#1318. Pushing Boundaries Parr Punchy And TTArtisans

By Ian Varkevisser | Art & Creativity

Oct 26
Disclaimer : Right up front for those concerned there is no expectation of privacy in public in the Far South. Street photography is legal and not a crime.

I was recently gifted a TTArtisans 23mm F/1.4 for a special occasion by the family. This lens harks back to days gone by and can be described as a vintage style lens. It is not the sharpest lens in the box , especially on the fringes when wide open. It also suffers from some vignetting and is a manual prime lens.

I have an interest in E-Film ( as I call it ) which is shooting jpeg in camera. In the recesses of my mind I recalled a camera preset on Kevin Mullins web page called Parr Punchy.

Martin Parr is perhaps one the UKs most known photographers and is known primarily for his punchy, high contrast colour photographs of scenes of everyday life. Whilst conventional street wisdom dictates the use of a 50mm focal length for street photography ( Henri Cartier-Bresson school ) research suggests Parr tends to go a little wider and prefers a 35mm lens. Many of his images seem to be shot in landscape orientation at a 8X10 aspect ratio.

Now it so happens that the TTArtisans focal length equivalent is conveniently 35mm - a little longer than I am used to using on the street - but on par with Parr it seems. The E-Film calls for a setting of ISO160 but with the bright big skies high contrast light in the Far South I decided to go with ISO640. This way I could engage the camera Dynamic Range settings to compensate.  

Armed with the panama hat for protection from the sun , Parr Punchy dialed in, manual focus set to 3 feet (2-6 feet DOF at F/2.8 to F/4.0) and shutter set to electronic ( silent ) off I set to 2 flea markets and the seaside to see what I could hunt. A 5 stop variable ND filter was used to bring the shutter speeds down to typically under 1/1000 of a sec.

All images are single shots and most images are 'shot from the hip'. The 8X10 aspect ratio crop has been used to coincide with Parr's aspect ratio and images are jpeg straight out of camera.

I was engaged by another like minded panama hat wearer who enquired whether I was sneakily taking images of people at the market. While telling him about the art of street photography , and how most people were totally oblivious of having there picture taken at close range, all of which he thoroughly approved of I snapped off a shot of him during the conversation without his knowing. He was kind enough to  point me in the direction of some interesting subjects too.

Gear matters : Fuji X-T30ii, TTArtisans 23mm F/1.4, 1.5 to 5 stop variable ND filter. Vignetting has largely been minimised due to the 8X10 cropping.


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  • pascaljappy says:

    Hi Ian, great post, thank you. Gear question: do you find the variable ND to add a colour cast to your pics or are those problems a thing of the past?

    I find Martin Parr very interesting. I try to photograph whatever feels typical of a place, doors, trees, architecture … and feel that Parr does that with human beings. His images are so iconic, so representative of things and people I witnessed in my youth, in the UK. Your street portraits do give us an intimate peek into the vibe of those markets and those people. Brilliant.

    • Ian Varkevisser says:

      Hi Pascal,

      To be honest I have not really looked into that in fine detail. If the ND does add a colour cast it must be a very small amount otherwise I guess it would have hit me in the face by now. It would be less noticeable when using shooting jpeg using an E-Film as they in any case introduce a specific colour look of their own.

  • Pascal Ravach says:

    I love the look you created… very lively, very « analog » (gulp…), very convincing.
    A post I will come back to often, just as a reminder of « what can be done » with digital today; thanks Ian!

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Ha ha ha – Ian when I saw your first shot, I collapsed laughing! My last Dobe, Cris, died in July and under orders from my doctor (the best one I’ve ever had!), who REALLY cares about his patients, I was told to find myself a miniature dachshund. Who looks and behaves just like that! Don’t think she’s snuck out of the house and shot across to SA & back, while I wasn’t looking, though.

    Not sure how you go about being unnoticed. My modus operandi is to place the camera away from my head – somewhere inobtrusive – and use a flip screen to format my image.

    Best is using a program like Snapbridge – then you can pretend to be on the phone, but actually using the phone to format your image – AND as a remote, to trigger the camera. Doing that, you can get away with blue murder! Why would they be worried? You’re not even looking at the camera. And the phone isn’t pointing at them – you’re just making a phone call, right?

    WORST is what my wife did – in France, where you CAN’T just go round photographing other people without their consent. And straight after I told her not to do anything of the kind, she not only ignored me and did it – but she practically toppled her victim by firing flash in his face! I nearly had a heart attack!

    • Ian Varkevisser says:

      Hi Pete , simply shooting from the hip on silent shutter works for me. Connecting the camera to a remote phone app is too fiddly for street photography. One would likely miss too many shots. I follow the Moscholios anti manual of street photography philosophy (https://www.moscholios.com/) – I recommend a read of it. Shooting level be damned – skew shots , human fragments all acceptable – sharpness is also a bourgeois concept. Once one gets over the phobia those constructs it becomes liberating. I may in future however gravitate away from single shots to drive mode though. You get some you miss some who cares.

  • John Wilson says:

    Ian – late to the party, but better late than never … I think? Nice job of channeling your “Martin Parr”. He’s is big a favourite of mine, though our styles are quite different and the overwhelming majority of my street images are converted to BW. I tend to lean more in the direction of Robert Frank and Fred Herzog.

    As with SA, in Canada there’s no expectation of privacy in a public place. Unfortunately I moved out of the city several years ago; with the increase in population the traffic density has skyrocketed to the point that driving into town, even on a weekend, to do some street photography, is a depressing chore and the LRT is still years away from reaching my neighbourhood. I do miss it.

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