Monday, July 21, 2014

Philadelphia Street Style: Najé, Walnut St

Last week I put a new 32GB compact flash card in my Nikon D700, and it promptly stopped working. The "killer card" apparently short-circuited something in the camera. So I sent it off to a repair facility in New York. I felt depressed. I had lost my primary tool for image-making. But I was not content to sit idle. I wanted to shoot, and I wanted to feel liberated from the material dependency I had on my DSLR. Objects be damned! 

So I hit the streets of Center City with an old friend, my trusty Panasonic Lumix GF-1. It's an early generation of a micro-four-thirds with a 20mm pancake lens attached. Long-time readers of Urban Fieldnotes may remember that it's the camera I started this blog with. Two years back I upgraded, frustrated that I was unable to adequately capture the crystal clear figure with a blurred out background look so fundamental to street style imagery these days. But I'm a better photographer than I was then, I figured. And I have the power of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom at my disposal. Figured it was worth seeing whether I could produce better images today with that camera than I could way back then.These images of Najé are the results of that experiment. 
So what do you think? I'm pretty happy with them. Sure, the blur isn't as lush, but they've still got punch. They're still sharp and bold. There's still a separation of elements and reasonably shallow depth of field. Back in the day I could never quite get these full-body shots right. Parallax distorted the bodies so that the heads looked overlarge. Aperture priority rendered the lighting flat and overly shadowed. Now it's just not that hard to compensate for the limits of the lens by crouching and shooting upwards. And I would never condescend to use aperture priority. It's manual or bust, baby. Even with this dinky, amateur camera, correct exposure compensation makes all the difference. I'm beginning to buy into the old photographer credo that camera's don't matter that much. Photographers do. But only just beginning. Because let's be frank: cameras do make a tremendous difference. Otherwise photographers wouldn't drop ten grand on their street style equipment.
Najé in these pictures is wearing an old pair of biker boots that she's had "for about seven years now." They're one of her favorite pieces. The graphic T-shirt she's had for about three years. The shorts used to be her favorite pants, but they started to get lots of holes and wear in them. Typically, she likes that look. She describes her style in general as "distressed." She tends to like clothes more the longer she's had them. But with the pants, "it started to get extreme." So she grabbed a pair of scissors and started cutting. No ruler. No planning in advance. Here are the results. The vest, by the way, she got at Forever 21 a few years back. "It used to be really shiny, now it just looks old. So I like it more now of course."

Najé considers Zöe Kravitz one of her fashion icons. She likes how relaxed her style is, how breezy and care-free. She's "like obsessed" with Kravitz' band, Lolawolf. She's also into Phantogram, the Arcade Fire, and a variety of other indie bands. "I'm really alternative, I guess," she told me. "I’m kind of like all over the place," she went on. "I don’t I like extremes, though." With music and with fashion, she prefers the casual and the comfortable, stuff with good structure that gets better as it ages. 

1 comment:

  1. That SUCKS about your camera.

    Naje's shorts are bomb. So are her boots. Basically, I'm jealous of her outfit.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.