In Focus Friday - The game

25 May 2018

SIG: Documentary

This week we are joined by Richard Coulstock LRPS, to talk us through this street shot from Singapore. Richard submitted this image for the April round of the Documentary Group's bi-monthly competition (link).

Hi, Richard, can you give us a little background about the shot?

This image was taken in the Chinatown area of Singapore near some local housing apartment blocks.  In this part of Chinatown, elderly locals gather to mix with their friends, chatting and playing board games.  Geographically close, it is still a world away from the side of Singapore seen by most tourists. Most weekends I visit either here or the Little India area of Singapore for some street photography. I am building a portfolio of street shots for my website and also for a possible attempt at the ARPS qualification

What was your plan for the day? 

Effectively to spend a couple of hours doing street photography around Chinatown, especially in the early morning before the tourists arrive. There’s a whole world of early morning activity involving locals in the area – most people never come across that side of the city.

What’s your routine just before heading out with your camera? 

Hopefully I will have remembered to charge my batteries the previous evening! For street shots I’ll take a small sling bag – two cameras, spare battery, two cleaning cloths. I’ll carry a Leica Monochrom 246 with a 21mm lens and a Leica M 240 with a 35mm and switch between the two depending on the circumstances. I’ll try to head out early, around 7 and treat myself to a local breakfast before shooting – especially in Little India, the masala dosas are exceptional!

While you’re out what makes you press the shutter release?  

For street shots, there has to be something that grabs me, whether it be plays of light in the scene, interaction between people or some other element that shows potential. I like capturing snatches of real, daily lives especially when they differ from my own.

Where can we find more of your work?  

I am currently building up two websites, one depicting the people, places and culture of asia (link) and my personal site which has a wider range of subjects (link) – happy to take all feedback for improvements! I'm also on Instagram as @kiltedarab (link)

What do you think photographers don’t do but should? 

Always try new things and keep climbing the learning curve. I’ve recently started watching far more on YouTube – would thoroughly recommend Sean Tucker’s channel (link). It focus more on the thought process and art form rather than the pure technicals.

what essential piece of advice would give your novice self? 

Read more, especially your camera manual! Fully understand and be aware of what your equipment can and cannot do.

Which camera has been your all time favourite and why?

I had always wanted a Leica and three years ago picked up the M240. I love the challenges of a rangefinder with a 35mm lens – you need to work harder to get the shot, you need to get in about the action, you need to get out of your comfort zone – it’s fantastic fun and, if you get “the shot”, you feel like you’ve really earned it. When it finally breaks I shall weep, possibly hold a memorial service!

What’s the best purchase you’ve made for less than £100?

I recently purchased a lensball (link). I’d seen and read a lot about them and initially thought results had been photoshopped. But I saw some good reviews, took the plunge and bought one – an 80mm “Lensball Pro”, cost about $35. I first used it when I was taking sunrise images in the Marina Bay area of Singapore and I was amazed that it worked! They are obviously not right for every type of image, but I think well worth trying if you’re looking for something fun and a little different

Thanks Richard, they look like great fun, I can feel an order coming my way soon!

If you would like your work to feature in a future edition, please email us (docweb@rps.org).