Monday, February 20, 2012

The Kit Lens and Other Techniques- Part 5

Turning Your Kit lens into a Prime Lens

Prime lenses help train your photographic eye. You physically need to move back and forth to frame your subject. You see the effects of how focal distance affects depth of field. With enough practice, you will have an idea of how much will be in the frame even before you lift the camera to your eye. You can replicate these learning tools with your kit lens simply by setting your camera to a focal length and putting a little piece of tape to keep the zoom ring from moving. My suggestion is to set the camera to where the focal length allows for a 3.5 or 4 aperture. (Background: My first SLR was a 35mm film camera, and my first lens a 35mm 3.5. I went almost a year with just this before using a different focal length). I currently have my kit lens set up like this (set to 20mm on a crop sensor, roughly 32mm field of view on a full-frame body).

Things You Will Learn

 1.       Cleaning up your backgrounds. The depth of field will be deep. This translates to having more in focus. You will need to pay attention to what is behind your subject. Is there a tree sticking out of their head? Are there cars behind them? Is there something distracting in the background? You will learn how to put both your scene and your subject together. This contextual balance is key.

2.       Tunnel Vision Correction. When you take a photo, your eyes get fixed on what you’re photographing, but the camera sees more than what you’ve zoned in on. When you zoom in, you further minimize the effects of background issues. However, having a wider field of view and deeper depth of field will mean that, consciously, you need to decide what does and does not belong in the frame. If you’re trying to capture the beauty of a slow moving creek, you would want to include different rocks, flowers, and shadows. However, you would want to exclude signs, floating trash, cars, etc.

3.       Learning the benefits and faults of different focal lengths. There’s no magic setting for a good photo. There’s no perfect camera or a do-it-all lens. Your camera can’t tell you what is beautiful and what is dull. You make these decisions. Once you spend a couple of months on this single focal length, you can zoom in or out a bit more. Rinse, and repeat. You’ll see certain things change. Going from wide angle to zoomed in all the way, you’ll notice that the depth of field is narrower. There’s less perspective distortion when getting very close to your subject. In my opinion, it’ll be more flattering to people’s faces (research the effects of wide angle lenses and focal length compression).

4.       Self-Fulfilling. The more you understand your camera and how to use it, the better you’ll feel. The more settings you set manually, the more you’ll understand the effects of light, aperture, and shutter speed. Beautiful photos can be made even with your camera is set to Full-Auto, so don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. The point I’m trying to make is that the more you understand the settings, the easier it is for you to utilize the automatic and Semi-Automatic features. YOU are the photographer, so if your camera can’t make the right decision you need to be able to get the photo you want yourself. This is your hobby/passion/obsession. Don’t let the camera, the tool used to express yourself, get between you and your art.

I'm glad you've hung in there through-out this series! Things are starting to wind down, so there'll be two more posts to round out this topic.

No comments:

Post a Comment