Photo Book Review: Elliot Erwitt’s Paris & New York

New york paris box set elliott erwitt teneuesWhile Elliot Erwitt was technically not a street photographer, the black and white photos in this book fit comfortably in this genre. He shot for advertising, and was a Magnum photographer, shooting some of the most famous people in the world, and working for some of the major magazines, such as Collier’s, Look, Life, and others.

This two-book slipcased box set combines two of his books, Elliot Erwitt’s Paris and Elliot Erwitt’s New York. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK) With photos from as early as the 1940s and as late as the 21st century, each book offers a wide palette of subjects that are all rooted in their cities. His Parisian photos all have the feel of the classic French style of street photography, but with Erwitt’s often quirky subjects and composition (and lots of dogs).

Paris

The New York photos tend to be from the 1950s and 1960s, with some older and newer photos, and feature a number of photos of celebrities, such as Arthur Miller, Jack Kerouac, Nelson Algren, Frank Sinatra and Mia Farrow, and more. But there are also some wonderful street shots, the type that anyone working in this genre would love to catch.

New york

There is a remarkable consistency of tone throughout these photos. If it were not for the graininess of some of the older photos, and the way the people dress and the cars they drive, you would be hard pressed to date many of them. A master of black and white, and of spontaneous photography, Erwitt should be an inspiration to anyone interested in black and white or in street photography.

And the Paris book contains what may be the best street photograph ever, which you can see at the top of this article.

Should You Use Your Camera in Manual or Automatic Mode?

There are a lot of debates in photography around how you should use a camera. Some ask whether you should use a filter to protect a lens, or whether you should use prime lenses or zoom lenses, and many people have fundamentalist responses to these questions. One of the big questions is:

Should you use your camera in manual or automatic mode (or, as some cameras call it, program mode)?

There are thousands of photographers who write articles about photography, discussing how to use a camera, how to focus, and how to work in photo editing apps. And many of them address this question.

Obviously, there are two answers. And it’s not surprising that many of these photographers who churn out articles and videos tend to say that manual mode is better.

Since these photographers mostly talk about gear in their articles and videos, they say that the choice that focuses on the gear is the correct one. But take a step back for a minute.

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Is Street Photography Killing Itself? – PetaPixel

“street photography has become the social media of photography: an avalanche of banal, shallow and unreflective nothing that hasn’t the time to consider its own context.”

I like street photography. But most of it proves Sturgeon’s Law: 90% of everything sucks.

Source: Is Street Photography Killing Itself?

Photo Book Review: Modern Color, by Fred Herzog

Herzog modern colorFred Herzog was a German photographer who emigrated to Canada. Professionally, he was a medical photographer, but in his spare time he documented his surroundings, notably Vancouver, Canada, but he also took photos during trips to other countries. A recently published book, Modern Color, shows the range of his photography, most of which were previously unknown. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK)

Here’s the publisher’s blurb:

“Fred Herzog is known for his unusual use of colour in the fifties and sixties, a time when art photography was almost exclusively associated with black and white imagery. The Canadian photographer worked almost exclusively with Kodachrome slide film for over 50 years, and only in the past decade has technology allowed him to make archival pigment prints that match the exceptional color and intensity of the Kodachrome slide. In this respect, his photographs can be seen as a pre-figuration of the New Color photographers of the seventies.”

This is a beautiful book, in bright, saturated colors, that faithfully reproduce that Kodachrome look. At the time, art photography had to be in black and white, something that didn’t start changing until the 1970s, after William Eggleston had his groundbreaking solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art.

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“I am at war with the obvious.”

I am afraid that there are more people than I can imagine who can go no further than appreciating a picture that is a rectangle with an object in the middle of it, which they can identify. They don’t care what is around the object as long as nothing interferes with the object itself, right in the center. Even after the lessons of Winogrand and Friedlander, they don’t get it. They respect their work because they are told by important institutions that they are important artists, but what they really want to see is a picture with a figure or an object in the middle of it. They want something obvious. The blindness is apparent when someone lets slip the word “snapshot.” Ignorance can always be covered by “snapshot.” The word has never had any meaning. I am at war with the obvious.

Photo by William Eggleston, from The Democratic Forest (Amazon.com, Amazon UK)

How to Use the Q Button on the Fujifilm X100F and other Fuji Cameras to Easily Change Settings

I have two cameras (not counting my iPhone): the Olympus Pen-F and the Fujifilm X100F. Each has its strengths and weaknesses, and each has its own feature set. One thing I really like on the X100F is the Q button.

The Q (or Quick Menu) button is on many of Fuji’s cameras. On the X100F, it’s on the right, and is easy to access with your thumb. It provides quick access to a number of settings that you may want to change quickly when shooting.

Q button

As you can see above, I’ve selected the Film Simulation setting. If you like Fuji’s film simulations, you may want to use this one often. To change any of the settings, just turn the rear dial. To move around from setting to setting, press one of the four sides of the Selector (those are the buttons around the Menu/OK button).

The settings available include Auto-Focus, Dynamic Range, Noise Reduction, Shadows, Highlights, and more. Here are the defaults:

Q menu settings

In the top left, you can see the button marked BASE C1. You can assign up to seven sets of settings that you can quickly access by selecting this and rotating the rear dial. To apply custom settings, go to the menus: IQ > Image Quality Setting > Edit/Save Custom Setting.

But it gets better. You can also change the settings available from the Quick Menu. Press and hold the Q button, then move to the settings button you want to change. Press the Menu button, then scroll through the list that displays. Find the setting you want to add, then press Menu/OK.

This is practical if you want to easily access settings like the ND Filter, Conversion Lens, Shutter Type settings, or others. You can personalize what displays when you press the Q menu by choosing your own settings, or by selecting the settings you use most for the buttons that are at the top or left, which are easier to access. So, if you want to move, say, the Film Simulation setting to the top left – so it’s selected as soon as you press the Q button – apply it instead of the Custom Settings button, but put that button where the Film Simulation setting is. I admit, it would be easier if there were a quicker way to move these buttons around, but this method works.

Take some time to get to know the Q button and the Quick Menu screen, and customize to so the settings you often change are easily accessible. You’ll save time, and you won’t have to dig through menus as much.