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07-24-2010, 01:44 PM   #1
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Does the lens pick you?

Normally, a Pro or skilled amateur would select the lens(es) for the next shooting according to the job, the situation, the expectations picturewise that one has and so on.

Being amateur, I noticed a completely different approach over the last months: I see a lens that I didn't use for quite some time and I feel an irresestible desire to mount that lens on a suitable (or even un unsuitable) body and go to find matching motives for that combo. Results are sometimes great, sometimes a little bit forced or as worst case boring, but my question is:

Do you happen to know this feeling, when a lens from the second or third rank (not quality but time in use) manipulates your brain? You leave for taking photos because the lens wants to be used? In my case, it was the K 135/3.5 that opened my eyes for what I have been doing habitually over the past month with different lenses. Of course, I still do select a proper lens for a theme, but in-between?

What are your experiences here?

07-24-2010, 02:19 PM   #2
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Only last night I heard somebody say how intuition works that made a lot of sense to me. The 'brain' assembles a reasonable explanation from untold numbers of subtle and seemingly unrelated experiences, such as changes in tone and timbre of voice, word choices, unconsciously seen details, and memories of past experience.

'Follow your intuition' and 'follow your heart' are often given advices which recognize the mind's uncanny ability to integrate mass amounts of data into reasonable and often accurate conclusions.

Of course these factors can be manipulated to obtain a desired result; witness the advertising trade, and salesperson tactics from ancient times...it is highly doubtful a lens in and of itself can do that, however.
07-24-2010, 02:49 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Vranx Quote
Normally, a Pro or skilled amateur would select the lens(es) for the next shooting according to the job, the situation, the expectations picturewise that one has and so on.

Being amateur, I noticed a completely different approach over the last months: I see a lens that I didn't use for quite some time and I feel an irresestible desire to mount that lens on a suitable (or even un unsuitable) body and go to find matching motives for that combo. Results are sometimes great, sometimes a little bit forced or as worst case boring, but my question is:

Do you happen to know this feeling, when a lens from the second or third rank (not quality but time in use) manipulates your brain? You leave for taking photos because the lens wants to be used? In my case, it was the K 135/3.5 that opened my eyes for what I have been doing habitually over the past month with different lenses. Of course, I still do select a proper lens for a theme, but in-between?

What are your experiences here?
.

I've given up trying to resist doing what my lenses want me to do. The upside of that is that I've taken some of my best shots after letting a lens talk it's way on the camera.

In all seriousness, that could actually be part of the creative process. If I'm trying to 'force' a focal length or even an aperture, I get 'forced-looking' shots - sometimes that's OK if I'm trying to achieve some specific end, like a low-light party or kid shot and I need to meet some FOV and shutter-speed criteria to get the shot, but as you say, for those 'in between' times... Sometime it's great to give in to that gut feeling about the glass.


.

Last edited by jsherman999; 07-24-2010 at 02:54 PM.
07-24-2010, 06:34 PM   #4
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Number all your lenses sequentially.

Seed your computer's random-number generator.

Whatever number comes up, use that lens for the day/week/month.

At least this way, whatever happens, you can blame the computer, not the lenses.

07-24-2010, 08:06 PM   #5
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Inticements

Oh, absolutely. Just yesterday my ST 50/1.4 tried to bribe me with an offer of, uuuh . . . an intimate moment alone in the garden.

But Tammy, the SP 80-200/2.8, wearing nothing but a 24mm auto extension ring an' a smile won that round with promises of close-up views I'd never imagined before! (An' talk about built -- now there's a . . . )

Long gone are the days when they tried to attract my attention with candy and liquor alone.

H2
07-25-2010, 04:20 AM   #6
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If my lenses gave me candy, I'd use my A lens more and not be so clingy to da 21mm limited. The 21mm praises me all the time I and give her lots of kisses in return. Oh you're so pretty 21mm.
07-25-2010, 07:28 AM   #7
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Vranx, exactly. That's how a lot of us shoot.

On any given day of just walking around, properly composed frames of all focal lengths are going to present themselves to you. That's what makes it so damn fun. An example:

I see a garden landscaping of foxtail fern plants (or any plants). Let's call the left-most fern "Fern Left" and the right-most fern "Fern R," and there are dozens in-between.

I have my 50mm on the camera, and frame so that Fern L and Fern R touch the very edges of my viewfinder. In other words, I have all of the ferns included in the shot.

Now, I switch to a 24mm, get twice as close, and shoot the exact same shot. It's going to look very different because of the different FL, as well as other characteristics of it being a different lens.
07-25-2010, 07:47 AM   #8
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But all too often, a lens' workout consists of "test shots" around the house ('cause I don't get out enough). Let's see, can I shoot that artifact or tree branch or window or spiderweb or structural joint from a slightly different angle this time? Ah, I've shot that same flowering pot on the covered porch with everything from the 10-17 wide to the 500mm mirror 'macro', including all the 50s, 135s, and 200s. Hmmm, I haven't done shoot-outs of the 35s, 28s and 24s yet -- it's time for more lens comparisons.

I need to leave home.

07-25-2010, 08:16 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by troglodyte Quote
If my lenses gave me candy, I'd use my A lens more and not be so clingy to da 21mm limited. The 21mm praises me all the time I and give her lots of kisses in return. Oh you're so pretty 21mm.
Hey guys--let's watch out for THIS one!

That's one hell of a first post here!


WELCOME!
07-25-2010, 08:36 AM   #10
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Only in the sense, now and again it's a case of pick up the camera and run, so what ever lens is on there gets used.

As a prime lens man, maybe just a little extra leg work if I get it wrong.
07-25-2010, 10:29 AM   #11
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I am not sure about second-rate lenses, since there is little fun working with deficient tools. Working within constraints, however, is a different matter. Sometimes I will indeed artificially limit what I use, selecting a single prime lens in order to focus on more important aspects of taking a picture.

For example, on Saturday for the Worldwide Photo Walk I decided to use only the Vivitar Series I 105mm. Restricting myself to an effective FOL of 180mm for street shooting might have seemed perverse, but it paid dividends. Check out my thread to see some results.

One of the reasons I chose that particular lens was that it had been out of commission for some time, so I had not really used it extensively. That conforms with what you are suggesting. I also thought that the red ring would help me fit in with the Canikon crowd... kidding!
07-25-2010, 11:26 AM   #12
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Some think that better gear makes them better photographers. T'ain't so. Note the hierarchy of significance of the factors in making a photo, in decreasing order:

1) the photographer
2) the subject
3) the light
4) the lens
5) the camera

We've seen enough splendid shots from Holgas and phonecams and pinholes to know that it ain't the optics, it's the operator. A sharp, crisp, brilliant photo of boring crap is still boring crap. Any lens that isn't smashed too badly can produce usable images which, with subjects that are well lit and composed, will grab eyeballs.

So here's a challenge: Deliberately use an 'inferior' lens for a day or week or so. Learn to exploit its strengths and weaknesses. My Porst 135/2.8 is severely fogged -- so I'll use that for a series of "glowing aura" shots. My Vivitar 24/2 and Lentar-Tokina 25/3.5 have apertures stuck wide open -- I'll use those for shots of significant subjects on insignificant backgrounds. My Enna 35/2.8 has the aperture stuck open AND its focus stuck at about 1m -- I'll use that for a series of fixed-distance shots, same as an Industar-58U 75/3.5 mounted at a fixed-focus of 1.5m, good for head shots.

And I can stick a magnifier or eyeglass lens in a bellows and let the CA run rampant. So here's the next challenge: find subjects and compositions and light where CA contributes to the pix. Lemons and lemonade, y'know? Show what you can do when your *Ltds are in the shop.
07-25-2010, 12:17 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
... the hierarchy of significance of the factors in making a photo, in decreasing order:

1) the photographer
2) the subject
3) the light
4) the lens
5) the camera

...
I understand well and agree wholeheartedly with what you mean to say, however all of those factors, together, is absolutely and critically essential; not even a single one of them can be removed from the photo-making process!

Also, without #3 there would be no #s 1, 2, 4 , or 5; interesting and slightly amusing how that factor ends up in the middle...
07-25-2010, 12:25 PM   #14
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Thanks to all of you friendly people, makes me feel A LOT easier. But still, I would like to clarify some maybe misunderstandable points:

1) The lens ranking or rating was not said as a optical qualifier, I just wanted to express, that I use this lenses not as regularly as others. The others I do use a lot are not necessarily outstanding or FA*-Limited-Club members, it is always a lens mix.

2) It's not just about testing a (maybe recently aquired) lens against the same window in your backyard again, I pick the lens, mount it and leave for an adventure with unpredictible ending. And of course I try to get satisfying results anyway.

3) It is only one lens that I take with me (OK, let's consider a zoom being one lens despite the variety of focal lengths) and that's the thrill here and the limit there.

4) Finally, I do keep in mind that the person behind the camera, not the gear matters about results. But some lenses have physical features (agreed, primes here only) or focal length pleasantries that are tickling my technical palate and throw that 'joy of using a nice crafted tool' into the ring. Many threads here around give me the impression that Pentax gear is notorious for this olfactory mark in the photographic decisional situation, isn't it?

What I can tell from heart is: every lens that wanted to be picked told me about its strenghts and weaknesses and how to handle its focal length and field/angle of view, so it was never a waste of time or film, even if the results were not all keepers.
07-25-2010, 12:30 PM   #15
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Ira's post reminds me of somebody elses post about what to do about boredom or lack of inspiration. The answer is simply to sit down someplace, anyplace will do, with camera & a bag of lenses. Subjects are everywhere...
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