Tokyo: Street Portraits

Candid street portraits are one thing – asking to take a picture is another.  And there’s no harm in asking, especially if the subject is willing or doing something to attract attention.

The Noodle King
The Noodle King.  Shinjuku, Tokyo

Or if you’ve just had the third consecutive lunch in his restaurant.  The Shinjuku district of Tokyo is coming down with cafes and restaurants – many at inflated tourist prices.  There are however plenty of cheap noodle bars – often without any English menus or signage.  This particular place had a vending machine to select from a picture which then printed out a ticket.  You give the ticket to the guy in the photo and he’s cooks up some noodles.  No need to speak – just some positive body language, a smile and a thumbs-up.  After the third day, I asked to take the photo.  He obliged.

Free Gag.  Gag is innocent
Free Gag.  Gag is innocent

Then there are those who are on public display.  The guy above hangs around Shibuya station with his signs.  Other than that I’ve no idea what he’s about, but he likes his photo taken.

The girl below was intent on selling me a t shirt.  I resisted.  I’m a bit old for Mickey Mouse which she seemed to eventually agree.

acros_tokyo_shibuya_seller
she sells T shirts by Shibuya

All above shot on the Nikon F60 and Fuji Acros 100.  Having an old film camera also seems to help with street portraits

Contains Flash Photography

Every so often it’s good to do a studio shoot using a few flash heads.  I’ve nothing grand – a cobbled collection of eBay-sourced Interfit units with cheap backdrops and stands. It’s a basic setup with a soft-box facing the sitter and two units at 45 degrees on to the white cloth, then using a black backdrop with a soft-box and brolly two-light arrangement.

Lighting setup
the budget setup..

To make things interesting, the session with my good friend and singer/songwriter/guitarist Thomas, was to be captured on full-frame digital ( Canon 6D) and on 35mm black and white film (Kentmere 100) using mid 70’s basic manual camera, the Ricoh KR-5.  Without a flash meter, the plan was to get a setting on the 6D that looked ok, then set something similar on the Ricoh.  So 1/125 at f8 – then play about with the lights.

First up – some low key against the black backdrop,

IMG_8634
softbox, brolly fill and 85mm lens
IMG_8614
single light with soft-box

Then a white backdrop with the softbox straight on.

IMG_8562mono
key – no guitar
IMG_8576b
and with guitar

Next up was a repeat of this lighting with the Ricoh. It’s a very basic but solidly built mechanical SLR. And it did ok

Thomas
tones ok  – but scanning a bit off round the face
Thomas
look forward to the darkroom print…
Thomas
getting there…
Thomas
35mm close up glory

As is often the case, scanning a low key image is a bit tricky  – the real test will be darkroom print – but the high keys portraits on the Ricoh were near the mark with the full frame Canon digital.

So a quick photo shoot to compare digital and 35mm black and white film.  Next will be to compare negative scanning with a darkroom print scan as well as an indepth look at using the Ricoh.