Canadian National Exhibition street photos

All photographs on this page are Copyright 2001 by John Brownlow

"I shot the CNE last year and was already aiming to go back when Michael asked me if I wanted to join him for a feature onStreet PhotographyforThe Video Journal. So off we went with a video cameraman in tow.

As always with this kind of thing, it’s a combination of tremendous excitement and terrible disappointment. Excitement because the arena is so visually rich; disappointment because you only ever feel you’re getting about a tenth-of-one-percent of what’s really going on."

J.B. September, 2001

1/250 @ f/8, Agfa APX 400, Leica M4-P, Elmarit 28/2.8

A classic example of how people who look hostile aren’t. I said thanks to the guy with the tattoos after I took the picture. "No problem", he said.

1/250 @ f/11, Agfa APX 400, Leica M4-P, Elmarit 28/2.8

I talked to the black guy, asked him if he minded me taking pictures. "Takeall you want", he said.

1/250 @ f/11, Agfa APX 400, Leica M4-P, Elmarit 28/2.8

This is an example of a picture which wasn’t there a half second later, asthe little girl ran to meet the guy walking in from right of frame. If I’dhad the extra half second I’d have reframed to include the whole word"freaks" on the left hand side, but I didn’t, so I didn’t.

1/30 @ f/1.4, Agfa APX 400, Leica M4-2, Summilux 50/1.4

The 50mm lens is an amazingly versatile length. In this picture it looksalmost like a 35mm, but in other pictures it can fool you into thinking it’sa telephoto. The 1.4 aperture allows you to be very selective about focuswhen you’re shooting wide open, but you can’t be lazy about focusing.

1/30 @ f/2.8, Fuji Neopan 1600, Leica M4-P, Elmarit 28/2.8

This is why I love Fuji Neopan. There was literally almost no light whatever inside this amusement arcade. The light on the faces comes from the screen of the game they’re playing. And there I am shooting with a 2.8 lens, and I still get a great tonality. My own tests show that Neopan has the highest true speed of any of the supposedly high speed emulsions. Most of the others are really around 1000 ISO but achieve their touted speeds of 1600 or 3200 by push processing. In other words you kiss your shadows goodbye. In this picture, that would mean the little boy in the bottom left hand corner would probably have disappeared completely.

Additional photographs taken by John Brownlow at the Midway that afternoon can be found on his site,

For Michael Reichmann’s photographs taken that same afternoon and evening see the essayThe Midway.

Our shooting session together was filmed for theVideo Journal. A forthcoming issue ofThe Journalwill feature what that session was like as well as an on-camera conversation between John and me about our approaches to this type of photography, including a look at our respective prints and techniques.

NewThis subject will be featured in a forthcoming issue of The Luminous Landscape Video Journal.