Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2000/05/01

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Subject: RE: [Leica] Human Traffic: tools and technique
From: "Dan Honemann" <>
Date: Mon, 1 May 2000 09:17:15 -0400


As a newcomer to SP, I've been reading these posts on tools and techniques
with great interest.  Do you mind if I ask a few more questions?  I realize
some of these are very basic, but I'm just starting out and so curious about
everything.  I'm posting this to the list as others may be interested in
your responses, and may want to contribute some of their own.  These
questions apply specifically to your Human Traffic series.

1) You've answered my question about lenses below (sounds like you use a 28
and a 50).  Do you ever use a 35?  Which 28 do you use?  Which 50?

2) Do you use any filters?

3) What film do you use?

4) Do you do you own processing?  If so, what developer do you use, etc.?

5) What scanner/software do you use to digitize the images?

6) You've discussed your shooting style below, but I have a couple more
(very specific) questions that I'm curious about.  Do you find that you
focus first, then set the exposure, the other way around, or no special
order?  Do you bother much with the onboard meter, or rely on your incident
readings from the handheld and just pretty much leave the exposure settings
alone until the light changes?

Thanks in advance for sharing any of this information; it's a great help to


> -----Original Message-----
> From:
> []On Behalf Of Johnny
> Deadman
> Sent: Sunday, April 30, 2000 4:00 AM
> To: LUG
> Subject: Re: [Leica] Human Traffic in Canada
> on 30/4/00 1:16 AM, Hugh Thompson at wrote:
> > I am waiting Johnny's comments on anticipation, that is the key
> in my view -
> > see it, shoot it, move on!
> Sorry for not picking up on this earlier, Hugh.
> I will stick around and shoot several frames if I have not been spotted or
> if I have been spotted and no-one seems to care. There is nothing more
> gut-churning than seeing an 'almost' frame in the negatives that
> you know in
> your heart you could have worked on.  More often than not, however, it is
> the first frame that works. Second most common, it is the last frame.
> Sometimes you can shoot almost a whole roll and no-one blinks an eye.
> Usually however as soon as I make eye contact I smile and move on.
> I move pretty slowly along the street, maybe 1-2 mph, just cruising. I
> reckon I cover about 10 miles a day. I have a few favourite street corners
> where I will dilly dally for a while, often criscrossing the road. This is
> where I find most of my couples, at certain times of day.
> Hugh raised the key point of 'anticipation' and IMHO this is something you
> learn from a particular street. I can often spot a potential subject a
> hundred yards away now just from a pose or the way the crowd is
> moving just
> there. For example, yesterday I spotted a funny movement in the crowd, and
> when I moved towards it I found a half naked man upside down with his head
> in a bucket outside a fancy department store. That was half a roll.
> However, just as often, I only spot the subject a split second before the
> shutter fires. In these circumstances everything happens so fast that the
> person who has been photographed may see the camera go to the eye but
> doesn't actually register the fact they've been immortalised.
> My analogy is with jazz here... in jazz you should always know
> what the next
> note you're going to play is, even if you only know a hundredth
> of a second
> before you play it.
> I initially found it very difficult to react to things that fast
> and missed
> a lot of shots. My initial solution was to hip/chest shoot, but that was
> wrong (I do it one or two frames a roll nowadays). Subsequently I went the
> zone focussing route with the camera strapped to the hand. If
> you're really
> alert this gets your reaction times down to less than a second, and still
> lets you compose. But I found that I needed a shutter speed of at least
> 1/250 to get sharp pictures, which often meant I was working at
> apertures of
> f/4 or wider. I got pretty good at judging 7 feet, which is my working
> distance, but ultimately this led to actually focussing with any
> lens longer
> than 28. Certainly the 50.
> This allows even wider apertures which lets you slice through a crowd.
> I've really learned to trust my guts about people's behavior.
> Sometimes you
> just get a sense that a particular person is going to do something. I will
> stick around on the basis of that feeling, and about 50% of the
> time it pays
> off. For example I was sitting in a coffee shop window yesterday and there
> was a couple sitting the other side of the window on the terrace.
> I just had
> a feeling about them, and prefocused both cameras (28 and 50).
> Sure enough,
> a 'scene' began to develop which ended with them standing up and going in
> different directions... very sad and intense. Who knows if I got
> it, but if
> I didn't it was my own fault.
> One thing I have really learned is that, for me, the good
> pictures come out
> of my own emotional responses to people within the crowd. When I
> trust that,
> I seem to get better pictures. On those days when I walk through the crowd
> and feel no flickers of contact or recognition, it's tough and
> unrewarding.
> --
> Johnny Deadman
> photos:
> music: