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Candid

Candid styles of photography are increasingly becoming popular both in general day to day photography but also in formal photographic situations.
Below are a number of tips to help photographers improve their ‘candid’ photography. Please note that these tips are not about taking sneaky, voyeuristic or true paparazzi shots (ie photographing people without their permission) but rather about how to add a more candid feel to the shots you take of people that you know.

Take Your Camera Everywhere
Probably the best way to take spontaneous photographs is to always be ready to do so. As I have my iPhone with me all the time then this is what I prefer to use for speed and the sheer fact that I can whip out at a moments notice to capture the many opportunities for a good photo that life presents us with. Taking your camera or phone with you everywhere also helps people to be more at ease with you taking their photo. I find that my friends and family just expect me to have my iPhone out so when I do fire it up it’s not a signal to them to pose but it’s a normal part of our interaction this means that they are relaxed and the photos are natural.

Zooming In
Obviously the further you are away from your subject the less likely they will be to know that you’re photographing them and the more natural and relaxed they’ll act. Using a telephoto lens or long zoom on your camera helps and also zooming in on your iPhone enables you to shoot from outside their personal space but keep the feeling of intimacy in the shot you’re taking.

Kill The Flash
Perhaps the most obvious way that you can signal to another person that you’re photographing them is to use a flash. There’s nothing like a blinding flash of light in the eyes to kill a moment. If possible (and it’s not always) attempt to photograph without the flash if you’re aiming for candid shots.

Shoot Lots
Shoot multiple images quickly of a person you can sometimes get some surprising and spontaneous shots that you’d have never gotten if you shot just one. Switch your camera to continuous shooting mode and shoot in bursts of images and in doing so you’ll increase your chances of that perfect shot, you can get some great applications on the app store for burst shooting or just can simple take lots of photos and if you use your iCloud account then you will have all your work stored safely for sorting the good and the bad out later, just snap away.

Position Yourself
While Candid Photography is about capturing the spontaneity of a moment and getting that perfect shot at the right split second of time I find that if you think ahead and anticipate what is about to unfold in front of you that you can greatly increase the chances of getting some great shots.
Which way will people be facing? What will they be doing? What will the light be like? Thinking through these issues will save you having to run around repositioning yourself when you should be shooting images it will also mean you take a whole heap less shots of the back of people’s heads!
But sometimes the back of the head is good as your see in this photo.

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People Doing Something
Images of people doing things tend to be much more interesting than people sitting passively doing nothing. For one your subject will be focussed upon something which adds energy to a photo (and takes their focus off you) but it also puts them in context and adds an element of story to your image. Timing is everything in Candid shots so wait until they are distracted from you and fully focussed upon what they are doing or who they are with and you’ll inject a feeling into your shots of them being unaware and that the viewer of your image is looking on unseen.

From The Hip
If your subject is aware that you are there and that you have your camera out they might tense up or act a little unnaturally as they see you raising your camera to the eye. The beauty of digital cameras is that it does not cost you anything to take lots of shots and it can be well worth shooting without raising your camera.

Perspective
The other beauty of shooting from the hip is that it gives you a slightly different perspective to take the shot from (ie shooting from 3 feet height instead of 6). This adds to the candid nature of the shots. In fact sometimes it’s the slightly crooked, slightly out of focus or poorly composed shots taken from this type of angle that ends up looking the best because they come across as quite random. Of course you can add all these new perspectives to your shots without shooting from the hip. Crouch down, get up high, frame your shots on an angle, zoom in close and then quickly zoom out to a wide angle, break the rules of composition etc and you will add a new perspective to your shots that can mean they look fresh and surprising.

With this shot I have my subject in the distance and my foreground at eye level making this shot feel very unnatural for most to look at by a real talking point.
With all the above to help you out, your candid shots can be more than just a photograph but more of a story.

Work In Progress

I have been out and about from location to location using my iPhone and Hipstamatic along with Instagram and slowly working on my still life and landscape photography skills, sometimes seeing what happens and other times planning a shot.
So far all is looking good and I think next month some happy accents might come to light and produce some nice results.

Instagram Vs Hipstamic

When it comes to iPhoneography, the vintage look seems to be the fad that is not going away. Everybody is obsessed with having their iPhone photos look like old school photos from the sixties and seventies. There are a lot of applications out there that will apply filters to your shots, but there are two clear front runners when it comes to the vintage look Hipstamatic and Instagram. So which is better? The truth is these applications have quite different focusses, with a small overlap.
Hipstamatic has been around since 2009 and is extremely an extremely popular app Apple even named it app of the year for 2010. Hipstamatic is a camera application in the most traditional sense possible, when you launch the application the interface emulates a camera the creators of Hipstamatic claim it was inspired by an actual plastic camera with changeable lenses, but this may have in fact been clever marketing and completely made up.

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With Hipstamatic you cannot edit photos that were not taken using the app while some find this to be a limiting feature, I think part of the charm of the app is the integrity with which they stick to the camera metaphor. Because of the strict metaphor you take your shot and you get a result your choices are made prior to shooting, there is no post production to be done and the results are often great.
What really sets Hipstamatic apart from the myriads of lesser vintage look apps is the quality of the filters. The app has several ‘lenses’ available, each one giving a different vintage look, with some ‘films’ and ‘flashes’ also available to tweak the effects. You can see a comparison chart of all the combinations here.
I have yet to find an application with a better set of filters than Hipstamatic, and although I have a fair few photography applications at this stage, Hipstamatic remains an application I return to frequently. Hipstamatic costs £1.28 and comes with 3 lenses, 2 films and 3 flashes. You can buy more “Hipstapacks” from £0.69
You can also order great quality prints from within the app, and share your prints to FaceBook, Flickr or Tumblr.
The application is beautifully designed, but does take a little bit of getting used to and because there are plenty of features accessed through the visual metaphor of a vintage camera it can be a little fiddly to use just like the real deal. I love to use this application in a random mode so I never quite know what type of images I am going to get until I see them in my photo stream or camera role. It is so nice to just shake the iPhone to get a random, film, flash or lens.

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Instagram is a newer app, launched in October of 2010, but by December they already had over a million registered users.
Although Instagram allows you to take pictures, and apply vintage effects, if you visit the Instagram site you will see their tagline is “Fast beautiful photo sharing for your iPhone”. Instagram is primarily an application to integrate your photos with your social media presence.
Instagram is a community and photo sharing space in its own right, but currently they do not have a web profile for users your photos are viewed and accessed via the Instagram app by other iPhone users. It does look like web profiles are being developed, but the main feature of the application is that it is super easy to share photos to Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, Posterous, FaceBook and Foursquare.
The interface is clear and really easy to use, feels very zippy and is generally a pleasure to interact with.
Instagram allows you to find people to follow by looking through your friends on FaceBook or Twitter so you can very quickly have a stream of your friends photos to peruse, like and comment on.
The filters that come with Instagram are almost all vintage photo type filters, some of which are nice enough, but not nearly close to the same quality as Hipstamatic.
One thing to be aware of is that Instagram creates images that are 612pixels by 612pixels. You can pull higher res images from your camera roll into Instagram to share, but they will be converted to 612×612.
If you are using Instagram as a camera it is possible to choose to have the app save the original photo (as it would look if taken with the default camera app) as well as the Instagram 612×612 version but the photos shared via Instagram will always by 612×612.
612×612 is fine for fast sharing on the web, which is what Instagram is focussed on, but would not be great for printing. To give you a comparison Hipstamatic shots are 1536×1536.
Of course, the other big feature Instagram has on its side is that it is free.
If you are into photography on the iPhone you will want to own Hipstamatic, it gives you dependable results with a vintage feel at print quality.
Instagram is really more about social media and interaction, it gives you the ability to quickly share a moment with your online friends, but the image is screen quality only.
So there is no real verses between the two applications as in the right frame they compliment each other and I use both to get the right shot.