Glen Goffin Photography

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

66 A Guy and his 85mm in Old San Juan

Whew!! Last week we were in Old San Juan. I had every intention of writing a post or two from there but was having too much stinking fun shooting! And then there was the post work on all those pics ... and the setup of my new smugmug gallery (here) ... and ... well ... I'm lazy ... and ... well ... here we are.

In the last post, I ranted about the merits of going prime. I put it to the test last week because I brought only one lens with me ... my trusty 85mm.

Admittedly, it was free-form shooting. No rules, no constraints ... just shoot what interests me. But it involved all types of shots - indoor, outdoor, people, buildings, animals, landscapes ...

Verdict: I agree with myself! Prime makes for prime shooting.

Take the picture above. This most unfriendly kitty was quite aloof with me. I feared she was going to bolt so I remained a few steps away. No matter how many "here kitty, kitty"s I gave her, she would NOT look at me. The best I got was, "Talk to the paw". Maybe she's tired of all the paparazzi.

With a zoom, it would have been my tendency to pull in tighter and fill the frame with more kitty and less sidewalk. With the 85mm at this distance there was a bunch of open frame. I decided to put those cool cobblestones up front and use DoF to isolate the subject. A zoom lens wouldn't have given me the blur-power (f/1.2) that my prime gives me. All-in-all, a better shot than I would've taken with a zoom.

Note, too, that the amazingly huge f/1.2 aperture produces such a hair-thin DoF that just the slight turn of this kitty's head moved her eyes out of the plane of focus. Wow! Be warned. I should've used f/2.0.

More kitty pics and OSJ pics to come. Here is another example of framing I wouldn't have chosen with a zoom.

Love and peace,


annie said...

So true. I have never looked at it like that before.

J. L. T. said...

Love the second photo, it ist so peaceful and right for meditation;-) Sunny greetings

Woody said...

I like the shots you poster here and on smugmug, thanks for sharing!

Your last blog entry got me thinking, so I'm experimenting with fixing my zoom at a various focal length to get an idea of what a prime of that length would give me. Granted, I won't get the same shot because the better primes have an aperture you can drive a truck through, but it does get me thinking about what might be a good prime (for me). I keep coming back to how I loved shooting my old film camera with a 50mm. The equivalent on the cropped sensor would be ~30mm. The new canon 24mm rocks, but the price does not :-(

So many lenses, so little time ...

Glen Goffin said...

Wayne - Yeah, I was headed to the store to buy a 50mm prime for that normal perspective on a FF camera but opted for the 85mm. My next prime is likely to be a 35mm because, as you mention, it is such a useful length. You can have some context in the shot and still be reasonably close to your subjects. Hey ... good glass is worth it :) Peace, Glen