Back on another food photography assignment for UberEats in Albuquerque, New Mexico this time at Papa Felipe's Mexican Restaurant in the northeast area of the city. It was great to meet Karen and Larry who had the food all out quickly and were helpful holding the reflector for the hero shot above! I find people really like to be impromptu photographer's assistants!Read More
Nikkor 50mm 1.8D
Just a simple dandelion at the end of its flowering life ready for the wind or a young child to come by and send its parachuted seeds in flight. Do kids still even do such things on warm spring days out in open green spaces? I hope so.
I like to photograph motorcycles with a 50mm lens. I saw this Harley-Davidson parked in downtown St. Petersburg Florida. Using a 50mm f/1.8 lens lets me select only a part of the motorcycle to show in focus by using a large aperture creating a shallow DoF. I like this style for motorcycles where the bike is shown in ever increasing blur from front to back.
Using a 50mm lens up close also means the whole motorcycle cannot be fit into the frame, which I think is a plus. It is much easier to get creative with composition with focal length restrictions.
Earlier today I came up with an idea for a new photography tip series entitled, "Having a Photography Philosophy," as there are intangible things that going into photography beyond mastering exposure and even composition. One of my personal photography philosophies has always been, even from the very start of getting more seriously into photography, was to first and foremost make photographs for myself. It also may surprise you that I even carry this philosophy into shoots I do for clients. The way I see it, clients have browsed my portfolios. Therefore, they must like what they have seen to have hired me. Thus, if I make shots that appeal to me, as I have always done in the past, then the photos I make for the client now will appeal to them as well. Of course not every shoot allows for such creative freedom, but when I make portraits for clients or photograph cars for clients, I make shots I think look cool. I want the final shots to also be ones I like. This philosophy balanced with client input I believe creates very successful final images.
In my personal shooting I entirely shoot for myself first and foremost. I go out to make shots that I like. If someone else happens to like them, that is great, but not necessarily important to me. After all, if you do not even like the photos you are making, how can you ever expect anyone else to like them either?
The photo in this post is one of my all-time personal favorites. If I could only choose one photo to remind me of what my life was like in Tokyo, it would probably be this one. I walked by this very spot almost every day, and like the man pictured, never ceased to stop and stare at all the action, all the craziness, all the life before me. It was also one of the very first, if not the first shot I ever took with my Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D lens that I bought in Bic Camera just to frame left. So as you can see, this photo cannot possibly have the same amount of meaning to anyone else, which is why it is important to make photographs for yourself.
I met Julianna this morning for our second of four 1-on-1 DSLR Photography Lessons in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. Our first lesson last week was a general overview of how to use her Canon 7D with 18-55mm lens in manual mode and which settings needed to be changed when. Today we swapped lenses and used her 50mm f/1.8 lens the whole morning.
I am a big fan of 50mm lenses and how they can "create something out of nothing" because of their great ability to make very shallow DoF shots. When you can make the entire background become bokeh with ease, you can be very selective in how you portray your subject in frame. In the above shot Julianna modeled for a demonstration of using natural light and shallow DoF to make a fun portrait right on a plain city sidewalk.
Julianna also learned to be careful when creating such shallow DoF shots and that framing the shot first and then moving the single focus point on to the subject is safer than the usual set the focus point in the center on your subject, then recompose.
For our second 1-on-1 DSLR Photography Lesson I met Quincy in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida on an overcast afternoon. This weather was very welcome as we were set to use only 50mm f/1.8 lenses during the lesson. The overcast skies made available light scarce even hours before sunset was to arrive. We took a route through the skyscrapers of downtown passing by a few favorite spots with a small fountain, a grimey alley and different kinds of lights that can be used to make a great background bokeh.
More than the first lesson, I gave composition advice and how to find a shot with a 50mm lens. With its large aperture of f/1.8, a 50mm lens can often make a shot out of nothing, which is of course much harder to see than shooting a landscape that is right there in front of you. Using a 50mm lens requires being able to see how a shallow depth of field shot is going to look with your naked eye. Background is often the key, though that is often the key for any type of photograph if you think about it!
Sometimes I like to make photos that offer an impression or a feeling or a dream, rather than producing as realistic a representation of a subject as possible. The above shot features a metal gate half-opened leading to an open air hallway through a building. I thought if I focused on the gate using my 50mm lens at a large aperture, the bokeh that composition and settings would produce would make for a very abstract "light at the end of the tunnel" kind of shot. If I had made this shot look as it did to my eyes, it would have been pretty boring. Instead, using a few simple photography shooting skills, a more interesting shot was produced that will make any viewer stop and wonder what is in the light at the end of this tunnel?