Street Photography Workshop Krakow April 2013

I signed up for the Street Photography Workshop

not because I'm an ardent photographer (I like to take a few snaps to capture my travels and the occasional glorious sunset etc), but because it was cheap and might be a relatively interesting way to spend the day. I've always enjoyed people watching and this would be a chance to get a few tips on how to document that hobby. My camera is a very modest IXUS, my last photo shoot didn't last very long as the near-zero temperatures sapped all the lifeblood out of the camera and I was only able to take a few shots. Temperatures were somewhat higher on the day of the workshop and I had invested in a new battery so stamina wouldn't be too much of a problem. I had toyed with the idea of buying a new camera in time for the workshop, but decided against the idea as I could probably get some equipment advice from the guest speaker.

I arrived to Miód i Wino Restaurant a couple of minutes late, slightly sweaty from the faster than normal walk from my flat to the far side of Planty. I needn't have rushed, not everyone had arrived; Gokhan Cukurova (our guest speak all the way from Chicago) was all ready to go and a handful and a handful of fellow photographers were eagerly awaiting the start.

After the arrival of a few more people the presentation got underway. After managing to stifle off a coughing fit I was beginning to wish I'd had that welcome drink. Gokhan presented various photos that he'd taken. Some really dramatic photos of protests that could easily grace the front page of a newspaper. We were also given some practical advice on technique, equipment, and safety of your person and your equipment. The organiser (ex-policeman David) also shared a few hard-learned tips on how to keep your equipment out of the grubby hands of thieves that prowl public places and hotel corridors.

The presentation lasted the best part of two hours (included a break which was particularly welcome by those still hungover from the previous evening's Krakow Post 100th Edition party). By this time we were all eager to get out and take some photos. After posing for a group photo on the restaurant steps we set off towards The Rynek.

It was overcast, but Gokhan consoled us with the fact that at least the light would be even. By the time we arrived at our destination it had started to rain in earnest and contingency plans were made for the eventuality of the rain not easing up. The original plan of us splitting into two groups of ten soon fell apart. Gokhan ran off to station himself on one of The Rynek's corners (he had earlier set a challenge that we should spend 15 minutes in the same spot and just take photos from there) and a few of us follow him so as to see the master at work.

Following Gokhan's example I set my shyness aside as much as I could and started snapping away. The compactness of my camera was an advantage as I was able to put my thumb over my camera lens to shield it from the incessant rain. I had a few subjects in mind and unable to stand in the same place for 15 minutes I wandered around in search of victims/subjects.

Despite the rain The Rynek turned out to be quite a good choice for us new to street photography. There are always plenty of photographers out about in Stare Miasto, so we blended in perfectly. A little too perfectly, as having a camera turns you into a tourist and leaves you open to all sort of propositions of restaurant meals and excursions.

Luckily the rain stopped and we were able to shoot for nearly two hours. Sunshine, sharp contrasts and puddles to keep the photographers happy. Upon returning to the restaurant Gokhan gave us a demonstration of the capabilities of Adobe Lightroom (a program which few of us were familiar with).

Approximately half the group stayed on for drinks or dinner (I had some rather tasty, but slightly overpriced pierogis). Then the group halved again and the remaining five of us went for a quick (night-time) walk around The Rynek before enjoying a late night ice cream and some more photo(and wedding)-related chat.

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