On the former page I told you that I lately try to use only one lens. Why would I do that, if I have so many?
Some famous photographers, like Henry Cartier Bresson used mostly a 50mm and sometimes a 35mm lens (on a full frame equivalent) and made with these lenses most of their ouvre.
Since we got zoomlenses, most we do, is zooming in or out until we got the whole picture. But DO we? We got everything in the image yes, but do we have a good picture?
When we use a prime lens with a fixed focal length, we need to zoom with our feet. Meaning: we walk further away or closer by to take the picture. Furthermore we are forced to frame what is most important, letting go of that what falls outside the frame.
Another good reason for using a prime lens is, that it lets through far more light than a zoom. Most zooms start at f 3.5. A prime can go to f 1.4 Roughly it lets through four times more light than the zoom!
The picture of the crane I took with a 50mm lens. When I had a zoom, I would have zoomed out so as to catch all of the crane in the image. Now I could not. When you look at the picture you see part of the arm of the crane is outside of the frame. And i believe this makes the picture stronger than when all of it had been in the frame.
Although a part is missing the important parts: de crane itself and its load are within the frame.
I noticed that since I was on my way with only one lens, I had to think of my composition again. Had to walk to and fro to find the right angle, or place to get all the important parts in the frame.
I really makes you look differently. Besides that you have far less to carry and you have a lens that lets through far more light.
The picture next to this text, is a statue near a church in Antwerp. With a zoom I would have zoomed out and put the statue on it. With the fixed lens I could only capture the whole statue by positioning the guys behind eachother and so I got a shot that I would never ever have made if I had had a zoom on my camera. And i had to take a low angle to get the last guy in the frame too. In this case it was not possible to take a distance cause there were a lot of people around, who would have been in the picture then.
Thorston von Overgaard is a photographer who uses a 50mm lens mainly. (a 35mm on a crop sensor) This is the standardlens that sees like our eyes without any distortion. He dared his pupils to take one lens only and make photos with that for at least a month. To learn to know the lens and its limitations, but mostly possibilities. Especially the possibilities of shooting in low light. I make most of my pictures while on my walk around a small lake. I see the sun come up, when at least it shows itself and make great pictures even when there is little light... because of the lens. I love my 50mm. It weighs nothing, lets through lots of light with f 1.8 and is sharp, even fully open. Above that you can make your subject stand out from the background when you shoot fully open.
I tried going on my walk with only one lens and I loved it!! My pictures look so much better. Try it! See what it does for you!
So: i dare you! Go for a walk with only one prime lens and see what it does for you. And if you have no prime? Promise yourself that you use your zoom only on 50mm today! (Yes I know that is hard).
Let me know what you think of it and if it changed your photography. Please use the email form on the contact page.