As I’m writing this, President Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin are meeting in Helsinki. This big event of course drove people to streets as well. I attended one of these big rallies yesterday, the day before the actual summit, in Helsinki on July 16th 2018. The protest was organised by Amnesty and at least few thousand people gathered on the streets of Helsinki.

Politics aside, I was very interested in documenting the event on film. I had couple of rolls of Kodak Tri-x kicking around, which became my film of choice. I shot mostly with my new Olympus OM-4 with 50mm f1.4 lens.

My plan was mainly to document and I wasn’t too sure how all this would look on film, stylistically speaking. I was hopeful, of course, to capture at least few somewhat artistic photos too. Realistically speaking though, I mostly expected to get pretty generic demonstration photos. I wasn’t trigger happy at all (even though full of inspiration), and I got really picky with my shots. On crowded events like these, it may seem like there’s a ton to shoot, but actually good subjects and compositions are really hard to find. Bearing that in mind, I mostly strolled around and really just tried to pick few good shots, that would justify shooting on film. I was worried that I wouldn’t get anything fancier than any of the thousands of iPhone shots that people no-doubt shot. To some extent, I think I succeeded in my goal. About 50% of the shots were pretty generic that could have been shot by anyone, but in addition to them, there were some fancy-schmancy keepers as well.

Generic demonstration shot #1 — I shot some amount of photos like these, that weren’t intended to have an artistic approach. This could have been shot by anyone and the main reason for shots like these were to just make documents. Not a bad photo, but not anything special either.
This photograph on the other hand has a stronger focus in actually trying to make a good (and non-generic) photograph. It is basically the same scene as the photo above, but with more selective framing, composition and exposure in mind. Notice just how nice background separation can be achieved with shooting a backlit subject, who is placed on the shadows. The important thing for an exposure like this, is to take a very selective metering straight from the subject. Don’t trust a center weighted light meter on compositions like these. It’ll get fooled by the back light. Take a spot metering straight from the subject. On this instance, I metered from the side of the horse. The settings were (if memory serves) 1/125, f4 and ISO 400, even tough it was a VERY bright day. It’s basically a standard sunny 16 setting for an open shade situation and then compensated couple of stops more for the dark subject.
Continuing with the backlit subjects. I’m really digging the composition and narrative of this image as well.
Normally I wouldn’t choose romanian beggars as a subject. I went through that phase already and kinda felt bad about it back in the day. How ever, I found it interesting that out of the many thousand attendees of an Amnesty organised protest, very few seemed to show their support for the beggars. This photo is a bit of an off-topic, but it happened none the less, and I went to photograph the affairs that actually took place.
A rather generic close-up of the protestors.
This photo is basically the only one I was honestly quite pleased with. Somehow the film look seems to fit this image quite well. Notice that this is shot, yet again, on a backlit subject. I’m clearly starting to develop a bit of a mannerism with the technique, but it is such a good way of 1) creating clear composition via strong background separation and 2) dealing with the contrast on too bright day. Again, shooting something like this, relying on a center weighted light meter would render a silhouette as fuck, but a bit of know-how on selective manual metering, you can turn a strong back light your new best friend.

That’s all for now. I have actually some photos still to develop, which means I may and up writing a part deux of this post.