Early spring street photography in Helsinki

Oh yes, it’s spring finally and photographer’s best friend — the sun — is back among us. The past winter was really tough in every possible way. The darkness really got under my skin too, because I had so much shooting enthusiasm left over from last year. Last summer went way too fast and I’ve been struggling to get past over the winter. During the past few weeks there has been some really pretty natural light available. I’ve especially been enjoying the setting suns of the short early spring days.

I haven’t made a picture post in ages, since my keeper rate has been really low. But now that the conditions are starting to favour street photographers, I’ve managed to gather a small body of work, containing some photographs I’m actually quite pleased with.

Gears of choice

I’ve been mostly shooting in Helsinki (one shot is from Tampere) with a bunch of different cameras. I’ve used my new Olympus OM-2n a lot. After a while I returned to OM-1 too. I’m having a hard time deciding which one I like more. They are both such amazing little cameras. I’ve been shooting a lot of course with my Leica. As I mentioned in a previous post, I switched from Leica M4-2 to M6 some time ago. I’ve only put four rolls though the M6 so far but I managed to shoot a huge amount of film with the M4-2 during the winter.

Oh right, I’ve been also shooting some medium format films with a Rolleicord, that I’m borrowing. I’m still a 35mm guy, but sometimes medium format feels very refreshing.

As for the films, I can’t remember which images were shot on which films, because I’ve been actually testing a plethora of different films during the past months.

Still going mostly full manuél with Sunny 16

This seems like such a precious time of the year. If it happens to be a sunny day, the sun sets rather early, which means there’s beautiful long shadows and hard contrasts. High contrast scenes has been pretty challenging from time to time, but I’ve been able to pull of pretty accurate exposures most of the time. When I miscalculate, I always tend to underexpose, because I’m so optimistic about the amount of light. Or then I try to hold on to fast shutter speeds too tight and refuse to admit I’d need a slower shutter speed. All in all the intuitive manual exposures seem to work out pretty fluently and most of the time I don’t have to stop to think about the settings. I think it’s pretty good progress considering that I started sunny sixteening last summer. Back then it seemed like a hard core skill, but now I can say from experience, that an accurate skill can be acquired in less than one year. Or it depends… in a way I felt I got the hang of it really fast, but now I can say it feels like second nature already.

But okay, before I babble more randomly about everything, lemme shot you a random collection of the works I’ve gathered trough-out the spring.

Shot with Leica M4-2. Not the most springy light, but one of my favourite images from 2018 so far. I didn’t have any kind of light meter with me and I feel like this is as manual as I can get. Totally shot from the hip with zone focusing, while managing to capture some really nice gestures and emotions.
Leica M6 with Kodak T-max 400.
Oh yes, the long shadows and an early sunset. Olympus OM-2n.
This is a good example of the high contrast light I’ve been encountering lately. Really hard to compose and expose correctly.
Looks sunny, but it was actually one of the coldest days of the entire winter. Beautiful light none the less.
Long shadows part II.
Attempts at 6×6 medium format. Shot with Rolleicord.
Another attempt at medium format. Shot with Rolleicord. If memory serves, this is shot on JCH Street Pan 400.
Sunset though a dirty window. Nice abstraction and contrast.
Super smooth light from the setting sun.
I wish I could’ve done better job with the composition, by getting closer, but dang the backlight created a nice atmosphere.
Dirty windows can create some really nice, rough and grungy abstractions.
From Tampere railway station with Leica M6 and T-max 400 pushed to 800. I’m really pleased with this image. I managed to frame and focus the shots in an instant. The man is watching the approaching train, which entered the frame one or two seconds after I made the shot. I’m extremely happy that managed to react fast enough and didn’t back off. I only got one frame. While I was winding the film in order to take a second frame, the entire situation had already changed, as the train blocked the light and the subject was now entering the train, facing away from me.
Cobble stone streets in Helsinki during the sunset. I shot this on Bergger Panchro, which I developed in Rodinal. Rodinal pretty much ruined the image, as it rendered a horrible looking grain. Luckily there’s rough textures in the image and the film grain blends in. Otherwise a nice, moody image.
Long shadows part 3.
Not the best composition or light, but I’m happy with this image for two reasons: I managed to catch a nice body gesture and I was able to sneak up pretty close without looking like a total weirdo. The subject is actually facing away from me as a reaction from noticing me, but I tried my best to look like I was taking a photo of the shop, not him specifically and I think I didn’t manage to cause much discomfort with my camera. Notice that I composed myself parallel to the door frame, thus not appearing in the image as a window reflection.

 

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