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BrianL
09-17-2011, 02:59 PM
I agree a tlr like a Rolleiflex may provide a better result. As you are using the camera at a position not disimilar to a tlr it is not the perspective in height but the abiluty to include more of the surroundings in the environment. Surroundings can be very important in placing and telling the story. A little more in the image might help in saying this is on a subway vs a bus, etc. An alternative is a wider lens on the Nikon.

Jeff Kubach
09-17-2011, 03:04 PM
Excellent photos!

Jeff

Erik Petersson
09-18-2011, 02:29 AM
If you haven't got a copy of Bruce Davidson's famous book (http://www.aperture.org/subway.html) now is a good time as Aperture have just published a third edition so the price is back from the stratosphere for a while.


I’ll take a look at Bruce Davidson, I will be sure to learn something. He must have been much more confrontational, using a flash. Without really knowing I imagine the New York subway in the 80:s to be a place where people might have talked back to Bruce Davidson.

Erik Petersson
09-18-2011, 02:31 AM
I agree a tlr like a Rolleiflex may provide a better result. As you are using the camera at a position not disimilar to a tlr it is not the perspective in height but the abiluty to include more of the surroundings in the environment. Surroundings can be very important in placing and telling the story. A little more in the image might help in saying this is on a subway vs a bus, etc. An alternative is a wider lens on the Nikon.

I did use a 24mm lens for some of the photos, the first one above for example with the single boy. The last one is also made with a wide angle (and then slightly cropped). I have mostly been interested in faces and expressions, and not so much in the surroundings.

The style of the seats and windows and the subway plans in the background are easy to recognize. Personally I need nothing more to set the scene. The noisy carriages, the stairs, the magnificent platforms. In a way I have taken the Moscow subway itself for granted. But most of you have of course not seen it. Wouldn’t have thought of this myself.

Gadfly_71
09-18-2011, 06:53 PM
Andrew,

That is a wonderful book you are publishing. I especially like the portraits of passengers. But one also gets a feeling of the entire thing, the tunnels, stops, wagons etc. And such a good idea to make a book. The blurb is book on demand service, right? They print and deliver the books after each order? It is true that a TLR would be easier to get away with, but the Moscow metro is dim so I really need the depth of field that 35 mm gives on f4, f2.8, sometimes f1.8. Also, I really like the puzzled faces I sometimes get. The woman with the number 51 in the background for example.

About the Walker Evans book, I am already ordering it. By the way, there will be a Helen Levitt exhibition in Stockholm starting next week, which I am looking forward too. The photography world must have been small in those days.

Perkelleinen, you said something about the angle of view earlier. I have been thinking, some of my pictures are made with an almost unpleasant angle. Too low. Thanks for that observation.

Best
Erik

Thanks Erik. I'm still going through an edit of the book at the moment so the final product will probably be quite a bit different. As one of my mentors pointed out, in it's current form it feels like two different books. Keeping that in mind, I'll probably be removing the London Underground content (not that they're bad photos, they just don't fit with the SD Trolley images).

Blurb is very much an on demand service. At no cost to the book maker, they let you set up a "storefront" and do all of the fulfillment. You set the profit margin you'd like to receive (above Blurb's cost). I usually use them to produce keepsake books for my commercial clients and I use SharedInk for my personal work. The problem with Blurb, until recently, was that their print quality wasn't that great. The problem with SharedInk is lack of a market place (I have to order the copies and pay out of my pocket to do so). Blurb seems to have improved their output quality so I'm trying them for this to see if I can drum up a few extra dollars to go in my pocket.

Erik Petersson
09-19-2011, 01:10 AM
I thought that was two different parts of the same metro... The tunnel photos are cool, by the way. I might try to do something similar in Moscow.

Good luck with your book!

Erik Petersson
10-16-2011, 04:23 PM
Thanks for pointing me in the direction of Walker Evans and Bruce Davidson. I bought the books, they are great. Evans did what I am trying to achieve, a few decades earlier and much better. This is great inspiration to me. Bruce Davidson is also very interesting. The colours are amazing. (My results are very yellow and green.)

(I spent a week in Moscow recently and have got a dozen or so more photos that I like. For the first time someone protested. He walked up to me and talked confrontationally but soon disappeared in the crowd. It made me think, though.)



You are doing beautifully by yourself.

However another source of guidance might be to examine the work of Walker Evans. He traveled the subways of New York 1938-1941.
“EVANS, Walker, "The Passengers", New York, 1938, Walker Evans, Princeton, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Princeton University Press, 2000.”
http://phomul.canalblog.com/archives/2006/01/12/1217571.html

Other books that have examples of this work but are not limited to his subway photos:
Walker Evans; Museum Of Modern Art, NY, NY; Szarkowski, John, 1971
Walker Evans; Hambourg, Rosenheim, Eklund, Fineman; Metropolitan Museum of Art, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 2000

John Powers

h.v.
12-11-2011, 03:05 PM
What works? All of these photos, everything about them. You have really great detail and focus. I adore the variety of intimate expressions you were able to capture. Bravo!

cliveh
12-11-2011, 03:24 PM
Erik, fantastic, don't worry about the technical stuff, just keep taking the images. A marvalous project that could form the basis of an exhibition to exhibit anywhere on the planet.

markbarendt
12-11-2011, 04:42 PM
An interesting start, keep after it.

A few thoughts, strictly my opinion for you to chew on.

First, I find the perspective of looking up, a bit odd/unreal. Best way I can explain it is that I don't feel like I'm connecting with the subject. For the shot of the mature couple it's ok, for the rest it's a distraction. It emphasizes the things in the lower half of the frame so hands and knees become too large. Two suggestions/possibilities to remedy this; portrait orientation for the camera and include the feet in the shot or raise your camera to their eye level.

Second, is the framing. Two things here, most of the examples shown are 1- subject center and 2- wasted space left and right. Centered subjects can work (see Steve McCurry) but are hard to do well, for most shots getting the subject off center horizontally and vertically will help. Also again, shooting with the camera in portrait orientation may help, maybe a slightly longer lens or getting closer to the subject or doing some cropping for the print.

cliveh
12-11-2011, 04:47 PM
Can I just say that it is easy to give armchair critisism, but another thing entirely to take shots like this.

ColRay
12-11-2011, 04:53 PM
Hello Erik I reckon you have started a really interesting series, and should make some excellent exhibition material. If only I had the chance of doing the same.. my (small) Russian camera collection would get a good work-out Colin

markbarendt
12-11-2011, 04:56 PM
Can I just say that it is easy to give armchair critisism, but another thing entirely to take shots like this.

The OP specifically asked for criticism.



This is a small sample. What works, what doesn’t? What can be improved? Etc, etc. Thanks in ahead.

Erik

Erik Petersson
12-12-2011, 01:29 PM
Thanks for support and encouragement! I'm grateful for for criticism. How could I otherwise improve?

Mark, over time I have to become more and more bothered by the perspective thingy. But this comes from my method, I use the SLR as a TLR which leads to a lower point of view. Otherwise people would be too bothered by the camera. And the framing is no easy thing to fix. The metro is full of people, commercials etc. I always concentrated on people's expressions and let the other things just be. I somehow like the faces cut in half etc. The empty areas, well I'll have to think about that.

A friend of mine who also is a very good photographer helped me to choose about 45 pictures from this series that I will go through and try to do nice prints during the holidays. Then I'll show them to a gallery. Let's see how it goes!

JerryWo
12-12-2011, 02:12 PM
Man, I love the shot of the two guys sharing music player earbuds!

Gotta be a caption for that somewhere.

markbarendt
12-12-2011, 04:35 PM
Otherwise people would be too bothered by the camera. And the framing is no easy thing to fix. The metro is full of people, commercials etc. I always concentrated on people's expressions and let the other things just be. I somehow like the faces cut in half etc. The empty areas, well I'll have to think about that.

Eric, you need to answer these questions for yourself.

Which people would be bothered, them or you?

Does your audience care if taking the shot bothers either the subject or you?

As to the framing, if you get the camera up that problem is much easier to solve.

h.v.
12-12-2011, 06:13 PM
I actually liked the lower point of view as it offered something different and unique. It's so common to do the same old eye level, or sometimes overhead look, but the lower point of view, from below, is much more rare.

Erik Petersson
12-13-2011, 01:33 AM
Mark, the photos have succeeded because I go unnoticed or in other cases confuse people. "What does he do with that camera in his lap?" As Walker Evans noticed in his book "Many are called", people tend to relax their faces in the metro, to act as if no-one was watching. This is very interesting and this is why I do not want to bother them too much.

Thanks h.v. I think the low viewpoint is hard to do well, this was how it turned out and I am actually satisfied with many of the pictures. Satisfied enough to show them!

lesm
12-13-2011, 02:31 AM
It's a great collection of shots, Erik and you're to be congratulated on an exciting project. My only concern would be that the very nature of a "captive audience" like this, all crammed into a carriage, can lend a certain sameness to the shots. For my money, it's all a bit static, not much happening. That has its own validity, of course - people don't tend to do cartwheels in a railway carriage - but for your exhibition/book you might want to maybe expand the theme a little to include, say, the activity on the platforms, with people struggling with luggage etc. You might also consider using several shots in a collage format. Great that you're considering an exhibition in Stockholm, but how about approaching the station authorities in Moscow or Kiev and setting up an exhibition inside the stations? That would really be a sharing with the people.

My two cents, for what it's worth. Keep on! Show us more!

Erik Petersson
12-14-2011, 02:17 AM
Hi lesm, and thanks!

I have a few photos from the platforms as well that I might include. But to me the story is not the metro system, it is the faces, the people. this will of course be a bit static.

It will be a big step for me to have an exhibition at all. I'll start with that and see how it goes. Then I'll think of next thing!

more pictures? They're all here: erikpetersson.livejournal.com
/Erik