The Gear Game-Changer.
So, you want to take amazing, light-filled photos with those soft, lovely backgrounds and sharp, in-focus subjects? Well, welcome friend, you’re speaking my love language. :)
In my early photography days, I had a little Canon Rebel camera body and kit lens. The lens allowed me to take pictures, but I was quickly frustrated at its lack of shallow depth of field (A.k.a., aperture, the setting that allows in more light into your images, as well as controls the amount of blurriness, or bokeh, in the image. More on that soon! :)), and knew it was time for a change. Through my research, I quickly learned that in my desire to shoot only in manual mode, I was greatly limited by the aperture range of my kit lens. (Forgive me, I don’t recall what that originally lens was, as I had just borrowed it and don’t have it any longer!) Most zoom lenses do not allow a low aperture or “blur factor” (in my mind, this includes anything under an aperture of f4.0), limiting the shooter to darker and drastically more sharp/crisp images. Now, don’t get me wrong, this is the style of many fabulously talented photographers. It’s just not what I was going for or my personal style (heck, for 99% of my work, I barely get above f2.8)! Enter, my game-changer.
Much research lead to a fixed lens (fixed, meaning it does not zoom and is one focal length) and I NEVER looked back. For me, a 50mm (the other most common options include a 35mm and 85mm) was the best fit and boy, oh boy, was the lens a game changer. This baby (50mm f1.4) had a lowest aperture of f1.4, and subsequently greatly increased the light allowed into my camera and gave me those soft fore and backgrounds. My images finally started to appear as I envisioned, and learning to shoot in manual mode became MUCH easier. My images were softer, brighter, and the focus was finally specifically on my subject. To me, my images finally looked like art and required the artistic vision that motivates me to this day.
“So, it’s all the lens?”, you ask? Well, of course, a great deal goes into taking a beautiful photograph, and most importantly, that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. For me, soft, romantic, light-filled images are what make my heart flutter. This requires a medium that provides a low, dreamy aperture, so yes, my love affair with photography officially began with that lens. What does this mean for you, my lovely reader? It means that these images are closer to you than you know! If you have a DSLR camera body, a basic 50mm 1.8 lens is just over $100, and I PROMISE will be one of the best investments you can make. Yes, you will lose those zoom capabilities, but that can also make you a more creative and proactive photographer! :) This is more of a portrait lens, but can certainly be used for almost any situation. You will learn to “zoom”, but do so by moving your feet! My 50mm (f1.2) lens BARELY comes off of my camera, at home or during my professional work. Whatever focal length you choose will become second nature, and you’ll soon be able to visualize the frame even before you bring that camera up to your eye. I promise.
Bottom Line: In my opinion, a fixed lens (and being able to work within a low aperture) is the best ‘bang for your buck’ option to develop your photography skills. It’s where I began, and I’ve never looked back! I can’t wait to see what you start creating!
P.S. How about these little film sneak peeks of my work from the For the Love of Film Workshop?! Eeeek! More coming soon!!