Tsukiji is one of the few remaining neighborhoods in Tokyo where you can get a sense of what the city was like in the 1950s and 1960s, and a favorite street photography stomping ground of mine. Tsukiji had been to be home to Tokyo’s famous tuna auction for seventy years, which has only recently been moved to Toyosu a few kilometers away in a modern but clinicalesque facility. Fortunately, Tsukiji’s outer market remains with its myriad shops and food stalls, and is still popular with not just tourists but also local Japanese. Without the early morning tuna auction, Tsukiji is less frenetic until about 10:00 AM or so when throngs still pack its narrow streets and alleyways.
On a recent cloudy morning, I packed my Leica M6J mounted with a Summicron 50mm f/2 lens and a few rolls of Kodak TMAX-100 and set off toward Tsukiji. By the time I arrived, the place was teaming with people. It was difficult to move without bumping into someone. Being pressed in close with the crowd, I decided to see if I could take candid portraits of the people there.
I kept the camera to my eye as I walked so I could frame with precision rather than attempting to shoot from the hip. I set the focus to infinity and as I approached my subject and/or my subject walked toward me, I brought him or her into focus, gently pushing the focus tab on the lens. I find that it is easier to nail the focus in this way while moving rather than trying to chase my subject around with the focus patch.
Given the light, I was shooting at f/5.6 at 250. The film is TMAX 100, but I set the ISO of the M6J’s meter to about 650. I push-processed the film with TMAX Developer at 800 as per Kodak recommendations.
The best photos in my opinion are the ones in which the subject is making direct eye contact with me. A few examples are posted below.