Most of the time when I take photos, I use the same lens. On my iPhone, it’s the lens that comes with the phone and on my Sony a6000 I usually use the 16-50 lens that came standard with the camera. They are functional and work in most situations…and they’ve become familiar, I know the distances they can handle almost instinctively.
On Saturday I decided to use my zoom lens as we headed out to the beach for a walk. I’ve used it before and know that it is great to zoom in on things in the distance, but it works differently than the lens I use regularly. I knew when I made the decision to use another lens that it would mean looking at the beach differently. I would have to look further out because of the change in range. And I would have to pay attention to focus since the zoom doesn’t lock in as quickly as the other lens does.
The zoom definitely brings birds in close…if you can lock in a focus quickly enough. I didn’t quite get the bird crisply here, but I like the way the background is crisp with the out of focus bird flying directly into my line of sight.
With the bigger than usual surf this week I found that the zoom brought it up closer, helping the camera see the impressiveness that is hard to capture with my usual lens.
And this one brought the rusty color and fluffy texture of the red algae alive against the foamy whiteness of the waves crashing in the background.
Seagulls let me come pretty close, but these little sea birds are pretty skittish, making it hard to ever get them in a photo. Here you can see just how much smaller they are compared to your average seagull.
You can see how much of the reef has been exposed as the sand has been washed out by the winter tides and how often it is covered with water by the lush algae growth exposed only at low tide. (Notice how the zoom not only captured the surfer, but also the seagull taking off just to the side of him.)
I noticed this rusty pail wedged in the rocks. At first I wasn’t sure I could take a photo using my zoom lens, but standing back a bit I was able to shoot this. I’m liking the colors and textures most about this photo.
As I headed out on Sunday, again with my zoom lens, I was optimistic that I would see and capture interesting photos using it. After stopping at our favorite donut shop for some donuts and the local coffee shop for some coffee, we pulled along the side of 101 to watch the surfers on the big waves. The guy with a massive lens nearby was probably getting more interesting shots than I was, but I enjoyed the movement I captured in this shot of a surfer on a ride with another right below him.
And I’m not quite sure what to do with this one. I like the view of the pelicans right above the surf, but the composition is not ideal. Could I edit it some way to make the image more interesting? More appealing in some way?
What I do know is that when I look through a different lens, I see the world differently. The colors change, what seems prominent through one lens recedes with another. And what I didn’t notice or couldn’t see with my “regular” lens suddenly becomes visible when viewed through the zoom.
While the camera lenses are interchangeable and it certainly isn’t difficult to change them, it’s often inconvenient to change them “in the field.” And at times I find myself wishing for the one I am not currently using, finding it frustrating (and annoying) to be looking through the one that doesn’t allow me to see as clearly as I would like.
Changing lenses reminds me just how important it is to get beyond my usual way of seeing things. Sometimes I need to pull in close and get a macro view…exploring the small details while other times I need to step back and take the long view with sweeping vistas and full context. And then there’s the zoom, bringing the far closer, limiting the context as I find that distant focus.
I can change my lens without physically changing my camera lens. I’m optimistic that I can make the effort to look in different ways and try to see through the eyes and experiences of those around me. Just knowing that there are other ways of seeing makes a difference in the ways I look and see. And what I see can make a difference in the way I act.
And then this short video appeared on my email today. Stop, Look, Go! Might just change your lens…and maybe your day too!