I took this photo while on a business trip in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon (Mexico). The man sitting at the bus stop and reading a paper just struck me as a possible good photo. The horizontal and vertical lines also made for good composition. I placed the main subject (the man) at the 1/3 mark to the right of the frame. I shot this from across the street at 200mm (300mm at 35mm equivalent), and I had to shoot wide open at that focal length at a shutter speed of 1/20 seconds. The shutter speed was way too slow for the focal length, but it turned out okay anyways. The hardest part of getting this shot was waiting for the sidewalk to be clear of other people AND having the road clear of passing by cars — but I managed.

A SIDE NOTE: This is my first real attempt at publishing a “people shot”. I’m offering prints of the photo for sale, and I’ve been hesitant to do that in the past because I was worried about not having a model release. After doing some research, I’m fairly confident that I can sell the art prints without a model release — I just can’t offer it up for commercial use. If this isn’t the case, and somebody out there knows better than I do, please let me know.

Mexican Bus Stop Process

The JPEG (1) turned out fairly well exposed, but it was a little murky in color. The processed RAW file (2) has a little better coloration, but I didn’t go all out on it since I knew I’d be doing a black & white. The black and white conversion (3) was done with CS3′s Black & White tool at 71% red, 149% yellow, 233% green, -83% cyan, 57% blue, and 29% magenta. This combination gave me the tones in the background and on the man’s skin that I was looking for. After the conversion, I applied a curves adjustment layer (4) to darken the shadows and mid-tones while maintaining the highlights — so I used two control points. At the end, I sharpened (5) using the Unsharp Mask at 85%, 2.4 pixels, and a threshold of 2.

Mexican Bus Stop

** You can also see this photo on Flickr **

Photo by Brian Auer
06/08/07 Monterrey, Mexico
Mexican Bus Stop
Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D
Konica Minolta AF DT 18-200
300mm equiv * f/6.7 * 1/20s * ISO100

18 responses

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I don’t know the rules on photographing people but regardless of that I have never really been comfortable photographing people. It feels a little intrusive.

I have taken one photograph of a person before but haven’t put it on my website because of that.

September 5, 2007 1:18 am

I’ve never really been comfortable with it either, but I’m very intrigued by it. This is something I’m experimenting with, so we’ll see how it goes.

September 5, 2007 2:32 am

Some of the best photos I’ve seen have been the result of photographers taking photos of strangers, but I’ve always wondered how it was done without getting into trouble.

Do you generally have to take the photo secretly, or do you ask for permission, or do you find people don’t actually care if you photograph them?

September 5, 2007 3:02 am

“Some of the best photos I’ve seen have been the result of photographers taking photos of strangers”

My thoughts exactly. I’ve seen some amazing stuff that was done candidly.

As far as not getting into trouble, I’m pretty sure you can take a photo of whomever you want in public areas (at least here in America). It’s what you do with the photo that can get you into trouble. If you sell it commercially (for advertising and such) without a model release, you’re likely to get nailed. This is because commercial use generally associates the subject with some kind of opinion or product brand. You can’t do that to people without their consent. But to my best understanding, you can sell a print as “art” without a model release.

For the people photos I’ve actually taken (very few), most of them were without their knowledge. In most cases, if they had known beforehand I wouldn’t have been able to get the same shot — it would have been more like a posed shot.

The subject of photographing people, and whether to ask for permission, is a fairly controversial topic among photographers. Some say you should always ask before, some say you should ask after, some say you shouldn’t have to ask at all. I think it really varies by situation.

September 5, 2007 8:44 am

I love the feel of this photo – so gritty, IMO.

BTW, Flickr isn’t showing the photo.

September 5, 2007 9:17 am

Thanks Bryan. I don’t know what the deal could be with Flickr, but thanks for the heads-up — I took a look at it and it seems to be showing up for me, even after logging out. Anybody else have a problem seeing it on Flickr?

September 5, 2007 10:39 am

Let me preface my comment with the note that I am an unabashed amateur, with no experience in any professional aspect of photography.

However, my understanding of the concept of “commercial use” of a photograph is any use related to a business — “commercial” as in “commerce”, not “commercial” as in advertising. Thus by selling the photo, you are making commercial use of the image. Exemptions exist where the person is not identifiable, or identifyable but not a key part of the scene (such as part of a crowd).

On the other hand, I’m pretty sure the person would have to know, find you and then sue you; and damages would be limited to some portion of what you made off of the image. So it’s probably a safe risk to take.

BTW, it’s a nice image. Great mood, and composition.


September 5, 2007 11:17 am

I’ve always thought the same thing too, but then I found some convincing sources of information that led me to believe that selling art is not commercial in nature. I’m not associating the photos with any opinion, product, or business, I’m selling it as an artistic photo — that’s it. Making a profit off of something does not always make it commercial. Here are a few articles worth reading on the subject.

The Model Release

Art ‘Photo’ Is Not Subject to Privacy Law, Judge Finds

Great discussions on this topic, by the way. Let’s keep the comments flowing — I’m interested to get more insights on this stuff.

September 5, 2007 12:26 pm

Flickr is having some issues this morning :/ One of their switches went wonky and they’re looking into it.

Should be back up later today, though :)

September 5, 2007 2:53 pm

Great shot Brian. I definitely like the more gritty B&W version better than the original image. Great composition too.

How did you manage to snap that at 1/20th of a second at 300mm without any camera shake? Tripod? Monopod? If so he was really into his paper.

September 6, 2007 2:02 pm

300mm = paparazzi shot

September 6, 2007 2:09 pm

I don’t know how that shot turned out as sharp as it did — it was all hand held standing straight up. I had the Anti-Shake turned on, but I think it was mostly a lucky catch. As for the subject, he wasn’t moving. I probably could have stood there for another 10 minutes taking photos — but I didn’t; I just took one.

September 6, 2007 2:04 pm

What are you trying to say? You think I’d make a good paparazzi photographer? Too bad it wasn’t a photo of somebody famous (that I know of anyways).

September 6, 2007 2:41 pm

You chose the wrong hobby Brian. With those steady hands you should be a barber :-D

September 6, 2007 2:48 pm

I’ve always dreamed of cutting hair as a hobby. How’d you know?

September 6, 2007 4:36 pm

I have problems taking people pictures… Since I am too tall they notice me too fast so it is hard for me especialy in some countries where they want always some money and than the picture doesnt look like it should look like.

September 9, 2007 6:28 am

your photos are cool..
estaba buscando imagenes de “bus stop” en monterrey y encontre tu blog jajaja.. estan muy padres tus fotos
saludos :)

August 8, 2008 9:51 am

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