bloopers edition

Just for fun

Sydney June 2013 – September 2014 (7 photos)

Candid photography is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.

Which is why when I’m out on the streets, my camera is always on, the lens cap is always off, and the manual focus of my prime lens is set at about 3 metres; I usually shoot in the range of 2 – 5 metres. You never know what scene you will encounter, and the scene can change substantially between spotting it and getting ready to get the shot in. And who wants to miss that shot for not being ready or not being close enough.

But occasionally, there’s a dud in that chocolate box and it should be no surprise that the technique of spontaneous zone focussing photography using a wide aperture from hip level can be fraught with danger, and many photos are an instant fail. Although, some are so close as to make you almost cry because they are just not good enough. The most common problems I have experienced are misjudging the distance, angling the camera incorrectly, bad composition and movement blur. Sudden changes in facial expression can be a bother too.

Previously, a comment from a wabbit-loving friend suggested these duds might be of some interest. And it’s close enough now to the end of the year that I thought I’d indulge in a frivolous post.

So in a (metaphorically-speaking) different angle for a photography blog, I present to you, and just for fun, a short round up of my near-misses…

The best of my worst candid street photography:

bloopers 17

“Top Man”

Great focus on the back of the woman’s head. Shame about the guy’s face though. For a better focussed Topman photo, see Topman

bloopers 14

“He’s just not that into you. OK, maybe he is”

At least the wine glass is in focus.

bloopers 12

“30% off!!! Who cares what it is! I want it!”

This would work much better with the focus on the woman’s face.

bloopers 16


Of course I went in for the close shot from front on. And of course I missed it.

bloopers 13

“In your face”

Too wide an aperture but necessary for the ambient light. Nothing in focus here except for the table edge in front of the camera.

bloopers 11

“My dreamboat”

I didn’t angle the camera up enough and once again, perfect focus on the water glass.

bloopers 15

“Like sands through the hourglass”

Missing the focus on the face for this one really hurts.


Despite the poor quality of the shots, I hope the character of the shots still shines through. I hope you enjoyed seeing these, and seeing what I was trying to achieve with them. Judge them as you see fit.

Normal transmission will resume next week.

Leica Etcetera, Photography Etcetera

Candid photography is like a box of chocolates #4


115 thoughts on “Candid photography is like a box of chocolates #4

  1. Nelson says:

    You should see my duds from street photo they are to laugh about especially those taken when walking on the street. I remember in one case asking myself what was suppose to be the subject

  2. Love, love, love these photos! 🙂 “He’s just not that into you. OK, maybe he is” and “30% off!!! Who cares what it is! I want it!” particularly made me laugh so much. It’s very enjoyable to look at these photos. ❤ It made me think life is fun. 😉

  3. I like your box of chocolates. Its refreshing to see the near misses which makes us all feel good that we are not alone on that score. I’ve always been fascinated by street photography but not game enough to try it. Thanks for some inspiration 🙂

  4. You are too picky. lol
    I am glad you are not critiquing my shots. 😦
    I do understand that whatever we do we want to make it the best we can do. 🙂 We often are our harshest critiques.

  5. the minute I saw the “box of chocolate” intro I knew you are taking time off… but luckily (hopefully) not for too long this time 🙂

    damn, even your “bloopers” are top class… lol 🙂 great that you are showing these, Lignum, it’s reassuring to know that sometimes even the best photographers miss a shot or two 🙂

    • No, no time off (yet). Just getting my post in before a hectic couple of days. I’ve got a small window of freedom just now. 🙂 But it is almost December. 😉

      A shot or two hundred. 🙂 The bad ones never make it to the computer. Thank you very much, Alex.

  6. Sorry!!! My dog jumped and everything went wrong!!! 🙂
    I was saying that even if what you had in mind was not 100% clear, it helps so much to the whole mood of the frame….It is like watching it in a film, or in real life…When we walk, we do not focus everything …Our attention goes to one glass, to one noise, to one wrinkle…But it helps to get the whole pic!!! It is because of that I like so much your work…
    Have a nice day!

    • Good excuse. 🙂 hope you didn’t spill your coffee. 🙂

      Even though the focus and composition is wrong, I do sense a nice atmosphere about them, particularly the last one. That’s why I couldn’t delete them. Your reasoning is very accurate. Thank you very much for the kind words. Have a great day too.

  7. Love this series of photos. It shows a photographer’s dedication to his/her craft. Sometimes things don’t work out but we keep going at it anyway hoping to get that one keeper. My personal favorite is “Biggus”. Gotta love that shirt! Haha

    • Thanks Vincent. Sometimes I take a candid shot of a really great scene and truly hope I got it right. Others I’m less concerned about. It’s the nature of taking these types of shots. I had two goes at Biggus from right in front and missed both in the low light. Such is life.

  8. Bernieshoot says:

    I really enjoy your series, very interesting for me the way you’ve prepared your camera, I didn’t get which aperture you’ve choosen

  9. I actually think the slightly out-of-focus effect in the last photo works. You have perfectly framed a man who appears lost in a crowd, probably out of his element with the world around him in many ways. The loss of focus contributes to his vulnerability. But, I understand your pain. It was, even with the slight blur, a great shot.

  10. You’re too hard on yourself. Have you seen the dingy, dark terrible phone pics people post on facebook? I can’t even make them out half the time. These shots are still all great. Tomorrow we in America celebrate Thanksgiving, and you should be thankful for your great eye to capture moments (not your silly critical brain).

    • Thank you very much. I’m cheered by the great comments, but still I wonder what if? I think some QC is important to avoid laziness.
      Happy Thanksgiving to you. I hope you have a wonderful day.

  11. It not only shines, it beams!!!! But, I don’t know if you consider me a relevant judge. You are of course aware how many people would be happy to have focus like yours and I am not talking this particular very difficult type of photography. During my last trip to Tuscany I found out that I am unable to take a focused shot with my dslr unless the viewfinder is glued to my eye. Hubby kept clicking (noisely) in churches and such, and nobody told him off (could not notice me), but I was severely reprimanded several times despite my killer charm 😀

      • I know your Chinese sign, but I would appreciate knowing your sign in Western astrology- if you answer it, I’ll stop bugging you with other questions you hate :D, please

        • That’s not very helpful: you can be a crab, a scorpio or a pisces. I am not writing a dossier, I am just trying to understand my blogger friends since I don’t want misunderstandings. You are in your right to be secretive. I will stop asking.

  12. I love the concept of the post and I think some of the photos works just well. Some do until you say otherwise
    and “Great focus on the back of the woman’s head” simply mad me laugh. It is a great self comment.

  13. I was walking outside today and was consciously thinking about how you take these photos. I know your technique since you were kind enough to explain it to me a long time ago so i was trying to envision what it is like to be in your shoes… Maybe i’ll feel brave enough to try it next time and if i get 1 photo out of 100 in focus i’d jump from joy! The dragon is really a master of his craft! Hat’s off to you! 😀

    • Thank you. I get into the groove and shoot on instinct sometimes. That’s how several of my better ones get taken. It’s very hard to plan ahead. Just go with the flow, I say. 🙂 Have a great day ahead.

  14. These are so cool and fun Draco, such great candid scenes! I have been looking forward to seeing Mr. Biggus’ second shirt… the man has got a great attitude to life, with a sense of humor! 🙂 🙂

  15. Oh, LD !!! – for shame ! That last frame, regardless of the absolute sharpess being on his jacket, is still everything you wanted it to be. Frankly, for me shots like this are all the more meaningful for being less than 100% perfect (in the photog.’s eyes). Yer the greatest mate ! 😀

  16. Thank you for sharing your box of chocolates with it. I actually like these photos a lot. So much emotion shine through them, well done. Mine are no where near as clear. Every time you look at these kind of photos, you must be going, “Ouch, ouch, ouch!” 🙂

    • I wonder “if only”. Then they’d have made great stand alone shots, and not be confined to this compilation post. But that’s the way the cookie crumbles. They still exude a great ambience.

      • “that’s the way the cookie crumbles”. I love that phrase 🙂 Better luck next time. I’m sure you’ve got a whole of of the good ones stashed away, yet to see the light. We look forward to seeing them someday.

  17. You have taken the candid photography to new heights. Every single shot brings laugher, sentiment, and stories. One can spend a long time to get perfectly focused cool shots, but these shots won’t have the taste like “chocolate” at all. I don’t think I’ll ever learn photo techniques from you, but I have learned how to appreciate cool shoots. Thank you, my friend! So glad it’s not December yet 🙂 🙂

  18. I enjoyed today’s box of chocolates, imperfect as they are … and thanks for the insights into your process. I’m going to have a go at it when I’m on holiday. Super not instinctive for me, so it would be an interesting challenge.

  19. If my best photos were of such quality,… I’d be really happy… Really,
    Still you are a photographer and really good at that., the ones you say are the worst shots, are really amazing too.!
    I mostly look for the story in the pictures
    And if its there with proper light, angle and all that you explained before hand, then it takes it on a whole other level.

  20. Ok, I understand about the focus etc. issue – but these photos are awesome! They tell stories and can be interpreted in many ways. Love them all. My favorites are the couple with a glass of wine and the over excited lady on the phone 😉

  21. This was good fun, perfectly focused (a good joke on your own behalf works better than photoshop) for me laughing muscles – I had to come back for another pack of smiles after quite a lemon day. 😉
    Have a wonderful weekend!

  22. If these are your bad shots … well hello! This was a fun post and I liked how you explained what you thought would have improved these shots so much more. I am never good with capturing people but seem to do better with nature and landscapes, sometimes buildings too.

    • Thank you very much. For over six months I only shot with the 50mm prime lens. Learning that lens, I’m more confidant with my from the hip shots, but there’s still the near misses and outright clangers. 🙂

  23. Pingback: Some Street Photos from Taiwan | HHC Blog

  24. I like so much your street pictures, and the emotion is there even the focus is not always at the good place, but it is that to be a photographer, learn from our mistakes .
    And you are very brave to expose them here, I respect you for that !!!
    If I have to show all my trials in macro you will be boring, just for an exemple, my first shoots with my macro lens was a bumblebee on lavender, 100 pictures and 3 almost OK 😉
    Take care my dear and I wish you a nice week ahead 🙂

  25. It was really interesting to get your critique of your own work. The faces–in sharp focus or not–do have wonderful stories. When you’ve captured their humanity AND done so with perfect attention to detail, your work really sings.

  26. The pictures are still wonderful stories. Thank you for showing the human side of your photography. I always thought you were god! Hehehe… 😀 I really appreciate the learning curve. Street photography is intimidating to me.

  27. This makes me feel so much better – so even the excellent photographers don’t catch it perfectly every time! I love the one with the old man with that t-shirt about something he did with Kylie – haha, good one!!! 😀

    My Dad used to be near miss photographer. The only trouble was, he missed most of the time! He talked for years about capturing a perfect picture of our shiny coat black dog sitting among tall yellow buttercups. He hardly ever took his camera with him when he took her for walks. But one day some pictures arrived back from the developers and there was his dream picture, all in beautiful focus, the dog looking perky and directly at the camera – except only her head and shoulders were in the view, the rest of the picture was glorious green and yellow from the meadow of buttercups. My brother and I still groan of what could have been when we look at that picture! He did the same with a picture of the two of us with our cat when we were very young children, beautiful sunny evening golden glow sunlight, smiling children, tabby cat looking wonderful, but only half of my brother was in the photo – he had a knack for missing the picture. He talents were elsewhere, he was an excellent carpenter, never made a mistake! 🙂

    • Funny, but the simple fact that they are imperfect in the way you describe, instantly makes you think of your dad. Still, I hope he did get some good shots too. 🙂

      Photos evoke emotion/memories, not just of the subject, but also of the occasion, day or even the photographer.

  28. Now I understood what you were telling me. I couldn’t quite understand ” No one sees me” Now I know how it works.
    Doing the Special Op with a 50mm requires some skills!!
    So I am going to try this. So let me know if I am wrong. I’ll have to keep a large aperture. (Around 8 will do? )
    And set the focus and learn the distance from the subject to get a sharp image.
    And click when you are at that distance and when the camera angle is somewhat right. Is there some more thing I should know?

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