How to choose an appropriate lens?

Started Nov 27, 2012 | Questions thread
RobSouthOz Regular Member • Posts: 252
Re: How to choose an appropriate lens?

alnylam wrote:

Often I wonder how does a non-professional photographer know what is the appropriate lens to use in any given situation. Just this afternoon, as the sun was setting, I noticed in the distance a patch of light in the Jacaranda tree in our neighbour's garden. The abundance of those seasonal lilac blossoms against the stark background of deep green leaves gave a unique photo moment. But what lens would I fit to capture just the right composition from where I stood?

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If great performance were easy, it would not be so rare.

This is where some creative vision combined with experience need to meet and become best buddies.

I would ask myself a few things:

  1. Does the image need context - does the viewer need to see it is a Jacaranda in the landscape? Is the sky important (to help describe time of day)? If yes, a lens that will frame the tree/sky (std to mild tel perhaps)
  2. Do I need to focus just on 1 point to bring this visual curiosity to the fore? If yes a faster lens (open aperture to blur out background), and maybe more tele so it fills the frame.
  3. Is the size/scale or perspective an important part that can be exaggerated to good effect? If so maybe get closer and use wider angle lens.

Photography is about making maximising the probability of a great shot, especially with limited time when lighting conditions can be fleeting. It can't always be predicted what makes for the best shot so once you've shot "the vision" (in theory the best chance of a great photo for an experienced photographer) also try other combinations. "The vision" isn't perfect and can be wrong - you need to explore that too - some of my favourite shots are those that I thought wouldn't work - my vision for the photo wasn't the best option.

To me, working out why "the vision" didn't work in reality is one of the most important aspects to becoming a better photographer - that's when you can add to your toolkit of experience to increase probability of a great shot next time.

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