The Barefoot Photographer®

a photography blog

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Sometimes You Gotta Zoom

I love working with a prime lens.  That 50mm is not called a "nifty fifty" for nothing.  It is great and fun to use -- plus it is not a heavy lens!  But sometimes you need that zoom to help zero in on the interesting part of a not-so-great scene.  In the past I have used an example to illustrate to a class about photography.  As a painter -- when I work with a blank canvas -- I am filling it with something.  As a photographer you start with a big, full scene and try to narrow it to a certain part -- hopefully the most interesting part.   The best of both worlds is to take a photo of the interesting part and fill a canvas with a painting of it.

The photo on the blog today is a great example of seeing a piece of what is in front of me.  As I stepped out onto my front porch last Wednesday morning I noticed the fog through the trees.  I could see the sun becoming brighter and starting to burn it off.  Within an hour or two it would all be gone -- and in a few minutes the scene would have changed completely.  

The entire scene before me was not as pretty, or let's just say the aesthetics left something to be desired.  If I took the photo that portrayed all that I saw -- you would see the morning sun through fog and trees.  You would also see a regular suburban subdivision, a couple houses, the street, mailboxes, cars in the driveway, the works.  Not that there is anything wrong with that -- but it is very ordinary and the part with the sun, fog, and trees was a small part of it.  As the photo stands now -- who knows where that is?  It could be any place, any time and it fills the frame.

Many times I will tell people to find their subject and fill the frame with it.  Too much clutter or unnecessary elements confuse the viewer and detract from the subject.  There are two main ways to fill a frame -- both involve zooming.  You can move yourself closer to the subject -- or zoom with your feet.  If this is not possible or you would rather not -- use a zoom lens.  For my photo, I used my zoom lens.  I did not feel like putting on shoes (yep, barefoot again) to walk across my yard, the street, and into a couple neighbors' yards so early in the day.  This photo was taken from my front porch.  It captured the look of the part of the scene that I was interested in just as I saw it when I stepped out the door.

Also, I wonder if I had moved too close -- would the light and look remained the same.  I doubt it.


Andy Richards said...

Hi Donna: As you know from my own "Get Closer" entry on my Blog, I have a great appreciation for this idea. I think the "real" photograph is often in the close details that are part of a larger scene.

We know photographers who work mostly with prime lenses (some of them only one). There is one other kind of "zoom" we all may need to use more than we do -- our feet.

Having said that, my 18-200 is then lens I have on my camera 99% of the time. Good material here.

Donna said...

Thanks for the comment Andy.

I like my zoom -- but don't use it that often.

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