeps shooting sometimes because one realizes only too late what is happening--and one is still hoping for one keeper.
    I also did not know that the soldier with hands in air was a woman. That changes the dynamic, too--or can.
    --Lannie
     
  143. "WHEN THINGS GO WRONG" AWARD
    I think that the award has to go to Gerry Siegel's son's photo at this time and date (not too far above):
    Gerry Siegel (Honolulu) [​IMG][​IMG], Sep 15, 2013; 03:24 p.m.
    Maybe you have a better shot of a shoot gone awry. I cannot imagine a better one. I would love to see the entire sequence on that shoot!
    --Lannie
     
  144. Lannie, "stalk" is definitely the word I wanted to use, for the situation I was describing. It's not a word I would necessarily use for all candid shooting, but it was definitely how I was approaching my own shooting on the street early on. And it's not necessarily what you were doing when you took these photos. But it is how your photos LOOK to me. They have a stalker quality, no matter what you were thinking or doing, though I do think your actions as you describe them have an element of "stalker" to them.
    I don't care about connotations. I used the word "hustler" as well. To many, that has bad connotations. Who cares? There's nothing wrong with "stalker" photos per se, if that's your thing. And, again, not all candid or unwitting photos, by any means, are stalker-type photos. I think it's something that could even be explored, and probably has been, in a significant way. It's just that one might want to be aware they're stalking or come to some consciousness about it rather than doing it blindly or being in denial about it (which I don't think you are).
    _____________________________________
    PRACTICE. It's under-discussed but has been mentioned recently in a couple of different threads I've read.
    If you want to stalk and can get significant photos by doing so, do it! If you don't want to stalk, then practice not stalking. That may mean for some period of time, taking only one shot of things you come across candidly. To get PRACTICE at not appearing to be a stalker and at not getting photos that look like stalker photos, maybe try honing the skill of anticipating moments and gestures that will be worth shooting, so you don't risk missing them. Practice taking one shot only of a situation to make it THE shot and then force yourself to move on. It doesn't always have to stay that way. But the discipline of doing this for a short period of time might teach you a lot about your own instincts and might also teach you to more fluidly and fluently glide through the world behind a camera, seamlessly and more unnoticed. Maybe you even want to be noticed. Maybe you want confrontational photos, ones that seem risky. That's the generic you, not necessarily you personally. If so, go for it . . . mindfully.
    Of course, there are LOTS of other ways to practice as well.
     
  145. But it is how your photos LOOK to me. They have a stalker quality, no matter what you were thinking or doing, though I do think your actions as you describe them have an element of "stalker" to them.​
    Perhaps so, Fred. I just pulled up to the light, saw what I thought I saw--and started shooting. It was all so fast that I did not even think of how I might look. It just looked like a potentially good shot, and so I started shooting. I knew that I had only a few seconds before the light changed back to green.
    Looking back to that evening, several days ago now, I cannot believe that it did not occur to me that this was not a wise shot. Live and learn.
    --Lannie
     
  146. We had a bad cop in Salisbury. He was always chasing down African-Americans, including some of my students at Livingstone College. (He picked up a young woman and body-slammed her on the hood of her own vehicle for some misunderstandings over her failure to fasten her seat belt. She was a former student of mine. He also arrested a woman for photographing him during an arrest, even though she was on her front porch at the time. She was charged with interfering with an arresting officer, or something like that. It went to court. She won--after having to go through all that.)
    Before he died of a heart attack a few months back, I often hoped that I could catch him in the act. I did not carry the camera for the purpose of catching him in the act, but, had I seen an abuse on his part, I have no doubt but that I would have shot him--with my camera.
    Imagine: stalking a cop. Well, actually no, I didn't actually do it, but I thought about it.
    Risk-taking. It's a sickness.
    Maybe. I won't deny the rush that I get from shooting at night, even if it is pictures of inanimate things.
    It is also beautiful when it comes out right.
    --Lannie
     
  147. "It was all so fast that I did not even think of how I might look."
    You described in some detail what you were thinking and feeling when you made your getaway. And judging by the number of shots you got off, you had plenty of time to feel something as you were shooting and noticing the folks coming toward you. Whether consciously or not, you took the subsequent shots, even as the people were approaching you. A lot can go on in a very few moments. We are as responsible for our knee-jerk and quick reactions as for our more planned and thought-out actions. Those knee-jerk instincts come from past decisions and experiences. They don't appear out of thin air. That's precisely the reason PRACTICE (more fine-tuned, honed, and learned-from experience) can help.
    Again, I'm not putting you down for what you did. I'm just trying to get some clarity and authenticity around it. There's NO REASON you shouldn't have kept on shooting when they started to approach you, if that's what you wanted or needed to do. You may have taken some GREAT pictures by doing just that, taking photos of them coming at you. PRACTICE might help you take pictures you're more satisfied with. The only reason I say that is because practice has helped me. As I said before, had you come away with significant and moving, decent photos, this entire conversation might never have taken place. It might have all been worth it. Tension and disharmony and ill-at-ease-ness, even risk and danger, can be terrific muses . . . if you're willing. Plenty of photographers go there, go to places many others think are morally questionable and even adversarial. I try not to limit myself to anyone else's sensibility or concept of propriety. I want to (keep) discover(ing) my own.
     
  148. I'm pretty sure that I kept shooting because I hoped that I might get some shots of people facing me, Fred. There was nothing interesting in shooting people's backs. I did not think that the first picture was going to be a keeper. As it turned out, none were.
    The dynamic no doubt changed when it was overwhelmingly obvious that the guy was not merely walking toward me, but walking toward ME.
    I think that that is about the time that I was glad that the light changed.
    What went on in my subconscious? I have no idea.
    As for practice, I have to remember to check my aperture. It was f/5.6, two stops slower than necessary. That was dumb, especially since the ISO was dialed up to 12,800.
    I'm not playing dumb now, though, Fred. I really don't think that my thoughts about this were too deep. In fact, if I am guilty of anything, it was the sheer thoughtlessness of what I did--when I shot, not when I decided to leave. That (leaving) I thought about, and quickly decided that it was better to leave--slowly, with a friendly wave, but definitely based on a decision to get out of there.
    --Lannie
     
  149. Who said anything about your thoughts being deep at the time or even now?
    And I'm not talking about practicing what aperture to use. But I think you know that. Though you keep mentioning it for some reason. You capitalized the word ME. I'm talking about practice with regard to YOU. Not your camera.
     
  150. "There was nothing interesting in shooting people's backs."
    It's possible to work with almost anything. Lex liked your shot. I didn't. But there can be plenty interesting in shooting people's backs, if you find it. The gesture of outstretched arms toward an embrace, only one person facing the camera/viewer while all else face away could make a very compelling picture, in the right hands. May not be what you wanted or what would have worked for you. Just saying there's potential in almost everything, photographically.
     
  151. I mention the aperture because it sure messed up the noise levels--shooting at 12,800 when I could have been shooting at 3200 is certainly worth mentioning to me. "For some reason," you say--so that I can remember to get into the habit of checking my settings, not only when I start shooting, but when I stop, so that I will know what I have when I pick up the camera again, the next time. I still make a lot of technical mistakes, dumb mistakes. I need to change the habit of not knowing what my ISO and f-stop are--because I mess up so often, needlessly, precisely because of that. Changing those bad habits are important to me--very important to me, since I am already sixty-eight years old, and I still have some sloppy shooting habits--and I got my first SLR back in 1977.
    Low-light shooting for me since I recently bought the D3s has been about technicalities above all. I agonized over the decision to spring for a used D3s on eBay. I poured over many, many high ISO comparisons of Raw files on DPReview.com before deciding to go ahead and get this camera. I'm partly a gearhead, Fred. That is one side of me. Ask anyone who knows me well. In fact, it is a BIG side of me, as can be seen here or here.

    I think that I seriously started thinking about what I was doing the night in question when I realized that I might have gotten myself in to a potentially threatening situation, since up until that moment I did not realize that anyone had even noticed me. Nor had I been worried about it. My conscience was clear. It was an opportunistic shot of a wholesome scene. I saw it. I took it. Then and only then did things slowly begin to dawn on me. First, there was someone walking toward me. Why? Uh-oh. The soldier is a WOMAN. (Trouble) The man might be her father. (Uh-oh again) You get the idea.
    If there's more, I don't know what it is.
    --Lannie
     
  152. It's possible to work with almost anything. Lex liked your shot. I didn't.​
    I think that Lex thought that this particular presentation of it might have some appeal.
    Yes, anything might turn out to be interesting, but, when I see a military uniform, I typically thing "male." Broad hips? I definitely think "female." I don't know when I noticed that the soldier might be a woman, but in this case it was not a good realization, because somebody, quite possibly her daddy, seemed to walking rather briskly in my direction.
    Fred, you are as bad as I am at analyzing things to death--but I usually try to defend that tendency in myself, and I will defend it for you as well. I just don't know what else to say about my motives throughout this eleven-shot sequence. It was a grab shot. I was not out "stalking." I was on Fisher St., which has yielded some decent daytime shots, such as this one and this one. I thought that I would try for a good nighttime shot--this time of E. Fisher St., not W. Fisher St. I still want to try that again. Hopefully next time I will not walk into a dicey situation--but I will be walking.
    As for walking v. driving to get night shots (an issue which has repeatedly come up): I don't (and didn't) want to get mugged and lose my "new" low-light Nikon and my "new" eBay-vintage f/2.8 lens.
    I'm pretty transparent, and pretty shallow, I think. I was out to get some shots without losing either life or equipment--and still in test-mode on my new toys.
    --Lannie
     
  153. OK.
    I've been trying to talk about your photos and future photos (mostly to no avail), not your motives, though I did, maybe mistakenly, address motives in response to some of your statements to me. And best of luck getting those camera settings down.
     
  154. My future photos? Maybe I will look at more street photography shots and see if there is anything that I might want to try. Right now I am coming up dry. What would indeed be a good way to go? Good question. I don't know at the moment. I do know that I am a bit bored with shooting buildings, day or night.
    I have even thought of getting a model or two and shooting around town in different settings--in the style of, say, Cindy Sherman (but obviously not self-portraits). It could work. For a while I thought about shooting the prostitutes down on Long St.--until the cops apparently chased them off. I am not talking about anything salacious--more of a sociological study, shall we say--or even along the lines of Bellocq, but without the nudes, and in a more modern milieu.
    Whatever it might be, I don't want to get shot or arrested. Avoiding death and arrest are pretty high on my list of objectives at this point.
    "Professor Arrested On Long Street." I also sort of want to avoid that kind of headline. So far, this is the most risqué shot that I have taken on Long St. after midnight. (That was on my first outing with this "new" low-light camera.)
    --Lannie
     
  155. though I did, maybe mistakenly, address motives in response to some of your statements to me​
    Actually, that is a fascinating issue to get into, unless one is being flat-out accused of something. I am intrigued by what drives me to photography in the first place. I also wonder if my propensity to challenge authority might lead me down certain photographic paths, although right now that is a rather vague and amorphous issue that keeps wanting to climb into my consciousness.
    --Lannie
     
  156. It seems to me that taking photos of prostitutes would have a considerable amount of risk. Not so much from them, but from the pimps. While I'm sure they'll quickly figure out you're not a cop, there's a big chance they might think you're some sort of neighborhood activist etc., and they could get rough. Remember, you are dealing with criminals here.
    If you want something to practice that is usually fun, how about all those end of summer and Octoberfest type events being held this time of year? There's great shots everywhere, and people are typically in a good mood at these and much less defensive. Below is a shot from the Pipestone County Fair, Minnesota, last year. Nikon D300, Nikon 17-55mm f2.8. I call it "Temptation."
    Kent in SD
    00c02G-542532184.jpg
     
  157. Kent, though I think it might be a good suggestion and a good place to practice, I'm kind of over pics shot at street fairs, parades, and special events. Just a personal thing. And that's not to say I don't occasionally see a pic I like from a street fair, etc. A lot of street shooting that appeals to me more is what catches the life of the street itself. These fairs and special events are often more like staged readings. It can certainly be true that finding people to shoot at fairs or public parties is like shooting fish in a barrel, where there would be more of a willingness and almost a performance mode already afoot. It's real life, of course. But it's very different life than street life.
    As for prostitutes, I've had some experience photographing and talking to male hustlers and never had a problem. But I don't sense there were any pimps involved and your cautions are quite reasonable for many different situations.
     
  158. I'm going back to the mountain. . . .
     
  159. Back from mountains. Had to get away from the city streets for awhile.
    Kent, that is a fine photo.
    --Lannie
     
  160. Lannie, I suggest that you shoot subjects that are meaningful to you, or subjects you find novel, surprising, or visually interesting in some way. My two cents. :)
     
  161. "Lannie, I suggest that you shoot subjects that are meaningful to you, or subjects you find novel, surprising, or visually interesting in some way. My two cents. :)"​
    Lannie has already explained that was his original intention. It simply went awry. As he's explained in this discussion:
    "At the time I took the shots in question, there was a different dynamic: her hands were in the air, and it was "now or never," as they say. I had just stopped at the red light. I really thought that I was getting a possible "Soldier Returns" reunion kind of shot. I was hoping for more, an entire sequence. I like those shots, since they are about happy moments. If they are about someone leaving, then they are poignant, if bittersweet--but bittersweet is better than no sweet at all, in my book. I wanted to capture only good emotions. It did not happen, unfortunately, due to my intrusion into the situation.
    In any case, I went for it, based on what I thought I saw. I still hope that, over the long haul, the good consequences might outweigh the bad."
    --Landrum Kelly, Sep 16, 2013; 09:10 a.m.
    Lannie described a situation that was meaningful to him, something he found novel, surprising and potentially visually interesting. He took a chance, reacted and it didn't turn out well.
    The only other advice we might offer is "Don't make mistakes." As soon as someone figures that one out, please let me know. Then there will be two of us who never make mistakes.
    But the very act of pursuing photographing subjects that we find novel or surprising virtually ensures we will eventually make mistakes in judgment, timing or in other ways. All we really have control of is our own personal motivation and intention. And taking responsibility for our actions when we err.
    Beyond that, the only certain way to avoid unpleasant or unfortunate encounters is to never take chances, never pursue anything surprising, and try to find something novel and interesting only in ways that we can control completely, and for which, when that control fails, there are no serious consequences for mistakes.
     
  162. Thanks, guys. The emotional toll of taking city shots at night sometimes requires me to recharge my batteries before I can go back to it again.
    I do think that it is a worthy activity--and a great challenge. We all know that there are some risks. Some do it on a regular basis. I cannot. I do it when I can handle the stress.
    I do think that it will be a cold day in hell before I will be shooting people at night from an automobile again--it might happen, but it will have to be a very compelling shot to make me do that again.
    HERE is my latest "street shot" made at night--just two evenings ago. I used a tripod and low ISO on this one.
    Peace. [sigh]
    For me it is more about the magic of the night than about the magic of the street, but the street can be fascinating and magical. . . and especially at night.
    Except when it scares one to death. . .
    --Lannie
     
  163. Lannie has already explained that was his original intention.​
    My last post was in response to the following question.
    My future photos? Maybe I will look at more street photography shots and see if there is anything that I might want to try. Right now I am coming up dry. What would indeed be a good way to go?
    Perhaps this was a rhetorical question and you weren't looking for a response, but I couldn't tell, so I offered a suggestion. :)
     
  164. Lannie, I suggest that you shoot subjects that are meaningful to you, or subjects you find novel, surprising, or visually interesting in some way. --Dan South​
    Thanks, Dan. Surely that is good advice for all of us.
    --Lannie
     
  165. What I find strange is that, even after it must have become clear to you that these people did not want to have their picures taken, you even display them on the web! Landrum, I think you have learned nothing from this episode. Your posts describe how you were concerned about your own safety etc, but mention nothing about how these people feel. From their perspective, there was some guy taking pictures from them from out of a car, then drives away when about to being confronted. How do you think this makes them feel? Happy? Now imagine what these people would feel if they knew that you are posting these pictures on the web.
     
  166. Anton, I understand your concern but in this case the photos facilitated a constructive discussion with diverse viewpoints. Without the photos we'd all just be speculating about whether Lannie's perceptions fit the actual situation.
    And because the people were in a public place in the U.S., there's no reasonable expectation of privacy. Nothing here misrepresents the circumstances. From the perspective of a learning situation for a photography site like this, posting the photos to accompany a discussion is reasonable.
     

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