12 Feb 2013

Street photography with a telephoto lens

I only have one prime lens, the Olympus M. Zuiko 45mm, a medium telephoto, mostly used for portraits due to its focal length and beautiful bokeh. I have been using it mostly in the evenings and in low light conditions, as it's the fastest of my 2 lenses, but I didn't use it in bright daylight yet, so today I decided to change my routine and do some street exploring with it as my only lens, under the harsh afternoon light. I took the bus, and went downtown for the challenge.

Departure, GH3 + Olympus M. Zuiko 45mm

I was used to see the city through the wider Lumix G Vario 12-35mm, so it took me a while to adjust to the narrower field of view. At the beginning, I tried to step back to catch more scene in frame, but this was not a very successful method, as I was walking one of my favorite and regular spots, the canal (in a neighborhood I had never visited before), and this meant quite narrow walkways and limited space to move around.

Vertical painter, GH3 + Olympus M. Zuiko 45mm

Therefore, I decided to concentrate on smaller scale subjects, focusing my view on details or reduced subjects, rather than trying to shoot broader architecture that I just couldn't catch. Occasionally, however,  I wanted to shoot one of Bangkok's usual high buildings, and due to the impossibility of fitting it all in frame, I had to take advantage of reflections to achieve what I wanted.

Fallen leaves, GH3 + Olympus M. Zuiko 45mm

Big and small, modern and traditional, Asian and Western, those are the 2 opposite words in which Bangkok lives; at times fast and noisy, at times slow and silent, you cannot walk a few meters without encountering samples of one and the other, sometimes side by side, as there are no boundaries or delimitations in this city: all coexists and shares the same spaces, contradictions walk hand in hand, impossible matches happen.

Golden shrine, GH3 + Olympus M. Zuiko 45mm

One of the predominant colors in Thailand is gold: you will see it in shrines, roof tiles, lanterns, clothes... However, another color that rivals it is red: tropical weather is terribly humid, and all metal surfaces tend to rust over time, specially those that remain outdoors. No matter what is the object and its original color, they will gradually turn maroon under the fiery monsoon rains.

Mimesis, GH3 + Olympus M. Zuiko 45mm

Out of business, GH3 + Olympus M. Zuiko 45mm

Wherever abandonment establishes its campsite, rust will be one of the usual denizens, spreading its tint all around; but it never comes along, for it has a loyal companion that accompanies him most of the times, traveling anywhere he goes, shadow and friend: garbage.

Overflow, GH3 + Olympus M. Zuiko 45mm

Bangkok is a fascinating city, full of charms, but it's also overpopulated by litter. No matter what part of the city, uptown or in the suburbs, it's never difficult to find deserted spots full of debris, ruined buildings brimming with residues, streams of water infected by waste. Sometimes they are only a handful of meters away from luxurious hotels or expensive shopping centers. There is no discrimination here: rubbish reaches everywhere.

The king of the dump, GH3 + Olympus M. Zuiko 45mm

But, in all honesty, nothing is a waste here, as there is always someone (be it animals, or people) that will take advantage of rubbish and survive on it. The waste of some is the supply for others. That's the way this city, this world works. But there is something else that shocks me the most here: it's not only about survival, as there will always be someone who will find such an environment the perfect place to just sit down, enjoy, and rest.

Home, GH3 + Olympus M. Zuiko 45mm

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