Tag Archives: insight
Years ago, I had a conversation with my brother about what equipment to bring to a photoshoot. I was all into gear, 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, “Do you really need all that?”
I thought I did. What if I wanted a closeup of an eyelash?
Then he asked, “Do you want to be a photographer, or a lens changer?”
That question changed my outlook on gear.
Lately I’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, that’s right. One lens.
My bag is lighter, my shoulder and back love me more.
One lens forces me to move, to ˜zoom with my feet” and think about my compositions. Ultimately, I know I will learn something about photography if I don’t think too much about changing lenses. Here’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 can’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 I’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 wouldn’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 didn’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 didn’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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â€œWhy go to Onnut Road?â€ the taxi driver asks me, â€œwhen you can go to the airport and take the BTS from there?â€
â€œIs it open?â€ I ask him about the Bangkok Transit System (BTS) airport link, connecting downtown to the airport some 40 kilometers away.
He nods. â€œSaduak maak gua,â€ he adds. Itâ€™s more convenient.
But taped over the sign for the monorail station is a sign saying itâ€™s closed. Too panicked to get angry at the cab driver or myself, I run to another taxi. The second cab takes me from the airport through the arterial roads that pour thousands of cars into the heart of Bangkok each day. A problem solver, the driver decides to take me to a metro station instead of the BTS, so I donâ€™t have to change trains.
Tuktuks line the exit at the Hualamphong metro station, but I head for the motorbikes. Faster. Cheaper. Â Right now I am looking for saduak, a convenient way to get to the theatre as quickly as possible. It is a good choice, for Chinatown traffic is tight.
Once my kneecap almost brushes a rusty bus fender. My breathing grows shallow and quick. Inside the helmet, I sound like Darth Vader.Â We arrive at the Theatre with time to spare, and I finally exhale. I rush into the air-conditioned room where rehearsals are about to begin, grateful for the cold air.
The long sleeved shirt sticks to my back. Thai summer temperatures can reach over 40 Celsius, but I want to be suphaap, or polite. To suffer through discomfort is to be polite; to suffer inconvenience is to be courteous. Still sweating, I greet the performers, bringing my hands together in front of my face. Suphaap.
Rehearsals over, I flag a tuktuk. Evening traffic is thick and so are the diesel fumes. A motorbike stops beside us, and the woman riding it twirls a white frangipani to her nose. I envy her fragrant little world.
We lunge our way to the Express Boat Service. For 14 Baht I cross the river to Wang Lang Pier 10. Boat passengers spill into a market. People swarm the food stalls hunting for dinner. Dinner comes in little bags or boxes, cheap, easy to take home. Saduak and also sabay, relaxed. Market dinners donâ€™t involve pots and pans and dishwashing.
In another theatre by the river, other diners eat in regulated dim light, waiting for the eveningâ€™s promised dances. A lithe man dances solo with cloth he makes billow over precise dance postures as a Thai flute wrings out a plea. The dancer smiles, and so does the audience. They are feeling it: fun, or sanuk, the Thai reason for doing just about anything. Anything not sanuk is not worth doing. The dancer ends his set with a red paper umbrella spewing out confetti as he twirls it, whirling in a skirt and mask, feet thumping the floor.
Across the tables, I glance at the audience. A man smiles into his camcorder and speaks to his wife. The young blonde couple forget to sip their beers. I put my camera down on my lap, and clap, clap with the rest.