Busking Bagpiper

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(Click on the photo for a larger view, then click again)

I spotted (actually, I heard him before I spotted him) this bagpiper in downtown Auckland, New Zealand. I’m particularly keen on street/candid photography, and I could see a lot of photographic potential here.

This situation also has some educational potential for you. You’ll see that the photo above has sky which is close to white, but not quite there. Most cameras will give you a horrible sheet of white sky in this situation because the camera cannot accurately reproduce the huge range of tones (range of brightness) from the black wall to the bright sky. The person who made the camera figures that you’re only interested in the foreground so the camera is set to reproduce that accurately and let the sky be “burnt out”, i.e. be pure white. There is no simple way to overcome this problem without technical knowledge. On-camera flash is like a mad elephant – best avoided at all costs – but in this situation turning on fill flash or forced flash may help on a last-resort basis, and that is what I used but it is not a complete solution.

Now have a look at this photo:

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(Click on the photo for a larger view, then click again)

This photo has a range of tones that a camera can cope with (apart from a few very small areas in the shop front) and is a much safer bet if you want a nice photo without technical skills. I’ve knelt down because that gives the viewer a point of view that he’s not used to and catches his attention: it also makes the donations box more noticeable than it would have been if I’d been standing when I took the photo. That donations box is a critical part of the story that this photo tells.

I chose this particular photo because the raised foot and the kilt lifting in the wind adds some movement to what would have otherwise have been a very static and dull photo.

Click here to view more photos taken on this occasion.

Do you have any questions or comments about what I’ve written?

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