A few questions and answers about Planet Gary and myself, Gary Buckham. If you have any questions you wish to ask or any suggestions for a question/answer to include on this FAQ, please use the Contact form to send them in. Thank you.
What is this blog/website about?
Planet Gary is a personal website/blog about photography, particularly my own style of photography, mostly street photography. Simply put, I like to take lots of photographs, mostly other people but also objects found on the streets and even the streets themselves and this website/blog gives me somewhere to share them and post a few words on the subject. I guess I do street photography mostly but then again perhaps not. Having a site like this also gives purpose to my photography.
What interests you about photography?
The main thing that interests me is the challenge of finding and recording images of everyday life on the streets. When photographing on the street everything is in constant motion, the people change, the weather changes, the street itself changes and most importantly, the light changes, from hour to hour and from minute to minute. Nothing stays the same for long. It is the challenge of catching all these elements coming together for a few brief seconds, to form that perfect picture that makes me interested in photography.
Where do you take your photographs?
Most of the images shown here are taken on the streets of Edinburgh, the Scottish capital and the surrounding Lothian and Scottish Border regions, though a few have been taken during trips to London and other local towns. I also take pictures in the hills of the Southern Uplands and along the East Lothian coast.
What kind of locations do you visit for your photography?
The locations I seek are usually those where people tend to congregate including areas popular with tourists, shopping areas and precincts, railway stations, museums and galleries, tourist attractions such as Edinburgh Castle and the Scottish Parliament, and even places where people are forced to gather, choke points such as alleyways, stairs and crossing points. It is also worth doing some online research for such activities as outdoor events like festivals, rallies, parades and marches. I also look for quieter locations such as back streets which are often good for graffiti, found objects, and ephemera, and so on.
What rules do you follow during your photography?
I don’t really like following any of the rules of photography. I like shooting on full auto rather than manual. I like shooting into the light, especially poor light. I love dark shadows, reflections and shooting through glass. I like out-of-focus and I like bad composition. I don’t care about camera settings or about using the “right” lens. I do like the rule of thirds, sometimes. I like covert rather than close and anything goes if the final image is what I want.
I’ve read about “getting in close” Do you do this?
Yes and no. Occasionally I’ll get very close to the subject if the situation arises but generally do not believe in sticking my camera into someone’s personal space without asking permission first. With my 45-150mm lens (90-300 mm, 35mm equivalent) I can shoot subjects from a few meters away to the other side of the street. This allows me to “cover” far more ground than a wide angle or standard lens and offers far more opportunities for good shots.
Can I download and use your images?
You can download any of the images for personal non-commercial use. All I ask is you include the following link beside any of the images you use: Planet Gary – www.planetgary.org.uk
Why do your images not have a title with them?
Personally, I think an image should stand on its own right. I don’t believe giving it a title adds anything to the image. It’s the picture itself that counts. I’m a firm believer that photography is about pictures not about words.
What camera and lenses do you most frequently use?
At the moment, I use a Panasonic Lumix G7 compact system camera fitted with a Panasonic Lumix G Series 45-150 mm zoom lens which I use most of the time. I also carry a Panasonic Lumix G Series 14-42 mm for close and wide angle work. Other lenses in my collecting include Panasonic Lumix G Series 25 mm f1.4 Leica DG fixed lens and Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm F4 ASPH. All lenses are fitted with lens hoods. As a rule I never carry more than two lenses at any time. I also use a GoPro Hero 5 Black action camera and a Ricoh Theta V 360 degree camera.
If you only had one lens, what lens would you use?
If I had to select a single lens I would go for the 25mm f1.4 Leica DG fixed lens mentioned above. This is equivalent to a standard 50 mm lens. Its simple, you don’t have to zoom in and out all the time – but you do have to move yourself to frame the shot! Its great for low light conditions and produces a near normal field of view. It’s just so neat and simple. I would compare it to riding a single-speed bicycle rather than one with 30 or more gears.
What post-processing do you carry out?
My aim is to keep any post-processing to a minimum by doing as much as possible at the time of taking the actual image, though that is not always possible. I try to limit any software manipulation to similar tasks that would be done in a traditional darkroom, i.e. minor cropping, adjusting brightness and contrast and a little sharpening to replace that lost after resizing. I have a rule never to use any digital manipulation software.
You’ve photographed me! Will you remove it from this website?
Yes, of course. Just get in touch and send me something that identifies you as the person in the photograph, like a picture of yourself. I’ll then remove it as soon as possible. I’ll also send you the full sized original image by email and you can do what you want with it, free, no charge. Just include your email address.
Do you have any photographic training?
No, just a self-taught amateur, though I have been to a few photographic workshops when I was a member of Selkirk Camera Club more than 30 years ago. I even won a few prizes!
What camera accessories do you carry?
In addition to the cameras and lenses mentioned above, the usual small items I carry include, UV filters attached to all lenses, spare batteries for the camera and remotes and two spare 32 GB SD media cards. My bag also contains a few items for cleaning the lenses. Also in, or attached to, my camera bag, are the following items, though not all are carried on every trip: an Ultrapod 2 mini tripod, Manfrotto Compact monopod, Manfroto Compact Light tripod and a Pixel RW-221/L1 Wireless Shutter Remote.
How do you carry your camera?
The camera is always carried ready for use, either round my neck using a neck strap or in the hand with the strap looped around my wrist for security. There is no point in having your camera in a camera case, camera bag or in your rucksack. I like my camera ready for use at all times. The only time the lens cap is on is when the camera is inside the camera bag.
What camera bag do you use?
I use a Crumpler Jackpack Half Photo Backpack. It comes with two compartments, the upper for food, water, waterproofs, clothing and other small items, and a partitioned lower section, which opens and hinges outwards, for camera equipment. It is just large enough to hold the camera and lens, the two additional lenses noted above and spares such as batteries, media cards, etc. It’s green with a fetching orange piping. When in the field all lenses have their lens hoods fitted and lens caps removed, ready for use. As the Crumpler is not very waterproof, I use a Karrimor Delta 25 rucksack with a waterproof liner on wet days or when bad weather is forecast.
What camera settings do you use?
I generally keep the camera on Intelligent Auto mode and occasionally Program mode, and let the camera sort everything out. Generally, when shooting people on the street, you do not have time to start fiddling about with settings before the shot you want has gone. However, occasionally I will use manual mode, aperture or shutter priority to get the shot I want.
Why do you use colour rather than black and white?
I actually quite like black and white and some images are better in black and white than colour. However, there is so much bright vibrant colour on the streets that it seems a shame to lose all that splendour. I also like to do my own thing rather than follow the crowd. Most street photographers do black and white, so I do colour. It’s also more of a challenge.
Why are all your images in landscape format?
I take all my photographs in landscape format because that just feels the right way for me to go. Yes, some of them would perhaps be better to viewers in portrait format but I don’t find myself drawn to the format. I also like my images to follow a common standard, all the same size, the same shape and same format. I just get a bit uncomfortable trying to mix more than one format.
How many photographs do you take and how many of those will go online?
During a single day of photography on the streets of Edinburgh, I will take between 500 and 1000 images, sometimes even double that, particularly during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival or when using burst mode (only rarely). Out of those I will probably keep and post around 75% of them online. Out of those posted I’ll probably have around 10 or so I like specially.
How do you decide which images to post online?
My method of choosing images is quite easy really. I look at the image or set of images in Paint Shop and pick the best one. I resize and/or crop if required, adjust contrast and finally simply decide if I like the finished image. If I do it goes online, if not it doesn’t.
Why do you post so many images online?
When I get back from a photography session I often find that I don’t like many of the images I thought were great at the time. Next day I may feel differently and like them. In a few weeks or months’ time I may feel differently towards them again. This changing like/dislike towards my images is the reason I have so many online.
Do you plan your day, or do you just go out and see what happens?
I usually have an approximate route plan in mind, based on the time of day, weather conditions and how they will change throughout the day, the season of the year and so on. However, my plan is not rigid and I’m entirely flexible during the day. If I see better opportunities away from my plan, I’ll go for them. The greatest influence on where I go is the light.
Please tell me how a typical day’s photography would go?
A typical day would usually start early, catching the No 31 bus from home (on Sundays I take the car as there are no parking restrictions) arriving on location in Edinburgh between 7.00 and 8.00 am to catch the early workers and delivery drivers. I’d then wander the streets taking photographs until around 10.00 am then head somewhere for a coffee and scone. Repeat same until about noon then grab lunch, usually finding somewhere to sit on the street so as not to miss any potential photographs. After lunch I’d again wander the streets until 3.00 or 4.00 pm when I’d head back home. Sometimes I’ll do a “late” visit, arriving in town around mid-afternoon and staying until sunset. This allows me to catch the low evening light which offers much more interesting lighting conditions for photography.
Do you have any tips for someone new to photography?
Yes, get out there come rain or shine and simply of pictures. Don’t think too much. Inspect the images after your get home. Learn from others but do you own thing, develop your own style and try not to copy others. Use whatever camera you want, even a smartphone. Use whatever lens you want. Start a website or blog, post on your Facebook page or open a Flickr account – all these will give you purpose for taking your pictures. Finally, take images for yourself and forget about pleasing others. Forget about how many page counts or likes you get. It’s what you like that counts. And finally, the opinion of others is only their view point.
Copyright ©2019 Gary Buckham. All rights reserved.