I've been a long time admirer of Bruce Gilden's work but never had the courage to try out his style. Now that I've been shooting street for a considerable amount of time, I finally felt comfortable enough to try my hand at some "serious" flash street photography last night. I used a $20 Minolta Hi-Matic 7sii with a broken rangefinder and quite a bit of fungus in the lens (it also screeches every time I advance the film), a free hotshoe flash cable and a Vivitar 285HV that I got off eBay for $2.
I was quite hesitant with blasting a flash in people's faces (and the Vivitar is a beast of a flash) on a rather quite Wednesday night in Melbourne but even though it wasn't crowded or anything, no one seemed to care that much (I did get a f***ing c*** from the girl in the first photograph). I just smiled at them or thanked them (not at the girl) after the photo and any tension that was there would be gone.
I'm not used to the 40mm lens on the Minolta since I've been shooting street with a 35mm focal length for as long as I can remember. Didn't think that extra 5mm would make a difference but it did in a few of the frames. Also, having shot primarily with an Olympus XA for the past few months, I did find myself using the Minolta in a similar fashion where I would reach out to get a little bit closer without looking through the viewfinder (the XA's viewfinder is so tiny that you're much better off just bringing it to your face and shooting without looking through it when running and gunning). I found that I was in such a hurry to get the shot that I hardly paid any attention to the composition. This is something I need to change.
Haven't got a camera with a 35mm lens and a hotshoe so the Minolta will have to do for now. I might get comfortable using it over time but I don't want to keep switching between a 40 and a 35mm lens. Maybe the Minolta could be my primary for now?
It is a fun little camera to use. It's mechanical (only needs a battery for the meter or when you want to shoot shutter priority - ?) and offers full manual exposure control - what more could I ask for?
In conclusion: I will definitely be toying with flash street photography more. It's not, generally, what I like but it'll help in boosting my confidence when shooting street without a flash as well. I still find myself shying away from the composition in some situations and this will most definitely help. Besides, now I don't have an excuse to not shoot at night!
Used Fomapan 400; F8 and 1/30th on the camera with 1/4 power on the flash. Photos have been tweaked a little using VSCO presets.