I mentioned some time ago (when we started the OPS blog) that I would like to run a series of "Projects". Last Thursday I introduced the first of this series. It is one that everyone with a camera (which should be most of us I hope) can take part in. As I raised this topic during my "Vamp 'til ready" bit at the start of the meeting I hadn't quite thought it through.
Simply the project is to go out and photograph with ONLY a standard lens. To keep this as wide open as possible we will use a very loose definition of "Standard" (everyone has their own idea of what one should be anyway). For our purposes it should be the closest focal length you have available that gives a "normal" view of your subject. So not a wide angle that exagerates the persective nor a telephoto that compresses the perspective. Approximately the equivalent of about 50mm on a 35mm full frame camera (about 35mm on a cropped frame camera) but ANYTHING you have that gives a natural looking perspective will do. The other and possibly more important constraint is it MUST be a fixed focal length (if you only have a zoom lens then set it at about the equivalent of 50mm and leave it there - if you dont trust yourself to not use the zoom then tape it in the correct zoom position)
Here is a little of the reasoning behind this project.
The standard lens is one that most of us have forgotten how to use, we have been loured by the convenience of the zoom or the drama of the ultra wide or the selectivity of the telephoto. The standard lens creates images with a more natural view, similar enough to that of the eye that with a little practice it is possible to compose a scene without looking through the viewfinder - this is what Cartier-Bresson is reputed to have done with the majority of his images. To get the best out of a standard lens you really do need to think about your subject and composition and quality of light. It is a good discipline to hone your skills.
It is said that "necessity is the mother of invention" and it applies to the creative arts (like photography) as well. Having restrictions placed upon one can help to focus the mind to find different solutions and can often help to inspire.
So have a go, you have nothing to lose and possible something to gain AND it can (should) be fun.
We will have a night in December where we will look at some of the images and chat about what has worked and if anyone has any images they would like to share before then we can put them on the blog.
To borrow rule number 5: Enjoy!