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Film Friday: Street Photography – that be a Leica then?

Last Saturday I had reason to pop into Lincoln, while there I did the tourist bit and walked up to the Castle Square.

Up hill Lincoln is great, and Castle Square as you might guess has the Castle on one side and the Lincoln Cathedral on the other.

The farmers market was on and I though it would be a great day to shoot some street photography, shots of people browsing the market stalls etc.

Now for years the traditional camera for this has been the trusty 35mm Leica Range Finder.  With its bright viewfinder showing more then 100% of the field of view, zone focusing with the fantastic fast glass which even now has depth of field markings on, and the silent shutter, its a hard tool to better for this type of photography.

Of course most of us nowadays would reach for an digital SLR or one of the new modern Compact System Camera’s such as the Olympus Pen, Panasonic GF-1 or GF X, better yet maybe a Sony NEX-7 or Fuji’s X range.

But no I decided to be a bit different, well to be truthful very different!

I had read an article recently about a photographer shooting street photography with Medium Format, so I thought I would give it ago.

My Medium Format camera is a Hasselblad V System Camera, it has a waist level finder, manual focus, no light meter, oh and shoots film.

So what did I do, well I loaded it up with some Ilford HP5Plus Back & White film, left the tripod at home and fitted the leather neck strap.

In the article I read, the guy braced the camera via the strap and into his belly, so I thought I would do the same.  First of all wondering around I found my view point; whipped out my handheld light meter and took some incident readings.  It was a bright day and EV15 was pretty much the reading all day, so with HP5 rated at ISO400, that gave me f/8 at 1/500 second, the fastest the leaf shutter fitted into the lens will go.

One thing that surprised me, was how little attention I was getting.  Usually when shooting medium format or large format, on my big Gitzo Series 5 tripod, I certainly get noticed, and other photographers come over and talk to me, very interested and what I am doing.

With the Hasselblad close to my chest and shooting with the waist level finder, people did not realise I was taking pictures as I did not bring the camera up like one would with a traditional SLR.

So even with such a big slow camera, I was able to get shots without people reacting in the usual way.

As you can see from the above two examples its a technique that works surprisingly well.