Making sense of my photography hobby in retirement

Archive for May 4, 2010

Nifty Fifty

A present I received last Christmas was a Sony DT50mm 1.8 SAM lens for my Sony Alpha DSLR – A200 camera.  The “nifty fifty” is a lens recommended by many photographers not only as a great portrait lens, but also as a lens of discipline to help improve the way images are perceived and conceived.  Up until recently I had not made great use of it, even though it was always in my bag.  A few weeks ago I took my walk around Sigma DC 18-200mm lens off the camera and went for a walk with the 50mm lens attached instead.

Cactus Flower Buds

I must say that the constraints of a fixed focal length lens make one very disciplined.  Shots have to be more carefully and deliberately framed as the luxury of being able to “zoom” at the camera is removed. Get closer, move further back, be totally aware of what’s in the frame, work at it.  This can be quite frustrating, but also liberating.

The other significant gain is the greater range of depth of field.

These cactus flowers were found near the water’s edge “around the rocks” near my home.  It was late afternoon and the sun was heading for dusk.  The cactus bushes were in the shade.  Spiders had made a home amongst the spines and buds.

Cactus Flowers

Cactus Buds


Abandoned in Black & White

I’m still a learner when it comes to taking and processing photographs.  Black and white is still a bit of mystery. Some photographs suit a monochromatic treatment better than others. Other photographs which are disappointing in colour develop a new life in black and white.

Abandoned Barn, Catlins, Southland, New Zealand

I love old buildings as subjects to photograph.  The light on this one caught my eye as we rounded a corner on the gravel road between the Purakaunui Falls and Jack’s Blowhole. Long grass, bleached and warped weatherboards, lifting corrugated iron roof and leaning power pole bereft of power line added to the interest.

I was delighted to have discovered the building.  However, when I got to see the resulting image I was disappointed.  As an experiment I changed the image to black and white and adjusted it for the balance of tones.  The resulting image scrubs up pretty nicely in my view, but that’s just my view.  What do you think?  Remember though, I’m just new at this stuff.