Posted on November 23, 2013
Managing the distortion to make wide angle lenses work for your photo is something that I’m still learning. The majority of the shots I take with ultra wide angles are booooring, but once I remind myself the rule of wide angles… YOU CAN NEVER BE TOO CLOSE, then my shots start getting interesting again. Only THEE most beautiful skylines and landscapes turn out the way you think they will with lenses as wide as this (Zeiss 15mm f2.8 Distagon). “Normal” scenes shot from normal distances get minimized so much with ultra wides that it creates the opposite effect of what you were trying to accomplish… your stunning expansive subject suddenly looks minuscule in the vast space captured around it by the lens. Using wide angles EXTREMELY close is the only technique I’ve found that undoes this effect, and it also creates some interesting perspectives because of the distortion.
Posted on November 14, 2013
This particular photo strikes me as ‘contrast’, which I love in photography. What the sun does to our world fascinates me to no end. Deep shadows. Sparkling glare. Illumination of minute details that otherwise go unnoticed. The drama that early morning and late afternoon sunshine creates is amazing, but also very hard (at least for me) to capture on a camera sensor in a meaningful way. Most of my images end up being nothing but partly too bright and partly too dark, and it always takes quite a bit of adjusting to get the image I’m looking for. The reason I’m particularly fond of this image is because morning light like this moves so rapidly, and you literally have 10-15 seconds at most to get the shot before the light completely changes the scene and you’ve lost your shot forever.
I used a Carl Zeiss 50mm f1.4 lens set at f/5.6, -0.3EV here. The Zeiss 50mm 1.4 is a lens that gets so much criticism in online reviews, but I honestly don’t understand why. People bash it endlessly for being “soft” and for having “terrible optics”, but I think those opinions are mostly from people who expect every lens to be capable of every thing, and that’s just not how lenses work. Each lens is like an individual paintbrush, and no artist would ever use a single brush for everything they do. Just like brushes, lenses have solitary characteristics and solitary strengths and weaknesses. Learning what those are is part of the “art” of photography.
Stay tuned for part II and III of the drama by light series, and let me know what you think.