one of the Curators of the Lighthouse Gallery
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Steve is a recent convert to dA and has impressed us with his quirky and gentle humour.
He is from Dunedin, New Zealand, of Belgian heritage, though we claim him as our own
Today Steve discusses this wonderful image:
The photograph was taken a week before Valentine’s day in the Meridian, a shopping mall in the city centre of Dunedin, New Zealand. It’s already quite rare to see nuns walking around in Dunedin, let alone see them in a mall entering a jeweller. The reason why I thought this scene was worth photographing is not only because of the rarity of that particular moment, but because it totally contradicts my (and probably also other people’s) perception of what nuns are supposed to do or even how they are supposed to behave in the community. That contradiction is rather ambiguous and for both the photographer and viewers also very subjective. Let me explain…
First of all, everybody knows diamonds/jewels are extremely expensive and have a certain wealth status. Religious people, in this particular photograph the two nuns, aren’t really supposed to focus on, or at least be interested in, wealth. So what were they doing at the jewellers then? Why did they enter the jeweller? Were they looking to buy something for themselves? Or was it meant to be a gift for someone else? Who knows. If the latter is the case, and this is the second contradiction, could it possibly be for their lovers because the scene suggests the nuns were on a hunt for a Valentine’s gift? But aren’t religious people supposed to lead a celibate life? It raises lots of questions…
As a street photographer, you often encounter interesting situations you take pictures of. We are obviously all familiar with that. In many cases the picture shows the viewer exactly what went on at that particular moment and the viewer receives and understands the information instantly. There’s is no doubt that what you see in the photograph is exactly what is going on and there is no way to interpret it in any other way than what you see in the picture. But in other situations, a photograph contains none of that specific information and it gives the viewer the opportunity to make up a story around what is being shown. Without being informed properly about the true content of a particular situation, very often there’s not only one possible story to come up with, but millions of other ways to look at the same photograph. Isn’t that the beauty of street photography?
I shoot everything in colour. You never know when situations pop up where colour can add to the photograph, but convert the picture afterwards to black and white with Nik Silver Efex, a software plugin integrated into Adobe Photoshop. For certain photographs, black and white toning shows you the essence and distracts less. It’s a habit to take a camera with me at all times, even during my working hours. If you don’t, you might miss that one shot and as we all know it’s a pain in the ass to live with the fact you could not take a photograph because you didn’t carry a camera with you at that particular moment. I like to be ready at all times and am always on the lookout for surprising and weird situations to take pictures of. This said, the amount of missed moments is still quite high. Way too high for my liking…
The picture was taken with a Fuji X100, a compact digital camera with a semi-rangefinder feel. I like the fact that you can look through the optical viewfinder with your right eye, see the scene you want to photograph through it just like it is and still have your left eye available to have a look what is going on outside the frame. It’s beyond amazing to shoot street with this camera, even though there are a few disadvantages (slow start-up time, slowish autofocus), but there are ways to get around these negatives for example shooting manual. Besides the fact the camera is compact and therefore non-obtrusive, another big plus is the lens the X100 comes with, a non-interchangeable 23mm lens equivalent to 35mm full frame. As it is a prime lens, there’s no zoom. You have to zoom with your feet. This requires you to get up close and personal and make you think a lot more how to compose a particular shot. I would definitely recommend shooting with prime lenses to anyone else involved in street photography.