New Perspectives, Street Photography & a GoPro Hero 3
As a professional photographer everyone asks what camera, lens and setting I use when they see a great shot…. this educational site Lightism.co.uk which is mainly for non-photographers and camera phone users is about teaching people that it’s all about the eye behind the camera and not fancy equipment. With this in mind I jumped at the chance to try out the new GoPro Hero 3.
The GoPro Hero 3, for those you who don’t know is a tiny extreme sports video camera with no ability to control traditional camera settings and no screen whatsoever to shoot stills.
That’s right; it’s like a slimmed down camera phone with a better lens, higher resolution (12 mega pixels), a wireless remote, tiny foot print (it’s the same size as a matchbox) and waterproof housing and my favourite, an ultra cool video advert
As for a lack of a viewfinder or any sort of screen, initially it felt weird not seeing what I was shooting, but it somehow took me back to the magic of film and not knowing just what you’d got until you got home….for me, it added fun and excitement, and that rushing home with the anticipation of seeing what pictures I took if anything.
(there is an optional screen available)
My publisher wanted more images about perspective and street photography for my new book version of Lightism out next year (Watch this space.) My challenge was to photograph a heavily photographed landmark, but try to find a new perspective.
So off I popped on an unplanned walk of London for three hours starting at Trafalgar Square.
I instantly saw this shot from the wonderful Taylor Wessing Portrait prize at the National Portrait Gallery. A stunning portrait which seemed to be enhanced by the light and the droplets of rain.
The Hero 3 lens is ultra wide…think of it this way: if you look down now you can see your own nose, well if you hold this camera wrong you’ll see you own fingers….yes it’s that wide!
Initially I thought I’d correct every picture, but I quickly decided that I like the aesthetic.
(However, you do sometimes need to crop the picture afterwards)
You can also use the distortion to exaggerate things….This five year old suddenly became a giant. I now wish I’d coerced a couple of people to run away screaming to complete the scene.
I chose Trafalgar Square as it is literally full of people taking pictures. After about six images (non of which I could see as it has no screen) I saw the fountain and the cameras waterproof housing and ta dar….I thought of the new perspective I was looking for; a shot from above and below water:
You could achieve a similar result from an iPhone tied in a condom if you super glued the base of the knot (no really) and was feeling very risk tolerant, but the Hero 3 is waterproof in its box and is blisteringly sharp and super easy to use.
So, street photography is all about spotting opportunity and if you see a great moment captured, I can almost guarantee the photographer didn’t just arrive at the right time. You need to look around and spot what I call the stage…this can vary from the way something is lit, or shapes or something generally pleasing or amusing to the eye.
Now you have the stage it’s time to think about who would be the perfect actor and see if anyone fitting the bill is heading your way.
I tend to give it a couple of minutes, but some photographers are more patient than I.
Other times both the stage and actors are ready and waiting.
I love the notion of this homeless man sleeping by the fire in a very modern context and a feeling of chaos outside the window.
This scene inside the National Gallery caught my attention because of the atmospheric light and the graphic shapes. I shot it empty and then waited a few minutes until this figure arrived which gives the image more scale; sometimes it’s worth trying things a few different ways so you have choices later.
I particularly like this shot I’ve called Molly on the Market, I love the painterly feel and light falling on her face and if I’d lit it, it’s exactly what I’d have aimed to do.
The great thing with the size of Hero 3 is you can use it covertly as it doesn’t make a sound when taking a shot; this was shot from waist level.
So, in short, I love this little camera even if the battery life is very short and I had to turn it off between shots!
Next month’s Gopro challenge is this: Shoot my own wedding for my site photoality.co.uk