Monthly Archives: April 2017

The Advantages of Using a Single Lens for Professional Photography

The Power of Photography

Photography is powerful, it allows us to capture everything that is happening around us. It allows us to capture life as it unfolds. This is why I bring my camera with me wherever I go (as much as possible). This is also the reason why I love photography.

Through the photos that we photographers create, we’re able to reach out to different audience. We are able to deliver important messages in the most visually appealing ways. Through the photos we took, we interact with, influence, transform, and inspire people.

As such, it is our responsibility as photographers to make sure that the images we produce are striking, thought provoking, visually attractive, and unforgettable. To do this, we need to have the right equipment and know how to use them to our advantage.

A Professional Photographer’s Tools

A photographer’s most important tools or equipment are his camera and lenses. You can forget everything else except the two. All other tools – such as tripod, flash, filters, and light meter, among others – are secondary tools.

So when a photographer goes out to shoot, the first things he puts inside the bag are his camera and lenses. These lenses vary according to need or purpose. For example, there are lenses used specifically for architectural photography and there are those that are perfect for product shoots. Thus, most photographers bring more than one lens with them.

Lately, however, a lot of professional photographers have embraced the one lens practice. So instead of bringing a bag filled with varying lenses, they bring only one. In my case, as previously mentioned, I use my ever-reliable Sigma 20mm f1.4 Art Lens, no matter what the occasion or type of shoot may be.

There are several reasons why this practice has become quite widespread. First off, though, let’s talk about the one camera, one lens philosophy.

One Camera, One Lens Philosophy

The idea of using one camera and one lens for professional photography started with Henri Cartier-Bresson, a legend in the field of photography. The well-respected and highly admired French photographer was known for his works that cemented the quality of photojournalism and catapulted it into a form of art.

For the most part of his life as a photographer, even as he roamed around the world, Cartier-Bresson brought with him only his 50mm lens. With just one lens, he had more time and intention to focus on what he was doing. His style was usually to walk around the streets and when he sees something, he brings the camera to his eye and shoots. Nothing more, nothing less.

Of course, cameras then were way different from our cameras today. Nevertheless, the one camera, one lens philosophy still attracts quite a significant following.

Advantages of Using Only One Lens

A lot of photographers have benefitted from using just one lens for most of their work. Here are the most important advantages:

  1. Using one lens allows photographers to familiarize one focal length.
    If you constantly shift to and use different equipment, mastering your camera and lens will prove to be difficult because you won’t have time to familiarize yourself with what your tools can do. If you use just one camera and one lens, you’ll have time to master the focal length.For example, I prefer to use my 20mm for all my photography assignments or projects. Since I have been using it long enough, I have mastered its capabilities and can therefore easily adjust to situations like the distance of the subject or the amount of ambient light available.

    Additionally, since I know my lens quite well, I already have an idea of how the image will come out even before I start shooting. In other words, I can pre-frame a scene and visualize it way ahead of time.

    Discovering and mastering a lens is not easy. It can take weeks, months, or even years. If you use just one lens, you need to master only one focal length, and your work becomes easier.

  2. Using only one lens allows photographers to explore their creativity.
    Using just one lens for all photography projects will teach you to rely a lot on your creative juices. For example, how will you position your subject in a 20mm frame? Likewise, if you are shooting with a wide angle lens and you want to capture the emotions on your subject’s face, you’ll have to find a way to move closer to your subject without compromising the creative aspect of the scene or distorting its angle.With just one lens, and the same preset regardless of project type, you will learn how to come up with creative, innovative solutions to make sure that the images you want to produce will come out well.
  3. Using only one lens will help you save time.
    Yes, there is such a thing as wasting time in photography. There is this thing called G.A.S. or gear acquisition syndrome. It pertains to what photographers do – how everyone gets overly excited – when a new gear comes out. Well, it’s all right to get excited about new cameras and lenses, but it’s a different thing when you obsess about them to the point that you’re not able to do your job well anymore. (Yes, this happens in real life!)Anyway, with one camera and one lens only, you won’t have to worry about which camera or which lens to use. Sometimes, even when you’re about to step out of the house or office, you still haven’t made up your mind. With one option only, this won’t be a problem anymore.
  4. Using one lens is easier on the pocket and on your shoulders.
    If you use only one lens, choose one that is the best for you; invest on it, and save your money for other important needs. It’s definitely more practical and easier on the pocket.In addition to this, since you don’t have to bring a lot of lenses with you, there’s no need to worry about carrying too many things wherever you need to go. As such, you won’t be subjecting your shoulders and back to a lot of stress. Moving around will be easier, too.
  5. Using only one lens will result to more consistent and cohesive narrative photos.
    Because you are using just one lens, the images you capture will be more consistent and cohesive, particularly when you are taking landscape shots or portraits. This consistency and cohesiveness in photographic composition will make your images more effective in terms of creating a narrative for viewers. The consistency will also work well for your brand.

Improve Exposure in Landscape Photography

While most cameras today do a fairly decent job of properly exposing the scene at hand, they don’t get it right all the time.

In tricky lighting situations, it’s easy for your camera’s light meter to get confused resulting in an over or underexposed image. In other cases, where you may want to intentionally overexpose to draw out certain details, or underexpose to create a certain mood, leaving the settings up to your camera isn’t a good way to get the results that you’re after.

No matter what type of images you’re going for, or what effect you’re looking to create, having a clear understanding of exposure and knowing how to adjust your camera’s settings can help you to get the results that you’re after, each and every time.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at how you can adjust your exposures for different situations, and make use of tools that can help you to capture those excellent shots.

Understanding the Exposure Triangle

First, let’s take a look at exposure itself. Exposure is based on three main components: aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. Each of these variables works together to allow light to reach the camera’s sensor; influencing the resulting image. Understanding these three components will give you to better control your images’ exposure.

  1. Aperture: Aperture is the size of the opening that allows the light in to hit the sensor.
  2. Shutter Speed: Shutter speed is the length of time that light is allowed through the aperture for.
  3. ISO: ISO is the camera’s sensitivity to the light. The higher the ISO, the higher the camera’s sensitivity.

All three of these components work together to create what’s known as the exposure triangle. When you adjust one, you must adjust another in order compensate.

The Metering Scale

Most cameras today use a process known as TTL metering, or, through the lens metering, which means that the camera examines the light coming through the lens and adjusts the settings accordingly.

You can see your camera’s meter readings, by switching to manual mode and looking through the viewfinder. The meter is usually found on the bottom or side and often appears as a number scale with a tiny triangle pointer above the numbers that indicates whether an image is properly exposed. The scale will have a 0 at the center, with numbers on the right to indicate overexposure, and on the left for underexposure. Getting the pointer as close to 0 as possible is usually ideal as this indicates proper exposure.

If you depress the shutter halfway, you will engage the meter and as you move the camera around you’ll notice the meter readings change, depending on where you’re focusing. This is because different objects are lighter or darker.

While the metering scale is great, it really only gives you a partial story. It tells you how much light you are getting, but it doesn’t show you where in the frame it is coming from or how much is coming from where. This is where metering modes come in.

Measuring the light or brightness of a scene is crucial for finding the ideal exposure for your image. Your camera should have a number of different ways that it can measure incoming light, here’s a quick look at how they work.

  1. Matrix or Evaluative Metering

    Matrix or Evaluative Metering is your default camera setting. With this setting, your camera will look at the light in the entire scene and average it, giving it what it considers to be the best lighting. This is a great mode for scenes that are evenly lit or, for those times where you’re not sure what exposure to use.

  2. Spot Metering or Partial Metering

    With Spot Metering, your camera focuses on a small area at the center of the frame and measures only the light in that specific space. Spot Metering is helpful for situations where the subject you are trying to capture is much brighter than the background, and is especially ideal for photographing backlit subjects as well as for situations where you have a specific area you would like to have the exposure based off of.

  3. Center-Weighted Average Metering

    With Center-Weighted Average Metering, your camera looks at light from the entire scene and averages it while emphasizing the center of the frame. This method is ideal for portraits since most subjects tend to be in the center of the frame, and often proves to be the most effective way to get the right exposure.

The mode that you chose will depend greatly on your desired focal point, available lighting, and of course, the type of image that you’re looking to create. Be sure to check your camera’s owner manual to find out how to change these settings on your camera.

Game photography with HDR

Shooting landscapes is the dream of most people who hold a camera, and for good reason – their sheer beauty and depth can create a very dramatic photograph.

But photographing these amazing scenes can be tricky. Often a single exposure won’t capture the entire range of light in a landscape scene, and your photo may look a little flat. By shooting brackets and then using HDR techniques to create your photo, you have the opportunity to bring that scene to life. While HDR photos can be edgy and intense, you can also create serene, beautiful HDR photos by using the technique in a subtle way.

All of these are HDR photos which were built and edited in Aurora HDR 2017 by Macphun, which is the most powerful HDR software available. If you aren’t familiar with Aurora or HDR photography, you can find a wealth of information, training videos and tutorials on the Macphun website.

Chase The Right Light

In landscape photography, it’s often all about the light. The best light can come at sunrise, although of course sunset is usually most popular (since it doesn’t require a wakeup call). Regardless of whether you get up early for sunrise or show up for sunset, keep in mind that these are the times of day when the light is best, and better light results in better photos. Bright, overhead midday sun is less likely to produce a beautiful and dramatic shot.

Add A Human Element For Scale

Although we assume a landscape photo will not have any people in it, if you do add a human element it can lend a great sense of scale to the photo. When you just see the landscape, we don’t always recognize the sheer enormity of a place. Add in a human element and it becomes quite clear.

Find Natural Lines In Nature

In cityscapes, lines abound and it is generally easy to find something to lead your eye through the image. But in nature, it can be a bit trickier. Using a leading line can add emotional depth to a photo and give the viewer a sense of walking into the frame.

Field-Testing the K&F Concept Large Professional Camera Backpack

K&F Concept is a company that has been around the world of photography since 2011 but admittedly has flown beneath my radar. That was until I was approached about evaluating some of the gear they offer.

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve put this bag through it’s paces. The bag or, more accurately a backpack, was tested during some outdoor photography outings and during day to day shooting. It looks outstanding and has some great features that real-world photographers will appreciate.

The Basics

First of all, if you’re the type of shooter who insists that form just as important as function then you will love this pack. The material is a weathered texture and resembles the look and feel of old denim jeans. The color is a blueish-gray with accents being black faux leather.

The entire package is stylish and utilitarian without looking drab or plain by any means. Overall the appearance and feel of the construction is overtly heavy duty yet refined.

All the zippers and buckles are large and work smoothly. There are also grabbers at the end of each zipper for easy handling even if you’re wearing gloves. There’s not much to say about zippers and buckles on camera bags except whether they work well or they don’t… and these do.

Something I noticed immediately was the bottom of the bag, which is also covered in the faux leather material.

This is a great feature and here’s why. When out shooting and you shove off your bag the first thing to often make contact with the ground is the bottom of the pack or bag. The extra protection provided by this material greatly increases the life and wear of the pack. A great feature for those who intend to really use this bag. However, one thing I would like to have saw included would have been a built-in rainfly for sudden rain showers. The material itself seems as if it would likely shed a moderate amount of moisture but the added security of a rainproof barrier is always welcomed.

At the top of the bag is a padded carry handle that makes unshouldered transport a breeze.