Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Photo of the day: A beautiful couple

A beautiful couple by The Bacher Family
A beautiful couple, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.

Sometimes, a zoom lens just won't do.

In my collection of lenses, I have two "prime" lenses. Primes are the opposite of zooms: they have only one focal length, in my case, 50 and 85mm. If you want to get closer to the subject, you can't turn the lens ring, you have to physically move closer. But the tradeoff is three-fold: first, prime lenses collect a lot more light than zoom lenses can, so you can shoot in significantly dimmer light. Second, the better light capacity means you can use natural light more than camera flash, with all of its challenges and limitations. And finally, prime lenses usually allow you shoot at significantly wider apertures, meaning you can use shallower depths of field. This allows you to focus on a particular spot and have everything else around it disappear into beautiful out-of-focus "bokeh." It's a great tool for photographic composition.

This image was made with a flash, not natural light, but I was able to use less flash and still captured a lot of the background context of the image than I would have been able to without my prime (50mm) lens. The wide aperture (f/2.8) also allowed me to get this young couple in perfect focus while the rest of the party-goers disappeared into the background.

Here's another example. In this image, the use of a narrow depth of field immediately pulls the eye to the bud of this Devil's Club plant at Mount Rainier National Park, and the fine detail of the spider web attached to it, and the ring of spines around it, despite its position off-center in the photo. I also shot this at an ISO of 320, allowing me to capture more detail with less digital noise than I'd be able to (at least with natural light) if I'd been using a "slower" lens.

The beauty of a prime lens

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