The Evolving Photographer II

Lenses

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The science of Optics or lenses is such that entire books have been written about them. I’m going to keep it simple and focused on digital photography.

In a broad sense a lens is a piece of glass or groups of pieces of glass called elements that gathers light reflected off of an object and focuses & projects it onto an image sensor forming a photograph.

An example of a simple lens would be a common magnifying glass and we are all familiar with one of those. The lens of your camera works pretty much the same way but in a much more refined and complicated fashion.

When selecting a lens one has to consider the type of photography one intends to be shooting, for example a wide angle lens may work better for architecture or landscape photography but not as good for portraits or sports photography.

There are basically two types of lenses, Primes & Zooms.
A prime lens has a set focal length.
A zoom lens covers a range of focal lengths.
Prime lenses are generally faster (have a wider aperture) and are sharper and less expensive than zooms. However, zooms can cover a range of focal lengths and are pretty sharp as well which makes them very convenient in varying situations. Don’t fall into the which is better debate. Learning how to use both types will help you evolve into a much better photographer.

Lake Erie Sunset

The two main characteristics of a lens is it’s Focal Length and it’s Aperture.

Focal length determines the field of view and the degree of magnification of what’s projected onto the sensor while aperture governs the amount of light and the Depth of Field of what is projected onto the sensor.

The focal length of a lens is the distance between the lenses convergence point and the image sensor when the subject is in focus. It is measured in millimeters. Aperture is the adjustable hole or iris in the lens that the light goes thru. The bigger the iris, the more light is able to reach the sensor but the tradeoff is less depth of field. That makes lenses with larger apertures highly desirable and highly expensive as well.

Aperture is measured in a sequence of f-stops, each one lets in half as much light as the previous one. A lens with a maximum aperture of f/2.8 will have the following sequence of f-stops: f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16, etc. depending on the lens. These properties and more are indicated by the numbers on the lens.

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A Canon 18-55mm kit lens

EF/EF-S is the mount type.

18-55mm is the variable focal length of the lens.

1:3.5-5.6 is the maximum aperture of your lens across the zoom range. With this lens the more you zoom, the smaller the aperture becomes. Wide open at 18mm, the maximum aperture is f/3.5, but when you zoom in toward 55mm, the aperture will slowly close until it reaches a point where the maximum aperture now becomes f/5.6.

Ø58mm indicates the filter size.

IS means Image Stabilization which helps reduce camera shake which results in sharper images shot at slower shutter speeds.

AF/MF is the auto focus to manual focus switch.

I hope this helps you better understand lenses as you evolve with your photography.
Remember to consider the types of images you will be creating and above all else…

Have Fun Shooting!

Tog Tips #1

Be on the lookout for Alex Moore’s (The Evolving Photographer) Tog Tips”

Tog Tips are handy little tips that can help improve your photography.

Shooting in hard, harsh direct high-noon sunlight can pose some serious challenges. This calls for careful positioning of the subject with respect to both the sun and your background.
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This was shot with a Canon 5D III, a Tamrom 70-200mm f/2.8 lens and a set of Yongnuo yn622c radio triggers used to fire an Alien Bees B800 flash with a 43″ umbrella style octo-softbox. to fill in & soften the hardness of the shadows.

The Evolving Photographer I

I feel that a good photographer is one that is able to make good photographs with a very basic toolset. However I also feel that a good photographer with a more advanced toolset can then create outstanding photos.

Legendary photographer Ansel Adams once quoted “The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it!” That statement holds true especially in todays photographic technological world.

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Canon Rebel T3I/600D Body only With Battery Grip attached.

With the capabilities that todays digital cameras in conjunction with the myriad of photo manipulating software offer, the possibilities are endless and you are only limited by your imagination and knowledge of the vast array of todays digital photography tools.

In photography as with all things it is subject to the individuals preferences, likes & dislikes that should be the determining factor when spending hard earned money on costly camera gear.

I will share my gear list and reasons I went the route that I did. Being the photography nutjob that I am, by no means am I claiming to be an authority, but what little I know about photography I know and I know what works for me and why.

5D Mark III

Canon EOS 5D Mark III with 24-105 mm L series lens

That being said I’ll start with my camera gear first. I shoot with Canon dslr’s basically out of familiarity and not because I think they are better than Nikon, Sony, Pentax, Olympus etc. (either of these brands would equally serve the evolving photographer well.)

I use a T3I/600D and a 5D Mark III for the following reasons:

  • They are solid cameras that have given me a lot of use for a long period of time.
  • The pair brings both crop & full frame sensors to the table which gives you options when creating images.
  • They have excellent image quality.
  • The T3I/600D brings remote flash control to the table which really comes in handy in certain situations.
  • The 5D Mark III is just plain AWESOME period.
  • They both shoot great HD video although I haven’t gotten into the video as of yet.

Next Up: Lenses

The Evolving Photographer

Lex1_c_ProfilesmFrom the time I first pressed a shutter button on a Polaroid camera back in the 70’s, photography has fascinated me. Looking back from then to now I still find myself fascinated by photography and the evolution it has undergone.

Actually, when you think about it, photography in and of itself hasn’t changed much (the same elements that made a good photo in 50’s still apply today.)

However, the gear used to create photos has gone thru a transformation that can only be rivaled by Bruce Banner when he transforms into the Incredible Hulk!

We photographers have evolved right along with photography and that is what serves as the inspiration for this blogpost.

Over the years I have gained a considerable amount of experience as I too have evolved as a photographer. I would like to share my experiences with photography as well as invite you to share yours.

Alex Moore