Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Week 3: Black & White Mall Photography

Back to the Mall, again in the late afternoon.
The sun is lower in the sky with that intense bright light casting long dark shadows.

Time to play with shadow, light and people.

As people emerged from shadows into the bright sun, they would squint till their eyes adjusted. 

This grandmother pushing the stroller is an okay snapshot, but not an attractive photo. It does display the dynamic range from white to black and the many tones in-between.

Tried shooting across the walkway as people walked into the sun. 
Again okay, but not what I was looking for.

Went home empty handed, frustrated.


Return on a Saturday afternoon, more people, more action. 
Capture the following shots that I feel much better about.

Maybe he is a war hero or was it an industrial accident? 
Polo has a cool style, right amount of bling, dressed for a 98 degree day. People were hugging the cooler shadows. This is an open air mall, where only the store interiors are air conditioned. 

I am not asking people's permission to take their photo.  
Many are not aware I am even taking photos, though some are. They are all busy with their own lives, rushing to reach the next air conditioned store, ignoring the crazy guy in the sun with a camera.

Am learning to set the right exposure and distance before lifting the camera to snap the photos. Street photography is seeing, even foreseeing an event before it happens. One has the camera ready, shoot fast before the moment passes.

This Saturday there was a lot of shopping being done. Is the economy as bad as what the news reports?
This is a Premium Outlet Mall with many local shoppers but they also come here from outside the US. 
One hears many different languages being spoken.

I went inside to escape the heat, not to eat. 
Who goes to a kitchen with hot ovens to escape the heat?

In the food court, Ryan serves a customer their slice of pizza. 

The sun was blistering hot... 
The bright sun with the deep dark shadows was a challenge in finding the right camera settings.
One guesses the best they can, grab the shot before the people move on. On days like this, no one is leisurely lounging around. They are all moving quickly from one spot to another looking for cool.

More shopping bags, waiting to be carted home. 
Inanimate objects are the only shots I can slow down, take some time with. 
Making sure the exposure is correct before taking the shot. 

After walking around for an hour, decided to just sit in one spot and watch.
This young man was bored following his mother around, 
so he decided to start holding the door open for customers.

There is a challenge is finding the right camera setting for capturing both light and dark complected peopled without over exposing or under exposing the skin while working under a bright sun. In a studio setting one can adjust the lighting to compensate, but street photography is an uncontrolled environment. 

The busy B&W pattern in her blouse contrasted nicely with the sparse display window. 

Have heard that in desert climes one stays cooler when completely covered, no exposed skin.  
Temperature was 98 today, few clouds, bright sun.

This lady looks suffocatingly hot to me, but then I have never tried covering all. 

Maybe white robes would be cooler?

Is case you are wondering, in all the street photos of people I have taken, no one has questioned me, told me to stop or gotten mad at me. One can usually tell if a person does not want their photo taken by their expression. If I get a negative vibe, I just move on to the next subject that catches my eye.

In the photo above, you might wonder why she would allow me to take her photo. In this situation, when I see someone I want to photograph walking my way, I raise the camera as if focusing on the building in front of me. Then I wait for the subject to walk into the frame before snapping the shot. Sometimes the person sees me and detours around. If that happens, the opportunity is gone. I never try to chase them. 

Some who see me, will stop so as to not be in front of whatever I am taking a photo of.
But most others keep to their original trajectory,  ignoring me. That's what I want.

Am gaining confidence with the camera, finding the proper settings for snap street photography.

Am heading to New Mexico then Colorado for the national sidecar rally.  

More sidecar photos to come. Maybe even in color...

Stay safe, ride far my friends,



  1. Good luck trying to capture people's black and white photography. Not as easy as it sounds.

    1. Kolfa, you are very right! Capturing street portraits or casual street activities is very challenging, requiring the learning of new techniques and approaches. Flowers and landscapes don't turn the other way when you raise the camera like people do. What techniques have given you the best results?

    2. I try to avoid black and white photography, too complicated for me. I also don't like to photograph people, prefer to photograph skylines at night. The only handful black and white pictures I have, were initially taken in color but once I realize they didn't look the way I like, I convert them to black and white.

  2. While photographing inanimate objects or scenes is more relaxing, less stress for sure, photographing strangers is a challenge that both stresses the photographer as well as the subject. What can happen once you raise the camera to the eye, is a big unknown. Can be positive or can be a stressful confrontation.

    In all my photography I have always stressed composition as the ultimate deciding factor as to what makes a great image. With street portraits you do not have the luxury of composition as everything is moving very quickly in different directions, totally outside your control. Then the subject and the action become more important.

    Am finding not easy to let go of composition being King.


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