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Posts tagged ‘Canon 5D Mk II’

# 15 PETER KOOL, Stekene (Belgium) Street Photographer

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Leica Liker is honored to have Peter Kool, a Stekene (Belgium) Street Photographer as our #15 guest.

When I first saw Peter’s photographs, I chuckled over their whimsy and often, comical nature. When you look at his images, it’s clear he champions the street photography vernacular of the humorously absurd.

Peter’s surrealistic images make us look at ourselves with a wink of the eye. He has an acute ability to capture life in a split second and simplifying it to a playfully awkward moment. When you study the photos, you see a deceptively simple scene. But it takes a seasoned eye and a wicked sense of humor to be able to dig out these moments.

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What I love most is Peter’s modest approach to life. In his world, there is no such thing as the mundane, boring, or insignificant. In his world, every moment, no matter how miniscule it is, is worth laughing and sharing. “Life is good” in the true meaning of the phrase.

And to top off the delight in life Peter presents us, his name is simply cooler than Kool.

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Here is my interview with PETER KOOL:

Nick Name: I don’t use a nick name.
Currently living in: Stekene in Belgium.
Motto: Respecting, relativizing, enjoying.
Street Photographer since: 1980, with a break between 1990 and 2005

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Profession/Job: Retired steelworker.
Websites: www.peterkool.be and http://www.flickr.com/photos/peter-kool/
Organizations or Group: I am a member of the “EasyFit” gym, if that counts.

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Favorite Street Camera & Lens: Canon 5D Mark II with the 17-40mm zoom.
Back-up Street Camera & Lens: None at the moment, but I will probably purchase the Fuji X-Pro 1 soon.
Favorite photography gadget: That would be the blower. Handy when the chicken soup is too hot.

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Favorite street food: Sometimes I yield to the temptation of a burger with fries.
Do you listen to music while shooting? I only listen to music in my car.
Favorite music when shooting and/or editing Photos: I like silence when editing.
Favorite photo software: Photoshop.

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3 Favorite Master Photographers: Cartier-Bresson, Doisneau, Winogrand, etc.
3 Favorite Contemporary Photographers: Nick Turpin, Nils Jorgensen, Carl de Keyzer, etc.
Which 3 photographers’ prints do you own? I don’t own any prints, but I have several books.

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Color or Black and White? That’s a tough one. Depends on the photo. Sometimes it’s clear which to use, but often I can’t make up my mind. I don’t want to do only Color or only B&W.

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Shoot Film or Digital ?  I prefer digital. I used to develop the films and photos in my darkroom, but that’s a very time-consuming process, not to speak of the retouch afterwards. Maybe negative has more soul, but I think when you work on the contrast, darks and lights you can put soul into digital too.

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If Film, what type of negative? I used to shoot with Kodak Tri-X and Plus-X.

Is there a special time of the day you like to shoot or is any time good? Any time is good, but a low sun is nice.

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How do you define street photography? I think the collective “in-Public” has a good definition. You can read it here. But I don’t think it’s important to discuss whether a photo is street or not.

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Why did you choose Street Photography and not another form of photography or stamp collecting?  Nature made me a father so I started taking pictures of my children. In doing so, I got the bug and went to the art academy where I discovered the street photography of the well known’s, but also other forms of photography. I don’t want to do only street. To make a good portrait for example is also a challenge. Collecting stamps is not very creative, it’s better to use them for love letters.

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What motivates you to photograph the streets? It’s that urge to be creative I think. And in my case it happens to be photography. My only mission is to make an image that the eye likes.

Is Street Photography an obsession? About obsession the dictionary says, “to be pursued by a thought or an idea”. So yes in that case it’s an obsession, I think of it a lot. I don’t think it’s a sick obsession…yet. My wife can still live with it.

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Are you a lone shooter or do you like shooting with friends or a group? I like to hunt alone, it’s better for the concentration.

Are you an invisible photographer or visible? Sometimes I fantasize that I can make myself invisible for the photos that I could make and perhaps steal some money back from the banks… No, I think with a camera one is more visible than without. People are very quick to notice the slightest attention you give them.

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Favorite street photography city: That would be Antwerp, but only because it’s nearby. In the late seventies I was in New York. I would like to go there again in the future. It’s a fantastic city and the people too (most of them).

What inspires your photography? Other photographers and films. The long play Chaplin films for example.

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Is there a philosophy, concept or aesthetic behind your compositions that you apply to your photos? A subtle move, glance or emotion often makes a great photo, but hard to catch. I also look for balance, humor and elegance.

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What do you look for in a good photograph by others?I have seen wonderful photos with lousy compositions, so no rules for me. If the eye likes it, then it’s okay.

How do you go about shooting a street photograph?I wander around and wait for an impulse. Sometimes I have several but it also happens I can’t make a single shot all day. I also look for events that take place.

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Could you please describe the process – what was going on in your mind when you first started to think to take the following two images all the way until you pressed the shutter release? I noticed the man with the black eye and saw the girl crossing the street, I wanted her in the picture too. When I thought it was the right moment I rushed forward to surprise the gentleman to avoid him turning around or cover his face; he gave me a bit of a strawberry with mustard smile.The girl rubbing her eye at that moment was a nice present.

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As opposed to the previous picture, this was an ongoing situation. I just walked in to it. I noticed the two caps and took some time to make the composition. I wanted to hide the reflected guy with the cap behind the bald guy and that was not difficult because he was huge, I was relieved they didn’t hear my Canon go off.

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How would you describe your style? How has your style changed over the years? I don’t know. A little old-schoolish perhaps? If you see change it’s probably the change of time. I don’t think my style has changed. But I try to avoid pigeons now. Hahaha.

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There seems to be a difference between your black and white and color photos. The black and white seems to capture moments that are personal and intimate. The color images seem to include irony, satire. Are you conscious of that difference? If so, why the difference? I always process a color and b&w version of a photo, look at them next to each other and then decide which one to publish. It not only depends on the photo but also the mood I’m in, as I often change my mind. But you’re right about the intimate photos: For instance, I like to shoot black and white for portraits. Color disturbs the expression. Then again I’ve seen beautiful portraits in color too….. it’s complicated.

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How do you choose your shots when you edit? What tells you that the shot is good?
A very good shot you recognize instantly I think. I look at the rest and then look again, delete some and get some back from the bin, look at them again and put them back in the bin and so on.

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Best 3 tips for shooting the streets: Be concentrated and alert. React on your feeling and don’t hang your camera on your shoulder.

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Best single advice on how to improve your work: Use the force.

Best single advice on how to edit your work: That’s pure technical, so that you can learn. I can recommend “RAW” a book by Johan W. Elzenga but I think it’s only published in Dutch. It’s a very small book with only the things you need for improving your photo: that is – working on the lights, darks and contrast with raw files.

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Best single advice for someone who wants to get into street photography: Don’t think the more expensive the camera the better the photos. You can make great chicken soup in a cheap pot.

What’s the best moment in your street photography career? The ride in a New York police car around Manhattan.

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What’s the worst moment in your street photography career? In 1979, I had just started photographing. I went to New York with my wife and children. At the end of 42nd street, gospel singers where doing their thing and just around the corner was a row of shoe polishers. I took a picture and in no time there was a bunch of guys around me asking for money and pulling my camera. Another New Yorker just came standing beside me and they suddenly slunk off. Someone must have called the police, because a few minutes later we were in a police car riding around Manhattan searching for the muggers, having a nice chat with two friendly policemen.

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What projects are you working on? I have no projects, but maybe a good idea to do something on a single theme. I’m thinking about it.

Where do you want to be in 5 years with regard to street photography? Just hope to be healthy enough to keep on doing it.

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Are there exhibitions planned in the future? No exhibitions. I rather spend my money on a journey. To New York for example, and take a look again at 42nd street.

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Leica Liker thanks Peter for sharing his experience and inspirational advice with us. We look forward to checking in on him in the future.

You can check out Peter’s gear in “Liker Bags’n Gear” here.

This is Peter’s self portrait.

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#15 Peter Kool’s Gear

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We are pleased to have Peter Kool, Stekene (Belgium) Street Photographer as our #15 featured street photographer.

You can check out the interview under “Inspiration” here in this blog. This is his bag of goodies!

Kool Gear

In the Bag

Small waist bag

Canon 5D with 17-40 zoom lens

Blower

Lens cloth

Spare battery

Spare memory card

# 9 ED PETERS, New York Street Photographer

Leica Liker is honored to have Ed Peters, a New York Street Photographer as our #9 guest.

I’ve written much about how street photographers try to capture the decisive moment, sympathizing with life of others on the street. This time I would venture to say that we are looking at quite the opposite: we are looking at the emotions of the artist/photographer, Ed Peters, expressed in an artistic way.

Ed is drawn by color. His compositions are impacted by the advertising and commercialism surrounding our environment. His images imply that everything and anything, including a colorful plastic bag, every day objects, can be seen as art. Even pure advertising, whose sole goal is to lure in a customer to spend,  can be seen as art. Something to be celebrated and enjoyed as well as function as a thought provoker.

When you look at Ed’s photos, you can’t help but think: pop, poetic, lyrical. Some of his images are like metaphorical mirrors of our own creation. Others stir something intangible in us. Perhaps it is the juxtaposition of a simple and grounded  life against the complex and superficial quality of our society as demonstrated in billboards, graffiti and advertising.

Ed’s images have one thing in common though, they spark our existential imagination. Opening our minds to new ways to look at our world,  color, and anything else that comes to mind. This phenomenon help add a kind of authenticity to our busy daily lives. What a wonderful gift of a man from Patterson, New York.

Here’s my interview with ED PETERS:

Nick Name: None
Currently living in: a suburb of New York
Motto: None


Street Photographer Since: The 1980’s
Profession/Job: Retired photo journalist.
Websites: http://www.epetphoto.com/
Organizations or groups: http://www.street-photographers.com/


Favorite street camera & lens: Leica M9 with 35mm lens, or Canon 5d Mark II with 24-105mm lens (not usually carried together)

Why do you like the Leica M9? I am not wedded to the Leica, and other cameras intrigue me. When I shot film, I used the Contax G2. I do, however, like the viewfinder of the M9. With it, I can often zone focus, and get the camera to my eye very quickly. The sensor is also good, but you start picking up significant noise when you get past ISO 800. The Canon 5D Mark II is cleaner.

Favorite back up street camera & lens: Canon 5D or Ricoh GR2 (taken only when traveling)


Favorite photography gadget: Plastic freezer bags (purchased in supermarkets). They’re great for organizing everything.
Favorite street food: Nothing special.
Do you listen to music while shooting? Never


Favorite Music When Shooting and/or Editing: My tastes are varied, but unrelated to photography.
Favorite photo software: Lightroom. When I first began working with digital images I used Photoshop. A few years ago I purchased Lightroom, and can’t remember the last time I used Photoshop. I just upgraded to Lightoom 4.

3 Favorite Master Photographers: I couldn’t pick only three.
3 Favorite Contemporary Photographers: I have to give the same answer, but would like to elaborate on both questions. It’s possible to “name names”, and round up the” usual suspects”, but I think it’s important for photographers to see their work as part of a broader visual tradition.

All too often, photographers mention a handful of well known photographers that they admire. I too have been influenced by many of the same people, but I’ve also been influenced by the work of other artists. Anyone, for example, who wants to see color used in a masterful way couldn’t do better than viewing the paintings of Henri Matisse or Pierre Bonnard.

Which three photographers prints do you own? I don’t own any, but I do own a ridiculous number of photo books. They seem to pile up everywhere. One day I’ll have to organize the chaos.

Color or Black and White? It’s been color for a long time, but I don’t know what the future will bring.
Shoot Film or Digital? Digital. For many years I used film for my professional and personal work. I’m not the most technologically sophisticated person, and it took me a long time to adapt to digital. Once I shot digital, I never looked back. It’s so much more flexible, convenient and inexpensive (no film and processing costs). I know that some photographers are still fans of film, but I’m not one of them.


Is there a special time of day that you like to shoot or is any time good? My preference is for early morning and late afternoon/evening light. Harsh midday sun is the worst.
Do you ever shoot on non-sunny days? Yes, to some extent, but if the weather is really terrible, I probably won’t go out. When it’s sunny, and I can set a small aperture ( to achieve great depth of field) I like to use the M9. If I have to slow things down, because of low light, I prefer the Canon. It’s a shame the rangefinder doesn’t have auto focus. I know that would be a heresy for some, but I just don’t think that a person can manually focus as fast as a camera that has autofocus. I know I can’t.


Why did you choose street photography and not another form of photography like stamp collecting? I find it enjoyable. Otherwise why bother? I like the process of walking, the challenge of making successful images, and the element of gamesmanship involved. If my circumstances change maybe I’ll practice another form of photography – or take up stamp collecting. Perhaps I’d love it.


What motivates you to photograph the streets? Read my previous answer.
Is street photography an obsession? That depends on what you define as an “obsession”. When I look at the work of a photographer I don’t usually care what their state of mind was when they made their photos.

Are you a lone shooter or do you like shooting with friends or groups? I’m a lone shooter. I can’t photograph on the street while socializing with other people. There are too many distractions. Yesterday, I was at a parade with some friends, and felt like putting my camera away.


Favorite street photography city: I live in the New York /metropolitan area, so I do most of my street photography in Manhattan. It’s a great place to photograph, but ( like Paris) is one of the most photographed cities in the world. There’s a history of great photographers using New York as their subject, so I sometimes feel that I’m walking on all too familiar ground.

I also think, however, that photographers can approach their subject matter like a jazz musician interprets a familiar standard, and through improvisation, create unique images. The other city that I’d like to mention is Oaxaca, Mexico. Whenever I go there, I always return with images that please me.


What inspires your photography? I guess it’s primarily an interest in the visual arts. I’d also describe myself as a voracious reader, and that’s probably also influenced my choice of subject matter.
Since you look at a lot of photo books, then obviously you’ve seen Constantin Manos and Alex Webb- were you influenced by them or did you develop this high contrast imagery by yourself? I think I saw Webb’s work first, and admired it very much. Maybe he was an influence, but a lot of other people were too. By the time I got to Mexico, where there’s always this dramatic light, I guess there were parallels developing .

That raises an interesting point about the influence of place. The location itself is important. If you look at Alex Webb’s work in Istanbul, the photos have a different quality than those taken in Cuba, or Mexico. And for me? I’m very curious about India. It’s a high energy place, and I’m curious about the contrasts of traditional culture and modernization.

Is there a philosophy or aesthetic behind your compositions that you apply to your photos? I wouldn’t call it a philosophy. We all have particular strengths, weaknesses, and subject matter that we’re interested in. I think my work is quite graphic. That’s not a philosophy, it’s just a quality that it possesses.

How does journalism affect what and how you see? I always practiced street photography. I appreciate the work of many photojournalists, but I don’t see myself going back to that.

What do you look for in a photograph by others and by yourself? That’s not a simple question. It depends on what the purpose of the photograph is. It wouldn’t be accurate to say that I just appreciate photos that are well composed, timed, etc.. I also appreciate photos that function on more diverse levels. If you look at a book like Walker Evans’ Many are Called, the individual photos look like haphazard snapshots. In a way, that’s what they are. Evans made those photos with a hidden camera, and didn’t even look through the viewfinder when releasing the shutter. He later sequenced those photos for the book, and it’s in that context that they took on power, meaning, and relevance.

How do you go about shooting a street photograph? It varies. Sometimes I raise the camera to my eye quickly, and there’s only a brief opportunity to take one or two exposures. At other times I can be more deliberate, frame my composition more carefully, and wait for events to unfold.
How do you go about composing a shot? See the above answer.

Best three tips for shooting the streets:
1. First study your camera, it’s potential, and limitations.
2. Be ready for the photo. You don’t want to be fumbling with camera settings, focus, etc. while taking your shot (unless for some reason you have that luxury). Most good street photography requires being quick.
3. Be patient. If you think that there’s a potential for a successful photo at a given location, but that extra something hasn’t arrived yet, hang around.

Do you shoot a lot? When I’m traveling, I shoot every day. At home,, my schedule varies.

Can you give some advice on creating a series or photo essay rather than one off photos? I usually don’t photograph with a fixed agenda in mind. What separates street photography from photojournalism is a certain “open ended” quality. In photojournalism, you photograph a previously defined subject matter. It’s more explicit than street photography. Some people have compared the two genres to poetry and prose. Prose is more specific in it’s meaning; poetry is less precise. This ambiguity invites viewers to more freely interpret an image.

At the completion of either type of project, it’s important to edit photos. I think a good place to start (at least for street photographers) is to look at Robert Frank’s The Americans. When he published the book, he was very aware of how each image related to the others, and what their collective meaning might be.

Best Single advise on how to improve your work: Study the work of photographers, and artists, in various media. As I said above, we’re part of a long tradition. This is one of the most important things that a person can do. An ignorant photographer is probably a bad photographer.
Best single advise on how to edit your work: Look at a lot of photo essays and books.
Best single advice for someone who wants to get into street photography: Do it if it gives you pleasure, but don’t expect to make much money from it.

What’s the best moment in your street photography career? Nothing stands out.
What is the worst moment in your street photography career? Once again, nothing stands out, and I’m reluctant to use the term “career”.

What projects are you working on? Besides my day to day practice, I’ve begun photographing in Calcutta, India, and I hope to return there before the end of the year.
Where do you want to be in 5 years with regard to your street photography? That time frame is too distant.
Are there exhibitions planned in the future? Not at this time, but I might put together something with my colleagues at Street Photographers.

Leica Liker thanks Ed for sharing his experience and inspirational advice with us. We look forward to checking in on him in the future.

You can check out Ed’s gear in “Liker Bags’n Gear” here.

This is Ed’s self portrait.

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