Candid people pictures are a little more my style. But I am not very good at it. I would never make a good street photographer, in fear that I would be observed by my subject and reprimanded.
Until recently, all my people pictures were taken with point and shoot cameras using natural light when available and the little pop-up flash when more light was required. And you know how ugly those flash photos can be: a black background with the people looking like deer-caught-in-headlights.
I viewed these "candid" images pretty much as snapshots: great for family and friends to look at online or in 4" x 6" prints. These images recorded memories (which in itself is a good reason to take a picture) but are not much in the way of art.
However, this all changed last fall at my step-daughter's rehearsal dinner. I had just become a new owner of a micro-four-thirds (m43) camera, the Panasonic G2. [I no longer have this camera, having loved it so much that I upgraded to the GH2, and more recently I added the Olympus E-M5 to my toy chest.] M43 cameras are thinner than dSLRs so with a small lens adapter you are able to use almost any old lens, as long as the adapter has been designed for that particular lens.
For $20 on EBay I bought a m43-to-Nikon adapter. I then attached an old Nikkor 58mm F1.4 lens. Because the sensor on a m43 camera is 1/2 the diagonal dimension of a full frame (FF) camera, the 58mm lens gives a more telephoto view, equivalent to the field of view of a 116mm lens on a FF camera. This made for an awesome people lens with great light collecting ability and a pretty shallow depth of field.
Below are a few shots I took in the bar after the dinner. Nothing outstanding, but I loved the shallow depth of field I got by using the large aperture of F1.4, F1.8 or F2. Mostly shot at ISO 1600, the G2 was a bit grainy. A fill flash would have been a great addition, and likely the first recommendation any accomplished portrait photographer would recommend, but I didn't want to attract attention to myself nor appear to be annoying.
The large aperture lens meant a far blurrier background than what I could get with a point and shoot camera, where the depth of field is bigger at any given F-stop due to the physics of the small point and shoot sensor size. The blurry background (and foreground) that I was able to achieve helped draw attention to the main subject, as the eye goes naturally to the sharpest part of the image.
|This image more than the others would have been greatly helped with a little fill flash.|
It would have eliminated the racoon eyes (i.e. shadows created by the overhead
lights) on this party-goer who was "haming it up" for the picture.
I was excited by these pictures. I had so much fun. All would have been better with fill flash, but with a flash I would not have been able to move around unnoticed. I took a number of images of the groom and his entourage shown above in black and white, and not once did any of them notice I was clicking away. I am sure the excitement in part was from using an old manual lens designed for a 35mm film camera on a new digital camera. That made the exercise a bit challenging, but also rewarding.