Monday, August 9, 2010

Exercises 11-13 - Varying the focal length

The next 3 exercises all have the same goal and the same subject matter.  Each prescribes the use of a certain focal length (or range).  Each exercise serve as an exploration of the different image qualities and variation in technique that the focal length requires.  Over a period of 2-3 weeks and in 4 separate shooting sessions I have taken a number of photographs of people I do not know and have never met before.  I have not asked permission nor tried to portray them in their best light. However, I have endeavored to be courteous and acknowledge people with a wave or thank you if I was noticed.

For 3 of the sessions, I have used a full frame camera with 3 prime lenses, 24mm, 50mm, and 200mm.  I used all of the lenses each time I went out and tried to take around 50 frames using each.  On the other occasion I had a crop frame camera with a pair of zoom lenses, 15-85mm and 70-200mm.  From this session I have tried to select images with an effective focal length that correspond to those used  the full frame camera.

By combining the exercises in this way I was able to understand the relative merits of working at different focal lengths.  By mostly using primes I eliminated by ability to re-frame a shot other than by physically moving to a new location. This also forced me to consciously look for subjects that worked with the lens rather than find any subject, then choose the correct focal length.  Both approaches have merits, however, I increasingly enjoyed the challenge of working with a fixed focal length.  My final constraint is that I have not cropped the photographs.  I wanted to preserve the framing of the images as they were taken, cropping would alter the effective focal length and thus defeat the object of this exercise.

I will leave my comments about shooting the different lenses to the specific blog entries, however, I can firmly state that my preference is for focal lengths around 200mm.

The photographs were taking in 2 basic locations:

  1. In and around Munich city center, the shopping streets and city market
  2. At the Auerdult a tri-annual fair that takes place on Mariahilfplatz.  The fair lasts for 9 days each time and has been held since 1310.  This is where the shots including market stand and people in costume were made.

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