I’ll have brainjuice with that wide angle

I’m about to do something I’ll probably regret. That is, make a broad, general statement about photographers, technique and the evolution of personal style. 

When I first started shooting I lusted after the longest lens money could buy. Some of this was driven by the idea that if it was bigger it had to be better. But another, less conscious aspect was that a long lens would allow me to see photographs better. Primarily, I could be close to people without actually having to be close. 

Over time the lenses have become shorter. I see the same thing happening with lots of photographers….big, giant lenses in the beginning, little wide angles as they settle into the practice. (There are probably many exceptions, Jay Maisel and Pete Turner come to mind. Like I said, I’ll probably regret the generalization). 

My go-to lens these days is a Nikkor 14-24 zoom and I’m usually shooting at the wide end. I like wide because it can produce a wonderful three dimensional quality, almost like you could step into the photo . Long lenses tend to isolate a subject against an out of focus background. 

Wide angles are often harder to use. They can create distracting distortions and uncontrollable flare. And sometimes there’s so much information in the scene you’re not sure what the point is. But when you finally figure out how to use it effectively the wide angle can be a powerful communication tool.

The creative buzz I get from making sense of the chaos with a wide angle gives me an extra squirt of brain juice. And, as I’ve noted here before, it’s the brain juice that makes the pictures.



~ by keithphilpott on February 27, 2009.

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