Images shot with the vintage Super-Takumar 55mm f1.8
“You can plan a pretty picnic, but you can’t predict the weather.”
The words there of one of the greatest thinkers of our time: Andre 3000.
Sometimes, photography is impossible to predict. Other times, it isn’t. And you never know when it will or won’t be.
Both street photography and manual focus photography are made up of elements that fall into two camps; the ones you can control, and the ones you can’t.
You can control all of your camera settings, and with practice master them, but you can never really control what people are going to do, or how they will behave. You also can’t control the light.
With practice and a little research, you can become better at guessing, or forecasting, but for the main part, you’re likely to spend more time being reactive than proactive.
This isn’t a bad thing at all. Learning how to react to situations rather than engineering them keeps things interesting.
Often, the best thing you can do is just get out there and get shooting.
Zhongshan Park, Shanghai
One time when I just got out there to go shooting, I went to Zhongshan Park, Shanghai with my Super-Takumar 55mm f1.8.
It was attached to a Sony mirrorless; a great camera for shooting street photography with manual focus vintage lenses, and the latest of which you can check out on Amazon.
I didn’t know exactly what I was going to find that day, but you can always take a good guess when you go to a park in China.
The elder generation.
Whether gambling, dancing, flying kites, singing badly, painting water graffiti on the floor, or looking after the grandchildren, they will always be there.
55mm Super-Takumar photography in the park
Shooting with the 55mm Super-Takumar means I wasn’t able to capture any wider vistas of Zhongshan Park.
But that doesn’t matter. It’s better to look for what you can shoot than worry about what you can’t.
A No Swimming sign, some birds, and a few silhouettes.
It isn’t a list of classic subjects, but what is?
Photography is unpredictable, remember?
Practicing pre-focusing on a distance
In my experience, the 55mm Super-Takumar – which you can always find on eBay – performs really well in black and white.
Only having manual focus means it’s also a good teacher.
Photo essays like Monkey Town, On the Road to Pai, and Chiang Mai Street Photography feature monochrome images taken with this 55mm Takumar that I’m sure I wouldn’t have been able to shoot when I first started using vintage lenses.
On this day in Zhongshan park, the rollerblading kids gave me the chance to practice pre-focusing on a distance and capturing them as they passed through it.
Needless to say, there were a lot of missed shots.
As you can see though, even with manual focus lenses it’s possible to get sharp images of moving subjects with a little practice of certain techniques.
Just like the kids learning to skate though, improving what we’re capable of doing by deliberate practice is one aspect of photography we can safely predict.
… p.s. If you’ve enjoyed these shots from Zhongshan Park with the Super-Takumar 55mm f1.8 and think others will too, why not share or pin them?