A couple of weeks ago, I have been on a photo walk with two of my colleagues from work. We went to the Landschaftspark Duisburg (LaPaDu), a well known recreational area. It is a park that was built amidst the ruins of an old steel mill. As you can imagine, there is an abundance of photo opportunities in this place. Very early on, I switched to my 70-300mm telephoto lens for a close-up shot of some detail on an old railway car. Remembering my experience from an earlier shoot on an old switchyard where using my 105mm prime lens had helped me to overcome some sort of creative block, I decided to use said telephoto lens exclusively on this day, willingly accepting the fact that I would not be able to get many of the wide-angle shots you can get in a place like the LaPaDu.
Here’s what I found:
- Contrary to my expectations, I didn’t experience using my telephoto lens as a limitation. In fact, I found that it opened up more creative possibilities than it blocked.
- After seeing the shots I got with my lens, one of my colleagues said that in his mind my photographic eye was more trained or skilled than his and that he needed more practice to get to my level. This didn’t (and still doesn’t) sit very well with me because it isn’t true at all. Granted, my images looked quite different from his. However, I realized that it was the lens that made me look and see in a different way. For me, this is the main takeaway from this. Our choice of lenses influences the way we see. Knowing the possibilities and limitations of my lens, I looked in completely different places than my colleagues and naturally made completely different photographs.
- Choice is not always a good thing. If our lens defines how and where we look for images, then having numerous lenses or using a lens with an extensive focal range (eg. 18-300mm) might give us too many options, thus confusing us by not telling us where to look. I am still not completely sure whether this logic is valid in every situation, but right now this is a very strong thought in me.
What do you think about these findings? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
In the meantime, here are some of the images I got on this day. Click on an image for a larger view.