Starting Photography – Choosing a Lens For Your SLR Camera

When it comes to choosing photographic lenses there is no secret. In fact it’s simply a matter of thinking about what you want to photograph, how often you photograph it, and what lens you need to do it. You can get quite confused about different manufacturer’s lenses when trying to pick the right one.

Let’s think about someone who takes portrait photographs for a living. This kind of photographer is probably not interested in macro lenses, fisheye lenses or any other very short lens simply because it won’t cut it in the portrait world. It’s no different for you. If you are shooting mainly landscapes, or nature scenes such as waterfalls or even the night sky at dusk, then think about what lens will give you the best clarity.

When I am teaching people photography I often used this analogy; you’ll lens is like your camera’s eye. For example if you are shooting portraits you don’t want a lens that is too close because you don’t want the nose to be too big. On the other hand if you are shooting birds in a tree then you certainly want to be as close as you can. Also if you are shooting general scenes such as your favorite beach or a pretty garden then a ‘standard’ lens will suit you best. Any lens must be able to transport you into the scene as clearly as possible.

It’s true what they say that the more money you spend on a lens the better clarity and sharpness you will get in your photography. Your lens is the thing that gives your photography clarity and sharpness. This does not mean you need the absolute top of the range lens. You can get great results with standard lenses such as an 80 mm to 105 mm.

Here is a simple way of illuminating confusion as to what lens to buy. So let’s look at what lens does what.

Portrait lenses — 105 mm to 200 mm

Landscape or nature scenes – (wide angle lens) 24 mm to 35mm

Astrophotography (wide angle lens) 10 mm to 24 mm

Wildlife photography – (telephoto lens) 100 mm to 600 mm.

So you can see that each lens does a different job.

This is just a rough guide as to what type of lenses does what. If you want ‘expansiveness’ then a wide-angle lens is what you need. If you want to shoot wildlife such as a bird in a tree, then a telephoto lens may just be what you are after. A wide angle lens gives you more peripheral view and a telephoto transports you closer.

You might also want to invest in UV filter for the front of your lens. A UV filter is not a specialized color filter, nor does it give you special effects. It is a clear glass filter that screws onto the front of your lens to give protection from dust, sand etc. It protects your lens from the environment around you.

Don’t be too overwhelmed by the photography brochures or catalogs all salespeople. Do your research before buying anything. I do recommend that you buy your lenses new when you are just starting out photography simply because you may not know what you are buying if you buy second hand. Once you become skilled in photography and buying photographic equipment then you can buy secondhand lenses confidently.

Good luck in choosing your lens and you feel free to e-mail me if you need help. Happy shooting!

A Little About Photography

Photography, the more I love photography the less I actually think about it. What is the essence of photography? It is related to how we consider photography and what photography is to us. For most people photography is a way to remember, you go on a trip and you take pictures to remember that trip. To remember the moments.

Is it exactly a way to remember though? If you were to show those photographs to someone unrelated to the trip or to you, they may try to find a story behind them, but they would not understand them. Then a photograph is not a memory in itself, it is a way to trigger the memories of people who shared it.

Although I love photography, I never opened the dictionary to read how it was defined. Oxford dictionary states: “photography: the art or practice of taking and processing photographs.”

There are a few things we can see in this definition. First, Photography is either an art or a practice, it serves a multi purpose. The practice is to take pictures to trigger the memories of things you saw. The art is to show something to others through a photograph. To organize the frame in a way, so that it is not about what is inside of the frame anymore, but even more about what is not. Organizing what is real to match your vision of the world.

The second is that photography is about taking and processing. The processing (or lack of processing if a choice) is said to be part of the photography process.

Mentioning processing raises the issue of truth. Is there truth in photography? Capturing what is real is to be honest a very tricky issue. If you were to ask a photographer in charge of taking the photograph of a painting how he feels. He would tell you, hard: hard to obtain the right colors, hard not to flatten the photograph but to retain the strokes of painting.

And what is truth in photography exactly? Is it to show the world as it is? If so, then it would look very different from how we see it, since the range of colors which we, humans, perceive is narrow. It depends on the number of cones in our eyes and their range.

If the truth is to show the world as humans see it, then we face an issue. Not all humans are born the same, some are taller, some are skinnier, some have blonde hair. And we have different eyes with a different perception.

Most camera manufacturers use the CMOS sensor for the cameras they manufacture. Understanding the global functioning of this sensor helps us to understand our current issue. A CMOS sensor is electronic, when electrons reach the censor inside the camera, the photo-sites of the censor record their value.

The problem is that those photo-sites are colorblind. To produce colors, most sensors have photo-sites each focusing on one of the three primary colors: In other words red, green and blue. Then the information recorded by the censor is filtered and mixed to produce the photograph you see.

The most common way of processing, also called demosaicing is through the Bayer filter pattern. This technique gives priority to the green color, green accounts for twice as much as red or blue in the formula.

Because the human eye is very sensitive to green compared to the two other primary colors, camera manufacturers have to adapt how cameras perceive the world, so that it indeed looks like what we see. Understanding how the camera processes photographs, there is no universal truth in our visual perception of the world.

For such reasons, looking for truth in photography is an enterprise promised to fail. Instead, it is using the world as a raw material for us to shape. We are lucky as photographers, for we were given the whole world as a playground, to be the eyes of our world.

All The Secrets Of Black And White Photography

Ever since the onset of color in photographs, black and white photography has become less and less popular, however in recent months there has been an increase in the number of photographers turning to black and white photography. Why is this happening now? Well many people believe that photographers are going back to more conventional techniques to perhaps bring out a new look and feel instead of churning out all the too often normal colored photos.

It’s important to note that black and white photography was the beginning of photography and holds a special place in many photographers’ hearts. This is one of the reasons why it has become a bit of a trendy thing to do nowadays. Basically beginner photographers are starting to take up black and white photography more often than normal photography. Why? Mainly because they are still able to use the most advanced, up to date cameras while creating amazing black and white photos.

What’s So Great About Black and white photography?

Perhaps this is a question that can’t be answered, however it’s more important to realize the unique differences between black and white compared to color. First of all black and white photos are able to portray a lot of different feelings. These feeling are aimed more at the dark side of human nature including, pain, depression a sense of loss and hopelessness and also an ability to create an aged photo.

Color photography however portrays a much more different set of feelings aimed at the more passionate, enthusiastic side of human nature. Bright colors are able to create a sense of joy and enthusiasm. Another important thing to note is that certain colors portray different feelings. Red for example creates a scene of passion and enthusiasm. Yellow makes the watcher feel a sense of joy and happiness.

One thing that many photographers try to do is incorporate both black and white and color together to create a paradoxical scene if you will. By that I mean the photographer will attempt to create a scene of joy using black and whit photography which is normally used for negative emotions. This is something that is very appealing to the more advanced photographer.

Color photography may be more desirable in some respects for sporting events and for landscape photography, though works of black and white photography by such renowned photographers such as Ansel Adams and Edward Watson are matchless works of art. People photography is another sphere where it reigns supreme and can be particularly appreciated in the old glamour photographs of the late ’30s and ’40s. The longevity of black and white photographs is seen in these old and lasting prints that age has not been able to damage. Good photography should have two features -beauty and ability to stop time – both of which are abundantly present in black and white photography.