Be a Photographer, not a Lens Changer
Years ago, I had a conversation with my brother about what equipment to bring to a photoshoot. I was all into gearâ€”and I proudly named the lenses I would lug to the location. Prime this and zoom that. I listed 4 lenses, but before I could add a macro lens into that list, he asked me, â€œDo you really need all that?â€
I thought I did. What if I wanted a closeup of an eyelash?
Then he asked, â€œDo you want to be a photographer, or a lens changer?â€
That question changed my outlook on gear.
Lately Iâ€™ve been wishing for a really wide lens to use with the 7D, for those tight shots in crowded markets and temples. But often when I go to a photoshoot these days, I find myself bringing just one lens. Yes, thatâ€™s right. One lens.
My bag is lighter, my shoulder and back love me more.
One lens forces me to move, to â€˜zoom with my feetâ€™ and think about my compositions. Ultimately, I know I will learn something about photography if I donâ€™t think too much about changing lenses. Hereâ€™s what I learned recently.
Change vantage point
I saw this tree that had fallen during a wild storm. The branches were clutching the ground. It was a perfect setting for an image of being trapped. I asked the model to sit in the middle of the branches and stood up, opening the lens to 18mm to include the branches in the foreground. What I got was an unusual interpretation of the portrait using the environment, an illusion of the branches closing in on the model.
Frame the shot with what you have
The 17-55mm lens at a location where you canâ€™t really move around a lot, forces you to frame your shot a certain way. At this location, I had a lake behind me. One step back and Iâ€™d have been wet. So I decided to frame the shot like how I feltâ€”that any time, I could fall. The root on which the model stood helped me create the illusion that we were high up. In reality we were beside the lake, on its banks. I just crouched really low, and leaned back as far as my poor back would go, hoping I wouldnâ€™t fall, and pulled off an illusion.
Normal focal length with tilt is cool
On this shot, I had about 4 feet of space around me, the model, and a softbox plus a couple more lights on lightstands. I really didnâ€™t have a lot of moving space. So to add a bit of drama, I used the 35mm focal length and then tilted the camera. This way, I could add just a bit of distortion to the image and give the illusion of movement, almost like the model was bearing down on me as she ran from a storm.
On these shoots, I didnâ€™t have the option of changing my lens. And I was able to learn some new things about how to work the lens to get the shots I wanted.
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