Vivian Maier’esque

Today I watched a new documentary portraying the extraordinary tale of the late photographer Vivian Maier (YouTube link). I learned about Maier and her work late last year, and I have since acquired some books with her photography. She used mainly a RolleiFlex. Her shots are all 1:1 cropped (since the Rollei is a  6×6 film camera) and have this pleasing brownish tint to them. I wanted to recreate the look and feel of these photos, so I took my X-Pro1 to the streets and made a Lightroom preset when I came home.

The X-Pro1 was equipped with the Minolta MC Rokkor-PF 55mm f/1.7 and the following setting was used for .jpeg output:

  • Black and White simulation
  • ISO 200
  • Highlight Tone: +2
  • Shadow Tone +2
  • Auto WB
  • DR 100
  • NR: 0
  • File Format: 1:1
  • Color: 0
  • Sharpness: 0

The lightroom preset is applied to the jpeg files in Lightroom afterwards. You can download the preset HERE

The following images were all shot in the streets of Århus today, using the above method and settings. I tried doing what Maier did; seeing my subject and taking only one shot. I took only 12 shots, since that was the amount of shots in a 120 film roll back then.

Good luck with your Vivian Maier’esque street photography.

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22 thoughts on “Vivian Maier’esque

  1. The shallow depth of field and square frame reminds me of her photo indeed. But she would get closer to people.

  2. Agreed she would. And her subjects would have been more portraiture minded, plus the angle of view would have been different considering shot from the hip with the Rolleiflex… This was mostly meant as a postprocessing example 🙂

    Thank you for stopping by.

    /jonas

  3. Amazing shots, Jonas! #1,4 & 10 are stellar… They seem so fluid and natural. One of the best balanced b&w´s I´v seen in a long time.

  4. While you mention above that it was a mostly “postprocessing” effort, I like the direction of just a single photo and move on in the Maier tradition (or so I think I read somewhere). Definitely worth a challenge to the folks that frequent your blog, Jonas. I like all of the images. While Ms. Maier’s would have been different, yours are well worth studying…

  5. I recently purchased a Fuji XE1 and have been practicing, practicing, practicing. I adore your work and devour all your post’s. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and talent. Best. Pamela.

    1. Hi Pamela.

      Thank you so much. Very kind words! I, like yourself, just keep on finding new alternate and creative ways to practice and explore photography. Thats the beauty of being a hobby photographer. You can just have a lot of fun!

      Thanks for stopping by!

      /jonas

  6. Once again well done Jonas, I appreciate your “honesty” in showing all the 12 pictures you took. Fixed lens and low number of captures is one of the best excercises in photography, in my opinion.

    By the way, my small adventure with M42 lenses, thanks to your advice, ended up well. In case you are curious, there is a gallery on this post, it’s in italian but the relevant part are the images….. Nothing special, mostly a “tech demo”

    http://www.riccardogabbana.com/2013/07/fuji-x-e1-con-obiettivi-adattati/

      1. Thats my ride! I’ve had it since 1995 and I boght it used so I think its from the 70s or so. Admittedly I could have treated her a BIT better 🙂

    1. Haha. I have my X100s for that … I do love the feeling of manual focus though. Maybe I should attach a mirror flip-down to the back of my X-Pro1, then I can “Go LOW!” 😀

  7. great set! after visiting the site I bought back the XE1 (sold at the time for the X100S which I love!), now I want to try to do some shooting with these old optics, economic and details.
    great job, I follow with passion your updates!

  8. By the way Jonas, the book “Vivian Maier Street Photographer” is absolutely worth the purchase if you haven’t already acquired it. It’s not expensive from Amazon and has fairly large prints of some of her best pictures. She really had a talent for transforming street scenery into art with a perfect combination of beauty, emotion and humour throughout the whole collection.

  9. Yes, yes, yes and yes! Kudos to you Jonas!
    I too have just watched a Documentary about Maier and have sourced 3 books (still waiting for them to arrive). To think how close Maier was to her subjects is at first daunting BUT she did it.
    The idea of shooting 12 only is a great first step. When I started it was film. 12, 24 or 36 roll. The cost of developing and buying film meant you had to think about your shot. After 20 yrs I am back to photography and, although it is much cheaper (no film to buy or develop) it is ridiculously expensive! Full format cameras from $2000 and up – sheesh! All 35mm film cameras were full frame!
    Keep up your blogging, I read it with great interest.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Vincent
    Australia

  10. A great blog, Jonas; very inspirational! Maier’s uncovered work is remarkable, both as commentary upon her place and time, and of her largely unrecorded life. I suppose there is something very un-threatening about a primly dressed lady in wide brim hat crouched over a handbag sized black box that allowed her to either disappear or gain the trust of her subjects. Her self-portraits provide fascinating insight into how she viewed herself within her chosen ‘theatre’.

  11. Very nice attempt to emulate Mayers style! Some of your shots have the same ‘outsider’-feel that her work seems to have. My favorite is the girl with the bundles of fabric. That Vivian Mayer BBC-documentary is long gone from YouTube, but a very decent copy is still online here: http://www.veoh.com/watch/v70590131KFPFjY7N . (You might want to change your dead link, or even embed the documentary here)

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